1 Thessalonians 5:3
While people are saying, "Peace and security," destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
A Deadly PeaceJ. W. Hardman.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Danger Near and Man Unconscious of ItJ. W. Hardman.1 Thessalonians 5:3
DelusionsC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:3
False OverconfidenceJ. L. Nye.1 Thessalonians 5:3
False PeaceC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Men Lured to DestructionRowland Hill.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Procrastination Leads to Sudden DestructionC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Secure in SinC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:3
The Day of DaysCanon Liddon.1 Thessalonians 5:3
The Sinner's DoomSir E. Bayley, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Unconsciousness of the Approach of DeathCanon Farrar.1 Thessalonians 5:3
Certainty of the Time of the Second AdventT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
Exhortation in View of the Lord's ComingR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Attitude of the Church Towards the Second Advent of ChristG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Day of the LordB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Profanity of Attempting to Determine the TimeBp. Jewell.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Second Advent and its IssuesR. Fergusson.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Uncertainty of the Time of the Second AdventJ. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Times and SeasonsAbp. Trench.1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Under Sealed Orders1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
A Thief in the NightW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4
The one idea to be impressed upon us by this striking image is that of unexpectedness. The thief succeeds in making his entrance when he is least expected. So will it be on "the day of the Lord." The idea is derived from the teaching of Christ, in which it is more fully expanded (see Matthew 24:43, 44). The "day of the Lord" which is to come thus suddenly is often referred to in the Old Testament. There it is a dreadful occasion of Divine manifestation for judgment, to be hailed with gladness when the judgment falls on the enemies of Israel and brings the chosen people deliverance, but to be regarded with terror by sinful Israelites (Amos 5:18). St. Paul regards it as the day of Christ's second advent. But the general use of the expression in the Old Testament justifies us in applying the warning concerning it to various forms of the parousia.


1. The day is unexpected. What did the heathen fellow-citizens of the Thessalonians know, or think, or care about the glorious advent of Christ, with its angel-summons and its trumpet-blast for which the Christians were watching so eagerly? The Jews did not expect the coming of the Son of man in the destruction of Jerusalem. The world does not think of the great judgment-day. Worldly people do not contemplate death.

2. No signs are given to the world of the dawning of this dread day. No lurid twilight betokens the tempestuous morning. It bursts suddenly upon a world slumbering in darkness. Science, philosophy, ordinary signs of the times, give no hint of it to the unspiritual. The biblical arithmetic of our modern prophets is always proving itself at fault. No bare intellectual calculation will ever discover the "day of the Lord."

3. It is best for the world that no natural signs should herald this day.

(1) Christian people are better without the common signs which could be discerned by ordinary observation. To possess them would be to walk by sight. They are not given in order that faith may be exercised.

(2) The world at large is better without these signs. They would disarrange all the necessary pursuits of life. Some would cry abjectly for mercy without really repenting at heart. Some, as when plagues raged in cities, would fling off all restraints and plunge into a reckless course of debauchery. Some would coldly calculate the time allowed for sinning before they would need to bethink them of preparing for the end.

II. THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL NOT COME UPON THE ENLIGHTENED AS A THIEF. St. Paul makes an important distinction here - one that is not always recognized: "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."

1. No men are enlightened as to the date of the second advent. Even Christ did not know it. This he distinctly says (Mark 13:32).

2. Christians are enlightened as to the fact and the character of the second advent.

(1) They know that Christ will come again, which is more than the unbelieving world knows. They have Christ's own promise to rely upon (Matthew 24:30).

(2) They know that Christ will come unexpectedly. At least, they ought to know this if they read the teachings of Scripture on the subject.

3. The enlightenment of Christians will prevent the second advent from coming upon them like a thief. When we are prepared for a surprise, it is no longer a surprise. If we know a thing may happen at any time, its occurrence will not give us the shock of an unexpected event. Christ, longed for, eagerly desired, fondly expected, will come at an hour when his people know not, but not when his true disciples are unprepared to welcome him. - W.F.A.

When they shall say, Peace and Safety
If Scripture did not warrant the figure in which the future coming of the Lord is compared to the act of a felon breaking into a house at night to plunder, we should not have ventured on it. The comparison is suggested by the Lord Himself: "Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. If the good man of the house had known in what hour the thief would come, he would have watched."

I. THE DAY STATED. By the expression, "the day of the Lord," must be meant a day in some unique sense His day; for all days are really days of the Lord of time.

