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So our proclamation now is in light of the fact that we are going to study the events leading up to the close of this age. It’s a prayer that Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and he prayed it “you,” we’re praying it for “you” and “us” so we say “we” instead of “you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and 24:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify us completely, and may our whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls us is faithful who also will do it.”
Now, without any further introduction we’re going back to where we finished last time. We don’t have time to do any recapitulation, you must do that in your own time if it’s necessary. We stopped at Matthew 24:34–35, so we’re going on now at Matthew 24:36. Speaking about the day of His coming in glory and power, Jesus said:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
And another text which is followed by the New International Version says “not even the Son,” but to confirm that we’ll turn to Mark 13:32, which is the parallel Scripture. Mark 13:32, Jesus says:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
That’s a wonderful thought. This is the secret that’s only known to one person in the universe and that is God the Father. It’s God’s secret. It says no one else knows the day or the hour. I’ll point out to you in a little while we may know the times and the seasons but the day and the hour is God’s secret. I have to say I think it’s extremely presumptuous of teachers, prophets or preachers, whoever they are, to claim to know what only God the Father knows. In my opinion, that’s arrogance. Arrogance is one of the sins that’s most hateful to God.
And I also marvel at the number of Christians, quote, Bible believing Christians, that can actually be fooled by that kind of prophetic utterance. The reason is they don’t know the prophetic scriptures as they ought to do.
So we’ll go on now in the next few verses of Matthew 24, verses 37–39.
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
There’s a parallel passage in Luke 17 which amplifies that a little and it would pay us to turn there. Luke 17:26–30.
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”
I want you to notice the repetition of that little word all in every one of these passages. It’s occurs as the last word.
“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
So Jesus there amplifies a little of what is said in Matthew 24. And not only as it was in the days of Noah, but also as it was in the days of Lot. We will not turn there in our Bibles but the key to understanding that is found in Genesis 6:1–12 and Genesis 19:4–5, which describes the situation in the world in the time of Noah and the situation in the city of Sodom in the time of Lot. I will briefly outline the main features revealed by Scripture concerning that period.
First of all, in the days of Noah the Scripture reveals four major features.
Number one, there was satanic infiltration of the human race by satanic angels who came and cohabited with human women. Satanic infiltration is the key phrase.
And then number two, their whole thought life was corrupted. Every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.
Number three, there was sexual perversion. It says all flesh had corrupted its way. That’s the Bible’s way of saying sexual relationships had become abnormal and perverse.
And fourth, the earth was filled with violence.
I think perhaps we need to pause and meditate on those four features of the time of Noah. Satanic infiltration, corrupted thought life, and in our day I would say one of the main instruments that Satan has used to corrupt our thought life is the television. I’m not preaching against television, I’m just saying it is a main instrument that Satan has used to corrupt the thought life of, I suppose, billions of people. And, most of it initiated in the United States. That’s a fact for which we as American citizens have got to accept responsibility. Our nation has poured forth countless hours of filth and corruption that have really affected most of the world today.
Then it says there’s sexual perversion. Today this is commonplace. I came to realize that there was sexual perversion in the church about thirty years ago, and practiced by Christians who were church members, especially the abuse of young boys and girls. But nobody talked about it in those days and it was a shock to me when I discovered that this was what was going on. But today it is generally discussed, it is widely declared. And everybody knows it’s happening not only amongst the unsaved but also in the church. Sexual perversion is fashionable. There are many, many unconverted people who boast of it. There are programs on the television that actually take delight in exposing all the nasty details. Just as it was in the days of Noah.
And then the earth was filled with violence. If there’s one feature of Noah’s day that is being repeated in our day, it’s pervasive violence. I can remember, I’m old enough to remember, when ladies could walk safely in the streets of our main cities, both in Britain and in the United States, even at night without fear. Now there are some of our major cities like New York, Miami, where it’s not safe even to walk in the daytime. We’ve come to accept this as a fact but it’s a fact that is comparatively recent. It was not true.
I grew up in Britain between the two world wars, there was virtually no violence at all. If a thief snatched a lady’s handbag it made the headlines. Today nobody would even turn around to comment on it. We are, as it were, inured to this but we have to see it as a fact of life. The earth is filled with violence. I can remember and I’m sure some of you can, when you could walk on an airplane without being searched. Do you believe that such days ever existed? Not now.
This is by the way but I don’t know whether you heard of the story of the man who was deeply concerned about the possibility of a bomb on a plane that he was traveling on so he took the statistics and he discovered that only once in a million times would there be a man with a bomb on a plane. But for two men to be on a plane with a bomb was once in a billion times. So after that he always carried a bomb!
I don’t think that’s the right solution!
Now let’s turn to the time of Lot. Lot lived in a city, Sodom, which has given its name to a particular sexual perversion which is now misnamed being gay. I’m sorry, but the beautiful word gay has been perverted to that ugly use. I don’t call it gay, I call it homosexuality or sodomy. The main feature of Sodom was blatant, aggressive homosexuality. They didn’t just practice it, they were aggressive in the practice of it. When Lot invited the two angels in it says all the men from every quarter of the city, both young and old, came to demand sex with these two newcomers. That’s all the men from every area of the city, both young and old. The whole city was totally pervaded with that.
