Matt 25:13                Watching until Christ’s Coming              1/15/2017      ßà

 

 

 

 

 

#1.      Were They Ready for the Bridegroom?(Matt 25:5,2Pet 3:3-4,Luke 18:8,Rev 21:2-3,Rom 5:2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.      At Midnight There Was a Cry (Matt 25:6, Rev 14:18, Ex 12:29, Acts 16:25-26, Job 34:20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.      Where Would We Be? (2Cor 13:5, Matt 7:21-23)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew 25:1 (2X). We have here the familiar Parable of the Ten Virgins. But that is not the title of this sermon. The title of the sermon I chose for this parable is: Watching Until Christ’s Coming (2X). This was the last day of Jesus’ public ministry here on earth. He gave the Olivet Discourse in Matt 24. And now Jesus addressed Himself to the needs of His church, which He loves so very much that He was willing to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of His church. They will have to remain in the world, and there they will be called upon to live as these virgins in the parable, waiting for the great wedding feast. Let us read this story of the:

Mt 25:1-2 ¶ Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.                  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Mt 25:3-4  They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:       But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Mt 25:5-6  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.       And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Mt 25:7-8  Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.   And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. {or, going out}

Mt 25:9-10  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.         And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Mt 25:11-12  Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.   But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Mt 25:13  Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

This last verse says where the focus of the parable is: “Watch therefore”. We must live our live such that Christ can come any day, and find us faithful. That really is the bottom line. Let us now see what the Lord Jesus is teaching us in this parable. The Kingdom of heaven refers to that realm where Christ is King. Where is that? Christ is King in heaven and He also is King in the souls of the saints on this earth. On this earth the saints gather in the church. God says in Josh 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you”. And therefore the externally visible church is also a part of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the church is the manifestation of the Kingdom of Christ on this earth. This church, the local church where the family of Christ gathers, is likened unto ten virgins; 5 wise virgins and 5 foolish virgins. And in the end we see that the 5 wise virgins will be with Christ forever, whereas the 5 foolish virgins are left in outer darkness forever. It means that the externally visible church on this earth consists of both saved and unsaved people. Then why are they all called “virgins”? Put a sticker here in Matt 25 and please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah 37:22 (2X). While you are looking this up, let me read to you from 2Cor 11:2,

2Co 11:2  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

And so the church at Corinth, which consisted of both saved and unsaved people, is compared here to a virgin. But only the saved will be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. Let me read to you also from Rev 14:4, where only the saints are likened unto virgins.

Re 14:4  These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

These 144,000 can only refer to the saints. Why are they called virgins? They are called virgins because they have not yet been married to Christ. We are called the Bride of Christ, because we are betrothed to Him, but the marriage has not yet been consummated. But here in the parable of the ten virgins both the saved and the unsaved are called virgins. Why? The answer is found in Isaiah.

Isa 37:22  This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.

Here the faithful king Hezekiah and faithful part of Jerusalem, which can be identified as the OT church, is called “the virgin daughter of Zion”. But turn now about 14 pages to your right (ß) to Isa 47:1 (2X), where we read about the fall of Babylon brought about by Cyrus and the combined armies of the Medes and Persians. We read that God would raise up Cyrus in Isa 46:11. And then we read in

Isa 47:1 ¶ Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate.

Here the unsaved Chaldeans are called “the virgin daughter of Babylon”. Why are they called a virgin? It is because they have not been married, nor will they ever be. Please turn to 2Pet 3:3 (2X).

#1.      Were They Ready for the Bridegroom?(Matt 25:5,2Pet 3:3-4,Luke 18:8,Rev 21:2-3,Rom 5:2)

The 10 virgins are representing the complete church at any time in history. At any time in history the church must be ready for the Lord coming in judgment and for the wedding feast that follows. But will the church be ready? We read in Matt 25:5 that “the Bridegroom tarried”, which means delayed, and “they all slumbered and slept”. Can you see how all the attention is not on the Bride but on the Bridegroom? In today’s society at a wedding all the attention is on the Bride. That is how much we have drifted away from the Biblical perspective. From the perspective of man the Bridegroom tarried. But from God’s perspective He is always right on time. God waits until the scourge of the Great Apostasy has reached its climax. For example, we read in 2Pet 3:3-4, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,            And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”. These are people who deny the Lord’s 2nd coming, and they just as well deny that there ever was a worldwide flood. Do you know people like that? Of course you do. All the evolutionists of our days deny this. The majority of people in the world have been brainwashed to believe the theory of evolution and to believe that we are continuing to evolve to better people and to higher intelligence. But the Lord Jesus said in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” It is a rhetorical question. No! He will not find much faith on the earth, because most people will have joined the Great Apostasy. “As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” Only 8 people were saved in the flood of Noah’s days. Likewise, on the Last Day there will be few left who will have remained faithful to the Word of God, the Bible. Even in those churches that will have remained faithful there are also found foolish virgins, who are not ready for the Lord’s coming. Please turn now to Rev 21:2 (2X). For those who are ready, God sketches a glorious future in the NH&NE. There, in Rev 21:2-3 we read that God will dwell with us and we with Him.