1. By the day of the Lord is signified that day on which He will take the first place in the thoughts of His responsible creatures.

2. It is the day on which He will bring the vast moral account between Himself and His responsible creatures to an end.

II. THE FIGURE EMPLOYED. What are the ideas suggested by the words, "As a thief in the night"?

1. They are suggestive of fear. The old prophets spoke of the coming day of universal doom as "the great and terrible day of the Lord"; and we cannot but echo their language. But if we will, the Judge may be our Friend and Saviour. It is during the years of time that men decide how they will meet Him.

2. They are suggestive of suddenness. There is the contrast which it will present to many of God's judgments in the present life. They approach with measured steps. Neither war, nor famine, nor pestilence, come generally like a thief in the night. But not so will be the Second Advent of Christ. A Christian's first practical anxiety should be expressed in his Master's words, "Lest coming suddenly He find me sleeping."

3. They are suggestive of that which cannot be prevented by our own efforts. We cannot prevent the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven: all that we can do is to prepare to meet Him by judging ourselves in self-examination. We may erect in our own heart a tribunal, and bid all our life pass before it; and then we may hear, if we will, the echoes of the voice of Christ, in mercy or condemnation, as that voice will sound to us hereafter from the judgment throne. Thus we may make a business like preparation for death; for death, like judgment, comes as a thief. Death is the ante-chamber of the judgment hall of Christ. To prepare, therefore, for death, is a man's true and most serious business during his life. "Ye are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief."

(Canon Liddon.)

I. IN THY MIDST OF IMAGINED SECURITY. When enjoying riches, and contemplating, as the rich fool, their further augmentation; and when, perhaps, trusting in the infinitude of the Divine mercy, and thinking "the day" afar off.

II. Sudden. Without notice: nothing in the course of nature, or the affairs of men, to indicate the catastrophe.

III. UNAVOIDABLE: reputation, good works, etc., will be as cobwebs.

IV. TERRIBLE. "Destruction."

(Sir E. Bayley, D. D.)

Manton says well, "As the madman at Athens challenged all the ships that came into the harbour for his own, so carnal men claim an interest in heavenly things which are none of theirs. Deceived hearts believe they are running to heaven when they are posting to hell; like rowers in a boat, they look one way, and go contrary." Religious delusions may be very comfortable while they last, but what will be the misery of their breaking up! To have all your fancied godliness vanish like the mists before the sun will be grievous indeed. In proportion to the confidence inspired will be the despair involved. The poor madman in Bedlam in the olden time placed a straw crown upon his head, and issued orders like a Caesar; it was his madness which made such a farce a comfort to him. In the next world the sinner's madness will be over, he will be sobered by his despair: what then will he think of his former fancies and fond self-flatteries? What an awaking, from the dreams of bliss to the realities of hell! O my soul, see thou to it that all thy hopes are well grounded! Call not Christ thine, and heaven thine, if they are not so. Do not play the fool with eternal things, but get a sure title to everlasting blessedness.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

You may have a strong faith in everything else but Christ, and yet perish. There was an architect who had a plan for building a lighthouse on the Eddystone Rock. It quite satisfied his mind, and as he sat by the fire looking at the plan, he was quite sure that no storm that ever came could shake the building. He applied for the contract to build the lighthouse, and he did build it, and a very singular looking place it was. There were a great many flags about it and ornaments, and it looked very promising. Some shook their heads a little, but he was very, very firm, and said he should like to be in it himself in the worst wind that ever blew. He was in it at the time he wanted to be, and he was never heard of again, nor was anything more ever seen of his lighthouse. The whole thing was swept away. He was a man of great faith, only it happened to be founded on mistaken principles.

(J. L. Nye.)

