Therefore be on alert...
Matthew 24:29-51 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 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. 44 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.
45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone…“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Whether speaking of the return of Christ at the end of the age or simply speaking about the finite number of our days on earth, none of us know what day that will be. Whether or not that a person believes in God or in redemption through Jesus Christ, His Son, no one can deny what the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says: There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die. None of us had control over our birth and few control their death. We do though have a choice in how we live the days in between. For those who do not believe in God or eternity, they live either to maximize their own life each day or to leave a legacy building something for others. For those who believe in Christ, their lives should be focused on what is eternal not what is temporal.
In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus tells a parable: “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” If the legacy we leave is material things, they are left to someone else. Even if we create a legacy of good works or promote an ideology, there is no guarantee that future generations will be kind to our legacy. Our culture and society today tends to rewrite history. We have begun to take the lives and legacies of past leaders and tarnish their reputations and what they did. Our founding fathers are now called racists and bigots, while others who have undermined the respect for human life, through the promotion of abortion, which always begins as a tool to eliminate less desirable classes of people, are now celebrated as champions of freedom. Isaiah 5:20 says: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! But who can trust their legacy to a people who do this?
I am certain that my words will have little effect in convincing those who do not believe in God or Christ and I can assure you that no one will convince me otherwise. Today’s text says: “…the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For those who do believe in Christ yet believe that there are no consequences for our actions, for what we tolerate and support either actively or passively, I still would not expect my words to guide you. Yet I hope that the Holy Spirit, the living Word of God; the words of Jesus Himself, will be our guide. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “ In Matthew 5:19-20 Jesus says: “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Certainly we all have sinned and it is only by grace, believing in Christ that we are saved. But to believe that we can be a follower of Christ and one who practices, promotes and teaches lawlessness and sin contradicts what Jesus Himself says.
In Today’s text Jesus says: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.” Noah was viewed a lunatic by the people around him. But just as God’s judgment was coming then, so too will and does God judge unrighteousness and sin today and forever. We need not build an ark today to escape the judgment, but we need to look to and believe in the cross. Jesus died on the cross to redeem people and provide forgiveness for sin. Sin itself was not and never will be redeemed. Sin was and forever will be judged. None of us are guaranteed even the rest of today, but if we believe that there is an eternity with God then we should live each day we are given as Jesus says:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Amen.