Some of God’s judgments are what we call exemplary, like the judgments on Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s like the judgment on Ananias and Sapphira, who were hypocrites who claimed in giving more to the work of God than they were. They perished, died. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. But that isn’t the way God judges everybody that’s guilty of those practices, that’s an exemplary judgment to show once and for all what God really thinks about these things. If God judged all who were hypocritical about what they give to the Lord, our churches would have far fewer members. But God doesn’t do that. He’s just declared once and for all this is what He thinks about hypocrisy.
Then in both cases, in the case of Noah and in the case of Lot, Jesus speaks about another feature. It’s better to read it in Luke 17. He says about the days of Noah in verse 27:
“They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage...”
And then it says in verse 28:
“Likewise as it also was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built...”
Now, Jesus mentions eight specific activities: eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, building and planting. I want to ask you, is there anything intrinsically sinful about any of those activities? The answer is no. What was the problem? The problem was they were so immersed in those activities that they didn’t recognize the days in which they were living. I would sum that problem up in one word , materialism. They were so immersed in the material that they no longer had any understanding or alertness for the spiritual and the eternal.
So, let’s call feature number five materialism. How much materialism is there in our Western civilization today? I would say it is virtually inundated with it. And believe me, it is by no means excluded from the church. I think there are many professing Christians who are in their hearts just as materialistic as the people of the world. Maybe a little less demonstrative about it, they don’t show it in their lifestyle, but they are absorbed with materialism. Jesus warned us that if we are sucked in into that pit of materialism, we will not be ready when He comes. We will be in the same category as the people of Noah’s day and Lot’s day.
And finally, there’s a good side to the day of Noah, let’s not forget that. It says, “but Noah walked with God.” There was one man out of all those people who had an intimate, personal relationship with God. God could speak to him and tell him how He viewed the situation and the judgment that He was going to bring. I’d like to read from Hebrews 11, just that one verse about Noah. I believe Noah is a pattern for us as believers as we live in the world today. Noah and his family were the only survivors. It seems to me clear that only those people who live like Noah and his family will survive today. Hebrews 11:7:
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
So there was one man in that whole evil situation that walked with God. He had daily communion with God, God could speak to him, reveal to him what was coming on the earth and show him the only way of salvation for him and for his family.
Let me just very briefly sum up those aspects of the days of Noah and Lot.
Number one, satanic infiltration.
Number two, corrupted thought life.
Number three, sexual perversion.
Number four, violence.
Number five, blatant, aggressive homosexuality.
Number six, materialism.
And number seven, the good thing, one man who walked with God.
Let’s turn back to Matthew 24 and go on from there. In verse 40 we get to another “then.” This is the ninth “then” in chapter 24.
“Then [at this time] two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left.”
And elsewhere in Luke it says there will be two in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. So here is a sudden, dramatic, eternal separation separating the people who are closest to one another, even the two that share a bed, the two women that worked at the mill, the two men working in the field. When the rapture comes it will snatch one and leave the other. Which will you be? Snatched or left? It’s important that you decide that issue.
Let’s go on there, verses 43–44:
“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour [or what watch of the night] the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”
If he had known what was going to happen he would have stayed awake, he would have been watchful. Jesus says:
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
That’s important. If you think you know, you don’t know. If you expect Him coming at a certain time, that’s not the time He’s coming. I just need to emphasize this because it has grieved me so much that I suppose millions of Christians have fallen for this revelation that Jesus was coming on a certain day or a certain time. It is totally contrary to the words of Jesus. If you are a disciple of Jesus, you shouldn’t have believed it if you did. If God spared you and didn’t visit you in judgment, don’t ever believe it again. You have to be watching. That doesn’t mean you have to stay wide awake without sleep but it means you have to be alert, you have to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying so that He can wake you at any time of the day, day or night. Alertness, I think, is the word that I would use.
In Mark 13 this is so strongly emphasized that it’s almost worth reading it. Mark 13, just the last three verses, that’s verses 35, 36 and 37.
“Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning, lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Stay awake. Be alert. Don’t be lulled into a carnal slumber by materialism, by sin or by the deceptions of Satan.
Now, we’ve reached a decisive point in this discourse because we finished the outline that Jesus has given and now we’re going to deal in this chapter and the next with four different categories of people, all of whom will be impacted by the coming of the Lord. We’ll look at each category in order.
The first category is contained in Matthew 24:45–51. It speaks about those whom God, or the Lord, has set in His household to care for the needs of His people. And specifically, to give them the appropriate food at the right time. What kind of person does that indicate? I would turn to 1 Peter 5. I think this is the answer. 1 Peter 5:1–4:
The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
So that speaks about those whom the Lord has placed in His flock to overseer. We have both words used, in and over. The overseers, the pastors, the shepherds, the elders, the apostles, for Peter was an apostle, and I would say all the ministries, the five ministries, are appointed by Jesus in the flock and over the flock. Let’s not emphasize one preposition at the expense of the other. They’re not just over, they’re also in.
