In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings. The next of which is ‘be ready’.
On your marks, get set…. This is the state of readiness we are to be in awaiting for the second arrival of our Lord Jesus. He was speaking to His followers when He said, “be alert [give strict attention, be cautious and active in faith], for you do not know which day [whether near or far] your Lord is coming,” Matthew 24:42.
The beginning of birth pangs
There is so much uncertainty in the world today. We turn on the news and all we hear about is chaos, pandemics, the threat of famine (though a reality for many as 33 per cent of the world’s population is suffering from malnutrition). People are struggling at home and abroad. These are what’s called the beginning of birth pangs. This world is reaching a climax. Given the current world population of 7.7 billion, the remarkable rate at which it’s increasing in population and consumption of natural resources, we cannot expect things to go on as they are. We must be ready.
It may be a surprise to know that one third of the Bible is foretelling the future. There were 333 prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth, life and death – all of which were fulfilled with 100% accuracy. There are over 1,500 prophecies concerning His next arrival. The vast majority of these have been fulfilled. Jesus told us we would be able to identify the season of this event. I believe we are very much in that final season.
It is written that in the last days there would be an increase in earthquakes, famines, pestilences (diseases or epidemics), kingdom against kingdom (racial tension) and nation against nation (wars and rumours of wars). If we do our own research we will understand that these things are increasing at an alarming rate.
He is coming as Judge
He came with a message the first time and to give His life as a ransom that the world might be saved through Him. This next time He is coming as a judge, ‘There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy, the one God who has the absolute power of life and death’, James 4:12. And we will all stand before the judgment seat of God [who alone is judge]’, Romans 14:11.
To warn us, Jesus used the parable of the ten virgins who had their lamps burning awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom for the wedding feast. Some had enough oil in their lamps some did not. By the time He arrived five had run out of oil and were not permitted to enter the wedding feast.
Henry says – It was a custom used among the Jews, that the bridegroom came with his friends, late in the night, to the house of the bride, where she expected him, attended with her bridesmaids. When they would see the bridegrooms’ arrival, they were to go out with lamps in their hands, to light him into the house with ceremony and great mirth. Ten virgins or witnesses was also a common practice for other issues of law.
True believers are betrothed to Christ
The Bridegroom is our Lord Jesus speaking of His singular and superlative love to, and His faithful and unbreakable covenant with, His spouse the church. Believers are now betrothed to Christ (Hos. 2:19 I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In loving-kindness and loyalty, and in compassion). But the solemnifying of the marriage is reserved for that Great Day, when the bride will have made herself completely ready, (Rev. 19:7, 9 the marriage of the Lamb has come at last and His bride (the redeemed) has prepared herself. She has been permitted to dress in fine linen, dazzling white and clean—for the fine linen signifies the righteous acts of the saints [the ethical conduct, personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character of believers]).
The office of these virgins is to meet the bridegroom, which is as much their happiness as their duty. They come to wait upon the bridegroom when he appears. See here the nature of Christianity. As Christians, we profess ourselves to be, ‘Attendants upon Christ’, to do Him honour. As Christians, we profess, not only to believe and look for, but to love and long for, the appearing of Christ, and to act in our whole conversation with a regard to it.
Children of light
Their chief concern is to have lights in their hands, when they attend the bridegroom to do him honour and do him service. Christians are children of light. The gospel is light, and they who receive it must not only be enlightened by it themselves, but must shine as lights, must hold it forth, (Phil 2:15 that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness]).
Their character was that five were wise, and five foolish. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Christ observes, as if he would hope that the number of true believers was nearly equal to that of the false believers. Though, in judging ourselves, we ought to remember that the gate is narrow, and few find it. Yet in judging of others, we ought to remember that the Captain of our salvation brings many sons to glory.
