Will He Return Soon?

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. Matthew 25:1-13

This passage doesn’t make a lot of sense to a Western mindset, but it would have back then.

As BibleHub pointed out, “Jewish custom required the bridesmaids to wait at the bridegroom’s house, to receive him and the bride, and as this was commonly after sunset, they were provided with lamps or torches.”

and

“On the appointed day, the bridegroom, accompanied by his friends, proceeded to the bride’s house, and thence escorted her, with her attendant maidens and friends, to his own or his parents’ home. In the parable, however, the proceedings are somewhat different. Here the bridegroom is not in the town, but somewhere at a distance, so that, though the day is settled, the exact hour of his arrival is uncertain. He will come in the course of the night, and the virgins who are to meet him have assembled in the house where the wedding is to take place. They wait for the summons to go forth and meet the bridegroom and conduct him to the bridal place; and when the signal is given that he is approaching, they set forth on the road, each bearing her lamp.”

Verse 13 is a very clear summary and point to the story: keep watch.

What does that really mean?

Consider the wife of a soldier returning from war. She’s dressed up and waiting at the airport (when you could do that), and she’s looking around people to see her man in uniform. She’s waiting in excited anticipation for the man she hasn’t seen in a year. He’s finally coming home.

Even though we have the day to day grind we’re in here on earth, we realize that maybe today – yes, maybe today – we will see Him return. We cast off all the end times analysis that hinders His return from being imminent (i.e., He couldn’t possibly return now because….), and we, like the military wife, wait eagerly for His return.

Remember, we still don’t know the day or hour.

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Daily Dying

36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 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. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:36-51

It’s interesting to see modern day “prophets” tell us that just because we can’t know the day or hours, doesn’t mean we can’t predict the week or month or even year. I scratch my head at their assertions.

Everyone’s so obsessed with finding out the season or year He’s coming that they miss the point of the entire passage. The passage is teaching us to be ready regardless of when it is.

Faithful living, day by day. Not being complacent. Not wasting time on frivolous pursuits.

We’re all guilty of it. We all have the same 24 hours to work, play, and sleep.

It’s actually an interesting problem in modern seemingly contented society. How do you keep motivated when the world is screaming for you to waste time? (Don’t believe me? Stop at one video on Youtube some day. Can’t do it!)

And yet, as the Phillips Craig and Dean song says, “As I hear the Savior call for daily dying….”

Daily dying. Living for Christ means dying daily.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Philippians 2:20

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Everyone Will Mourn

30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Matthew 24:30-35

The Bible says the people who see Jesus coming will mourn. I’ve considered surprise, fascinated, puzzled, and overjoyed, but never mournful. Why will they be mourning? Probably because of the brilliance of His glory and because of their sinfulness. This will, of course, only be a temporary occurrence because a lot of things have to happen prior to the final days.

The Bible also tells when we see these things – the events we talked about yesterday – then His return is imminent.

There’s also an element about His return for we who see Him coming. Remember, it says that all the peoples of the earth will mourn, including those who believe. Why will we be mourning? I mean, it seems as though this would be the time we would take to the streets in celebration! Oh, there will be time for that.

I think we will mourn because of opportunities missed, chances not taken, harsh words spoken, tender words not spoken, things that we know better to do (or not to do).

Again, just a thought going into this weekend.

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In Days of Darkness

15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.

26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

29 “Immediately after the distress of those days

“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ Matthew 24:15-29

This passage seems to be referring to the sack of Jerusalem around AD70. Jesus was speaking directly to the people who would face those tremendous challenges. He didn’t spend a lot of time talking about ‘when’ it would happen, but ‘how then shall you live’ during those difficult times.

Once again, we see Jesus doing what He can to preserve the Church that would spring up upon His death. At the time Jesus spoke these words, the disciples were probably scratching their heads because it all seemed so unrealistic. Most hearing this, if they were still alive when the prophecy was fulfilled, would have been in their 60s or 70s and surely they would recall His words when they saw the destruction Jerusalem would be under.

We are indirect beneficiaries of the faithfulness of these saints. They were obedient in the midst of utter chaos. They could not have foreseen the coming destruction, but reacted appropriately when it came.

What’s God doing in the world today? What’s being shaken up? In 2020 alone, the world has undergone tremendous cultural changes. What’s normal today wasn’t normal just 8 months ago.

And that’s not even considering the national election that is currently being contested.

In the midst of the chaos and confusion, we can stand on a solid truth: God is completely in control. Just as He was 40 years after Jesus told the disciples about the fall of Jerusalem, so He is in control today. Nothing’s changed.

Nothing.

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Love Will Grow Cold

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14

A sequence of events will occur during the last days, and we seem to be the middle of some of it. I’m not suggesting we’re in the last days, but that some of the events are taking place. For instance, the Church has been persecuted throughout the ages, at times more so than others.

It’s easy to get fearful and worry about what will come since the future is so murky.

This ties into what I said yesterday in the midst of a national election. Christians are told to stand firm because of the evil and coldness in society in times such as this. It’s actually a good discipline any time.

There’s no use in fretting over evil in society. Pray against it, yes, but fret over it, no. Perhaps we can help wage war against it, but fretting over it does us no good. Even when it seems like evil is winning, it really isn’t. God sees it all, hears it all and will judge swiftly at the appointed time.

In the mean time we pray, live our lives, and teach the same to our family and friends. Yes, there will be an increase of wickedness, but it doesn’t lessen God’s power.

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