In verse 2 of 1 Peter 5 Peter says “shepherd the flock of God which is among you.” So we are not talking about a superior class of people who live on a different level from the rest of God’s people, we’re talking about people who live amongst God’s people but yet have a special responsibility over them. Peter warns his fellow elders because when an apostle becomes resident in the city he has the position of an elder. Be careful how you handle your responsibility because you’re going to have to give an account.
Let’s go back now to the picture at the end of Matthew 24.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made a ruler over his household...”
Actually, that’s not the best translation. Appointed within his household.
“...to give them food in due season?”
Notice the first requirement for such a servant is not successful but faithful.
I have been a missionary in two areas at different times and in each place I have recognized that there were missionaries who were there before me who labored faithfully and laid down their lives and saw very little obvious fruit. But I say to myself, God forbid that I should ever think that I’m more successful than they are because if they hadn’t been there first the way would not have been prepared for me. So bear in mind it’s not success as the world understands it that God looks for, it’s faithfulness. Who is that faithful, not successful, servant. I don’t mean that a Christian will not be successful, but success is not measured by the world’s standards. Success is faithfully accomplishing the task allotted to you by the Lord.
And the task here is to give God’s people their food in due season. That really is a pastoral task, a shepherd’s task. I observed over the years that a true pastor knows exactly what his particular flock needs. It may be quite different from what another flock needs at the same time. When I do go, which is rather rare now, to minister to just a congregation, I always like to inquire of the pastors, or the pastoral staff, what do you think your people need particularly? One of the responsibilities of a shepherd is to know where His people are and what they really need. That requires sensitivity.
And then Jesus tells us the reward of that kind of service.
“I say to you that the Lord will make him ruler over all his goods.”
Faithfulness in this life leads to promotion in the next life. This is a solemn thought. The way we conduct ourselves in this world will determine what we’ll be for eternity. There is no substitute for faithfulness.
Now we come to the but, the other side of the picture.
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards...”
So this is the only alternative. And if you sometime or other were going to look at a picture of the judgment seat of Christ which is described in Romans 14 and 2 Corinthians 5, you’d find there are only two categories, good or evil. There’s nothing in between. We’ve invented in the church a third category, “Well, I’m not good but I’m not evil.” In God’s view, that category doesn’t exist. If you’re not good you’re evil.
A lot of people in our churches today are what I call fence sitters. They’re sitting on the fence, they’re not really committed but they don’t want to be classed as unbelievers. My little comment on this is when the Holy Spirit comes to the church, one of the first things He does is to electrify the fence. That’s why some people don’t welcome the Holy Spirit, because they want to stay comfortably seated on the fence.
So, what’s the feature of this evil servant? Well, he says, “My master is delaying his coming.” In other words, he’s lost the vision of the imminent reality of the Lord’s return. That’s his basic problem. I’ve come to this conclusion, that in churches where they do not proclaim the coming of the Lord Jesus as a reality, the standards of holiness will never be those of the New Testament. This is an essential truth to produce holiness in God’s people. So he says, “My master’s been away a long time, I haven’t heard anything about him. I haven’t really been in close touch with him, I can live it up.” So, he begins to beat his fellow servants, he becomes domineering. It is very, very easy for people who help occupy the position of pastors to become domineering, to control people. It’s evil. I’ve made this personal assessment, that God will never put His anointing on something which man seeks to control. So, if man wants to keep it under his control God says, “Well, carry on but don’t expect My anointing. Unless I’m allowed to be in charge you can carry on, you can go through your religious procedures. You can use all the words and the titles but the results will not be what come only from the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”
So, he’s domineering. He beats his fellow servants. He eats and drinks with the drunkards. He begins to live it up. This is a very real temptation in the Western world, especially in the United States. Somebody said to me a little while ago, if you want to know the best places to eat in any city, ask the pastors. I have to say that is a pretty legitimate comment.
I don’t want to get involved in this but I became seriously ill in 1990, 1991, with a disease which normally kills people. If you want to know the name of it, it’s subacute bacterial endocarditis. If you’re not a doctor it won’t mean much to you. But until they invented antibiotics it was fatal. And, it could have killed me. As I was there in bed the very night before I was admitted to the hospital I was asking the Lord , I wasn’t afraid of dying but I had an intellectual problem, “God, I believe in healing. I’ve preached healing, I’ve seen people healed, I’ve been healed myself. Why am I not healed?” The Lord gave me a little overview of the way I’d been living for years as a minister. Never involved in sexual immorality, never involved in drunkenness, never misappropriating funds, but very carnal. Living as if this world were all there is. My definition of carnality is living as if there’s no future world. God showed me how He hated carnality. He gave me this text, “Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated.” Esau is the scriptural pattern of the carnal man. That has changed my life. Thank God I survived. I think the Lord spared me because I was willing to learn my lesson. Ruth and I quoted a scripture, “The Lord has chastened me severely but He has not given me over to death.” That was true in my case. I want to say that I was living a respectable minister’s life. I could tell you the ministers that I was associated with, their names you would all know. We were all basically living the same way. I’m not judging anybody but myself. But, we were in many ways extremely carnal.
