February 22, 1994
The story goes that a man went on a two week vacation and left his Doberman dog alone in his house. Ignoring the obvious questions that scenario raises, the story continues that the man came home and was quite concerned when his dog did not meet him at the front door. He quickly toured the house and found his pet seated in the kitchen in front of the refrigerator. On top of the appliance huddled a sobbing would-be burglar who had been there four days.
The mess left by a dog and a terrified thief was probably much worse than the one found by a mother who went on a short holiday leaving her family on their own. She returned one day earlier than planned. Upon a quick tour of the house, she found the bathtub full of dirty dishes.
Both the burglar and the family were caught in the act. They thought they could get away with something but it did not work the way they hoped. They illustrate several things the Bible says about how people should think and live in the light of God’s promises about the future.
For instance, when the Roman empire ruled the area of Palestine, the Hebrew people had already been waiting several centuries for a leader, a promised Messiah who would deliver them from their enemies. They thought he would be a political giant with great political power, a conqueror who would overthrow all opposition. When Jesus came as a babe in the stable at Bethlehem, they were caught off guard.
Most of them were not convinced Jesus was the One they expected. They did not understand that His coming was for a different kind of deliverance. Instead of Roman oppression, He came to deliver them from their sin to a new and right relationship with God. They were caught off guard because they expected a different kind of deliverance.
Furthermore, He caught some people in the act. That is, many were busily living a life of sin and not concerned about a Savior from God. In either case, their thinking and their actions did not reflect the promises God had made concerning their future.
God made another promise about the future — Jesus said He is coming one more time. He even warned His disciples about being caught off guard again. “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
He told them to watch, for that hour will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. He also warned about being caught in the act when He returns, that is, the act of sin: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
The Apostle Peter said that in the last days, scoffers will come and scornfully say, “Where is this coming he promised?” He goes on to explain that the Lord is not slow to keep his promise but patient with us. He does not want anyone to perish but come to repentance.
Peter also says that the promise of the Lord’s return is not to fill us with fear. Instead, we are to look forward to it and “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.”
He does not want us to be caught — either off guard or in the act.