Somewhere about this time, then, Christ comes for this last band of children of the resurrection, whether dead or yet living. Of course, it is a coming of the same kind and character as his coming for those saints who were taken earlier; for it is the completion of that one coming for his people which is everywhere set forth. Here also, as in all other cases, nothing but a state of watchful readiness when the call comes can secure a share in the blessing.2In Seiss’ scenario, Christ comes for believers at a point in time prior to His actually setting foot on the earth in final judgment. He seems to suggest that a “mini-rapture” of sorts takes place at an unknown time prior to Christ’s physical coming. Perhaps this is to be connected with His promises to gather the elect by angels? One obstacle to this view is that the passages which stipulate the gathering of the elect follow immediately upon the global sign of the Son of Man’s return (Mat. 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27).
If the warning is an encouragement to the persecuted remnant under the beast, Christ’s promised coming is the one in Rev. 19:11-16+, which by the time of the sixth bowl follows almost immediately (Alford). If the warning is to people in the churches, it returns to the theme of chapters 2+-3+, the imminence of the hour of trial as an incentive for the book’s recipients to make their calling and election sure so they can escape this coming dreaded period. The close similarity to Rev. 3:3+, 18+ and the parenthetical nature of the announcement favor the latter alternative. . . . The other possibility of this being an encouragement to the faithful to persevere could serve no useful purpose at this point. . . . Therefore this announcement is a repetition of excerpts from the two earlier messages to Sardis and Laodicea: it is a call to genuineness of faith.3as a thief
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mat. 24:42-44)
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37)
Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Luke 12:35-40)Jesus indicated that a day was coming which would arrive unexpectedly as a snare to the earth dwellers, but by vigilance and prayer, the watchful believer could escape the things that were coming to pass:
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)The day which He spoke of was The Day of the Lord which professing but unbelieving “Christians,” who miss the Rapture, will endure along with those dwelling upon the earth. For them, the beginning of the end comes as a surprise since they are not expecting it. It arrives, as a thief:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Th. 5:1-9)Jesus comes for those who are watching in the Rapture of the Church prior to this time (Luke 21:34-36; John 14:1-3). He comes as a thief in the night in the judgments which usher in The Day of the Lord, culminating with His personal arrival in judgment at the Second Coming to conclude the Campaign of Armageddon. See When Does the Day of the Lord Dawn?blessed is he who watches
1 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 16:15.
2 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 379.
3 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 16:15.
4 The Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory, the watching one.
5 Concerning the need for watchfulness: Mat. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:33, 35, 37; Luke 12:36-40; 21:36; 1Cor. 1:7; 16:13; Php. 3:20; 1Th. 1:10; 5:6; 2Ti. 4:8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:28; 2Pe. 3:12; Rev. 3:2-3+; Rev. 16:15+.
6 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 80.
7 The scenarios which involve one will be taken and the other left (e.g., Mat. 24:40-44; Luke 17:34-37) appear to speak of being taken in judgment at the time of His second advent.