Matthew 25: 1-13
The end may be nearer than many think. According to the Bible, a great event of universal importance will happen soon. Inhabitants of the earth will suddenly discover that millions of people are missing. This event, popularly called the Rapture, is described in I Thessalonians 4: 16, 17. Jesus the King of kings will descend to resurrect all those who died in Him; transform the living who are serving Him in holiness and righteousness, and catch them all away to be with Him. All these will happen “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15: 52). It will be as sudden as the arrival of the Bridegroom (Matthew 25: 6). This will generally confuse millions as they try to figure out what must have happened. But you should not be here to share in that confusion and the subsequent regrets. This is why you cannot afford to toy with a message like this.
1. PROMISE OF HIS RETURN – Matthew 25: 1-5; John 14:1-3; Acts 1: 10, 11;
Christ promised to come again to ‘evacuate’ His elects before the great days of God’s wrath (Acts 1: 10, 11; Isaiah 26: 20, 21). The “great tribulation” (Matthew 24: 21) is coming upon this world because of sin. The world has witnessed, among others, years of untold wickedness, defiance of divine ordinances, and man’s deliberate rejection of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour. It therefore stands in anticipation of God’s indignation. Heart-breaking news are circulating daily; but God is not even angry or indignant yet. One can therefore only imagine how horrific the time of Great Tribulation will be! In addition, torture from both Satan and the coming Antichrist will flow freely as well. No wonder our Lord says it (the Great Tribulation) will be “such as was not since the beginning of the world …” (Matthew 24: 21). But just as countries withdraw their ambassadors and citizens in a beleaguered (or war-threatened) country, Christ will withdraw all His children before all these begin to happen (I Thessalonians 5: 9). He has always done this (Genesis 6: 17, 18; 19: 15, 16). But how soon is this event?
2. POINTERS TO HIS RETURN- Matthew 25: 6-9; I Thessalonians 5: 1-3
The EXACT time of the Bridegroom’s arrival is not specified. Jesus will come as unexpected as a thief in the night (I Thessalonian 5: 2). However, there are some signs for alert brides to watch out for. These include:
i. Wars (Matthew 24: 6, 7): A substantial volume of today’s WORLD NEWS is actually WAR NEWS. Even in many nations where there are no officially declared wars, the inter-tribal conflicts, boarder disputes, terrorist attacks, and other unrests that are ongoing are close to open warfare.
ii. Famine (Matthew 24: 7): Economic recession is now global. Hungry refugees die in thousands around the world. Many families live below the poverty line, and millions of children are mal-nourished.
iii. Pestilences (Matthew 24: 7): ‘Natural’ disasters like flood, earthquakes, tsunamis, fire outbreak, and epidemics like HIV/AIDS, etc. are claiming lives in thousands.
iv. Rise of false prophets, and increase of lying wonders (Matthew 24: 5): More than ever before, many today deceive millions with outstanding magical acts (taken for miracles) in virtually all parts of the world.
v. Increase of knowledge (Daniel 12: 4): If scientific prodigies like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday, etc. were alive today, they might simply marvel. Think of space travelling, satellite launching, radars, robots, etc. Some years ago, rich citizens might have luxuries like photo camera, video camera, computer, telephone, radio, TV, clock, calculator, etc. Today all these and more are compressed into a single device small enough for our pocket – the GSM handset! With live video messaging and video conferencing (such as with Skype), social media like Facebook, and link applets like WhatsApp, the Internet has virtually turned our world to a global village. Micro-tech is another world apart. Injectable microchips, smaller than a grain of rice, are already being implanted on hands and foreheads in advanced countries for various economic, administrative and security purposes. (The Antichrist will use this on a global scale – (Revelation 13: 16-18). And who knows the next surprise technology the world will be introducing? Knowledge has increased! The Rapture is near!!
3. PREPARATION FOR HIS RETURN – Matthew 25: 10-13; I Thessalonian 5: 4-8
There are obvious lessons from the parable of the ten virgins. First, they were all virgins, and none was merely pretending. Secondly, they all went out to meet the Bridegroom. And thirdly, they all made some preparations – none forgot her lamp behind. Why then did some of them fail to make it? Their preparation was inadequate: they had no extra oil for their lamp (Matthew 25: 3). In plain language, their spiritual experience was stale and lacking renewal. It is not enough to have been saved or sanctified sometime in the past; how are you NOW? Christian experiences must be guarded jealously and nurtured constantly, else they leak away imperceptibly. That is why we are warned: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4: 23). As we anxiously waiting for the coming of our King the following are essential in order to guard against being among the foolish virgins:
i. Be always current in your Christian experiences. Never deliberately toy with sin. If, however, you mistakenly fall, waste no time to trace your way back (1 John 2: 1)
ii. Maintain an unbroken relationship with God through personal quiet time and regular fellowship (Mark 1: 35; Hebrews 10: 25).
iii. Aspire for spiritual growth. Strive to acquire the Christian experiences you have not got, and have a strong desire for spiritual growth (2 Peter 3: 18).
iv. Avoid unequal yokes in friendship. Know where to draw the line as you relate with unbelieving schoolmates and neighborhood peers (Proverbs 1: 10).
v. Be a witnessing believer. A soul winning believer is less likely to backslide or even compromise (John 1: 40-42, 45-46).
vi. Avoid carnality. Talkativeness, jesting, profane songs, worldly dressing, blue films, immoral literature, pornography, sport fanaticism, etc. are indices of carnality, and are not for those who hope to make the Rapture (Galatians 5: 16, 17).
vii. Clear all cases of restitution (James 1: 22; Acts 24: 16).
viii. Beware of heresy, strange fire, and fanaticism. Avoid the judgmental, blood-and-fire prayers and prayer houses so prevalent these days. Shun doubtful visions, revelations, and mystical testimonies, either in books or CDs, and stay with the Bible (Galatians 5: 1).
The next event in God’s agenda for this world, the Rapture, is definitely at the door. This is not a time to indulge in any form of frivolity. “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Revelation 16: 15).