Summary: Jesus instructs his followers to be prepared for his return at a time when they don’t expect it.
On September 15 2001 President George W. Bush Speaking to the Nation from Camp David encouraged the American people to prepare themselves for a prolonged conflict we now know as the war on terror. And to the US armed forces he delivered a blunt, clear message: "Everybody who wears the uniform: Get ready."
As the Lord Jesus Christ prepared to meet the final conflict of his earthly ministry he spoke to his followers about the things that would come in the last days and delivered a similarly clear message:
Proposition: I am coming at a time you don’t expect, Get Ready.
Transition: In the course of his teaching about that day of return, Jesus makes several important points about "the Day of the Lord" which all of us would do well to understand. The first is that it is a day of...
v. 36"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
In the year 375 AD an early Christian writer proclaimed: "There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established in his early years and in a few years will achieve supreme power."
Hippolytus wrote that Christ would come back in the year 500.
The year surrounding the year 1000 were filled with predictions of the coming of Christ… It was recorded that people were so sure of the Lord’s coming that they didn’t even plant their crops.
In the 1500’s Martin Luther wrote, "We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world won’t last any longer.
A little know fact was that Christopher Columbus 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 1556. 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, "every time a storm has hit this year the church was full of people waiting for Jesus."
In 1800 William Miller predicted the return of Christ in 1844 All over the Northeast, half a million Adventists awaited the end of the world on April 3, 1843. Journalists had a field day. Reportedly some disciples were on mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in union with their departed loved ones. Some high society ladies clustered together outside Philadelphia to avoid entering God’s holy kingdom amid the common herd.
In 1992 Harold Camping predicted the end, again nothing happened and he changed his date to 1993 and then 1994. (Stephen Pace "Ready or Not Here I come" on sermoncentral.com)
All of these people had one thing in common. They must’ve missed the text we read today, that no man knows the day and the hour. Our Lord’s point is simply this: Be ready all the time. Yes, at other times Jesus says to watch for the signs--but not so that we can put off being ready, but so that we will be ever expectant of his return.
At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler. Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, "Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing." Bonhoeffer replied,
"If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I’ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it’s finished." (Daily Bread, November 10, 1991.)
Bonhoefer was right, it is not for us to try to determine the "when" of the Lord’s coming, it is for us to be expectant of his coming that we might be found doing what the Master has called us to do. In fact the verses immediately following our reading make that point exactly: The servants ought to be found serving the master when he returns...at an unknown, secret time.
The second important thing I note about the day of the Lord is that it will be a day of...
vv. 40-41 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
The first thing that I note here is that Jesus describes people doing everyday activities--the day of the Lord is apparently an ordinary day--more about that in the final point. The next thing I note though is that the people in question are doing the same activities whether they are taken or left.