In this section of the Olivet Discourse, we consider Jesus' Warning Parables. As we examine the text, let's remember that while the church escapes judgment, many are left to suffer the Great Tribulation. We must be righteous, be ready, and be responsible.
A full one-third of Jesus' recorded teachings is in storytelling form. He loved to teach in parables—earthly stories with heavenly meanings. As we consider several of Jesus' parables in this series, we will be captivated by the master storyteller and gain a deeper understanding of important spiritual truths.
*Compiled from Pastor Skip's Expound messages of the Gospels.
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Hebrew terms: מזל טוב; Mazal tov
Greek terms: γενεὰ; genea - generation; Μωρός; móros - stupid, foolish; Φρόνιμος; phronimos - intelligent, mentally attentive
Publications referenced: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, by Edgar Whisenant; Beyond Death's Door, by Dr. Maurice Rawlings
Cross references: Genesis 6; Matthew 7:13; Luke 21:29; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Peter 2:4-9; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 6; Revelation 8; Revelation 9; Revelation 12; Revelation 1
Let's pray. Lord, I do thank you tonight. I'm thankful for your children. I'm thankful for your people, this flock who gather weekly, sometimes a couple of different times during the week, and they do it out of love, love for you, love for your word, love for friends and family that gather with them, the body of Christ. We're thankful that You have given to us your mind, your heart, your will and the pages of Holy Scripture. We believe it to be your word and we pray that it would speak to us that we would be informed about it, inspired by it and motivated to live it. All of us face different circumstances. All of us face challenges. We're here also in part because we declare you are able to take us from this place to work in our lives and to fix anything, to do anything, to heal anyone, to work in every situation. We simply now submit to your sovereign hand, in Jesus' name, Amen.
In Verse 31 of Mathew Chapter 24, we left off in Verse 30 and I'm going to go back a couple of verses in a moment, but the reason I'm holding this trumpet, this shofar, this ram's horn is it says, "He will send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heaven to the other." I just brought this because we often read scripture and we read into the scripture our own experiences. You think of a brass or a silver trumpeter. But the trumpet in the ancient times was a ram's horn and the ram's horn, the trumpet that was blown was often to -- well, for different reasons. When kings were appointed, the shofar, the trumpet was blown. The king has come. He is being announced for his ordination, his anointing ceremony. When the people were called to gather together, often for war, the shofar was blown. There were different blasts of the trumpet to signal those different events. When the great festivals were announced, the public feast for Israel to gather, the shofar was blown.
We have been dealing with the Olivet Discourse that is Jesus' own teaching about his second coming from the Mount of Olives that comprises Mathew Chapter 24 and 25.
Put that down now. I'm not going to blow it, I'm not an angel.
I take you back to Verse 29 for the context of last week. I'm always a little too ambitious. I think I'm going to finish a chapter before I begin it. Preachers can get carried away sometimes and get deeper and drill and dig a little bit deeper on a text and then the time runs out. I left off in Verse 30. I take you back to Verse 29.
In the context of what we dealt with last week, we are now at the end of the Tribulation period and in Verse 29, Jesus speaks, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together his elect from the four winds from one end of heaven to the other."
The question in these verses becomes, "Who are the elect?" and the answer to that question, I'll just say it's a little more complicated than you might think. You just think, "Well, they're just Christian's. That's the elect." Sometimes the scripture uses the term to refer to the Jews. Sometimes it uses it to refer to all believers.
I think it's safe to say that we're dealing here at the end of the age the culmination now of earthly history that it refers to all believers of all times that are gathered together. This is the time of the end. This is ushering in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke about the tribulation and the great tribulation.
Now we hinted last time that it's going to be a bad time. Jesus said, "It's going to be the worst time," Daniel said that as well, that it will be an unparalleled time of tribulation in human history. Nothing has happened like it before.
Now in case you are thinking, "Well, how bad could it be? I mean, it's bad now." Every time in history is bad. We have wars. We have rumors of wars. We have earthquakes. We have famines. We have pestilences, the things that we read about. But when you turn to the Book of Revelation, you get all of that on steroids. You get all of that turned up to ten. It's all of that to the max. I wrote down just a sampling of the Book of Revelation what it speaks about will happen during that time. Now, you'll understand why it's called The Great Tribulation.
There are three series of judgments; you know that. There are seven seals that usher in seven trumpet judgments, that usher in seven bowl judgments, that is something poured out upon the earth. According to Revelation Chapter 6, there is going to be an unparalleled series of wars, human slaughter, worldwide famine, worldwide inflation, so much so the people will ask the mountains to fall upon them. That's just the beginning. Then there are the seven trumpet judgments in Revelation 8. Hail and fire from the sky. Rivers and springs polluted and poisoned. The grass of the earth, much of it, being burned up. Revelation 9, the bottomless pit is opened. Revelation 12, hordes of demons cover the earth.
