Preparing for Christ’s Imminent Return. Part 1, words of warning straight from Jesus.
Some passages of Scripture are flat out terrifying as we consider what Jesus has said about his imminent return. Let’s begin with Matthew’s account in the 25th chapter, which comes right after Jesus foretold the future events that would occur (Matthew 24). In this account, Jesus is the bridegroom.
We are considering personal application. Are we ourselves ready for the imminent return of Christ? Are we prepared for this to take place soon? It could be any day.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps[or torches] and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV).
Pause to reflect. The point here is that some of us who are part of the church, who read our Bibles, will not be ready. We are called upon to watch correctly in order to be prepared for Jesus’ coming, whatever the hour.
We may think we’re prepared. We believe that we’ve readied ourselves in every possible way for Christ’s imminent return, and yet, we may be like the virgins who had no oil. Typically, oil has a meaning pertaining to the Holy Spirit, which could possibly be the case here. The presence of the Holy Spirit indicates that we belong to the Lord. If we’re not prepared, if the Spirit isn’t present in our lives, we will miss the feast. Each of us has the personal responsibility to be prepared.
Only true believers will attend this feast.
Consider. What is the heart attitude required in order to be prepared? What does the heart attitude of the one who is not prepared teach us?
We didn’t take Jesus’ words seriously. We weren’t ready, watching for his coming. We didn’t think he meant that he was really coming back. Or we thought that it would surely not occur in our lifetime. Afterall, why hasn’t it happened yet?
So, we went about our lives, never looking for Jesus to really, actually, come to take us to be with him. We told no others. We didn’t prepare ourselves. We never longed for Jesus’ return.
The second portion is equally terrifying, for Jesus details who will inherit the kingdom prepared for us from before the foundation of the world.
Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will inherit his kingdom. The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives inspires the desire to obey the Lord, to heed his words, and to carry them out. The Holy Spirit prompts these types of actions.Those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will inherit his kingdom. The Holy Spirit's presence in our lives inspires the desire to obey the Lord, to heed his words, and to carry them out. #bgbg2 #Salvation #EndTimes Click To Tweet
These instructions were also given in the Old Testament with particular rules spelled out in order to create a Jewish society that cared for the hungry, the poor, and the sojourner, stranger, or refugee among us. The gleanings were left in the fields and the corners were not harvested, so that anyone who was poor, or a stranger/refugee, or a sojourner just passing through, could eat, rather than go hungry. Times of possible incarceration were carried out in cities of refuge, where one who was innocent, who did not commit the murder, could flee to safety.
Jesus actually detailed his coming for which the virgins needed their lamps trimmed, listing what type of actions indicate that a person is truly a believer and a follower of Christ, for these expectations are the norm of how a true Christian acts.
The Final Judgment
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[and sisters] you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:31-40 ESV)."When the Son of Man comes in his glory, all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered the nations, and he will separate people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats" #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Let’s pause to consider. Within which group do we believe we will be placed? What is the personal evidence we have that this would be so?
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, 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?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46 ESV).
These words were given for our edification, so that we might evaluate our lives to see if the evidence of our faith shows in our words and in our actions. This is not a list of good things to get out there and do. No, this passage in Matthew 25 contains a list of choices written in purple that will be made if we are a true believer, for the Lord’s purpose is justice, and we follow in his steps. If we don’t believe, we’ll be marked as having made the choices written in orange.
Justice is the theme of the entire Bible from the moment Eve and Adam were hoodwinked by Satan in the Garden until the moment Christ returns and carries us home to his eternal kingdom.
What have our actions indicated about where we will find ourselves on that Day?
If we don’t see what we had hoped to see within ourselves, there’s still time to turn to the Lord in repentance, to ask him to forgive and to indwell us with love for our fellow human beings and with the desire to love the Lord and serve as his hands and his feet in the world.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son“ (John 3:16-18 NLT).
To “believe” means to have faith in, to trust with the confidence to rest upon Jesus, giving over one’s life, possessions, choices, and eternal security to him.
Consider. Now is the time to evaluate and to take action, walking in Jesus’ steps, doing what he would have us to do.