Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keeping us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.”
This week Greg covers Matthew Matthew 24:29- Mathew 25:46. Greg recaps a little bit from the previous message and then shares again Jesus’ prophecies about the end-times that include His simultaneous Second Coming and the Rapture. Jesus lets us know that if we know how to recognize the signs we won’t be surprised when He returns. Jesus then tells several parables that contrast fully devoted followers with people who are Christians in name only but don’t actually obey Him.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. ~ Matthew 24:29-31
When does this happen? Jesus says in verse 29, immediately AFTER the great tribulation. Again, as we said last week, this is the rapture AND this is the second coming of Christ AND they are BOTH happening simultaneously. Jesus is very clear that both of these things happen AT THE END OF the great tribulation.
Then, as we said last week, this Great Trumpet is the same thing Paul is referring to as the Last Trumpet in 1 Corinthians 15:52 when he writes
… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:52
On Yom Teruah, the Shofar is blown 100 times and the last trump of the day is also referred to as the Tekia Gedolah, the Great Tekia – the great trumpet, a long blast as long as the trumpeter can hold it. Let’s read on.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. ~ Matthew 24:32-33
I shared last week when Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour of His return that’s really just a Jewish idiom that points us to wedding feasts and the Feast of Yom Teruah which repeats two days in a row. Jesus’ return could be on day one or day two of that future Yom Teruah but it will be on one of those two days. He will return on either the first day or the second day of Yom Teruah 3.5 years after the antiChrist commits the abomination of desolation in the new temple. Jesus will return and the rapture will occur at the exact moment the last trumpet and the great trumpet blast occurs on one of those Yom Teruah days. Jesus is clear here. If we have understanding we won’t be surprised by any of these events. We will be ready.
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. ~ Matthew 24:34-35
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. ~ Matthew 24:36
– Again, this was a common idiom about weddings. The groom would get a room ready for his bride in the father’s home. Then he and the bride would wait until his father decided the time was right for him to go and get his bride. The groom didn’t know when. The bride didn’t know when. Not even angels knew. Only the groom’s father knew for sure when he would send his Son to gather up his bride. All of this tradition was connected to the Feast of Yom Teruah. Jesus is saying, one day the father will send me, the bridegroom, to gather up my bride, the church, for a grand wedding feast celebration. It will happen on a future Yom Teruah, at the great trumpet, at the last trumpet. That’s what this means. It does not mean, despite what I’m sure you have been taught, that it is impossible for us to know when the second coming of Christ will occur. Just a few verses ago Jesus said we can recognize the signs and know when His coming is very near, right at the door. Jesus goes on to give us more signs to watch for. Clearly He wants us to be able to know when His coming is imminent.
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. ~ Matthew 24:37-39
Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. ~ Matthew 24:40-42
Be received, be taken along
Be sent away, be left behind.
So, the ones “taken” are the ones caught up in the rapture to meet Jesus and the ones left are the ones left behind to face judgment.
But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. ~ Matthew 24:43
For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. ~ Matthew 24:44
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. ~ Matthew 24:45-47
But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 24:48-51
We tend to assume this is a passage about nonbelievers, wicked sinners who have rejected Jesus but that’s not what the context says. This comparison is between two different types of servants of the same master. One faithful and sensible and one evil and selfish. Both claim to serve and represent the interests of the master. This is not just a parable comparing believers and non-believers. This is also a parable comparing faithful Christians and carnal, false Christians. That is a major wake-up call from Jesus. Just because you prayed the sinner’s prayer once upon a time, that doesn’t mean you get to go back and live your old worldly life without consequences. There are expectations of Christ-followers and repercussions if we mock God with our actions.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. ~ Galatians 6:7-8
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. ~ Matthew 25:1-4
Oil, throughout Scripture, is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Lamps and lights are always symbols of the knowledge and wisdom of God. Jesus is the light of the world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. ~ Matthew 5:14-15
So this is again, a reference to believers. Each virgin with a lamp is a person who states they are a follower of Jesus. Like the faithful servant and the wicked servant of the parable before, this group of believers is divided as well. Some are foolish and some are prudent. Some make sure they always have plenty of oil with them while they wait for the bridegroom and others don’t take any oil with them. In other words, some stay daily connected to the Holy Spirit, daily being filled and guided by Him. While others treat the Holy Spirit (oil) as a one-and-done kind of relationship. They said the sinner’s prayer. They claimed the name, accepted the engagement proposal, but then went about their lives, having nothing else to do with the Holy Spirit. They ran out of oil.