Then there are the seven bowl judgments. Revelation 16, malignant sores upon mankind, water sources, again, poisoned, the sun scorches people on the earth and hail comes down from heaven, in some cases, a 125-pound hailstones. You think it's bad when Texas has a hailstorm. You ain't seen nothing yet. Revelation 16, international conflict that eventually brings in a coalition of nation that will fight in the mother of all battles. That is why it's called The Great Tribulation.
So if you say, "Well how bad could it be?" It can be that bad and that's how bad it will be. This is now after that Christ comes before the millennial kingdom is set up. Verse 32, now, hear this parable from the fig tree. When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all of these things, know that it is near at the doors. Assuredly I say to you, this generation will, by no means, pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away. Remember that. Whatever you are saving up for to purchase, this is its future, not saying don't get it, just keep it in mind.
The Lord has always had a sense of humor with me. When I was younger and I would save up for something new and cool and I couldn't wait to get it, it seemed that the Lord wanted me to know that everything I was purchasing, this new possession, be it a guitar or a camera or whatever thing it was, that it wasn't going to last. So if it was a guitar, somebody would borrow it, it got a ding in it in the first week. A brand new surfboard, first day out, hole in it. A new camera, it didn't have the strap on right, hit the cement, got a little ding, it worked but it was like everything I owned was like Jacob after wrestling with the angel that always walked with a limp or a hole or a crack. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will, by know means pass away. Jesus gives us here a series of parables, a series of warning parables.
This is the parable of the fig tree. What is the fig tree mean? What is it referred to? Well, there are a number of possibilities. Number one. Some interpret it as the nation of Israel and they look back to 1948 when Israel came into the land and reestablishes the nation and they say that the generation that cease that fig tree, regathering of Israel, that will be the final generation. The problem I have with that interpretation is simply, that would be so obscure to the disciples, it wouldn't even -- Jesus giving that to them. It's a possibility but that's the counter.
Number two. Some people say, "Well, since the word generation is the Greek word genea which means race as well as generation, it could simply mean that God has made a coven with the Jewish people and they're not going to be obliterated. They're going to survive throughout history even up to the end times because God has a plan for them." A third possibility is that we just take it as a straight forward illustration of what you see happening now gives you an indication of what is coming next. Let me explain. In the parallel account of Mathew 24, in the Gospel of Luke, that's Luke Chapter 21. Jesus said this, "Look at the fig tree and all the trees," so he included other tree species besides the fig and he said, "When you see it bringing forth leaves, you know that summer is near." So what Jesus, I think, is saying -- my opinion on this interpretation isn't necessarily 1948, the regathering of the Jews, that generation, or even the race of Israel. I think it's simply saying, "I've given you a list of sings, indicators." This is the assurance that when you have the winter of tribulation that is coming, you know that the spring time of blessing and the summer will follow just like the fig tree when it gets leaves and all of the other trees are going to bring forth fruit. They are going from one season to the next.
It's a straight forward saying of, there is hope at the end of this hard period of human history. "But of that day," Verse 36, "and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were so also was the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also was the coming of the Son of Man be."
Now go back to Verse 36. I noticed the phrase "That day." "But of that day and that hour no one knows." What day is he talking about? Well, what day has he been talking about? Let me ask it to you this way and see if you know the answer to it. All that Jesus has been discussing in Mathew 24 is given a title in the Old Testament that is used over and over again by the prophets and it's called the "Day of the Lord." The Day of the Lord isn't a 24-hour day. It's a period of time that will unfold many events, in this case, the ultimate final judgments where God, the Lord, intervenes in human history. That's the Day of the Lord.
"Of that day and the hour," that is the beginning of the day, "no one knows not even the angels in heaven but my Father only." The Day of the Lord, I believe -- this is my theology, this is my eschatology, I can't speak for all of you, this is what I believe the Bible clearly says. The Day of the Lord, that final period on earth, known in Daniel as Daniel's 70th week, that seven-year period, that Day of the Lord will begin with the rapture of the church. That's my belief. You can send me stuff in the mail and email and say, "But you got to read this book," and "What about that?" but I've read them all. That's what I strongly believe the scripture teaches.
When that day will begin by that event of the rapture, no one knows. Now every now and then somebody will forget this is in the Bible and say, "I know."
I am absolutely amazed at how many Christians are doped by these, would be, prophets. I remember clearly in 1988 that some of you are snickering because you know where I am going with this. There was a little booklet put out called "88 reasons why Jesus was going to return on Rosh Hashanah in 1988." Remember that book? Anybody remember that? Okay. Then you guys are just like too young. I'm preaching to the wrong crowd. It circulated. Some 300,000 copies were given free by Edgar Whisenant. He is the guy that wrote it. An ex-NASA engineer and prophecy --. He gave 88 reasons why Jesus would be coming back and the rapture of the church was going to happen September 11, 12, 13 right around there, 1988.
