An elementary school teacher told her class to be ready because in the coming week there would be a fire alarm. She taught them what they should do when the bell rang. They would need to follow directions and act promptly. But, of course, she didn’t tell them when. They were to be ready to respond because the alarm could ring at any moment!
Many of us may wonder: When will Jesus return? Only God the Father knows the exact answer to that question (vv. 1-3; Matt. 24:36). The comparison to a “thief in the night” (v. 2) indicates that the event will be surprising and sudden, just like the Rapture event discussed yesterday (1 Thess. 4:17). The second comparison, “as labor pains on a pregnant woman” (v. 3), indicates surprise and suddenness but not in the same way. After all, the woman knows she’s going to give birth, even if she doesn’t know exactly when. Preparations can and should be made.
According to Paul, this is exactly how Christians ought to be living (vv. 4–6). For believers, the events surrounding Christ’s return won’t be a total surprise. We’ve been told enough about them in Scripture so that we can be watchful or vigilant (Matt. 25:13). Just as a pregnant woman nearing the end of her term decorates the nursery and packs a “go bag,” so also should Christians live “awake and sober,” that is, according to the light of God’s Word.
Night and darkness are associated with spiritual insensitivity or obliviousness, while day and light are associated with spiritual knowledge and righteousness. Children of darkness are headed for “destruction” (v. 3), that is, judgment and hell (2 Thess. 1:9–10; 2 Peter 3:3–7). “Children of the light,” by contrast, have been rescued for an eternity with Christ!
>> Second Peter 3 is another Bible passage about the end times. We encourage you to read it soon, especially because it advises us how to live watchful and prepared.
As we await your return, help us spread the gospel with urgency among our friends, neighbors, and coworkers who are headed for destruction. We who know what is coming must warn those who are lost.