Thief in the Night | Matthew 24:36-25:13
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 24:36–25:13
Introduction | More Fun Times with the End Times
Good Morning! We are in our series on the book of Matthew; the Gospel account of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, as the Christ, the Savior – King of God’s people. This series covering Chapters 21-25 has been titled the Rejection of the King. Over 6 weeks we will be looking at a particularly challenging section in Matthew Ch 24 and 25. These chapters are an extended period of teaching Jesus gives his disciples which falls into the category of Eschatology (Study of the End Times). Specifically Jesus is answering a question the disciples had back in Matthew 23 about the destruction of the temple in two parts: Part one: When will these things be? Temple destroyed and desolation of the temple and Jerusalem. Part two: When will you be coming (in glory) and the end of the age. The first three weeks of this series have looked closely at the first part of the question and this week we firmly transition into part #2. With it there is a change of language. Before it was “in those days” meaning a period of time and now it is “that day and that hour” meaning a point in time, Jesus return. Spurgeon “There is a manifest change in our Lord’s words here, which clearly indicates that they refer to His last great coming to judgement.”
Matthew 24:36-25:13 36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps 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. So when is Jesus coming back? When is the end of history? There are pastors and leaders, nearly several each generation, that have their charts all figured out have done all there research and have determined with “absolute certainty” when the end of the world will be and when Jesus will come back? Joseph Smith said 1891, Jehovah’s Witnesses 1914, Herbert Armstrong 1935,43,72,75, Edgar Whisenant “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988”, Harold Camping Sept 1994, May21/Oct 21 of 2011, Jack Van Impe 2012. Some Future dates to look for people being foolish are Sept 28, 2015 from Mark Biltz who John Hagee has endorsed, 2020, and not to be out done a prominent climate scientist from the UK reports the sun will begin to fade by 2030 (start cranking up the Greenhouse gases again!) Every generation is sure it is going to be in our lifetime or the lifetime of their children/grandchildren. Even major events happen that we experience that make us believe the end is near or the end is here (Gettysburg, WWI, WWII [Dresden, or Hiroshima] Sept 11). The entire world (Christian or non) is captivated on when all of this is going to end. If this world is a party when does the music stop how much longer can we enjoy this? If the world is a trial how long do we have to endure?
Verse 36-42 | Normal Days of Noah
No one knows, not angles, Jesus, only the father. Verse 42 “you do not know the day” Verse 44 “an hour you do not expect”, Verse 50 “a day when he does not expect and an hour he does not know.” 25:13 you know neither the day nor the hour. Jesus couldn’t make his point ANY clearer if he tattooed it to our retinas.
The door is shut to the entire human race to have ANY knowledge of when this will be. More over there isn’t any angel that can come in a vision to tell you or even Jesus himself. Only, God the Father. We don’t like this! We are people who understand the brokenness of this world, have a vision for life with God in a new world and so we eagerly long for that day to come near. We’re kids in the car constantly asking “Are we there yet?” No? Ok, how much longer?” We have to be comfortable with a level of mystery. Even if God told us we either wouldn’t believe him, wouldn’t like it or we’d react differently then we’re supposed to.
Deut 29:29 29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
So while there are things we’re not going to know (Jesus Return), there is much God has revealed to us we can engage with, understand, and be accountable for. (How we are to live now and prepare for later.) So what do we know? There will be a second coming where Jesus will bring an end to history, raise the dead, judge the world, rising his people to glory and condemning sinners to eternal judgment.
There is a transition in language from big and sensational to normal and mundane. Jesus goes from very specific signs to general principals. He is more interested in teaching then warning. The first part of Jesus teaching discuss coming judgement on earth for Jerusalem. But now he is talking about judgement for the life to come. When is it and what will it be like? We see pictures here of a lot of waiting then sudden, dramatic, and decisive action. If this was a movie it would be boring, but it’s not a movie it is a picture of faithfulness in our lives. We don’t know when the end is but Jesus tells us what the world will be like.
What were the days of Noah like? They were very ordinary filled with weddings (people making long term plans and commitments for life together), eating, drinking, working in the field, preparing a daily meal/provision, just very every day stuff. They days of Noah were also defined as very wicked. There was a flood of wickedness on the earth where everyone had thoughts of lawlessness and evil continually. There was no fear of God (the beginning of wisdom) or concept of judgement for their lives they had no fear that there was a God they would have to meet and give an account for their lives. So judgement and righteous wrath for sin came to the people in a way that seemed sudden and they were caught unaware.
The rain came, and came, and the waters rose and rose yet they didn’t consider it to be God’s judgement.
Oh it’s been raining for a long time this is annoying? At first it just seems like rain is getting annoying, then it is disruptive, finally is destructive. Judgement was such by the time people understood what was happening there was already a great divide. The door to the ark, the entrance to salvation and refuge from judgment had already been closed. There is no ability to say “I’ll decide to submit to God when I see things are really bad or that Judgement has actually come,” it will be too late. The warning we get is the same the people of Noah got, and John the Baptist gave, sermons on repenting for the Kingdom is near. The flood means Judgement. Jesus return means Judgement. Jesus came first to save and he will return to judge just as God did with the flood. This is an idea we don’t like at all. God is a God of love, God loves everyone, God would never judge us. This is the first and oldest lie on the planet. “Sin will not lead to death”
Division. Jesus continues the theme of a division between those who are saved and those we are not. Rather than flee some will be taken and some left. This is an important theme that is both offensive and necessary. Offensive because we are both relativistic and pluralistic, “be true to you.” The only problem is there is a variety of competing truth. If one thing is true then we have to deny it’s opposite. Necessary because those whose deep desire is too live without God will ultimately get what they want.