I had another experience, I didn’t intend to tell this but I think God wants me to. I do not believe that Christians are prohibited from drinking wine. It may shock you but I believe Jesus drank wine and certainly Paul had recommended Timothy to do the same. Don’t get controversial with me because I’m going to say it in a way that will set your mind at rest. About September of last year Ruth and I were staying in a hotel in Eilat where we’d gone just to get away from the pressures of ministry in Jerusalem. I had drunk maybe two or three glasses of wine. I was perfectly sober. But about 2:00 am I was awakened with a sense of pressure on my brain. The word came to me “stroke.” Thank God I knew something about spiritual warfare because I said, “You spirit of stroke, I refuse you. I’m not submitted to you, you have no power over me, no claims against me.” It lifted. Then I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and it took me three attempts to get out of the bed. When I began to walk to the bathroom I could not walk steadily, I had to hold on to the furniture to get there. The next day as I meditated on that I concluded that having drunk that much wine had exposed my brain to this spirit of stroke. I made up my mind, I tell people I have a new diet. It’s a biblical diet, my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. And for me the emphasis now was finish His work. I’ve been in the Lord’s service fifty years and I believe I’m in His will but I haven’t finished His work. I made up my mind if this would ever come between me and finishing His work, I’ll never touch wine again. I’ve lived by that.
Now please understand I’m not preaching against drinking wine because you can be just as wrong on the other side with all your legalism. I mean, I’ve been a Pentecostal long enough to know what legalism is! And in actual fact, I think it was partly rebelling against legalism that tipped me over on the other side.
See, the pathway that leads to life is a straight and narrow way and there are ditches on either side. One side is legalism. You can fall into that ditch. Then you struggle out of that ditch and if you’re not careful you fall in the opposite ditch which is self indulgence or carnality. We have to walk between the two.
Anyhow, this is very real to me that this unfaithful pastor or leader became involved in drinking. And not merely drinking but what is very important, drinking with the wrong company, drinking with the drunkards. And so Jesus says:
“...the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So when he comes, the servant is not ready for him. Did you hear what I read? The master will come and cut him in two. Who’s the master? Jesus. Did you understand that Jesus is capable of cutting somebody in two? Bear in mind He’s not only the Savior, He’s the judge. He’s just as thorough and faithful in His judgment as He is in saving us. If you don’t live for Him as Savior, you will encounter Him as Judge. Those are the only two options before any of us.
And then it says there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’ve been impressed by that phrase over the years. It occurs about five times in the New Testament. So I made a little search which I’ll share with you of the context in which Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. My conclusion is it’s only for a certain category of people, those who’ve known all about Him, who’ve heard all the truth, who’ve been close to it perhaps all their lives, but never really committed themselves. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth because they will suddenly realize I was so close all my life, I could have stepped in at any moment, and I never did and now I’m shut out forever. I can understand gnashing of teeth and weeping.
Let me give you a little list of the cases in which it’s used.
In Matthew 8:12 it’s used of the sons of the kingdom. Jesus is speaking to His fellow Jews and saying, “You’re rejecting me but the Gentiles will come and they’ll enter the kingdom and you’ll be shut out. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” People who’ve known it all, had every opportunity but never availed themselves.
And then in Matthew 13:42 it’s used of the people who are the tares in the wheat field, looking exactly like the wheat but never producing fruit. Jesus says the angels will come and root them up and throw them into the furnace. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Because, all their lives they’d been close to it, they’ve been in the middle of it but they never entered into it.
Then here in Matthew 22:13, the parable of the wedding feast, the one guest who came in without a wedding garment. You see, you didn’t have to buy your wedding garment, the host provided it, so it was sheer audacity, it was presumption to walk in without one. When the master of the feast saw him he said, “How did you come in here without a wedding garment?” The man was speechless. The master said, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” You see again, somebody knew all about it, he’d received an invitation to the feast but he didn’t bother himself to put on the appropriate garment which is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Then in Matthew 25:30, we’ll be coming to it if God wills and we live, the one talent servant. I’ll deal with them in a little while.
And finally, in Luke 13:28, the people who said to Jesus, “We ate and drank in your presence, we heard all your teaching.” Jesus said, “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness. I never knew you.” And outside there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
You know, I have a modern version of what it is to practice lawlessness because I see so much lawlessness in the church, in the ministry. This is my little paraphrase. To practice lawlessness is to do your own thing. To be answerable to nobody, to be accountable to nobody, just to go your own way and do it the way you please, regardless of what other people do. One thing I’ve learned in the ministry is if I want lasting fruit from my ministry, that fruit has to take root inside the church. If I were to go into an area , which I don’t believe I’ve ever done, and slight the pastors and the local leaders and ignore them, I could have a big meeting. I know enough how to get people for what I can call forward hundreds of people and have a photograph taken but there’d be no lasting fruit because fruit has to grow inside the congregation of God’s people. You have to work with the leaders in the local area if you’re really going to see fruit.
And they’re not always easy to work with, believe me. God bless them anyhow.
