Are you ready?
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:36-51)
Our Lord Jesus admonishes us to make certain that we are prepared for his coming. — “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Are you ready for the Son of God to appear?
While this passage is speaking specifically of Christ’s glorious second advent, we must not look upon the things spoken in this passage as having no reference to any except those who happened to be living upon the earth when the Lord comes again. In fact, as we have already seen, these verses also apply to Christ’s coming in judgment to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Lord Jesus Christ comes upon men and women in judgment and in grace in many ways. He is said to come upon the wicked in judgment whenever he brings providential wrath upon them, as he did upon Sodom. He comes to his elect in grace in conversion. The Lord comes again for both the righteousness and the wicked in the hour of death. But, in this passage the Lord Jesus is talking about his glorious second advent.
Are you ready? Are you prepared to meet God? Soon you must meet the Lord God in judgment. When you do, he will judge you upon the grounds of absolute righteousness (Rev. 20:11-12). Whatever state you are in then, you will be in forever (Rev. 21:27; 22:11). If you are righteous, you will be righteous forever. If you are saved, you will be saved forever. If you are wicked, you will be wicked forever. If you are lost, you will be lost forever! In these closing verses of Matthew 24 the Son of God urges us to make certain that we are indeed ready to meet him.
No One Knows
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only (v. 36). Language could not be clearer. No one knows when Christ will come again. Yet, every few years, some religious fool predicts the time of our Lord’s coming, and multitudes are duped by them. Such predictions began as early as the apostolic era (2 Thess. 2:1-5), and continue to this day; but the teachings of Scripture are specific and clear. — No one knows when Christ will come again. Such knowledge God gives to no one (Acts 1:6-7).
Usually, these imaginary prophets wrest this thirty-sixth verse from its obvious meaning, and say, “Though we cannot know the day and hour of Christ’s coming, we can know the year, the month, and even the week.” Then, by some intricate, elaborate scheme of days, numbers, and events linked together, they make a prediction, which always proves to be wrong. It only takes a little time for their folly to be demonstrated; but they never give up. No sooner is one date setter fallen than another rises to repeat his error.
Not even the angels of heaven have been informed about the hour of Christ’s second advent. “We need not,” wrote C. H. Spurgeon, “therefore be troubled by idle prophecies of hair-brained fanatics, even if they claim to interpret the Scriptures; for what the angels do not know has not been revealed to them.”
Even our Savior, while he walked on this earth in our nature, voluntarily limited his own capacity to know the time of his second advent (Mark 13:32). Surely, we ought to be content not to know what he chose not to know. It is enough for us to know that our Lord is coming again. Knowing that, let us be ready for him to appear at any moment, ever “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” Jude 1:21).
Fallen man never changes. When the Lord Jesus comes again, the world will be in the same condition it is in now. That is what our Savior tells us in verses 37-39.
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
The world will not be converted before Christ comes. It will be in the same condition it was in when God sent the flood: absorbed in worldly, sensual pursuits, oblivious to eternal, spiritual things, and despising the warnings of God’s faithful servants and the gospel of his grace. Therefore, judgment shall fall upon it (Pro. 1:23-33).
Our Lord is not here declaring that marriage and its privileges are evil, any more that he is telling us that eating and drinking is evil. He is simply telling us that fallen man is completely absorbed with temporal things, living as if he had no soul to lose, no judgment to face, and no eternity before him. Yet, it must be stated that those things which are perfectly lawful in normal circumstances, “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” become great evils and snares to our souls, if they keep us from seeking, knowing, and serving Christ (Matt. 13:22). As Spurgeon stated, “Woe unto those whose eating and drinking do not include the bread and the water of life; and who marry or are given in marriage, but not to the heavenly Bridegroom!”
A Great Separation
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (vv. 40-41). — In that great day, when Christ comes again, there will be a great separation. The godly and the ungodly, the righteous and the wicked, the elect and the reprobate are mingled together in this world. In the church, in the factory, in the field, and in the family the children of God and the children of the devil are side by side. But it shall not always be so. When Christ comes again, there shall be a great separation made. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet’s sound these two groups shall be forever separated. In that great and terrible day the divisions and separation of the godly from the ungodly will be decisive, immediate, and everlasting. Husbands and wives, mothers and children, brothers and sisters, pastors and their hearers shall be forever separated from one another.
