Christ Comes as a Thief - Blessed Are They That Watch
by Ray Zink
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Christians differ, as to their views of the times and seasons of events yet to be brought to pass, however on this one point all are agreed, Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will suddenly come again to judge the world. To those living near to Christ, it is an object of joyful hope and expectation, and delay is not desired by them.
(Rev 16:15 KJV) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
The warning which God gives of this great and decisive trial, to engage his people to prepare for it,
(Rev 16:15 KJV) Behold I come as a thief,....
These are the words of Christ, inserted in a parenthesis in this account, before it is concluded, to acquaint his people with his near and sudden approach, and to give them a word of caution and exhortation in these times of difficulty; for he is the Lord God Almighty, who sent forth these angels to pour out their vials, and whose judgments are applauded as righteous,
(Rev 16:1 KJV) And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
and who so often says "I come quickly";
(Rev 22:7 KJV) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
and which is to be understood not of his spiritual coming, which will be already at this time, but of his personal coming: and which will be "as a thief": as it is often expressed,
(1Th 5:2 KJV) For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
not in the bad sense, to steal and kill, and to destroy, though Christ's coming will issue in the everlasting destruction of the wicked; but the phrase is designed to express the suddenness of his coming, and the surprise of it:
(Rev 16:15 KJV) blessed is he that watcheth;
against sin, the lusts of the flesh, and the cares of this life, lest they bring a sleepiness upon him, and so the day of the Lord come upon him at an unawares; and against Satan and his temptations, who goes about seeking whom he may devour; and against his emissaries and false teachers, who lie in wait to deceive; and blessed is he also who is wishing and waiting for the coming of Christ, and so, being ready, will enter with him into the marriage chamber, and partake of the supper of the Lamb:
(Rev 16:15 KJV) and keepeth his garments:
either his conversation garments, unspotted from the world, and whenever defiled washes them, and makes them white in the blood of the Lamb; and keeps them from being stripped of them, by those who would lead them into sinful ways; or that keeps and holds fast the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of his salvation, which are the righteousness of the saints, that fine linen clean and white, that white raiment which only can cover their nakedness, that the shame thereof does not appear,
(Rev 19:8 KJV) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
(Rev 16:15 KJV) lest he walk naked;
ערום מן המצות, "naked of the commandments", or good works, according to the Jewish phrase; having lost, or dropped his conversation garments:
(Rev 16:15 KJV) and they see his shame;
or lest, being naked, he be exposed to shame and confusion, yea, to everlasting ruin and destruction;
(Mat 22:12 KJV) And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
the allusion is to the burning of the garments of those priests who were found asleep when upon their watch in the temple: the account that is given is this; "the man of the mountain of the house (the governor of the temple) goes round all the wards (every night) with burning torches before him; and in every ward where the person does not stand upon his feet, the man of the mountain of the house says to him, peace be to thee; if he finds he is asleep, he strikes him with his staff, and he has power to burn his clothes; and they say (in Jerusalem) what voice is that in the court? (it is answered) the voice of a Levite beaten, and his clothes burnt, because he slept in the time of his watch; R. Eliezer ben Jacob says, once they found my mother's brother asleep, and they burnt his clothes:'' now imagine with what shame the poor Levite so served must appear the next morning among his brethren, with his clothes burnt, and he naked; and with greater shame and confusions must he appear at the last day that is destitute of the righteousness of Christ.
It would be sudden and unexpected, and therefore Christians should be clothed, and armed, and ready for it, that they might not be surprised and ashamed. When God's cause comes to be tried, and his battles to be fought, all his people shall be ready to stand up for his interest and be faithful and valiant in his service.
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