I read it. I dismissed it. Other people in this church read it and insisted that I warn people that Jesus is coming. I said, "I've already warned people that Jesus is coming." "No, no, no. You can't warn them generally, you have to warn them that He is coming then." I said, "They should be as ready now as they would be as if He was coming tomorrow." "But they're not." I said, "Well, I am." I'll tell you what. I'll bring that book out again on September 12th or 13th or 14th. If we're still here, I'll take it out again and give it a second look before I throw it in the trash.
But, he knew. So many people thought, "That was it." He is not the only one in so many throughout history. They just swore they knew the date. "Of that day and that hour knows no one not even the angels in heaven but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were so also were the coming of the Son of Man be." It's an interesting parallel that Jesus equates that His coming would be similar to the days of Noah.
Now, if you remember your Bible back in Genesis 6, there are certain indicators that are tip-offs. Number one, there was a population increase. Men began to multiply, it says, on the face of the earth and scientists have done tremendous studies on what they figure the population was at the time of the flood. I won't bore you with that, you can chase that down on your own.
There are seven billion people on the planet. By 2050, they figured 21, 22 billion people. Now just think of how hard it is now to sustain life with the people on the earth. There's a tremendous increase in population. It's estimated that half to three-fourths of all the people who ever lived in history are alive right now. Number two. There is an increase in wickedness. Remember in Genesis 6, it says, "The sons of God took the daughters of man and went into them and had offspring that became giants, men of renown," and that's when God said, "My spirit will not always strive with man."
There was an increase of violence. The Bible says, "God saw the hearts of man that the thoughts of the intents of their heart were wicked continually." So there are certain things that were on the time of Noah that Jesus said will be preceding his coming markedly so. A fourth trait about the days of Noah, it was a time of unheeded preaching. 120 years Noah preached to a world who didn't want to hear the message and the floods came and they were all destroyed except of eight.
It looked ridiculous. He was building a boat in Iraq, in land Iraq. He is out there building a boat, building a boat and saying, "The flood is coming. The flood is coming." It would be like putting a yacht factory and gallop(ph). It just wouldn't make sense to people. They didn't listen to it until it was too late and they realized God's judgment had fallen. "For as in the days before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also were the coming of the Son of Man be."
Now, watch this. "Then two will be in the field; one will be taken the other left; two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken the other left."
That's my strong belief based upon the context that is not referring to being taken in the rapture but taken away in judgment because it says in Verse 39, "They did not know until the flood came and took them all away." In the very next Verse, "Then two will be in the field; one will be taken the other left." I think the point is, that the judgment will come and it will be too late.
Now, granted -- because I know there are various interpretations of lots of scriptures. It could refer to being taken away in the rapture if you factor in Verse 38 because yes, the flood came upon the world but Noah was lifted up of the earth in a boat. He was saved. The point or at least, one of the sub points Jesus is making is that when God judges, He always makes a different between the righteous and the wicked and he knows how to make that difference. That was the point Peter, in his Epistle, used when he used the flood as an example of judgment and God knows how to differentiate between righteous people and wicked people.
"Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." No one knows what will trigger that chain quickly that brings in the rapture of the church that ushers in the Day of the Lord that is followed by the abomination of desolation in the middle of the seven-year period that culminates in the battle of the Armageddon and the return of the Christ. Nobody knows that.
"But know this" -- okay, we don't know that, "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 in hour that you do not expect.
Here's the principle. The Bible's revelation of the world's consummation should bring godly motivation. You see there is something that you know as a Christian. You know what is coming. The world doesn't know this is coming and if you tell them they go, "Whatever." They don't believe it like it was in the days of the Noah, right? They dismissed it. But you know better. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2, "The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit, it's foolishness to him but the Sprit of the man," said Paul, "understands all things." He gets it. You see what people out there don't see. I hope you see it.
I read an interesting little article on the Eye of the Eagle. I said, "Skip, really, this is your background night time reading huh?" It's fascinating that an eagle's eye has eight times the amount of the visual cells per cubic centimeter than the human eye. What that means is, an eagle can be flying 600 feet above the earth and spot an object the size of a dime in 6 inches of grass. He has that visual acuity. Don't you wish you had that? He can spot a 3-inch fish jumping five miles away from the air. He can see or she can see, depending on if it is a Mr. or Mrs. Eagle, what other creatures can't see. You and I can see by prophetic scripture what no else is seeing. Therefore, anybody ought to be ready and involved and passionate in our living. It ought to be us. Therefore, you also be ready for the Son of Man is coming in an hour, you do not expect.
