How is it that Jesus' coming will be as a thief in the night if His coming is near the end of the 70th Week?
How is it that Jesus' coming will be as a thief in the night if His coming is near the end of the seventieth week, which we both believe to be the case? How is it that his coming will be as in the days of Noah with everyone marrying and giving in marriage (life as usual), yet it will be within the context of the chaos going on in the seventieth week? Nearly one and a half billion people will have died according to the fourth seal. How can life be going on as usual? I believe it will come on the unbeliever and the believer who is not ready as a thief in the night, but how could people be carrying on as usual in the midst of this tribulation?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:1, Paul was talking to brothers (brethren), who were fellow believers. In 5:2, he stated that the day of the Lord will come as a "thief in the night." But in 5:4, he told them that they were not in darknessóindicating that, when this happens in the future, true believers will not be unmindful and unaware that the day of the Lord is about to begin. Only for unbelievers, and for believers who are not "awake," will the day of the Lord come unexpectedly, like a thief (Revelation 3:3).
Note in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 that sudden destruction will come upon those who are saying "peace and safety." It will be unbelievers who are saying this. It doesn't necessarily mean that all unbelievers will be saying "peace and safety," but it does seem to indicate that unexpected destruction will come upon those who are saying it. Incidentally, it will be Jesus' appearance in the clouds at the Rapture, not His return to earth at the very end of the 70th Week, that will catch unbelievers offguard as a thief in the night.
According to 1 Thessalonians 5:9, those like Paul and the ones to whom he was speaking will not experience (God's) wrath but will obtain salvation at that future time. I believe this means that those true believers living at that time will be taken away in the Pre-Wrath Rapture, prior to the onset of the day of the Lord's wrath (which will commence when the Seventh Seal is opened). Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:10 indicates that those believers who are awake (alive) or asleep (dead) at that time will go to live with the Lord. This parallels what is said back in 4:16,17, which is a definite rapture passage.
Some do interpret Revelation 6:8 to mean that a fourth of the world's population will die. However, it could mean, instead, that a fourth of the earth's geographical surface will be adversely affected by death. If so, that area might not contain a fourth of the world's population. Even if it does, it doesn't necessarily mean that every single person in that area will die. It might just be that death and hades will have the greatest power and effect in that area, compared to the rest of the earth.
I agree that the day of the Lord's wrath (Revelation 6:17) will come, unexpectedly, upon unbelievers and maybe also upon nominal believers who are "asleep" or patently ignorant to what is going on at that time. I believe that Matthew 24:36-41 is referring to the days leading up to the Pre-Wrath Rapture (depicted in 24:30,31). This will be during the period of the Great Tribulation, which will be when the effects of Satan's wrath, not God's wrath, are being felt around the world.
The extreme destruction of the earth, during the Trumpet Judgments (which will be dispensed as the first wave of God's wrath), will not have taken place prior to the opening of the Sixth Seal, at which time the day of the Lord will be imminent. Certainly, there will be great earthquakes, plagues, famines, and persecution before that. But these will not so incapacitating as to stop people from eating, drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage.
People will be doing common, everyday things such as these, oblivious to the fact that God is about to intervene supernaturally in the world's affairs. However, they no longer will be ignorant of this fact after the Sixth Seal is opened, when there will be a worldwide earthquake, major changes in the sun, moon, and stars, and the sudden appearance of the Son of Man in the clouds of the sky, as a thief in the night.
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