But ye, brethren, are not in darkness - Probably St. Paul refers to a notion that was very prevalent among the Jews, viz.: that God would judge the Gentiles in the night time, when utterly secure and careless; but he would judge the Jews in the day time, when employed in reading and performing the words of the law. The words in Midrash Tehillim, on Psalm 9:8, are the following: When the holy blessed God shall judge the Gentiles, it shall be in the night season, in which they shall be asleep in their transgressions; but when he shall judge the Israelites, it shall be in the day time, when they are occupied in the study of the law. This maxim the apostle appears to have in view in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8;)
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief - The allusion here is to the manner in which a thief or robber accomplishes his purpose. He comes in the night, when people are asleep. So, says the apostle, the Lord will come to the wicked. They are like those who are asleep when the thief comes upon them. But it is not so with Christians. They are, in relation to the coming of the day of the Lord, as people are who are awake when the robber comes. They could see his approach, and could prepare for it, so that it would not take them by surprise.
The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. “So,” says the Saviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:39. Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man's destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy's offer to guilty men. GC 491.1
“Watch ye therefore: ... lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.” Mark 13:35, 36. Perilous is the condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments—it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Daniel 5:27. GC 491.2Read in context »
The end of all things is near at hand. The signs are rapidly fulfilling, yet it would seem that but few realize that the day of the Lord is coming, swiftly, silently, as a thief in the night. Many are saying, “Peace and safety.” Unless they are watching and waiting for their Lord, they will be taken as in a snare.... 3SM 408.2Read in context »
What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth—these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads. When the decree goes forth and the stamp is impressed, their character will remain pure and spotless for eternity. 5T 216.1
Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God—candidates for heaven. Go forward, my brethren and sisters. I can only write briefly upon these points at this time, merely calling your attention to the necessity of preparation. Search the Scriptures for yourselves, that you may understand the fearful solemnity of the present hour. 5T 216.2Read in context »