When anybody did something really wrong against my first wife and me my first wife knew the scriptures well, she knew she couldn’t afford to say anything bad about them. She said, “Lord, bless them. You know how to bless them.”
So now we’re going on to the next, we’re going into chapter 25. What’s the first word in chapter 25? Then. It’s the tenth “then.” Now we have the parable of the ten virgins. Now, in the Bible, ten is the representative number of a congregation. In Judaism they have to have what is called a minion, that is, at least ten persons before they can pray publicly. So I think the number ten speaks to us of people in congregations. This is just my thought, that these virgins basically represent churchgoers. I’ll read the story quickly and then comment on it.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”
And you notice there’s nothing in between wise or foolish.
“Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him! Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.’”
Don’t be so deep asleep that you can’t wake up.
Now, let me point out some things about those ten virgins, they were common to them all:
They all expected the bridegroom. They all know the bridegroom was coming. They were not unbelievers.
They all had lamps and oil. And oil is almost always a type of the Holy Spirit. They’d had the Holy Spirit in their lives.
And all of them slumbered, both the wise and the foolish. There was only one difference: the amount of oil they had. The wise had oil enough and to spare; the foolish didn’t have a reserve of oil. And Paul says in Ephesians 5:18:
Be not drunk with wine in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit [the Holy Spirit].
Now, most of us would agree that the negative command applies: “Be not drunk with wine.” That’s a sin. Why is it that so many religious people focus on the negative and never attend to the positive? The same command says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” If it’s a sin to be drunk with wine, it’s also a sin not to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
And the word there, and I think you’ll find this in other translations, means “be continually filled and refilled.” It’s not just a one-time infilling.
Again, I’ve lived with Pentecostals so long and I know what they say, “I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1984. I spoke in tongues.” That’s wonderful! That’s ten years ago. What’s happened in the meanwhile? Some people who make it a once-for-all experience are the least sensitive of all to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Because they’ve got it all wrapped up in one packet they received when they spoke in tongues. That’s not sufficient. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I speak in tongues more than all of you.” And obviously they did a lot of speaking in tongues. So Paul did more than them. We have to be continually filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit. The ten virgins had had the initial filling, but they didn’t have the continual refilling, so they were not ready.
Now, an interesting thing is the wise said to the foolish, “Go and buy oil.” It had to be bought. It wasn’t a gift. So there are some things, some ways in which you have to pay the price for the Holy Spirit. Initially, He’s a gift. But if you want to remain filled with the Holy Spirit, there’s a price to pay. You see, I think of what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, which is in so many ways a picture of the church today in America. Revelation, chapter 3. This is what Jesus said to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17–18.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.’”
Have you ever heard that kind of teaching? Did Jesus approve of it? Not the least bit.
“...and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.”
I marvel that people can be wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked and not ever know it! That’s astonishing. But I meet some people like that.
Now Jesus gives us some advice. He says:
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”
Jesus said, “I’m not going to give it to you, you have to buy it from me.” Gold tried in the fire. You know, gold in the ancient world was valueless unless it had been tested by fire. I believe gold is faith there and Jesus said, “I want faith that stood the test of fire. And you’ll have to pay for it by endurance. You’ll have to hold out under the test.” And then He said, “White garments.” Not everything in the Christian life is free. These are things you have to pay for.
I’d also like to point out to you the difference between the evaluation of Jesus and so much contemporary Christianity. There was one church, the church of Smyrna was poor and persecuted and didn’t have much. Jesus said, “But you are rich.” But He said to the church of Laodicea that had it all, “You are poor.” What would He say to the American church today? What would He say? Would He say you are rich or you are poor? You must answer that for yourself.
I just want to point out to you man’s evaluation is often the opposite of God’s. Jesus said the things which are highly esteemed amongst men are abomination in the sight of God.
So, they had to buy oil and they left it too late. When they had bought the oil and arrived, the door was shut. And Jesus said, “I never knew you.” How do you understand that? This is my understanding, they were never amongst God’s elect. They’d come in but God knew they wouldn’t pass the test. Now this may not be the right explanation but it’s the way I see it.
Let me ask you, have you bought your oil? How do you buy oil? By prayer, by Bible reading, by waiting on God. It takes time, it takes effort. It doesn’t just happen, you have to make a decision. So, that’s the ten virgins.
Now we’ll come on to the next group, the servants with the talents. I don’t know how we’re doing for time but I hope I can go on. I’d like to read the whole because it’s so much better if we read it all. I’ll read it, it’s from verse 14 through verse 30, quite long, 17 verses.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”
This is “then” number twelve, if you’re following.
“Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Then [this is ‘then’ number thirteen] he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who; has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Let me offer some comments. First of all, on the servants that made profit, the first and the second each gained one hundred percent. The one who had five gained five, the one who had two gained two. And the words of commendation were exactly alike. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord.” The Lord did not commend the five talent servant more than the two talent servant, which tells me that what He’s looking for is increase. When the increase was proportionate in both, a hundred percent, he gave them exactly the same commendation. What He’s looking for, as I already said, is faithfulness rather than success. Each was rewarded with corresponding authority in Christ’s kingdom. In other words, the way we serve in this life will determine our position in the kingdom of God throughout eternity.