Now, again, we’ve talked a lot about the repeated theme of Yom Teruah being connected to wedding symbolism.
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. ~ John 14:2-3
Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ ~ Matthew 25:5-6
That’s where we are 2,000 years later yeah? Jesus didn’t come as soon as He was expected. It feels like He has been delaying and as a result, we virgins, the church, both the prudent and the foolish, have all gotten a little drowsy, a little complacent. We aren’t really earnestly expecting Him anymore. In His parable, Jesus says at midnight there is a shout! Come out to meet the bridegroom! Remember last week we talked about Yom Teruah and we said the trumpet blasts, the tekiah, are also referred to as the shouts, the Great Awakening Shout? Remember that? That’s the Hebrew roots context you need to understand this parable. In other words, the last trumpet, the great trumpet, the great awakening shout is sounded as Jesus, the bridegroom, the Son of Man, and the Son of God, appears in the clouds to rapture up His bride to take her to the place He has prepared for her in His father’s house. How does the church respond?
Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. ~ Matthew 25:7
All of them, both the foolish and the prudent, both the ones with oil and the ones without much oil, are excited when they hear that the bridegroom has finally come. They light their lamps. Unfortunately, the foolish quickly begin to run out of oil and no longer have any light to see Him. We get the analogy. They have grieved the Holy Spirit, they are no longer spirit-filled and spirit-led. They have become carnal, indistinguishable from the world. They are no longer the light of the world. What do they do?
The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ ~ Matthew 25:8-9
No one can give another person their own enlightenment of the Spirit. Salvation and sanctification are personal. It’s a personal relationship situation dependent upon each of us. This is kind of a “you need to repent and get things right again with you and God.” But the problem is, it’s too late. The repentance clock has run out and judgment has begun. Try as they might to get more oil, the oil dealer’s shop is now closed so to speak. And the bridegroom comes.
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ ~ Matthew 25:10-12
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. ~ Matthew 25:13
Again this is the wedding feast and Yom Teruah reference. It will either happen on the first or the second day of some future Yom Teruah. Followers of Jesus, we need to live every minute of every day as fully-devoted followers of Jesus, actually living the life of a Christian and doing what Christians are supposed to do and not just claiming the name of a lamp toting oilless virgin.
For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. ~ Matthew 25:14
In a manner of speaking, this is what Jesus did with all believers yeah? He went on a long journey, 2,000 years and counting so far. Pretty long yeah? He entrusted all of His possessions and the Great Commission to all of us yeah?
To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. ~ Matthew 25:15
Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. ~ Matthew 25:16-18
Two of the three slaves were faithful and prudent and wise. They used what the master entrusted them to the best of their ability and they bore fruit from their labors. They increased the master’s kingdom for Him. They fulfilled the mission he had entrusted to them. They both doubled his investment. The other slave though was lazy and did nothing. He just buried what he had been given in a hole and forgot about it. He didn’t invest it or accomplish anything. He was satisfied with what He started with. Again, this is like the person who does that first one-and-done salvation prayer and then never progresses in their relationship with God from there. They say the words like it is a magic spell and then go live the exact same life they were living before they encountered Jesus. They take the wonderful gift they have been offered and bury it and forget about it. That’s what this last slave did as well in Jesus’ story.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. ~ Matthew 25:19
Settling accounts? That’s judgment day. That’s a Yom Kippur reference yeah? The Day of Atonement. Will they be written into the book of life or the book of death? Let’s see.
The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ ~ Matthew 25:20-23
We are reminded of the faithful and sensible servant in the first parable and the wise and prudent virgins in the second parable. They all enter into the joy, the wedding feast, eternity with God in paradise. What about the slave who buries his one talent?