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant. whom his master made ruler over his household. to give them food into due seasons?" Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him at an hour when he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There would be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
How do get ready for Jesus coming? Number one, get saved. Get saved. If you trust in the finish work of Jesus Christ on your behalf on Calvary's Cross that he shed his blood and you received by an act of your faith, that act and that Savior as your Savior and your Lord, you believe in your heart. That's were you begin. You'll get saved.
The passion of my life has been teaching the Bible and, as Paul the Apostle, compelling man and woman to come to Christ.
You see, I had a brother that I witnessed to, who said, "I'll think about that later." Those are the last words I heard. A week later, I heard he died instantly in a motorcycle wreck. That has haunted me for years. Yesterday, I did a funeral of a dear brother, a dear friend who is saved ready. Interestingly though, he died suddenly. He just fell over death. Next week I have three more funerals, one of a teenager and his father another, of a woman who is 98 years old.
You just never know when your time is up but you can be ready for any event including death or the coming of the Lord but first of all, getting saved. It's sad but true. I heard there is a tombstone somewhere that says, "Here lies an atheist, all dressed but no place to go." Well, that is not true. There is a place for him to go or her to go as well as anyone who believes. It is just not the same place. Eternity is very real. It's not to be toyed with. Get saved.
Number two. Get busy. Start growing in the Lord. Peter said, "Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Never be content with where you're at now, today, tonight, in your Christian walk. What else can I learn? How else could the Lord work in me? Jesus told his disciples, "Go and make disciples of all nations." He didn't say, "Go make converts of all nations." We get so excited when people come forward and get saved, I do too, when they make that initial commitment. That is just the beginning. Disciple them. Grow. Get saved. Get busy.
Number three. Get active. Don't sit around and watch other people in the church serve. You have gifts and talents, get active. Involve yourself with other people.
I had a friend -- I knew him not really well but I knew him rather well. He was a pretty famous musician in the day, in Christian Circles years ago. He was becoming pretty popular and pretty famous and he just sort of getting bored. I play here and I play there and kind of going to the circuit and he was sinking into a depression and he went to the assistant pastor of our church where I was in California. The assistant pastor's name was Romaine. He was an ex-Marine sergeant. So, Eric went to him and he told him, "I play everywhere for the Lord and I'm just -- life is this and life is that," and Romaine said, "Eric, you need to wake up. You are so self-absorbed and here is the cure. For the next week, everyday, I want you to go to the old folk song and spent time with them and see how you might help them and see what their needs are." Eric came back a week later with a smile on his face having helped someone who had greater needs than he had, seeing their suffering, seeing their plight, seeing their condition and he just little by little wanted to help them. It helps snap him out of it. Sometimes, we're just so selfish and self-focused that if we look to others and how we might bless and ministered others, it puts a new passion in us. Get saved. Get active. Get busy.
Verse 1, Chapter 25. I think we're making great time. You're looking at the end of the Chapter going, "No way." Let's just see.
He's continuing. This is all the same sermon on the Mount of Olives. "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." Okay. We're now obviously in this parable dealing with a Jewish wedding. A Jewish wedding was very different than a wedding today. Today, people date, they get engaged, they plan the ceremony, they get married, they go off to a honeymoon. Not on those days.
Number one, there were three faces to the Jewish wedding and this background will help you understand the parable. Number one, there was the engagement. The engagement was done when the children were quite young, just little children. It was not done by the boy and the girl. It was done by the father and the father. The father of the bride and the father of the groom made a contract, made a deal, a gift was given. The children had no contact or say in the matter at all. They would find out later who they would be marrying. So they would learn early that love is a commitment, not a feeling.
Second phase was the betrothal period which happened about a year before the actual wedding feast itself. About a year before the wedding feast, the young man and the young woman to be married entered into a contract and said vows to each other during the betrothal just like married vows. They would have no physical contact for a year. They would say the vows to each other and once they said the vows and they entered that phase of betrothal which could last up to a year, as I said, they could not separate unless they filed a legal divorce.
In fact, if let's say the man died during that betrothal period, she was called a widow who is a virgin; that's a biblical phrase. If you ever wonder what does that mean, it's somebody who is betrothed whose husband to be died and she is now a widow who is a virgin. During that year, the idea of it was it would give him time to get a house, to get his fields plowed and to be able to show that he could provide for the wife he was taking in.
Number three, and this is the background of the parable, was the wedding feast itself. Now, the wedding feast involved everybody in the small town, everybody in the community. The groom and his groomsman would, whenever they were ready, go over to the bride's house. She was ready. Her attendants should be ready, the bridesmaids. And there, they would begin by a parade from her house through the longest route possible of that town back to the groom's house. Why the longest route possible? So that everybody in town could say, "Congratulations! Mazel tov!" and maybe throw out a coin or two. You get a little bit more if you go through all the houses, sort of like trick or treat when you were a kid.
