Like a Thief in the Night (Revelation 16:15) - Radical

Like a Thief in the Night (Revelation 16:15)

“Behold I am coming like a thief. Blest is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”
– Revelation 16:15

This is imagery we see, not just here in Revelation but all over the New Testament. We see Jesus himself in the gospels talk about his coming, his return will be like a thief in the night. The reason he uses that imagery is to call us to be ready. If you knew a thief was coming to your house tonight, you would probably not go to sleep. You would stay awake. In fact, you would do everything you can to stay awake, so that when he comes, you’d be ready to keep him from breaking into your house. All precautions necessary would be taken to keep him. You’d be ready, prepared for what you’re going to do when he comes, and you would not fall asleep waiting for him to come.

Revelation 16:15 Alerts Us of Jesus’ Return

That’s the exact imagery that Jesus wants to be in our minds and our hearts when we think about his coming. Obviously we don’t want a thief to come to our house. We do want Jesus to come back, so we don’t press the analogy too far, but the whole picture is stay awake. That’s the whole point. Blessed is the one who stays awake, who’s ready, and that’s how this imagery is used all throughout the New Testament, to call us to realize he’s coming. Jesus is coming soon. He’s coming back. It could be today, tomorrow, this week, or next. Could be next month. Could be next year, or yes, it could be 100 years from now. We don’t know. We don’t know.

Just like we would not say, well okay if he doesn’t come, if the thief doesn’t come in the next 10 minutes I’m going to sleep because he might come a few hours later, we don’t say that about Jesus’ coming. We say, no I want to stay awake. What staying awake means is living with vigilance, looking for his coming. Waiting for his coming. Working for his coming. In a 1 Peter kind of way, when I say working for his coming, sharing the gospel, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, walking with God. We don’t want to be found in sin or in idolatry and immorality. No, God, we don’t want to be found sitting back silent with the gospel. We want to be working, living, waiting, longing for his coming, like we would a thief, we want to be ready for in the night.

Christ is coming back, so we should live with vigilance and expectancy.

Revelation 16:15 Does Not Have A Timeline

We want to be ready when Jesus comes. So we pray, God, help us to be ready today. God, even right now, knowing you could come five minutes from now, help us to repent of sin. God, help us to turn our hearts totally towards you. Help us to live in a way that honors you. God we pray, God that all day long today, our thoughts, our desires might be driven with zeal to honor you, like you could come back at any moment. God we pray that what we are doing when you come back, Lord Jesus would be honoring to you, it would be glorifying to you.

We pray that you would help us to live with urgency, knowing that you could come back today. We got people around us in our lives who don’t know you, don’t know the gospel. God help us to share the gospel with zeal today, with urgency today and help us to keep doing that until you return. Help us to live holy lives, bold lives with the gospel, humble lives before you and others, loving others as ourselves, working for justice in the world, even as we wait for the day when your justice and in your love you will return. God, help us to be ready we pray. Help me to be ready. And, help people who are listening to this, help us to be ready on that day, knowing it could be today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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