While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction will come upon them like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then, let’s not sleep as others do, but let’s be alert and sober. – 1 Thessalonians 5:3-6
Whatever one may believe or understand concerning the end times, two truths are evident from this passage and context.
First, when Jesus returns, the entire world will know it. There is no biblical justification for a secret or hidden return of Christ. The angel will shout, and the trumpet will sound to announce the King’s arrival. No one on earth will miss it. It will truly be a global event.
Second, those who know Christ Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (and are known by Him), though unaware of the exact moment, will not be surprised when He arrives. While it is true that the King of king’s triumphant return will be unexpected by most, those who truly know Him will see it coming and be “alert and sober” when He does.
Many seek to clarify that which is not expressly stated in eschatological and apocalyptic texts. Many are drawn by popular preacher’s books that seek to unfold secrets that God never intended to reveal. Let us be sure to draw our eschatology from God’s Word and not popular books or novels. There is no scenario where the true follower of Christ will be left in the dark (or behind) when the King returns. We have two simple tasks: be ready and be working.
The apostolic church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death and heaven. The early Christians were looking, not for a cleft in the ground called a grave, but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. – Alexander MacLaren