Once they got to the groom's house, that's when the festivities began and there was no honeymoon for the first week. Get this, there was a feast. For a week, the couple didn't consummate the marriage. They had an open house and a feast for seven days up to one whole week. People would come in, congratulate them, they would hug and have meals, and they would do that for seven days. Finally after seven days, the best man, the groomsman, the friend of the bridegroom, would take the hand of the groom and the hand of the bride and place them together, and everyone would leave. It was the first time they were alone together. Everyone would leave hopefully. Enough is enough. Get out of town. Get out of this house and they would consummate their marriage and they would share their life together.
Now on that parade from the house of the bride to the house of the groom, it was often done at night, so torches were lit and the torch -- it says lamp but the word is torch, better translated from the Greek -- and it was a long stick, on the top it was like a metal mesh, wire mesh apparatus, cloth stuffed inside, olive oil soaked in that cloth and they would light it up and that would light up the night skies so they could go from one end of town to the other.
Then the attendants would also with the torches, women included, have little flasks of olive oil. So when that lamp would start to dim, they'd pour more oil in it and the flame would be renewed. That's the background of what you're about to read.
"Then the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened into ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now, five of them were wise and five were foolish." The word foolish is "mōrós". We get the word moron from it, stupid. The word wise is [Foreign Language] in Greek. It means -- it speaks of the brain, somebody who is attentive mentally, with it and together mentally, somebody who assesses the situations correctly because you'll never know when the groom is going to come, so you just want to be ready. That is a wise person, plans a head. Five were wise, five were foolish. Those who where "mōrós" took their lamps and took no oil with them. Well, that's dumb.
But the wise took oil and their vessels with the lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight, a cry was heard. "Behold, the bridegroom is coming. Go out and meet him." So, this is sort unusual, right? It is kind of late. Midnight is when most people do sleep. So, this guy is really late, but the point he's making is he's not coming back at the second coming right away.
Remember, they expected, the disciples expected. Do you remember from last week that Jesus was going to set up his Kingdom, when? Then, immediately. It's going to be awhile, boys, at midnight, an unlikely hour. Then Verse 7, "All those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out,' but the wise answered saying, "No, there should not be enough for us and you, but go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves." Well, at midnight nobody's open. The stores are closed. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with them to the wedding and the door was shut.
Afterwards, the other virgins came also saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us", but He answered and he said assuredly, "I say to you, I don't know you." "Watch therefore," that's the same message, a warning parable. "Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Be righteous, be ready, and be responsible. That's the lesson. Be righteous, be ready, and be responsible.
Now, just a word on the number ten. There are ten virgins, five wise, five foolish. Ten seems to be a big deal in Judaism for some reason. I know there is a reason. I just don't know it. I'm sure I'll probably get an e-mail saying, "I know it." Okay. Anyway, it took ten Jewish men in a city before you could start a synagogue. That was the minimum number of men required. That is why when Paul goes to Philippi and there's Lydia and the women, they're down by the river. There is no synagogue. There are not ten Jewish men in that town. There is only a few women who are gathered together, so they would gather together always in the river because river was considered living water, flowing water, and that's where they could do their dipping and their baptisms in the mikvah of the river. So you need ten men for a synagogue.
Also, Jewish law required the minimum of ten men to have a Passover and ten seems to be the appropriate number for a wedding in ancient times. But the point is be righteous, be ready, be responsible. Here you have lies and foolish. The foolish are the stupid or those who knew something was coming but were unprepared. Oh yeah, they've got the garment, so they look the part. They've got the torch, so they kind of look like they're ready for the part but they don't have anything to light it with; there is no oil, so they're unprepared. They unprepared for what is coming like so many people who profess to be waiting for the Lord but they don't live like it. They've fallen asleep. They're sort of dosed.
Now, on one hand it's understandable. I mean, talk about being ready, Jesus hasn't returned. It's been 2000 years. Imagine your whole life. You can't live on your tiptoes. Your whole life -- I mean you have to make decisions, you have to pay mortgages, you have to drive cars, you have to raise children, et cetera.
So, you can't just wear your pajamas and stay in your house singing, "The Lord is going to return." Life has to go on. So, because life goes on, many just sort of dose off and forget and they're unprepared and eventually, by the way they live, shows that they're foolish and not wise.
One of the things that has always concerned me, and I really wish it would concern churches across this nation, is that just because people go to a church and bring a Christian book and know Christian songs, it doesn't mean that they're all wise bridesmaids. There are myriads of churches filled with unprepared, unrepentant, unsaved people. "Oh yeah, I've heard that. Oh yeah, I know that." It just becomes a conditioned tradition for them to go through.
