Summary: Second in a series on Matthew 24 & 25. This message focuses on the theme of being prepared for Christ’s return since we do not know when it will be.
Because Jesus Is Returning . . .
"Be Prepared - Matthew 25:1-13"
A well known Christian wrote, "the last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible." That was not written by a modern prophecy expert. It was written by a man named Ignatius about 110 A.D., just a couple of decades after the apostle John wrote Revelation.
Another Christian wrote, There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power." That was written by an influential Christian named Martin about 375 A.D.
Another early church father, Hippolytus, wrote in the year 236 A.D. that Christ was sure to return by 500 A.D.
The years surrounding the year 1000 were filled with predictions about the imminent return of Christ - to the point where Christians didn’t plant crops for the next year, buildings weren’t repaired and the details of daily life were ignored.
In the 1500’s, Martin Luther wrote, "We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer . . . than another hundred years."
A little known fact of the life of Christopher Columbus is that he was a student of biblical prophecy. He wrote a volume called "The Book Of Prophecies," in which he predicted that the world would end in the year 1656. He even wrote, "there is no doubt that the world must end in one hundred fifty-five years."
The year 1666 saw an explosion in end times speculation. One pastor wrote in his journal that every time a storm hit that year, his people would go to the church building to await Christ’s second coming.
In the 1800’s a man named William Miller predicted the return of Christ. He laid down the date of somewhere between March of 1842 and March of 1843. The hopes of the Millerites were dashed when it didn’t happen. Their hopes were down but not out. In New Hampshire, in 1844, one of the brothers stood up and declared His return would be in the seventh month of the current Jewish year. More fervently than ever, the Millerites set out to warn the world. October 22 - the end of the world was pronounced. In ten weeks, the great day was at hand. In a Philadelphia store window this sign appeared, "This shop is closed in honor of the King of Kings who will appear about the 20th of October. Get ready friends, to crown Him Lord of all." A group of about 200 left the city. They waited, but the days past and nothing happened. Five years later, another date was set, and another date passed.
It never stops. About 1992, I saw a popular book in Christian bookstores by Harold Camping. The title was "1994." Another date set. In 1993, he wrote another book called, "Much More Evidence That 1994 Could Be The End Of The World." 1994 came and went. Today you can walk into a Christian bookstore and see dozens of books making bold predictions about the return of Jesus.
This is the very thing Jesus was trying to prevent, and yet Christians persist to this day - The Left Behind Series does it too. Though it is presented as fiction, Tim Lahaye suggests that the events of our day point to the imminent return of Christ, fulfillment of end times prophecy.
Jesus, on the other hand, as we saw in Matthew 24 last week, insisted that we could not know the time of His return. Instead, He taught us through a series of several parables that we ought to be prepared at all times. Let’s look at the first of these this morning.
Read Matthew 25:1-13
"The kingdom of heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. At midnight, they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’ All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Sir, open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘I don’t know you!’ So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of My return."