Now let’s take the lessons from the third unfaithful servant. First of all, he acted out of fear. Fear is not the right motive for serving the Lord. Love is the motive. Jesus said in John 14:23:
“If anyone loves me he will keep my words.”
Don’t be motivated by fear. Let the love of Christ, as Paul says, the love of Christ constrains us, that’s the only fruitful motivation for service.
The second lesson is one which is very important for all Christians. Laziness is wickedness. “You lazy and wicked servant.” You see, we all have a kind of religious set of values which is not always realistic. Most churches will not tolerate drunkenness, quite rightly. But many churches tolerate laziness. I believe actually, God’s condemnation of laziness is more severe than His condemnation of drunkenness. We’ve got people in our churches who really don’t do anything for God. They’re too lazy to read the Bible, too lazy to get up and pray, too lazy to go out to a street meeting; they just sit in the pew and they’re nice to everybody, they do nobody any harm, they put some money in the collection. We don’t think about them as wicked but Jesus does. He says laziness is wickedness.
Now then, Jesus said, “You should have deposited the money with the bankers and you would have received interest.” That to me is convincing that it’s not always sinful to receive interest. Jesus said you ought to have received it. I think the laws against usury in the Old Testament were when you borrowed or gave or lent to a fellow Jew. Then it would be wicked if he was in need to require interest on that loan. But if you lend to somebody who’s got a business which is going to make profits, you are entitled to a legitimate share of his profit, that’s the way I understand it. Jesus certainly expected this servant, he couldn’t do anything else, put the money in the bank, open a savings account.
What does that mean in terms for us? I’ll suggest this. To put the money in the bank means you have to say to yourself, “Well, I don’t have a really strong ministry of my own but I’ve got this one talent, I’ll invest it in the ministry of another. Someone who has a ministry that’s approved, that’s bringing forth fruit in the kingdom, I’ll give him my contribution , or her, or them. I’ll invest in them, I’ll put myself at their disposal. I’ll serve them. If it’s necessary, I’ll lick envelopes.” We don’t lick envelopes today, but whatever. “I’ll make myself available to that ministry.” And then when the Lord comes He’ll get His own with interest. But just to sit idle and say, “I only have one talent, there’s not much I can do.”
It’s so true psychologically, it’s the one talent person who fails. The man who had five talents was excited about it. He knew he’d do something. The man who had two talents was excited. The man who had one talent said, “There’s not much I can do so I’ll do nothing.” That’s a terribly dangerous attitude.
The next truth is not to use is to lose. Okay? Spiritual gifts God gives unconditionally, He never demands them back. But if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.
God gave me a gift in the early 1970s, some of you are familiar with it. It’s faith for people whose legs are unequal. I have seen, I think, thousands of unequal legs made equal. Well, some of my good friends said to me, dear friend, they said, “Listen, you’ve got a good reputation as a scholarly Bible teacher. Don’t spoil it by going around and kneeling in front of people and lengthening their legs.” So I thought maybe that’s good advice. I’ll pray about it. Well, when I prayed I felt this is what the Lord said to me, “I’ve given you a gift. There are two things you can do. You can use it and get more or you can not use it and lose it.” I said, “Lord, I’ll choose the first.” That’s just an example. I very seldom use that gift today. It’s still there but it’s been superseded by other things.
But each one of you, dear brother or sister, you have a gift of some sort. If you don’t use it you’ll lose it. If you use it you’ll get more. The choice is yours.
Notice also that the rejection of this unfaithful servant was final. He was cast into outer darkness. That’s neither heaven nor earth nor hell, it’s a different place. Don’t let’s get involved with that. And then where he went there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. We dealt with that, I will not go into that again.
So we go on to a parallel parable which is found in Luke 19 which is the parable of the minas. In the Old King James version it used to be called the parable of the pounds. There are some differences. In the parable of the minas in Luke 19, we won’t turn there, each of the ten servants received one mina, whereas in this parable that we’ve looked at, each received according to his ability. Jesus knew how much he could trust each one with. Now, one at the end gained ten minas, he made a ten-fold increase. The Lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Have authority over ten cities.” Another one gained five minas and the Lord said to him, “Have authority over five cities.” But he didn’t say well done, good and faithful servant. He wasn’t on the same level as the man who had gained ten. And one, like the other parable, had gained nothing. He was called wicked and his one mina was taken from him. Then let’s read the last verse of that in Luke 19. I want to read it because you wouldn’t believe it was there if I didn’t read it. Luke 19:27. You’ll remember that the citizens of this lord had said, “We don’t want you. We don’t want you to rule over us. Don’t come back.” The Lord didn’t forget that. So at the end of this parable, He, Jesus, says:
“But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.”
I want to supervise their execution. Does that fit in with your picture of Jesus? We have all heard gentle Jesus, meek and mild. That’s true but it’s not the whole truth. He is God’s appointed judge. We’ll return to that later on in this series, if you’ve got the courage to face it.
So the one who gained nothing in the second parable was called wicked, his mina was taken away from him, he was exiled forever from the presence of the Lord.
