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November 22 – Like a thief in the night

“While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:3 

Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

Although Paul cannot tell the hour of Christ’s return, he does give us several clues; it will come “as a thief in the night.” When he uses that imagery, his point is not only the thief, but also the night. In fact, the emphasis falls on Christ’s return taking place in the night. His imagery is not literal, but figurative. Jesus will return in the dark night of moral degeneration and spiritual darkness. We are living in the “evening hours” of this world. The spiritual darkness is becoming ever darker and more oppressive. Then, when people are congratulating themselves on mankind’s incredible progress, claiming to see peace and security all around them, Jesus will return.

The imagery of the thief in the night also contains the idea of surprise. A thief doesn’t announce his presence or send advance notice of his plan to rob you so that you could prepare yourself. Those who have prepared themselves, who are awake, have nothing to fear. It is only the careless ones, who are at ease in Zion, who slumber with their doors wide open, are the ones in danger.

What about us? Are we worried about earthly things, but unconcerned about the heavenly? Are you postponing your conversion, continuing in sin, certain that there is plenty of time? Do you expect the Lord will let you know when He will take you out of this life? Tomorrow is always too late. Provide for the safety of your soul by turning to Christ while it is still the day of grace.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask God to daily remind you that His return will be sudden and unexpected. Ask to live joyfully each day, eagerly anticipating His coming because you know that even death will not separate you from the love of God in Christ.

Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

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