Re 21:2-3  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.         And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

This is the hope on which we have fixed our gaze, and we rest in this hope by faith, which we have received from God by grace. Therefore “we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God”, Rom 5:2. The great wedding feast is coming. It is:

Please turn 2 pages to your left (à) to Rev 19:7 (2X), and there we read,

Re 19:7-8  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come (came), and his wife hath made herself ready.           And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white (or bright): for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Re 19:9  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

This is why we are going to rejoice. First of all we note that the verb “to come” in verse 7 is in the Aorist Tense. It indicates an action that happened in the past, continues through the present, and continues into the future. You can do that in the Greek language. Literally the Greek text says: The marriage of the Lamb came, and is come, and will come. How do we explain this? The Lord Jesus Christ is called “The Lamb”, referring to “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”, from John 1:29. It means that God wants us to see how the marriage of Christ with His Bride, the church, is intimately related to the atonement of Christ on the cross at Golgotha. The atonement of Christ is the supreme manifestation of the love of Christ for His people. All the sins that needed to be atoned for have been atoned for on the cross on Good Friday at about 3Oclock in the afternoon, on April 3, in the year AD 33. On that day all those whom God wanted to be saved were secured in their destiny. The Lord Jesus Christ purchased their entrance into His Kingdom on that day. All those who would be invited to the great wedding feast of Christ and His church were secured of their admittance on that day. And all those who would not be admitted to the great wedding feast were written in the Books of the works of man on that day. And so, the counsel of God from before the foundation of the world was signed and sealed in blood on that day. Therefore, let us be glad and rejoice. Therefore, let us give honor to whom honor belongs. All the honor must go to Christ, because it is all God’s initiative and God’s decision and Christ’s work that brought us salvation. We may not usurp some of the glory by claiming that Christ made it possible for sins to be forgiven, if we would only believe on Him. We may not claim that God looked down the corridors of time and foresaw who would turn to Christ, and then Christ would pay for the sins of that individual, because then our works would be co-contributing to Christ’s work and we would usurp part of the glory. We may not preach that Christ paid for the sins of everybody in the world and that it now depends on our acceptance of Him to make that payment effective, because then we are robbing God of part of the glory of our salvation. If we are holding on to a gospel where we take part of the glory, then we also are constantly changing the guest list for the great wedding feast of Christ and the church. Do we decide who will be “Born Again”, or is this an act of God alone? Can we make ourselves be “Born Again”? John chapter 3 says that it is entirely an act of God alone. Rev 19:7 also says that the marriage of the Lamb with the Bride of His choice was fixed at the time of the cross. Therefore, the marriage of the Lamb came, and is come, and will come, since through the course of history the Father continues to draw those who were on the list of the elect when Christ died. Known only to God are the names on that list. That is why God wrote in Rev 19:9, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Literally the Greek text uses the past tense: “Blessed are they which have been called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”. Only those who were on the list when Christ died have been invited to the wedding of the Lamb, and they have been reminded of their call by God the Holy Spirit in the present lifetime, and they will be called at the end of time to rise up with a glorified body on the Last Day.

Moreover, we read in Rev 19:7 of the marriage of the Lamb, which is the great wedding feast that will last throughout eternity, and we read in Rev 19:9 also of the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is not clear to me what the difference is between these two events. Perhaps these are synonyms of one another. Let us now return to the Parable of the 10 virgins in Matt 25, and see what the difference was between the two groups of people in the church. We have seen the similarities between the two groups. Both were called virgins. Both were carrying lamps. Both went forth to meet the Bridegroom, which is Christ. In other words, both groups were in the church, because those outside the church do not care about the return of Christ. It is as if God arranged it so that we would not know who the wise virgins are and who the foolish virgins are, until the Last Day would reveal the difference. And the difference is that some have oil, and others do not have oil. But before we get to the oil let us listen:

#2.      At Midnight There Was a Cry (Matt 25:6, Rev 14:18, Ex 12:29, Acts 16:25-26, Job 34:20)

