Many of you have seen or heard the prediction: “Judgment Day is May 21, 2011“… tomorrow. I just tried to get on the website and the server is over capacity… sad! And here is why I think it is sad, maybe tragic:
As I peruse Facebook and Twitter, I see many Christians posting verses out of Matthew (“no one knows the day and the hour”) and people saying “we’ll still be here Sunday”, and so forth. It is true. No one does know the day and the hour of His return. And it is probably true that we will be here Sunday (though, “no one knows the day and the hour”!)
Not only are these little comments being said, but there are also, of course, as there will always be, entrepreneurs who are capitalizing on these eschatological predictions. One guy has a company to take care of the pets of those who have been raptured. Another business charges $14.99 a month to send out an email of explanation to those left behind after you have been raptured.
To me, this is sillier than silly. Or maybe I should use the word foolish. I don’t think this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Be faithful and wise servants.” I don’t think He was thinking, “I’ll tell them to be ready, and then they’ll know to prepare some emails and letters to send out when I come snatch them up.”
Do I believe that the Lord will come back May 21? It could very well happen tomorrow, or today for that matter. But do I really expect that to happen tomorrow, especially with all the publicity and predictions? Not really. But I also don’t think we should be as concerned with this date-setting garbage as we are. The point is not that one guy is bad for setting a date and we are good because we know the one verse in the Bible that says not to do that.
I find the situation disturbingly similar to when the Pharisees scolded Jesus about his disciples eating the grain on the Sabbath. And then later, he healed on the Sabbath… and the Pharisees had a problem with doing GOOD on the SABBATH. They were following the Law so closely, and on the outside they were clean and good and perfect, but it was what they were MISSING that condemned them. Jesus said, ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
We are so very concerned with the “day and the hour” verse, but what does the rest of the passage say? There is a THEME there that we are missing because we are acting much like the Pharisees, choking and gagging so as to not swallow a gnat (against their laws) by choosing to focus on one little sentence that Jesus said instead of the overall emphasis of the message, which is: READINESS!
Since everyone is quoting Matthew 24, I thought we could go quickly through the passage and look at what Jesus was talking about.
Those who were not ready.
As in Noah’s day, they were “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away.” Not ready.
The people in the field and at the mill, one taken one left. The one was not ready.
The thief broke into the house. The master was not ready.
THEREFORE, YOU MUST ALSO BE READY, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant? He will set him over all his possessions. But if you say, “My Master is delayed” (or, “oh He’s not coming tomorrow”) He will come on a day when you do not expect Him and at an hour you do not know… BE READY!
The Parable of the Talents
The Master entrusted his property and money to his servants. The good and faithful servant was ready when the Master returned, increasing what was entrusted to him. The wicked servant was not ready when the Master returned, burying what was entrusted.
The Final Judgment
The end of Matthew 25 speaks of the Final Judgment. We read the words of Jesus as he separates the sheep from the goats. From those who were His from those who weren’t truly His. From those who were ready from those who weren’t ready.
Do not be like those who are cast into outer darkness because they were not doing the Lord’s work. Don’t be a goat, make sure you are a sheep and acting like a sheep. Be ready, be righteous and hear the Lord say to you in the end, “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Virgins & Lamps
In the next chapter, Matthew 25, Jesus continues his readiness speech to the disciples. 10 virgins. 5 ready, 5 not ready. To those not ready, the door was shut to the marriage feast! Watch, therefore!
But back to May 21, 2011.
In Philippians 1, Paul talks about the guys who were trying to do him harm by preaching the gospel and thereby entangle him and land him in jail. We would probably show up on Facebook and say, “don’t listen to these guys… this isn’t Jesus’ message… they’re quacks.” But Paul, with perspective, says, “Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed and in this I rejoice.” He didn’t just tolerate it, but he REJOICED in it!
As I have heard John Piper say regarding date-setting, “If this is going to scare someone enough to trust in Jesus, let the whacko’s whack.”
This is serious. Watch, be ready, be faithful, be wise. Our task and our job is not merely to go on the attack against misguided and incorrect eschatological predictions and doctrines. There will be and there will always be these “prophecies” until the Son of Man actually does return. They are false prophets and in the Old Testament they would have been stoned. Today, we shouldn’t believe or be deceived. But put your Pharisaical robe away and take this opportunity to obey Jesus’ explicit words: “Be ready.” Examine, evaluate and inventory your own life. What if He does come back tomorrow? ARE YOU READY?
In contast to the “whacko’s”, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 4:5, ” As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Do what GOD has called YOU to DO. What is it? Do it!