Now let’s go to the fourth category in Matthew 25, which is the sheep and the goat nations. Starting at verse 31 now.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then [that’s number eleven] He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then [that’s ‘then’ number fourteen] the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in. I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then [number fifteen] the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then [number sixteen] He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels...’”
Some of the strongest words that Jesus ever uttered.
“‘...for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in; naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then [number seventeen] they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then [number eighteen] He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In order to understand that it’s very important to recognize that it’s a follow on from Joel 3. This gives us the setting. Joel 3:1–2, the Lord says:
“For behold, in those days and at that time when I bring back the captives [or the exiles] of Judah and Jerusalem...”
So notice this is looking forward to the days in which we are living when the Lord is bringing back the Jewish captives from all over the world. From more than one hundred nations Jews have returned to the land of Israel in the last fifty or sixty years.
I was in a class in the Hebrew University, a language class, and I discovered there were people in my class that had returned from thirty different nations. It’s stupendous, the human mind can hardly take in what’s involved.
So, this is the time of the situation. It refers to the regathering of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Then the Lord says this, verse 2:
“I will also gather all nations [and that’s the word for Gentiles [goyim, if you know what the Jews speak about Gentiles], I will bring them down to the valley at Jehoshaphat [and Jehoshaphat means ‘the Lord judges’] and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have also divided up my land.”
Now we’re talking about the judgment of the nations at the close of this present age. God says, “I will judge them on the basis of how they’ve treated the Jews and the land of Israel.” That’s important to know. He says, “They have divided up my land.” Remember it’s first and foremost God’s land; secondly, it belongs to the Jewish people because God gave it to them by an everlasting covenant for an everlasting possession. It doesn’t matter who’s in it, the ownership does not change. It belongs to God and to the Jews. God is not restoring them because they deserve it, let me hasten to add that. He’s very clear about that. “Not for your sake but for my holy name’s sake.” That’s what God says.
But notice the second charge against the nations is they’ve divided up my land. Do you know what dividing up is in modern political language? Partition. They have partitioned my land.
Now, in 1920 or thereabouts, the League of Nations assigned to Britain a mandate for the land of Israel, both side of the Jordan. The terms of the mandate were to provide a national home for the Jewish people. In 1922, with a stroke of his pen, Winston Churchill signed away seventy-six percent of that land to an Arab nation then called Trans-Jordan, now called Jordan, and in that territory no Jew is permitted to live. So they have divided up the land seventy-six percent to twenty-four percent. In 1947 the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations, arranged a scheme by which they were to divide up the land so out of the remaining twenty-four percent Israel would get maybe ten percent and fourteen percent would go to the Arabs. What are they guilty of? Dividing up God’s land. And those nations are going to have to answer for it.
I’m British by birth and I was living in the land of Israel when partition took place and when the state of Israel was born. I’m an eyewitness to these things. I will say that short of open warfare the British administration did everything in their power to prevent the birth of the state of Israel. Do you know what happened? Israel was born and the British empire fell apart. Without ever losing a major war , the only one they really lost was with the colonists in America, the only major war. Their empire disintegrated. Why? Because they sinned against Israel and their land.
This shows you that God takes it seriously.
Now, going back to this parable in Matthew 25, Jesus sitting on His throne of judgment, His throne as King on earth. He’s been sharing His Father’s throne up till now. Now He has His own throne on earth, the throne of His glory, the throne of His kingdom. And on that throne He judges all the nations that are gathered before Him, the Gentiles. He doesn’t gather the Jews, I’ll explain why in a little while. There’s only one basis, only one basis: how they’ve treated the brothers of Jesus. In the light of Joel it’s absolutely sure that what that means is the Jewish people. Remember that in Revelation, chapters 4 and 5, John had a vision of a scroll that had to be opened, and no one was able to open it. He was weeping and one of the elders said to him, “Don’t weep. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to open it.” John looked around expecting to see a lion and what did he see? A slain lamb. That’s where the power is, brothers and sisters, it’s in the life that’s given over to God. The title of Jesus in eternity is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Judah is the name from which we get the word Jew. In Hebrew Judah is Yehuda and Jew is Yehudi. See, it’s only one syllable different. So bear in mind that Jesus did not become a Jew simply for thirty-three and a half years. He eternally identified Himself with the Jewish people. That’s His title, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Now you may dislike that but you can’t change it. Because God didn’t ask your opinion. He didn’t ask mine, either. But I’ve learned it’s safer to agree with God. I tell you, when you see anti-Semitism rampant throughout the earth, and not least in America, we’d better take careful heed to our own attitudes because we’re going to be judged. It’s clear to me from this picture of Jews without clothing, without food, without shelter, in prison, sick , there’s going to be a tremendous worldwide upsurge of anti-Semitism which you can already feel the currents of it. God is going to permit it.
David Paulsen who is a friend of mine said once, “Whenever the Jews aim to settle down in any Gentile nation, God always permits anti-Semitism to arise because that’s not their home.” God said in Ezekiel 37, “At a certain time my people, you’re like dry bones scattered in the valleys. But I’m going to open your graves and bring you out of your graves and bring you to your own land.”