We read in Matt 25:6, “And at midnight there was a cry made”. Was this a call to announce that the Bridegroom was coming? Was this a happy cry? No! Not at all! The Greek word for this “cry” is the word “krauge”. It is a word that was derived from imitating the cry of a raven when it was in pain or in fear. It is a word that conveys an outcry of calamity, or of pain, or of fear, or it indicates the clamor of a tumult, or the clamor of a great controversy, or it is an outcry for vengeance. For example, we read in Rev 14:18  And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry (krauge) to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe”. This is a cry for vengeance. God will avenge Himself on all “them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. And thus when we read: “At midnight there was a cry made”, it refers to the cry that goes up at the end of time when “all the tribes of the earth shall mourn when they shall see the Son of man coming with power and great glory”. No, this is not a happy cry at all. But for the five wise virgins this is a very happy occasion. They know that their troubled life in this vale of tears has come to an end, and that they will be joined to their Savior in just a few moments.

But why was this cry at midnight? You can see that the timing of Christ’s return at midnight cannot be taken literally. He will be seen all over the world at the same time, but only for a small fraction of this world will it be midnight. Why does God use the word “midnight” to indicate the timing of the end? For example, we read in Ex 12:29, “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle”. And from this we can see that the tenth plague in Egypt was a picture of the judgment on the Last Day. All the firstborn in the land of Egypt died. In principle, everyone in Egypt died, because all of Egypt came under the judgment of God. But God used the principle of a synecdoche where the fraction of the firstborn represented the whole. Another instance was when Paul and Silas were put in jail at Philippi. Then we read in Acts 16:25-26, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them”. “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed”. This too was a picture of the Last Day when the saints will be freed from the prisons where they are held, and all our bands will be loosed. For the saints the Last Day will be liberating from all our earthly troubles. Moreover, we find in Job 34:20 a statement that refers to the Last Day. We read in Job 34:20,

Job 34:20  In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.

And so we see that “midnight” is used figuratively to indicate the end of time, and the timing of Christ’s 2nd coming. But also praying and preaching is continuing until midnight. Paul preached until midnight, and then Eutychus fell out of a window. Using Roman time, as is used in the Gospel according to John, midnight is the hinge from one time period to another time period. Figuratively, at midnight is the beginning of a new day, which on the Last Day is a new day that lasts forever. Now let us see why all the virgins have a lamp, and let us look at the:

Put a sticker in Matt 25, and please turn to the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, to Matt 5:14 (2X). While you are looking that up, let me read to you what the Lord Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” If Christ is our light then we will never be left in darkness. He in whom we trust will never abandon us. He will never leave us, nor forsake us. Christ will not forsake His church for which He suffered and died. And so, when someone claims that Christ has left every church on this entire world, and that the church all over the world is dead, he is lying and does not know what the Bible says. But when Christ went to heaven He commanded His disciples that they must let their lights shine as Christ has done. He said, “As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you” (John 20:21) The Lord Jesus said in:

Mt 5:14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Mt 5:15-16  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.      Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.

For this reason every church witnesses to the world what they believe the Gospel is. The five wise virgins let their light shine, but the five foolish virgins also belong to a church, and therefore they too are letting their lights shine. It stands to reason that all ten virgins have lamps. For example, God says in Prov 13:9, “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out”. Here again, both the righteous and the wicked have their lamps, but the lamps of the wicked shall become dark. It seems as if, in Prov 13:9, God anticipated the parable of the ten virgins that Jesus told. But now we have another problem. If the lights represent the words that these virgins speak to the world, proclaiming their Gospel message, what does the oil represent? Please turn to almost the end of your Bible, to 1John 2:20 (2X). Remember, the oil feeds the light. From where do the wise virgins get their wisdom to proclaim the true Gospel into the world? They get it from God the Holy Spirit, who uses the Bible to speak to those who have been saved. Where in the Bible do we read that oil represents the Holy Spirit? We read that in 1John 2:20, where we read, “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”. The word “unction” means “anointing”, and anointing is done with oil. God the Holy Spirit teaches us from the Scriptures. He does not teach us by speaking into our ears, but God the Holy Spirit teaches us from the Bible, because God will not violate His own rules. God said in Rev 22:18 that anyone who claims to have an additional message from God is a liar, a bringer of another gospel, and is still unsaved and under the wrath of God. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit will only use the Bible to teach us a better understanding of the Gospel and to teach us how we can get to know God. This is reinforced in verse 27. God says in 1John 2:27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him”. And so we seem to have arrived at the concept that the oil in this parable represents the Holy Spirit. However, that is only half the story. We read in Matt 25:3-4, “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:   But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps”. We cannot take the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is given to those whom God delights to give Himself to. But when God the Holy Spirit has been given to us, we undergo a spiritual renewal in our soul, and God the Holy Spirit will teach us also about Christ’s 2nd coming. Only if we have the Holy Spirit will we believe that. Only if we have the Holy Spirit will we prepare ourselves to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at His 2nd coming, or at the time of the death of our body, whichever comes first. Therefore it is this matter of preparation that makes us live a life looking forward to the coming of the Lord. But only if we have the Holy Spirit will we continue to study the Bible and look forward to be with Christ. It is this matter of preparation that we take to ourselves from the Bible. And thus the oil in the lamps is a sign of preparedness. Those without oil were not prepared for the coming of Christ. They claim to carry with them the Word of God. They claim that they confess that Word of God, and that they look forward to the coming of Christ some day. But since they do not have the Holy Spirit they do not pay close attention to that Word of God, and their confession is hollow. They do not really prepare themselves, and neither do they live in the hope of Christ’s 2nd coming. They prefer that Christ would stay away for a long time. And so, when the Lord indeed came the foolish virgins asked the wise virgins to lend them some of their oil. But this oil cannot be shared. The sign of preparedness cannot be shared. Either you believe that the Lord is coming or you do not believe it. You cannot believe it half way. And thus, in verse 9, the foolish virgins were sent to those who sell. What do they sell? Here we must watch for the combination of “sell and buy”. When we search the Bible for other instances where these two Greek words occur, we arrive at Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. For example, we read in Matt 21:12-13,

