Christ Comes as a Thief
Summary: “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief.” The thief’s coming is invisible and with destruction, but watching is protective. God came invisibly to Eg ypt with destruction at Passover, and that was the only time Israel was commanded to watch, and He took them to a covenant (marriage).
Passover is a wedding rehearsal (mikvah), replaced by communion (co-union) for a New Covenant. The Bible says “the sun shall be darkened and the moon turned to blood before the…day of the Lord.” Joel 2:31. That’s happening this spring with the solar eclipse on March 20 and two weeks later a “blood moon” on Passover. God seems to be marking this year. Please consider…
#1. The wedding parables are not understood. The invitation is ridiculed in Matthew 22 and we are asleep with lights out in Matthew 25. Even Peter did not understand the parable in Luke 12:35-37 when he asked if the parable was for them, verse 41.
#2. Those parables included a burned city, a cry at midnight and a “knock.” They each imply calamity. The first midnight cry was when calamity fell on Egypt as “travail on a woman with child,” Exodus 12:29,30; 1Thessalonians 5:2,3. Egypt birthed God’s “firstborn,” Exodus 4:22. Paul also said, “The day of the Lord so comes as a thief…[with] sudden destruction,” implying that we should know the times perfectly, 1Thessalonians 5:1.
The “knock” in Luke 12:36 is explained by the only other text where Christ knocks. It was for a lukewarm church focused on possessions that ended in an earthquake circa 63 AD. Could be type and antitype for us?
#3. “The day of the LORD” is initiated by an earthquake. “The earth quakes…the day of the LORD is great,” Joel 2:10,11. “The day of the LORD is at hand…a loud crashing from the hills,” Zephaniah 1:7,10. It’s the sudden destruction” that comes as a thief in the night, 1Thessalonians 5:2,3. God said that He won’t do anything without revealing His secret to His servants, the prophets. This means it’s revealed, and the next verse is about a lion’s roar. “Before theearthquake, he said, the LORD will roar,” Amos 1:1,2.This is about the Lion of Judah who “roars,” Joel 3:16; Revelation 4:7.
#4. Christ offers protection if we watch. “If you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief,” Revelation 3:3. “If the goodman had…watched, he would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” Matthew 24:43.
#5. Watching means be awake. Passover was the only time it’s commanded, Exodus 12:10; Matthew 26:38-41.We misunderstand “watch” as being aware, and everyone thinks they are aware. The Greek word, gregoreo, means to be awake. That’s how Christ used it: “Watch with Me…watch and pray…” In that context, if we pray that God will pass over us in judgment, He can do it for Christ’s sake because He took the punishment for us.
#6. Instead of Passover, Christ instituted the New Covenant of communion. We don’t need to lambs or eat bitter herbs at Passover. Christ fulfilled those sacrificial laws, Exodus 12:3-13, but Passover was a mo’ed, an appointed time for other events like when God said, “I will execute judgment,” Exod 12:12
Passover was also when God took His people to a covenant at Sinai and later said, “I am married to you,” Jeremiah 3:14. Every wedding and every summons to judgment (above) has a date and time–in this case the word is Mo’ed, first used in Genesis 1:14 where God appointed the sun and moon for signs and appointed days.
#7. The sun and moon point to Passover this spring for judgment, but with an important modification. “You don’t know the day or hour.” This cliché turns our brains off. “Know” comes from the Greek word, oida, and it means to be aware, consider, understand. Christ was talking to disciples who may have been thinking of Passover for the events in the last half of Matthew 24 that all happen suddenly. Some of them are clues* for Passover a month later “as the days of Noah” when the Flood came with Passover timing, but in the 2nd spring month. Noah entered the ark on the 10th day, (Genesis 7:4,11) the same day the lamb was selected in Exodus 12:3. When people refused Noah, they selected themselves for sacrifice. God leaves the choice to us.
*“If the goodman had known…he would have watched and would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” Matthew 24:43. There is only one reference to goodman in the Old Testment (KJV). “The goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey…and will come home at the day appointed.” Some translations translate yom kece as “full moon.” Passover comes on a full moon, but “long journey” points to 2nd Passover. “If any man…be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover unto the LORD the 14th day of the second month at even,” Numbers 9:10,11. To remove all doubt, Christ also linked His last two parables with this same clue…
When five virgins missed the wedding, He said “You don’t [understand]…for the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country,” Matthew 25:13,14. Christ is the Master who took the far journey and His return for the marriage and a time of accounting must conform to this law that is in effect “till heaven and earth pass,” Matthew 5:18.
The “far journey” is also about the church’s pursuit of truth. Christ wouldn’t ask us to “watch” (be awake) every night, but we thought we can’t know timing, in spite God’s promise to reveal all that He does, Amos 3:7.