Luke 11:13 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. No middle ground with God. This should stir us to action to evangelism because we see in this teaching there are people are right next to us who will face judgement. Don’t be silent; don’t wait for some perfect day. Don’t be content when there are neighbors who perish and face judgment either on the day of their death or on Jesus return. This God sounds angry and unforgiving but he is both loving and gracious. You want certainty in the face of Judgment and certainty of salvation then you’ll find both in Jesus. Judgment on the cross and salvation in the empty tomb, because of this Christians don’t face the return of Jesus with fear and concern but with relief and joy. Jesus doesn’t tell them to flee wrath but tells them they will be delivered from it. You’ll be gone on Judgement day, because Jesus already faced Judgement day for you.
Verse 43-51 | Doomsday Preppers
When is Jesus judgement day? It’s clear we don’t know when and won’t know when. Jesus does seem to be teaching his disciples. It is going to be a long time. “Master is delayed” “Bridegroom delayed,” arrives at “midnight.” So how are we supposed to live now? Following Jesus is not a code to be cracked but a long obedience in the same direction. Jesus uses the analogy of keeping watch for a thief. Hey he doesn’t announce himself so you’re going to have to be diligent. When, how long? For what part of my life? All of it. The point of this little parable is if you knew when the thief was coming you’d only watch then and you would ignore your duty the rest of the time. We don’t looking for shortcuts or easy outs. But we are not Doomsday Preppers constantly “getting ready” for some future trail; we are living “always ready.” Stay awake (42,43) because we can become sleepy, be ready (44) because we become unprepared.
Who is the faithful and wise slave? Jesus asks them “you want to know what it means to be faithful and wise? It means you’re alert to obedience in the here and now. Jesus uses clear imagery of a slave owned by a master. Jesus paid for you with his blood and says you’ve got work and a mission do before I return and I expect you to do it! Be diligent in serving and caring for our fellow servants. What does that look like?
We confess quickly, repent quickly, love immediately, serve consistently, pursue mission urgently. We are to care more for others then ourselves. Those that do are “blessed”. Jesus is overwhelmingly less concerned with what you believe about the millennium or the end times and much more concerned with how you’re responding to his rule over your life today, now. Why be diligent? Jesus isn’t coming back for a while why live like he is? Because, Jesus is coming with a very real and personal return. Why do we struggle with this? Because we are wicked and care more about consuming the king’s resources then being diligent to the king’s commands. We care more about ourselves then other people. We are wicked servants who in our hearts, our inner most being, believe and own a lie “He’s not coming back”. We like to let off the gas, we like to coast. Coasting leads to compromise and consuming. So we live non-accountable lives. Just like the time of Noah there is no concept of a God who will hold us accountable for anything, we love the lie of we are our own judge. So we take a godless; judgement-less life to it’s logical conclusion. Selfishness.
How do you live when know one’s watching? How do you work when your boss is gone or not watching?
“Character is what a man does when no one is watching.” John Wooden. Jesus is always watching.
Delay doesn’t mean cancelation. I’ll do what I want now and get serious later. I actually heard a guy say “I’m not going to act like an adult until I’m 25, then I’ll get serious. Really?! How presumptuous. Some say we desire faithfulness but we live functionally like Jesus will not return and see obedience as a later thing.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Chapter 25:1-13| Wedding Time
Being ready doesn’t mean preparing for the worst but presently anticipating the best. What we’re prepared for is not simply to avoid the wrath of our master but to participate in the great wedding feast. Everyone wants to be a part of a great wedding feast? Yet, Jesus says there is a big contrast between foolish and wise virgins/bridesmaids. Being a bridesmaid was considered a huge honor, it is insulting to not be prepared for the Bridegroom. They all lived and waited together. They all knew weddings happened on their own timing (when the Bride and Groom were ready) so they would have to be prepared for a long wait. But some were intentionally equipped to endure while others thought little of their responsibility and gave no thought to being prepared. They are foolish because they were looking for a specific sign to tell them get ready rather than heeding a general warning to “be ready”.
Desiring the feast is not enough. Short lived zeal is meaningless in the face of a long obedience. We are to see our lives with Jesus as a long haul. Grace leads to responsive actions relying on God’s provisions.
There is a time to work, a time to rest (when you’re prepared) a time to wait, and a time to respond.
When the moment comes for judgement and entrance into the wedding feast the foolish are looking to others for provision and salvation. For those in Christ you can’t save anyone else, you can only call them to rely and hope on Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus you can’t expect to be saved by anyone else. Your entrance to the feast will not be on others coat tails. Salvation has corporate implications but each of us will face judgment, will come before Jesus and the Lord of the feast and settle as individuals. Just like the door of the ark was shut up so also is the door to the wedding feast. There is a moment of no return where you no longer have the opportunity to repent, trust and obey. What are you relying on? And trusting on?
If it is yourself or anything other than Jesus the Lord of the feast will says “I don’t know you”. This is the same as Matthew 7:2; It is a rejection and acknowledgment of not being known by God and eternally left outside the joy of the feast and the refuge of the ark, where there is no joy only judgement. If this is you do not delay, do not sleep, be ready today, be awake today, respond today to the call to Trust Jesus!