“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matt 25:13 NKJV)
After leaving the temple, Jesus’ next destination is the Mount of Olives and there, Jesus has a discourse with his disciples. The discourse is apocalyptic in nature in that Jesus is explaining the end days and what the kingdom of heaven will be like. Jesus shares with the disciples that the end days will happen in gradual stages. The beginning is marked with the rise of false prophets and messiahs, wars, famine and earthquakes (Matt 24:3-8). Then there will be mass hatred and persecution of Christians, yet the world will be evangelized through it (Matt 24:9-14). Then there will be suffering in the land, like never seen before. The days of suffering will be cut short for the sake of the saints, only for the earth as we know it to be shaken and thrown into disarray (Matt 24:15-29). Only then will the trumpet sound and those that belong to God will be ushered to him (Matt 24:30-35).
I share Jesus’s depiction of the end times to provide clarity. During this pandemic many people are having the discussion around this central question: “Are we in the end times?” My brother and sister, I wish I could answer this question for you, but the bible reminds us, “about the day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”(Matt 24:36). However, Jesus’ discourse on the kingdom of heaven gives our present anxiety some coping mechanisms. Through Jesus’ parables on the kingdom of heaven we can find what we need to redirect our discussion. I park my pen at Jesus’ first parable of the ten bridesmaids in Matt 25:1-13.
The parable of the ten bridesmaids tells the story of five foolish bridesmaids and five wise bridesmaids waiting to meet their bridegroom. The difference in the two groups of bridesmaids is determined by who brought extra oil. The foolish ones brought their lamps with no extra oil while the wise ones brought their lamps and extra oil in flasks. No one knew what time the bridegroom would arrive. It draws late and those without extra oil find that their lamps are about to go out. They plead with the wise ones to share their oil, but they decline. The foolish ones are forced to go and get more oil. While gone, the bridegroom comes and receives the five wise bridesmaids. The five foolish bridesmaids return only to see a shut door and receive rejection by the bridegroom. Jesus closes the parable by saying, “Keep awake therefore, for you known neither the day nor the hour” (Matt 25:13).
The underlying theme of Jesus’ parable is to be prepared. This is our coping mechanism and redirect for our discussion. I don’t know if these are the end days, but I am going to use my energy to be prepared. Being prepared can mean many things. For this devotional, I want us to think larger than having enough food and toilet paper in the house. I want us to focus on our purpose. What has God called your being into existence to do in this world? What has God put on your heart, drawn in your vision and whispered in your ear? Each of us has a purpose. Times like these become optimal opportunities to invest energy into that purpose. This season is a great time to prepare and not to procrastinate. Jesus’ second parable on the talents reminds us to use what we have or we will answer for not doing so (Matt 25:14-30). Use this moment, use your gifts, use your purpose and allow God to be glorified. Who knows, maybe the shaking that this pandemic is putting the world through will create a place for the world to receive that idea, that word or that project that has been sitting in the back of your mind. But we will never know if you don’t take this time to prepare. Be like the wise bridesmaids and be prepared.
On a larger scale, it is my prayer that each of us is prepared to see our bridegroom. If you stand in a place of the unknown when it comes to your relationship with God, allow me to help you. When we receive the salvation of Jesus it puts us in readiness mode for God. Once we submit to the salvation of Jesus there is nothing or anyone that can separate us from God. If you have not received the salvation of Jesus please pray this prayer:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin or to work my way to heaven. At this moment, I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. I believe that He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in your holy presence. I thank you that Christ was raised from the dead as a guarantee of my own resurrection. As best as I can, I now transfer my trust to Him. I am grateful that He has promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take you at your word. I thank you that I can face death now that you are my Savior. Thank you for the assurance that you will walk with me through the deep valley. Thank you for hearing this prayer. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer in sincere faith, you are saved. We welcome you to the family of God.
Now let’s get prepared!