Everything we’ve considered is reasonable. It’s about communion on the eve of 2nd Passoverwith a focus on Christ. As Israel ate the lamb and left nothing till morning, Exodus 12:10. We should review the closing scenes of Christ’s life. The Desire of Ages online could be a helpful resource for reading and an aid to staying awake, interspersed with prayer.
We need spiritual motivation by seeing how Christ took our place: Blood oozed from His pores in extreme stress, Luke 22:44. He took a whipping that we might not survive. He said through Isaiah, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, Isaiah 50:6.We can’t imagine how painful that was. His visage was marred more than any man, Isaiah 52:14.
Maybe that’s why Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Him at the tomb until He spoke, and why the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him. He was spiked naked for an agonizing death. The closest that we might understand it is when we hit our elbow and fiery pain shoots into our hand, but that’s what He had continually with nails in His hands and feet…for us.
Let’s watch and pray on the eve of Passover, the time to memorialize His great sacrifice.
#8. “He will make [us] ruler over all that He has.” If we are awake, watching “that when He comes and knocks [earthquake, #2-4 above; we] may open to Him immediately.” Luke 12:36.If He knocks, we open to Him with a Feast of Unleavened Bread that begins at Passover, as the passage says: “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.” Luke 12:37. (That’s Last Supper/communion imagery) “Ruler over all that He has” versus “beaten with stripes” (Luke 12:47) is the highest incentive that Christ might offer. How do we “open to Him immediately”? We do so with a Feast of Unleavened Bread!
#9. Christ did not fulfill the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It calls for a “holy convocation” on the first day when He was dead and couldn’t convocate! Leviticus 23:6,7. If these were all fulfilled or nailed to the cross, why would Paul keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread with Gentile believers at Philippi, Acts 20:6, and again at Corinth where he said, “Let us keep the feast,” 1Corinthians 5:7,8and “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 1Corinthians 11:1.
Weren’t those times “nailed to the cross”? The sacrifices and ceremonies were nailed to the cross, but the “appointed times” [mo’ed is the word in Genesis 1:14], weren’t nailed. The annual sabbaths were designed to teach the people that at the time appointed One would come to whom those ceremonies pointed.
This is supported by Paul who told the Colossians not to let anyone judge them for keeping the holy days—they “are a shadow of things to come,” Colossians 2:17. Translators added an italicized “is” to the text. Without it, the text might read, Don’t let anyone judge your keeping them, but the body of Christ (the local church can decide how to keep those holy days).
Since “they are a shadow of things to come,” we can expect the types that relate to the second advent to be fulfilled at those times. For example: God said, “I will execute judgment” in the context of Passover, Exodus 12:12. Also, “In the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, I will punish…the king’s children clothed in strange apparel,” Zephaniah 1:8. No wedding garment?
The wedding parables each have Passover imagery. That’s when God took Israel to a covenant and later said, “I am married to you,” Jeremiah 3:14. But God got an ignorant bride–they worshiped a calf 40 days later. This must not happen to Christ. This is why we need a Feast of Unleavened Bread as a wedding supper of betrothal. Leaven makes bread light and easy to chew, but Christ warned of doctrines made light in Matthew 16:12.
#10. If Christ knocks [earthquake], we must open to Him with a Feast of Unleavened Bread that becomes 7 days of betrothal for us to consider 7 topics that the Bible emphasizes 7 times as related to the covenant, like Abraham gave 7 ewe lambs in a covenant and God gave 7 holy convocations in Leviticus 23.
The feast means union with Christ by communion; it’s a 7-day feast in Leviticus 23:6. Bible weddings are also a week, Genesis 29:27. The betrothal is also union with Christ by covenant. With similar meaing, they coincide purposefully.
If Christ came today or tomorrow, we wouldn’t be ready. We can all say with Paul, “the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice,” Romans 7:19. The great news is that the New Covenant Promise has a “latter days” context reserved for the final generation, Jeremiah 30:24; 31:1,31. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it...” Philippians 1:6. He will write His laws on our hearts. Ezekiel 36:25-27.
The Bible suggests that what God purposed to do for the world through Israel, He will in end-times do through a covenant-keeping people. This may include Jews who accept the Messiah as they consider Him “whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son,” Zechariah 12:10.
Everybody should have an opportunity to be part of this. As the King’s servants in Matthew 22, we must share the wedding invitation in spite of scorn or ridicule. “As in the days of Noah,” everyone can make up their own mind if they want to watch and pray or sleep on the night of the wedding rehearsal.
If we open the doors of our churches at His appointed time, and the timing is right for His knock, we may sit with Him on His throne, Revelation 3:21. There’s so much to gain and only a few hours of sleep to lose! How can we be sure it won’t happen? Based on His appointed signs, Joel 2:31. We could be blessed by His showing up at the rehearsal (invisibly as God came to Egypt). If we are “so doing when He comes, “He will make [us] ruler over all that He has,” Luke 12:44 –see you at the wedding!