Keep Watch For Christ's Return
Last week I started this series of articles by showing how the Bible tells us to watch out for many different things. One of the things the Bible tells us to watch out for is the second coming of Christ. In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 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. 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 24:42-44) While Christians know that Christ will come back, when He will is a mystery. Yet Christ still tells us to be prepared for that day. To be watchful and alert. Why? He explains it better with a parable He told us.
Right after telling us we will not know when His return will happen in Matthew 24, Jesus rolls into telling us a parable in Matthew 25. The parable is about 10 virgins who had lamps and were waiting for the bridegroom. When the bridegroom does come, 5 have oil to light their lamps and 5 don’t. For the five that can’t light their lamps they are excluded from the wedding. And then Jesus again warns us to, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13) Now to help with understanding his parable we need to know the significance of the lamps. This has to do with how weddings were conducted back then. DA Carson states, “Normally the bridegroom with some close friends left his home to go to the bride’s home, where there were various ceremonies, followed by a procession through the streets – after nightfall – to his home. The ten virgins may be bridesmaids who have been assisting the bride; and they expect to meet the groom as he comes from the bride’s house…Everyone in the procession was expected to carry his or her own torch. Those without a torch would be assumed to be party crashers or even brigands. The festivities, which might last several days, would formally get under way at the groom’s house.” This helps us better understand the circumstances here. These 5 women who didn’t light their lamp were viewed as outsiders, party crashers and not welcome to the wedding.
What does this have to do with the end times? As Christians, we must be prepared in anticipation of the day of Christ. We must be watching out for the day to come. We should not be caught unprepared or surprised if His return happens in our lifetime. Ask yourself, what if He were to come…NOW! Would you be surprised? Maybe not since you’re reading an article about it. But if He showed up while you were sleeping? At work? Doing laundry? Getting the kids ready? Making dinner? Checking Facebook? We need to be ready! We need to watch because we don’t know the “day nor the hour”.
So what does it mean to watch for this? How do I practically practice this command? Am I supposed to sit on my front porch, Bible on my lap, with a pair of binoculars looking out for Christ never falling asleep? Obviously not, but I do think that we need to know Christ’s meaning if we are to heed His warning. Jesus is referring to how we spend our time. Are we spending it living for Him or ourselves? Is He going to return and see we’ve been producing fruit, building treasures in heaven and seeking first His kingdom? Or will He show up and see we’ve lived selfishly, wasted time, and been spiritually lazy? Will He come back seeing we’ve been reading our Bibles or reading social media? Will He see us seeking first His kingdom or the kingdom of the United States? Will we have oil in our lamps? Or be caught off guard showing we were never saved to begin with?
I like what Brandon Crowe said on this topic in his book on productivity; “This is the context for redeeming the time-we are to live wisely according to the principles of new creation and holiness in Christ. Redeeming the time is not, in other words, simply about good time management. Instead, redeeming the time recognizes that we live in an evil age that seeks to enslave us to darkness and evil passions. We must therefore, be alert and awake, soberly recognizing that our actions are enormously significant. The days are short; the end is near. Will we follow Christ, or will we indulge the flesh? The call to redeem the time is a call for wisdom, as Paul makes clear in Ephesians 5:15.”
Or to put it another way; not living like you have a lot of time left to live. How many times have we put off the things of God fooling ourselves into thinking we’ll have time later to do it? I’ll read my Bible later. I’ll pray tomorrow. I’ll go to church next week. I’ll give next month when the bills aren’t as much. And on and on we live as if we have all this future before us. Then when Christ returns we will realize we weren’t watching out for Him. We will realize we weren’t prepared for His return. We will be ashamed of the time we wasted in our lives. James warns us about this, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17)
How many of us have more faith and belief that tomorrow will happen, than in God Himself? If you knew for a fact Jesus would return at the end of the week, how would that change things for you? What would you be doing differently? What things would you stop? What things would you start? What would you give away? What would you spend more time doing? Maybe that is how you should start living. Living as if He may return today or tomorrow. We as Christians know that Christ will return, but do we live like He is going to return? I hear so many Christians saying how they believe we are living in the last days. Yet, what is interesting is those same people are not living like there isn’t much time left. Be alert! Watch! For you do not know the day or the hour. And Jesus promises you won’t because it will come like a thief in the night!