Your peace, sinner, is that terribly prophetic calm which the traveller occasionally perceives upon the higher Alps. Everything is still. The birds suspend their notes, fly low, and cower down with fear. The hum of bees among the flowers is hushed. A horrible stillness rules the hour, as if death had silenced all things by stretching over them his awful sceptre. Perceive ye not what is surely at hand? The tempest is preparing; the lightning will soon cast abroad its flames of fire. Earth will rock with thunder blasts; granite peaks will be dissolved; all nature will tremble beneath the fury of the storm. Yours is that solemn calm today, sinner. Rejoice not in it, for the hurricane of wrath is coming, the whirlwind and the tribulation which shall sweep you away and utterly destroy you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"A Swiss traveller," says the Edinburgh Review, "describes a village situated on the slope of a great mountain, of which the strata shelve in the direction of the place. Huge crags directly overhanging the village, and massy enough to sweep the whole of it into the torrent below, have become separated from the main body of the mountain in the course of ages by great fissures, and now scarce adhere to it. When they give way, the village must perish; it is only a question of time, and the catastrophe may happen any day. For years past engineers have been sent to measure the fissures, and report them constantly increasing. The villagers, for more than one generation, have been aware of their danger; subscriptions have been once or twice opened to enable them to remove; yet they live on in their doomed dwellings, from year to year, fortified against the ultimate certainty and daily probability of destruction by the common sentiment 'Things may last their time and longer.'" Like the dwellers in this doomed village, the world's inhabitants have grown careless and secure in sin. The scoffers of the last days are around us, saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers have fallen asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." But in saying this, they are too confident. Nothing is permanent that has sin about it, nothing secure that has wrath above it, and flames of fire beneath it. Sin has once deluged the world with water, it shall deluge it again with waves of fire. Sodom and Gomorrah are the types that foreshadow the doom of those that live ungodly in these latter times, and he who can walk this reeling world unmoved by all the tokens of its fiery doom, must either have a rock of refuge where his soul may rest secure, or else must have fallen into a strange carelessness, and a sad forgetfulness of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Do any of you remember the loss of the vessel called the Central America? She was in a bad state, had sprung a leak and was going down, and she therefore hoisted a signal of distress. A ship came close to her, the captain of which asked, through the trumpet, "What is amiss?" "We are in bad repair, and are going down: lie by till morning," was the answer. But the captain on board the rescue ship said, "Let me take your passengers on board now." "Lie by till morning," was the message which came back. Once again the captian cried, "You had better let me take your passengers on board now." "Lie by till morning," was the reply which sounded through the trumpet. About an hour and a half after, the lights were missing, and though no sound was heard, she and all on board had gone down to the fathomless abyss. Oh, unconverted friends, for God's sake, do not say, "Lie by till morning." Today, even today, hear ye the voice of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The old fable described the vampire bat, in tropical countries, as hovering above its victims, and drinking their life blood, while it soothes them to sleep on by fanning them with its wings all the while. So the devil soothes souls into deadly sleep.

(J. W. Hardman.)

Many years ago there was a terrible murder in one of our rural counties. A desperate man determined to kill the squire of the village. No danger was thought of, no such peril was dreaded. With unclosed shutters the doomed man sat in his house, his family moving in and out, his books, his papers around him in perfect security, as he thought. But meanwhile, creeping behind the shrubs of the lawn, in the gathering twilight, with his loaded gun, crept the armed assailant, till the bringing in of the evening lamp cast its glow through the comfortable chamber within, and enabled a sure and deadly aim to be taken by the murderer outside. Even so does the devil plot our ruin.

(J. W. Hardman.)

Even when death is not absolutely sudden, how often have I seen persons, who were ill, wholly refuse to believe or realize that their sickness was unto death. Almost till the day of their departure they have talked quite confidently of what they intended to do when they rose from the bed of sickness; have perhaps even seemed to themselves to be much better just before they sank into the long swoon which can only end in the last fluttering sigh. "O God, they have deceived me then; and this is death!" was the startling exclamation of a sinful English king, and with those words he sank back and died. And very commonly for hours, and even days, before death, men and women lie quite unconscious; the pulse still beats, the breath still labours, possibly the tongue still murmurs, as the imagination floats amid the confused reminiscences of the past, and babbles of green fields far away. But no voice of exhortation can reach them then; they can gather no thought into consecutive meaning; they can breathe no prayer unto Him into whose awful presence they are about to enter.

(Canon Farrar.)

The other day I was going down the street and I saw a drove of pigs following a man. This excited my curiosity, so that I determined to follow. I did so, and to my great surprise I saw them follow him to the slaughterhouse. I was very anxious to know how this was, and I said to the man, "My friend, how did you manage to induce those pigs to follow you here?" "Oh, did you not see?" said the man; "I had a basket of beans under my arms, and I dropped a few as I came along, and so they followed me." Yes, and I thought, so it is; the devil has a basket of beans under his arm, and he drops them as he goes along, and what multitudes he induces to follow him to an everlasting slaughter house! Yes, friends, and all your broad and crowded thoroughfares are strewn with the beans of the devil.

(Rowland Hill.)

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