I tell some Jewish believers here, and I have many friends here, I say it’s wonderful that you’ve come to believe in Jesus. You’ve got out of the grave but you haven’t got out of the cemetery. There’s only one place that Jews are appointed to live, that’s in the land of Israel.
We have a dear friend, I won’t give you his name, he was like most , the only adult Jewish believers I’ve ever met have all come by way of the occult, I think without exception. There he was, as a Jew in the land of Israel, a hippie with his hair down to his waist and he tried to start a kibbutz for organic farming. So the Jewish agency said, “Fine, if you can get ten other people, start.” But he never could. He was totally disillusioned with Israel and their land. He went back to the United States where he was born, married a beautiful wife and got saved, totally saved by faith in Jesus. God said to him one day, “You are a Jew, this is not your home.” And from then onwards he knew he had to move back.
Those are true words. If you’re a Jew, this is not your home. You can have a good time here and enjoy some of the so-called comforts and luxuries, but I’m not sure that you’ll be able to enjoy them for long. I think a change is coming.
I don’t tell anybody what to do but I think you should give careful consideration to the meaning of this parable. So what happened? Listen to what happened to the goat nations who didn’t show mercy. It doesn’t say actually they persecuted them, they just didn’t show mercy. Verse 41:
“The King will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels...’”
I have never read anywhere more fearful words of condemnation than those. “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” And notice the lake of fire was never prepared for human beings. We don’t have to go there, the devil and his angels have no choice. We only go if we make the wrong choice.
Then He said to the others in verse 34:
“Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...”
So the decisive issue was who was going to be admitted to the kingdom, who was going to be excluded. This is the kingdom of Jesus on earth, His earthly kingdom. The nations that pass the test but were not part of the church will be admitted to that kingdom on earth.
Now I have just time to point out one more thing. If you turn to 1 Corinthians 10:32. It says to believers:
“Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God...”
So there are three categories of the human race: the Jews, the Greeks (that’s the Gentiles), the church of God. And Paul says don’t offend any of them. Each of those will undergo a separate judgment of God. I just want to point this out to you.
First of all, I’ll share a principle with you about God’s blessing and God’s judgment. God blesses the Jews direct, He blesses the Gentiles through the Jews. All of us who are Gentiles owe every spiritual blessing we have to the Jews. But when it comes to judgment, God judges the Gentiles direct, He judges the Jews through the Gentiles. You can see that all the way through the Old Testament. You need to assimilate that principle of judgment. God blesses the Jews direct, He blesses the Gentiles through the Jews. God judges the Gentiles direct, He judges the Jews through the Gentiles.
There’s a separate throne of judgment for each one of those three categories. The church will be judged before the judgment seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10. The word judgment seat in Greek is bema. It means the seat on which a Roman official judged his subjects. It was the seat on which Pilate sat when he judged Jesus. So, the church, at their judgment, which I’ll talk about in another meeting, and it’s before the judgment seat of Christ.
The Jews will have their judgment during the great tribulation. The great tribulation will be the judgment time of the Jewish people. I’ll give you one Scripture out of many, Ezekiel 20. This is addressed specifically to Israel, Ezekiel 20, beginning at verse 32. He says to them:
“What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’”
That’s exactly what they’re saying at the moment. That is exactly the whole purpose of the present government in Israel. It’s to obliterate the distinction between Jews and other nations. And it will never work. God says it will never be. You can’t do it.
“As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you [Jews]. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead my case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded my case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead my case with you, says the Lord God. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant...”
“Passing under the rod” describes the way a shepherd counted his sheep back into the fold. He put his rod down before each sheep, checked that it was one of his, then admitted it. The Lord says, “I’ll check each one of you whether you qualify.”
And then He says:
“I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the country where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
The Lord says, “I’ll let you come out but you’ll never come in.” And He says, “I will make you pass under the rod, I will count you back into the fold and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” Remember that every permanent relationship of God with anybody is always based on a covenant.
So that’s the judgment of the Jews. The judgment of the Gentiles we just looked at.
We’ll talk more about judgment later on, if God wills and we live.
Ruth believes that God has given her a prophetic word. And from experience I believe that’s correct.
Ruth: This came to me just before Scott began to pray before Derek spoke. And the Lord brought it back to me about five minutes after Derek started speaking so I wrote it down. It’s very brief.
Walk before me and be thou perfect. Do not think I am calling you to a walk that is impossible. All things are possible to those who believe. Hear what I am saying. I am calling for a people, individuals, men and women and children, who take me seriously and are willing to be my representatives in this present evil age, and to prepare an ark for the saving of their households. Fathers, hear what I am saying. Walk before me in holiness and integrity and obedience. The time is short and my call to you is clear and unambiguous. Walk before me and be thou perfect.
Derek: Father, we thank you that we have a God who speaks to us, a God who is not far away, a God who is very close to every one of us here. We feel, Lord, you have spoken to us by your word and by your Spirit. I pray for each one of us, including myself, that you will give us grace to be attentive to what you’ve said, to be obedient to walk before you and be perfect. Amen.