It's not real. They're dosed. They're sleeping and they will be cut. Many will be cut. It's interesting that five are dumb. Now, I'm not going to suggest from this parable that Jesus is giving some a mathematical equation that in every assembly of people who are professing believers that half of them are unsaved, but it's just interesting that half are wise and half are not. Obviously, it concerns the Lord that there are a significant number of people who profess to follow him who are really not ready for Him.
That's concerning. I wish it would concern more people. Verse 10, notice this. "And while they went to buy, they're out looking for oil, the bridegroom came." Now, stop right there. There are two ancient versions of scripture that we need to apply and compare. One is the Syriac version. The other is the Vulgate, the Latin Vulgate. And both of those versions where it says the bridegroom came, they say, "The bridegroom came with the bride which fits the prophetic model." In other words, the rupture of the church will take place. The bride, the church, will be in heaven. There will be the marriage supper of the lamb and the bride will come -- the bridegroom will come, Jesus. The bridegroom will come with us, his bride, back to the earth for the second coming. That fits the prophetic model beautifully. So, that's an important translation to consider.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding and the door was shut. Afterwards, the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us," but He said assuredly, "I say to you, I do not know you. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man is coming."
There are some things that you just can't leave to the last minute and one of them is dealing with eternal things, spiritual things. You can't like put that off any longer. If you put off a decision for Christ, you are in His words, moronic. It's dumb. You're playing against the odds because you don't know. You could drop dead tomorrow. Take it from someone who does a lot of funerals.
Be ready. Don't put off certain things and one of them is spiritual things. If you sat down on a classroom to take a test, you'd be foolish if you didn't prepare for the test until it was passed out. "Oh! Yeah, a test. Okay. I've got to get myself ready." Too late. You can't put that off.
The other lesson is that there are certain things that can't be borrowed, oil. "Hey man! I don't have any oil, can I borrow some of yours?" "No, I won't have enough for me. It's my oil. This is for my lamp. It's corresponding, this amount, to what I need for tonight's march through town."
You can't borrow someone else's relationship to the Lord. "Oh, I think I'm okay. My mother is a believer. My father is a believer," or a preacher, or my grandfather. You need your own relationship with Christ. You can't borrow anybody else's oil. Now, we get to another parable, the Parable of the Talents. Let's see how far we get. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man travelling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them."
And the one he gave five talents; to another, two; to another, one; to each according to his own ability and immediately he went on a journey. Now, you hear the word 'talent' and you think of it in English definition of capability. And since the word 'ability' is used in the sentence, you think talent is, "I'm talented" or "I'm not talented." "I can play the guitar" or "I can't play the guitar." A talent was a measurement of weight and significant. A talent of silver or gold could be worth up to 20 years wages for a working person, though he gave five and then two and then one.
"Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five. And likewise, he who had received two gained two more also, but he who received one went and dug in the ground and his Lord's money."
After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So, he who had received five talents came and brought the other five talents saying, "Lord, you delivered me five talents. Look, I gained five more talents besides them." His Lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You are faithful over a few things. I will make you a ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord."
He also who had received the two talents came and said, "Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Look, I've gained two more talents besides them." His Lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful over a few things. I will make you a ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord."
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown." In other words, taking what doesn't belong to you and gathering where you have not scattered seed. Now, stop right there. That is this guy's assessment of the master. It doesn't mean that's how the master was. That's just what he said he was.
Now, I find this to be incongruous because if this guy really believed his master was a hard man and did reap where he did not sow, that would give him even more incentive not to be lazy and slothful because otherwise, if I'm lazy and slothful, I'm really in trouble, but this was his excuse. "Well, I just know you're a hard dude and I was afraid and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Look! There you have what is yours."
His Lord answered and said to him, "You wicked and lazy servant. You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. You also ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming, I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore, take the talent from him and give it to him who has 10 talents."
One way to see this, this is money. The talent is a measurement of weight and it inferred here as money. But you can look at talents as your opportunity to invest what the Lord has given to you in terms of resources, time, talent, treasure, and investing your life in those resources for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Are you really using what God has entrusted to you to expand the Kingdom of God?
It's our privilege to multiply the provision that the Lord has given to us and God rewards according to faithfulness. So, you're a unique individual and you as an individual have certain opportunities, certain gifts of the Holy Spirit as a member of the Body of Christ. You have a certain amount of monetary treasure to contribute to the Body of Christ and for the work of the Kingdom. All of that wrapped together is your opportunity to produce upon the provision that God has entrusted to you.
Get saved. Get busy. Get active. That message keeps coming over and over again. Now, you and I are different and you and the person next to you is different. You are uniquely crafted by God and you have certain contributions that I don't have. You are needed, and just like a human body, the Body of Christ, the Church operates at different levels, but everyone must be faithful and God will reward according to your faithfulness.