Mt 21:12 ¶ And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

Mt 21:13  And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Ye have made it a den of thieves”? Most clearly the Lord Jesus was offended by the apostasy of the Scribes and Pharisees. They have turned the Gospel of grace around and made it a works gospel. They taught the people that by doing the works of the Law they deserved a place in heaven. At the same time they took from these people their tithes and offerings. This is why the Lord Jesus called them a den of thieves. Their gospel was a worthless gospel, and by charging money for their worthless gospel they were stealing from them. Moreover they were stealing from God. They stole the sovereignty of God, and they stole the honor of God. Therefore the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles because of them. Therefore, when the five foolish virgins went to buy from those that sold, they went to buy from the Pharisees. Both the deceivers and the deceived were not allowed to enter into the Kingdom of heaven. But let us now be honest with ourselves.

#3.      Where Would We Be? (2Cor 13:5, Matt 7:21-23)

While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. In this parable the Lord Jesus tells us that before He returns the whole church will be overcome by sleepiness, and this will be true even for the people of God. In this day and age we are often too busy with other things of this world, and we become indifferent to the 2nd coming of Christ, because we think it is still a long way off. On top of that we are distracted by false prophets who claim that Christ will come in the year 2011. Whether Christ indeed will come in 2011 or not is beside the point. The real question is, “Where would we be?” Would we be on the outside, knocking, or would we be on the inside and be with Christ? Do we realize that it is never too late to examine ourselves? God says in 2Cor 13:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” We can examine ourselves and we can see if we are in the faith. We can look at our level of commitment, since we know that commitment is a sign of a changed heart. Are we in danger of having the seed of the Word of God sown in among thorns? Are we too busy with activities and have no time for the Lord? Where does our time go? Can we say what the first thing is we think of when we get up in the morning, and can we be honest about it? Can we be honest when we ask ourselves, “What do you do here in church”? Do we like to be here? Do we like the people here? Do we talk to them, or do we talk only with those of our own age? Do we talk to old people in our church? Why, or why not? Don’t you know that old people also like a friendly chat once in a while, myself included? What is our attitude during the worship service? Do we have a worshipful attitude, or do we just abide the time? And whom do we worship? Do we know this God of the Bible? Do we give God all the honor and all the glory for saving us? Just think, if God would indeed share His glory with man, would He be angry if we give Him all the glory and all the honor for our salvation? Of course not! But think of the other possibility: If God demands that we give Him all the glory and all the honor of our salvation, but we believe that God will share His glory with us through our action of accepting the Lord Jesus as our Savior, would God be angry about this? Absolutely true! Please turn to Matt 7:21 (2X). The 5 foolish virgins who came knocking at the door pleaded with Christ, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” It reminds us of the other passage where they also pleaded with Christ in Matt 7:21,

Mt 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Mt 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?

Mt 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What does it mean to do the will of My Father which is in heaven? It means that we pay attention when we read the Bible, and that we pay attention when we worship Him in church, and that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. For this is our duty while we live here on this earth. And so, the Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us with these words, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh”.

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.