Void of spiritual life
First, the foolish virgins had just enough oil to make their lamps burn for the present, to make a show with, as if they intended to meet the bridegroom. But no bottle of oil with them to topup if the bridegroom tarried, thus they were hypocrites. They do not have in their hearts that stock of sound knowledge, rooted temperaments, and tenacity, which is necessary to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. They act under the influence of external incentives but are void of spiritual life.
In the wisdom of the wise virgins, they took oil in their vessels with their lamps. They had a good principle within, which would maintain and keep up their profession of faith. Our light must shine before men in good works. But this cannot be unless there is a fixed faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren, from which we must act in everything we do. They took oil in their vessels. In looking forward it is good to prepare for the worst, to lay in for a long siege.
The bridegroom tarried for which there is good reason. There are many intermediate purposes to be accomplished: the elect must all be called in, God’s patience must be manifested, the saints’ patience tried and the harvest of the earth must be ripened.
Every eye will see Him
Too many good Christians, grow remiss in their preparations for Christ’s second coming. Their zeal abates, nor their works found perfect before God. Christ’s coming will be at our midnight, when we least look for him and are most likely to take our rest. His coming is for the relief and comfort of His people, and to reckon with His enemies. At His second coming every eye shall see him. There will be a cry from heaven, He shall descend with a shout. When we see the day approaching, we must address ourselves with all seriousness. We must renew our repentance for sin, our consent to the covenant and our farewells to the world. Be ready.
In the foolish virgins, it denotes a vain confidence, and conceit of the goodness of their state, and their readiness for another world. When God opens their eyes to see the real misery of their state. Their false profession of religion will not be avail them anything in the Great Day. Their lamps have gone out. They say to the other virgins, ‘Give us your oil’ – God would have given them oil, had they asked in time. But there is no buying when the market is over. The response was, ‘but go and buy for yourselves’.
The just shall live by his faith
Our own sanctification is crucially necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work. Yet true repentance is never too late, the foolish are directed to turn to God, that the door may not be shut before it is done. It is an unspeakable danger. While they went out to buy, the bridegroom came. With regard to those that put off their great work to the end, they are likely not to have time to do it. The gaining of grace is a work of time and cannot be done in a hurry.
Our Lord Jesus will come to His people to fetch home His bride, to be where He is (John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given to Me, may be with Me where I am), and will rejoice over his bride, (Isa. 62:5 And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you).
They that were ready, went in with Him to the marriage. To be eternally glorified is to go in with Christ to the marriage. It is to be in His immediate presence, and in the most intimate fellowship and communion with Him in a state of eternal rest, joy, and plenty. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here. (2 Cor. 5:5 Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise]).
The gate is narrow, but open
The door was shut, as is usual when all the company is come, that are to be admitted. The door was shut to secure those that were within. It was shut also to exclude those that were out. The state of saints and sinners will then be unalterably fixed, and those that are shut out then, will be shut out for ever. Now the gate is narrow, yet it is open, but then it will be shut and bolted, and a great gulf fixed. There are many that will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. God will say, ‘I know you not.’
Our great duty is to watch, to attend to the business of our souls with the utmost diligence and watchfulness. Be awake and be ready. The time of our Lord’s coming is very uncertain. We know neither the day nor the hour. Therefore every day and every hour we must be ready, and not off our guard any day in the year, or any hour in the day. Let us be in reverential fear of the Lord every day and all the day long.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Behold, I stand at the door and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. Revelation 3:20
Be ready today Matt 25:5 Are you ready to meet the Lord today Or prepared for an unexpected delay? Does your heart within you burn In anticipation of the Lord’s return? Do not be one who is caught by surprise Be counted among those who are wise. Take oil in jars with you along the way For you don’t know the hour or the day. Do not despise the testing of the Lord Rather be ready at all times to carry His sword Be always prepared for that extra carrying Its usefulness revealed in the Lord’s tarrying. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, may I be ever ready for Your coming. May my lamp be burning brightly and may I carry extra oil of grace, carrying out the good works prepared for me. Forgive me for my slumber may my life count wholly for You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.