Can I just say you can thank God that your human body doesn't act like most churches act? Members in the Body of Christ who aren't content with what God has gifted them or given them or called them to be in using that and investing that in the Kingdom.
What if your human body was like much of the church? What if for example, your foot -- this foot wanted to go one way and this one wanted to go another way? You'd have a really difficult time getting anywhere. What if your lungs said, "You know what, nobody sees me. I don't like this place of not being seen, you know. The eyes get all the glory. I want more exposure." You'd die of infection.
What if that little master gland in the brain, the pituitary, said, "I'm trapped inside the sella turcica, connected to the infundibulum. I don't like this little space in here. It's so crowded. I don't want to be in the endocrine system anymore and secret stuff." You'd be dead.
Every single element, every single part of your body plays a unique part and contributes to the whole body. And since we are Christ's representatives on earth and He has entrusted us with talents, opportunities, gifts, treasures, get saved. I'm speaking to people probably, mostly who are -- get busy, get active. "For to everyone who has," Verse 29, "more will be given and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he was will be taken away and cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
It would seem that in this parable, the unprofitable servant is the poser believer. He proves that he doesn't have saving faith. By the way, he acted with his master. When the Son of man comes in His glory and all of the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the thrown of His glory and all the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them, one from another as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats.
"And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then, the King will say to those on his right hand, "Come, you blessed of my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me."
And before we quickly finish this up, unfortunately, this section has been lifted out of context by some who tried to show that salvation comes by works or maintaining your salvation is by works. And somebody that I love very deeply was a great musician but an error over this one issue and that was a man by the name of Keith Green, who used to talk about this a lot and press this a lot and in the early years so legalistic tried to show that you need to maintain by your works, the salvation given to you or you lose it.
That is not the context of this. We go on and we see the righteous. We'll answer him, saying, "Lord, when do we see You hungry and feed You or thirsty and give You a drink? When do we see You as stranger and take You in or naked and clothe you? When do we see You sick or in prison and come to You?" And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you in as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me." And he will say to those on the left, "Depart from Me you accursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave Me no food. I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink. I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and imprisoned and you did not visit Me."
And they will also answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?" And He will answer them saying, "Assuredly, I say to you in as much as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to Me." Now, really quickly, most people, most theologians, most bible commentators -- don't you love that word, commentators and some 'tators" are more common than others -- those who give us Bible commentaries will all agree that this is dealing with the second coming of Jesus Christ, but they don't agree on the nature of this judgment.
I will tell you this. This is not the great white throne judgment. The great white throne judgment takes place after the millennium. It's only for unbelievers. It's the lake of fire and it's called the second death.
I'm not going to explain these terms. I'm just enclosing. I'm going to share them, hoping that some of you know what they are. All millennialist, those who don't believe in a literal millennium, post millennialists both think this is the general end time judgment for all people; I do not. I do not because first of all, there's no mention of resurrection. That must be there before that takes place and because the subjects who are being judged seemed to be the ones who are alive when Jesus comes back at His second coming.
So, the way it seems to me is that this is a judgment on the nations of the earth at the time of the second coming, end of the tribulation, and they're judged on their treatment of whom Jesus calls his brethren which I believe are the Jewish people, the Jews, the Jewish nation, Israel. Paul spoke about my brethren, same terminology. He spoke about Jewish, ethnically Jewish people. He had a heart for them.
In the tribulation period, many Jews, we talked last week will come to Christ. They will be sealed, but there will be such a wave of anti-semitism according to Revelation XII that will sweep through the world. Many gentile nations will persecute Israel, but some gentile nations will bless and be kind to them and Jesus will have a judgment for those nations and probably since He's deviating it out to individuals, rulers of those nations who set the policies during that time in dealing with His brethren, the Jews.
I think it's the judgment of the nations. Look at Verse 41. No, let's look at Verse 46 and close it off. "And this will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Now, look at Verse 41 as we close. Notice what He says. "Then, He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed into everlasting fire." Prepared for whom? The devil and his angels. Please mark that.
God didn't make hell for people. Now, people will go there. A lot of people will go there. I'll even be bold to say most people will go there. Jesus talked about the narrow gate in very few. He said, "Enter therein." Why does the gate the least of destruction and many most enter therein? But God never made hell for people. He made it to be inhabited by the devil and his angels as a place of torment for those spiritual beings.
However, God has given you and I volition, the power of free choice and if a person refuses to follow Christ, refuses God's plan for their life and decides rather to follow the devil, God will let them follow the devil even to the devil's final destination which is hell and that is your choice.
