AS A THIEF
Revelation 3:1 ¶ And unto the angel (“messenger, or pastor”) of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
The contrast between the shepherd and the thief is clearly set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ. And it is set forth with a distinction between the two, so that there is no confusing the two, it is either one or the other. And we know that the Lord is truly the Good Shepherd. John 10:8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But here he is setting forth himself as the thief! And he is stating that he will come upon one of the seven churches of Asia as a thief! Yet how is that possible? Can a church, or an individual cause the presented character of the Lord to change? Can they force such a drastic difference in the presentation of the Lord Jesus to themselves? If so, how is that possible?
It must be so, for the Lord himself is clearly stating that it is. And he also states how that amazing transformation in his presentation to them would come about. For he says it would happen, “If therefore thou shalt not watch.” It occurs when a professed believer, or believers, abandon their stedfast faithfulness in attentiveness to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Consider this passage: Mark 16:9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. The first words of verse twelve are both preceded and succeeded by the unbelief of those who were professed believers. But their mourning and weeping must have been inordinate affections, for the Lord “appeared in another form!” The concordance states that he appeared in another “shape, or nature.”
Therefore it is clearly seen that professed believer’s cold-heartedness towards Christ as their Beloved, causes him to withhold himself from them, appearing as that which he had not previously been known. No longer as Shepherd, but as thief! The Psalmist well knew this! Psalm 18:23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. 24 Therefore hath the LORD recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. 25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; 26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward (“the perverse”) thou wilt shew thyself froward (“perverse”).
Yet this is not something that the Lord has pleasure in. Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? In fact, he considers it as his “strange work”. Isaiah 28:21 For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. 22 Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.
Those who are ever looking to the Lord in faith and prayer are free from the approach of Himself as a thief. In fact He will even manifest Himself strong on their behalf! 2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.
And to those who are remembering him he shall appear to them at his second coming without any need to forgive and cleanse them from sin. For their looking unto Jesus has caused them to constantly progress in sanctification. Therefore he shall appear to them with full, and final, and complete glorification. Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
For those who are presenting themselves as “living sacrifices” are constantly proving what is the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Have you ever asked yourselves, Why did our Lord just say concerning his second coming, “as in the days of Lot,” and not “in the days of Abraham and Lot”? Abraham was very much involved with God in this event. The reason being that Abraham had daily judged himself in a God consciousness! 1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
Therefore if we would, personally and individually, continuously seek the Lord in truth and in spirit we should have prepared hearts, looking for him and therefore escaping the wrath to come! 1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, (that is, how effectually our gospel preaching was to you), and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Lets go back to that Mark 16:12 verse listed above. I’ll list it again for you. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. We find this account fully set forth in Luke chapter 24, beginning with verse thirteen. Luke 24:13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
And you must remember that this account of the Lord’s presenting himself to them in another form, is both preceded and followed by the words that the disciples did not believe in the resurrection. And this is the powerful doctrine by which men are assured that the Lord will yet come again! Acts 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
And it is also the primary confession which accompanies all true salvation! Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
The doctrine of the resurrection made up a major portion of Peter’s Pentecostal message. Acts 2:25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Also we read in Mark 16:10 that the disciples were told as they mourned and wept. Sinful, inordinate affections (fleshly emotions), will always hinder faith and belief. That is the reason that their eyes were holden that they should not know him. Even though he had thoroughly instructed them of the events of his death, burial and resurrection, their emotionalism and unbelief caused the Lord, walking and talking with them, to be unrecognizable! They addressed him as “only a stranger in Jerusalem!”
So how did the Lord address them? Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. He had to take them back to ‘first grade’ as those who needed to be taught from the written word that with which the scriptures concern themselves. For they are they which testify of me, he states in John 5:39.
Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Before this lesson from the Person of the Living Word, they were described as “slow of heart to believe.” But now they state, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” His word believed corrected the problem with their unbelieving hearts. Now they not only obey his previous word for them to tarry at Jerusalem, and therefore retrace their steps, but they also now believe the word of his resurrection!
Yet his words are accompanied by his revelation as High Priest in the breaking and blessing of the bread. For we read that their eyes were opened when he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. Luke 24:30,31 For He is the Living Bread which came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. John 6:33 And it was as the High Priest of the church that he was manifested unto them. Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
But we must surely give great attention to the same verse that states their eyes were opened. For that verse continues with the words, and he vanished out of their sight! O my! How scary! We can only seek the Lord while he may be found. But what if he wishes to vanish out of OUR sight?
What had to happen before they see him again? They must show that they believe his word by their obedience! For they do not see him again until they are reassembled with the other disciples and are testifying of their experience. Luke 24:33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. 36 ¶ And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
“Trust and obey. For there’s no other way!”
Pastor Gene Breed
November 19, 2021