There will be no time for repentance. There will be no opportunity for grace. As we are in that day, so we shall be forever! Believers shall be caught up to heaven, glory, honor, and eternal life. Unbelievers shall be snatched away and cast into hell, damnation, and eternal destruction and death. Let us therefore make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:4-11; James 2:14-26). J. C. Ryle wrote…
“Blessed and happy are they who are of one heart in following Christ! Their union alone shall never be broken: it shall last for ever more. Who can imagine the happiness of those who are taken, when the Lord returns? Who can imagine the misery of those who are left behind? May we think on these things, and consider our ways!”
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (vv. 42-44).
It is our responsibility to be always watchful, ready for and anticipating the Lord’s coming. This is a point which our Master frequently presses upon us. He seldom mentions his second coming without urging us to be watchful. He knows the slothfulness of our nature. He knows how quickly we forget the most solemn things. He knows how worldly-minded we are by nature. He knows how constantly Satan seeks to destroy us, and with what cunning devices. Therefore, he arms us with heart-searching exhortations to be awake and alert, lest we be found at last among the damned (1 Thess. 5:6; Rev. 3:11).
We will be wise, like the spouse in the Song of Solomon (7:12), to rise up early, shake off all carnal security, determine not to be slothful and sluggish, and stand watchful over our souls, that we may be prepared at any moment to meet our Lord and Master. We do not know, we cannot even guess in what watch of the earth’s long night Christ will come. But we do know that he may come at any moment. Therefore, we ought to be as watchful as if we knew that Christ would come tonight, ever standing on the tip-toe of expectation, “looking for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
The readiness and watchfulness our Lord commands in the prospect of his second coming, and to every man’s departure out of life, whether it be by death or at the day of judgment, is being one with Christ, in union with him by grace, born again by his Spirit, washed in his blood, robed in his righteousness, and habitually ready in the lively exercise of faith and hope for the expectation of his coming. They and they only are ready who live by faith in Christ; and they are always ready. Whether their Lord comes at midnight or at the rising of the morning sun, they shall arise at the joyful call, and shall meet the Lord in the air, and shall be forever with the Lord. — “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing!”
“Oh, to be ready for his appearing, watching and waiting for him as servants whose Lord has been long away from them, and who may return at any hour! This will not make us neglect our daily calling; on the contrary, we shall be all the more diligent in attending to our earthly duties because our hearts are at rest about our heavenly treasures.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
Are you ready? Are you ready now to meet the Son of God in judgment? What an awesome thought that is. Yet, it is a thought that I pray will never cease to rouse our hearts. Soon we must meet God in judgment. Are we ready? We are ready only if we are in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:3-14).
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 45-51).
In that great day, every faithful servant of God shall be publicly recognized, honored, and rewarded by Christ; and every false prophet shall be publicly exposed and damned. Our Lord gives us a brief description of his faithful servant in verses 45-47. All are God’s servants, some willingly and others unwillingly; yet all are his servants. But he who is the true servant of Christ is faithful. And he shall be rewarded as a faithful servant. There are rewards for faithful service, both in this world and in the world to come. These are not rewards of debt, but of grace, not according to the rules of law, but of love. John Trapp said, “Christ is a liberal pay-master, and his retributions are more than bountiful.”
While there is no indication anywhere in Scripture that there are degrees of reward among the saints in heaven, we are encouraged to faithfulness by the promise of being rewarded by our God. As faithfulness honors God, so God honors faithfulness. In this world, faithfulness in one form of service is rewarded by greater opportunities of service. Faithfulness in small things is rewarded by greater responsibilities being given (Luke 19:17). In the world to come we shall inherit all the bounty of life everlasting and see the results of our faithfulness around the throne of our God. What more could we desire?
The unfaithful servant is also described (vv. 48-51). He says, “My lord delayeth his coming,” and abuses his fellow servants, beating them and putting them under the law. Rather than comforting them (Isa. 40:1-2), he threatened and beat them. And he lives for pleasure, to the gratification of his lusts, rather than for the glory of God and the good of men’s souls. Such people, the unbelieving and unfaithful, will be taken by surprise when Christ comes again (v. 50), because they are not looking for him. And they shall be forever ruined (v.51). They pretend to be the servants of God, while serving Satan and themselves. Therefore, they shall justly have their portion with hypocrites in hell forever.
Let us live in this world as watchmen, as sentinels of an army in enemy territory, resolved by God’s grace never to be found asleep at our posts. Let us live as the servants of the Son of God, ever looking for our Master’s immediate return. Let us make certain that we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).