And I wish more authors would write about the rest of the story when it comes to near death experiences. Remember all of those stories about, "Yeah man, it was like a bright white light and it felt so warm. And you know what, I've been like a horrible person my whole life, but it's all good."
Yeah, those books make the press, but you don't hear the rest of the story. One cardiologist by the name of Maurice Rawlings, a cardiologist who attended many people who are dying in the emergency room had a different story and wrote a different book. He wrote a book called, Beyond Death's Door. He experienced the deaths of hundreds of patients, he says whose heart stopped suddenly and changed his idea about eternity.
In his book, he writes, "I'm thoroughly convinced that there is life after death and that there are at least as many people go into hell as going to heaven." He says -- and one time, he was an unbeliever, but now with this, he's convinced. The turning point of my own concepts occurred when a patient experienced cardiac arrest and dropped dead right in front of me in my office. Of course, that alone didn't change my thinking, but the fact that this 48-year-old was screaming, "I'm in hell. Keep me out of hell."
Each time he responded to resuscitation efforts, did caused me some concern. He has an act for the understatement. He wrote, "About 50% of the revived persons told of having gone to a place of great darkness, filled with a grotesque moaning and riving bodies, crying out to be rescued from this place with overwhelming feelings of eery, nightmarish terror."
He addresses in his book, "Why aren't these stories being reported?" He answers, "Because people are too embarrassed to admit them and doctors are too embarrassed to make inquiries into such matters, but nobody can afford to ignore these reports. I'm convinced there is a hell and we must conduct ourselves in such a way as to avoid being sent there at all cost."
Now, get saved, get busy, get active, but if you don't know Jesus Christ tonight and if you're going to be like the foolish young woman who says, "Oh yes, the Lord. Yes, I'm kind of waiting for the Lord. It's all good," and you haven't made preparation by letting the blood of Jesus Christ cleanse your life, your sin, you are foolish indeed. As we close, I'm going to give you an opportunity to change that. Let's stand and we'll pray together.
Our Father, we've covered a lot of ground, a lot of real estate in Matthew, a lot of parables, but that recurring theme of Jesus, the Lord himself over and over again. There are things we don't know about the future. There is that date we cannot figure out or pinpoint. You've given us general warning signs, but we don't exactly know when, but we know enough to get saved, to get busy and to get active.
I pray for those who maybe gathered here tonight who are toying with their lives. They've come to church. They're checking it out. Yeah, they listen to the preacher boy a little longer. They'll listen to the music, but they themselves have not made a genuine heart change to Jesus Christ. They've never admitted that they're sinner. They've never turned to Christ. They've never ask Jesus to wash them of their sins. They're not saved. They're not ready.
They're living in a foolish condition. There are others who are here tonight who remember back when some experience they had, the warm feeling, the talking to God, maybe even a commitment to You that was seemingly authentic at the time, but that has passed and today, they're not walking with You at all and they're isolated and alone and rightly worried about the future.
Make a covenant with them, Lord, tonight, here, right now. Enter into that covenant where You as their savior and they come as a sinner, vulnerable and open before You, confessing who they are and asking You to heal them. As we sing this final song, if that describes you, if you've never received the Lord personally, don't care what church you are raised in, don't care if you were raised in this church by Godly parents or grandparents.
You might be a nice person, a wonderful person, a well-educated person, a well-meaning person, you search your heart and you ask Him. Am I saved?. If I die tonight, will I go to heaven? Do I know Jesus? Or if you've walked away from Him, if you haven't been following Him and you need to come back to Him.
As we sing this song quickly, get up from where you're standing, balcony, in this living room floor, in the overflow room right here with the families. You get up and come as we sing. We sing and you come. We'll make provision for you, right up in the front. I'll lead you in a prayer.
You've heard preaching before. The people in Noah's time heard preaching year after year. Only eight were saved. Many are called and few are chosen. Will you be one of the elect that He has chosen?
Will you cooperate with His calling in your life, His sovereign calling in your life, His claim on you? You can be forgiven of anything you've ever done. "Oh, but dude I'm really bad," you might say. There are two truths that I know. I am a great sinner and Jesus is a great savior. He'll be your savior if you let Him, but only if you let Him. Anyone else? We'll wait for you, but come quickly. Come now.
This is your night. God's calling you. Get up from the back or the middle or the balcony or the front and come to Christ. Let Him be your savior and your master and come as we sing.
Come and surrender your life. Be really quickly now. I'm going to pray for you, with you guys. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer out loud, after me from your heart to the Lord. This is you in prayer, giving the Lord the pink slip, the control of your life to Him. Ready? Let's pray.
Lord, I give you my life. I admit I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe He died on the cross and that He rose from the dead, that He shed His blood for my sin. I turned from sin. I turn to You as my savior, in Jesus' name. Amen.