1 Thessalonians 5:3
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child…
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."
Parallel VersesKJV: For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.