Summary: An exploration of maintaining a deep spiritual commitment while awaiting the return of Christ.
Recap of where we have been:
Two weeks ago – Jesus crying out with the prophet Isaiah that God’s house will be a house of prayer.
Last week – We dove into Jesus preparatory teaching to His disciples that as time winds down, and the consummation of the kingdom approaches, it is critical that we keep the watch posted. That we be alert, and attentive. And we explored this connected language throughout the Word of God which draws together the two words “watch” and “pray”. We post the watch, by committing to live with a heart bent towards continuous night and day prayer.
I want us to turn back to Matthew 24 so that we can get the stage set for today’s teaching. Too often in the Bible, we take a given passage or parable or story, and try to figure out what it means or is referring to all on its own. But what we are looking at today in chapter 25 is part of a continuous flow and teaching from Jesus. It comes right out of what we looked at last week, and chronologically is just days removed from His declaration that God’s house is to be a house of prayer.
You may remember from last week that Matthew 24 and 25 provide us with Jesus’ primary teaching on the End Times, just before He goes to the cross. “The Olivet Discourse”, as it has been labeled, sparks discussion on such things as a pre-tribulation or a post-tribulation separating of the saints.
The Discourse provides reason to reflect on whether we will be removed from the earth, as so many of us have grown up thinking, or whether the lost will be removed from the earth. Jesus speaks of the second coming that will occur and opens a Pandora’s Box for conversations.
In fact, this week I received an email from which an individual was reflecting on a journal entry they had made some time ago: “The more I think about it, the more it seems like the ‘end time’ event will not be an exit for believers from the earth, but a removal of the unbelievers/sinners that are unrepentant from the earth. It seems that Christians are being taught that a ‘rapture’ will remove us from the earth, that one will be taken and one will be left and the ones who are ‘left behind’ are the faithless. As I think about Luke 17, I see it saying that one will be taken and one will be left. In this context, the examples given are of Noah and Lot. In both cases, the ones who were the unaware sinners were the ones taken away and it was Noah and it was Lot who were left behind to live on the earth. It seems like our teaching has it backwards.”
I am not, nor does the Wesleyan church require a pre-trib, post-trib, full rapture, partial rapture, or other end time belief. But I am encouraged when I can spark reflection and Bible study. And I hope that today’s message will do that as well.
The context for the beginning of chapter 25 which we are going to explore is chapter 24. Turn with me there in your Bibles. Matthew 24:29 (read through verse 31).
Jesus prophesies that there will be this massive death toll that will occur within the generations that are alive at His return. He says in verse 37 (read through verse 41).