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ ~ Matthew 25:24-25
Note the attitude. He already knows he did not do what was expected of him and yet instead of humbly admitting his fault he places the blame on his master. You are a hard man. You harvest and gather things you didn’t plant yourself. So, since I was worried about not doing enough for you, I decided to do absolutely nothing. But, it’s kind of your own fault if you think about it. At least I didn’t lose what you did give me, so here, I’ll give it back to you. Kind of poetic way of thinking about giving back your salvation status yeah? Love growing cold? Falling away from the faith, like we talked about a few weeks ago? How does the master in Jesus’ story respond? The same way Jesus will reply to people like this on Judgment Day.
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 25:26-30
Those are references to hell, the lake of fire. Again, all clearly connected to the events of the second coming and judgment day.
“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. ~ Matthew 25:31-33
There is the same dualism as in the other parables. Half are one kind of person and half are a different kind of person. Jesus is making a comparison between those who serve Him and those who do night.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:34-40
Notice ALL of these sheep call Him Lord. We quickly say that this is clearly the Christians. One of Jesus’ favorite terms of endearment for His followers is sheep. We are His flock. He is our Shepherd. He himself is the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. So, on judgment day, in this parable, Jesus seems to be saying the deciding factor on these sheep inheriting the kingdom, aka being given eternal life, passing the judgment, is based upon their actions He describes, and not simply because they prayed a sinner’s prayer and claimed the name Christian.
The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10
Many other passages make this clear as well. We are not saved by our works and none of us are perfect, but God clearly does have some expectations of us. Our saving relationship with Jesus is PROVEN to be real and true by the Good Works we actually do in His name. W
You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ~ Matthew 7:16-23
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is clearly connected to that teaching in an obvious and compelling way. Many will call Him Lord on judgment day. Not everyone who calls Him Lord, not everyone who claims to be a Christian will enter the kingdom of heaven. ONLY those who have actually done the will of His Father in Heaven will actually enter. In other words, the proof is in the putting. Individually and corporately, we are commanded by God to help those in need. That is part and parcel of what it means to be a sheep, a Christian, a fully devoted follower of Jesus. We cannot ignore the plight of human beings suffering hunger, thirst, nakedness, homelessness, sickness, or imprisonment and still call ourselves Christians.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:41-46
Notice, these people, the goats, all call Him Lord as well. Just like the sheep. They call Him Lord. They think they are Christians. Also, just like the sheep they have no memory of physical interactions with Jesus. Just like the sheep He tells them the way they treated other people in His name is the standard by which they will be judged. Now, this is not teaching social gospel alone that as long as people do a lot of good works to help the poor and disenfranchised they will be saved. None of this happens in a bubble. From the far greater context of the rest of Scripture, we know that the Kingdom of God and salvation are intricately intertwined with Jesus’ saving work on the cross, His resurrection, and whether or not we have received Him or rejected Him. Christianity does start with conviction, confession, repentance, justification, and sanctification. The problem is, for so many Christians, it also stops there. They stay carnal, living for themselves, not living any differently than the world that doesn’t know Jesus. They call Him Lord but the terrifying words they may hear one day are “Depart from me for I never knew you. You did not do the right things for the least of these.”
So, what’s the takeaway of all of these parables? Again, these are not really strictly examples of believers versus hardcore atheist non-believers who have outright rejected Jesus from day one without ever wavering. That situation also applies of course, but these are really all comparisons of different types of people who all claim to be followers of Jesus. They all call Him Lord. They all have lamps. They all work in the master’s household. They’ve all been trusted with service to him. These are all parables about people who call themselves Christians. Jesus makes it clear that our judgment day has everything do to with who we actually are, what we actually do and what we actually say, and nothing to do with the title we claim for ourselves.
We want to be sure when He returns and we all cry out “LORD, LORD!” we hear “Well done my good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy, the kingdom prepared for you! The righteous go into eternal life!” We certainly don’t want to hear “You wicked, lazy slave! Depart from me accursed ones! You who practice lawlessness! I never knew you! Throw this worthless slave into the outer darkness! Into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. These will go away into eternal punishment” No! We want to be wise, sensible, prudent, alert, faithful, always ready and watching for His appearing and always doing His work of the kingdom at all times, found ready and watching for His appearing. AMEN??