The Day is coming (December 1, 2019)

The Day is coming (December 1, 2019)

December 2, 2019
Benjamin Ehlers

The Day is coming:

Are you Aware? Are you an heir? Are you prepared?

Matthew 24:26-44

One of the times I value very highly is Sunday afternoon. After preparing all week for Sunday Worship, having Bible Study, leading worship, heading home for lunch and getting the kids down for naps, finally I am just ready to collapse onto the couch and just relax! Maybe watch a show or a movie. Maybe drift off into a nap. It’s all just perfect! Except, often there’s also a lot of things I want to get done in that time – things that I didn’t have time for during the week. Things that are impossible to do well when the kids are wanting to play and spend time. And yet, there’s only so many hours in the day. In fact, only a few hours before the kids wake up from their afternoon naps. Do I rest after a long week? Do I get things done? A time is coming when I won’t be able to do either anymore.

A time is coming for you as well. Are you aware? A day is coming when all of this will end. A day when Christ will return and you will no longer be able to work or rest. No longer able to have a change of heart. Are you aware of that day? Are you an heir? And are you prepared?

Jesus actually compares it to the time of the great flood in Noah’s day. He says, “For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Mt 24:38-39). What’s really interesting is that Jesus does not mention their violence or corruption, although that did certainly characterize the people of Noah’s day. Back in Genesis it says, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Gen 6:5). Their wickedness and evil did characterize them, but that’s not what Jesus points out here. That’s not his main warning. What he points out is that up to the day Noah entered the ark, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Well… what’s wrong with that Jesus? Nothing! There’s nothing sinful in those actions themselves except that they were symptomatic of their unconcern. These common, everyday activities became sinful when there was no regard for God. They were completely involved with earthly matters and unconcerned about anything else.

But Jesus, what do you expect? You just said that the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away” (Mt 24:39). Let’s think about that for a moment. There’s a guy building a boat – a huge boat – on dry land. Were they really so ignorant? In Genesis, God said he would number their days, 120 years (Gen 6:3). And when God numbers days, he sends prophets to warn. Most likely, Noah was not just building an ark, but also warning! In fact, the apostle Peter even calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pt 2:5) To those who asked questions or mocked him for building such a large vessel, he explained God’s plan. He warned them of the coming flood. So, it’s not that they knew nothing, it’s that they didn’t want to know anything. They wouldn’t believe what was going to happen. It wasn’t innocence. It wasn’t even ignorance. It was arrogance on their part.

The day is coming. God hasn’t told us when, but he has given his word about it. And I’m sure you’re aware that God has a very good track record on keeping his word. So what are you up to? Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, going to work and school, driving to extracurriculars and favorite activities – all great things to be doing! But are we so involved with our earthly activities that we neglect spiritual activities? Are we so caught up in improving our skills, enjoying life, setting up a perfect future for our kids that we forget about the Day that IS coming? There were scoffers in Noah’s day, “Where is this flood that God promised?” There are scoffers in these last days as well. “They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was [flooded] and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly’” (2 Pt 3:4-7).

A day IS coming when Jesus WILL return. Are you aware of that fact? And if not, why not? Are you expecting there to be a long drawn out lead up? Are you expecting that when that day comes you will still have time to move from arrogant ignorance to expectant faith?

At times I like to think about what that day will be like. I’d like to think that it will be on a Sunday morning, like today. Then, just after hearing the gospel, as we are singing with all joy and longing, “Savior of the Nations come,” then the stained glass – softly glowing – will radiate an ever growing light until the glass shatters, the roof is lifted, and there is Jesus coming in the clouds to greet us! In my mind, at least, that would be pretty awesome. But I know that’s likely not the reality.

Actually, there will be a deceptive normalcy on that day. “[This] is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 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” (Mt 24:39-41). We are living in a time where the majority of people will act as though there is nothing more important than following their earthbound activities – just like before the flood. The majority of people will not acknowledge or realize that he who came in grace to save them will return in glory to judge them. And if you and I are not careful, we can easily get swept up into that very same mentality. If you and I do not purposefully, with intent, carve out time to hear God’s words and remain aware of that Day, then we will be caught off guard just like in the days of Noah. When Jesus returns, when the Last Day comes it will be too late.

So, being aware, what then? There have always been only two groups of people for all of human history. Those that are heirs, and those that are not. Those that believe, and those that do not. Yet looking around, it’s hard – in fact impossible – to tell the difference. They will be working together as partners, they will be associating with each other in their activities, they may even be members of the same household. There is no difference, except what is in their hearts. Do they believe that Jesus saves from all sin, or not?

It’s easy to get so caught up in the matters of this life, that we forget to set aside time to get caught up in the matters of the next life – in the matters of faith. Thankfully, God didn’t consider himself too busy. He wasn’t too caught up in upholding and preserving all of creation that he couldn’t spare the time for the crown of his creation. No. You are what matters most to him in all of this world. That’s why he entered into human history, came down himself, to be born, to live, to die and to rise. All so that you could be an heir. Then, for you, in some way by the Holy Spirit he lead you by his word – whether that be the word you first heard from your parents and were brought to the font for baptism, or the word you heard from a friend or family member, a neighbor or colleague. God is not too busy. He takes the time for you. He seeks after you. He finds you when you are lost. He builds you up when you are down. Carries you when you can’t go on. And welcomes you when you are alone. In some way God led you here and made you his heir so that when that day comes you will not only be aware, but also an heir. So that when that day comes it will be a day of longing and joy! So that you would be prepared.

The final 3 verses of this section contain 3 commands – 3 urgings – to help you prepare for the Day that is coming. Verse 42 says, “Keep watch! Because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Mt 24:42). Just because you don’t know when the Day is coming, doesn’t mean you can’t keep watch. In fact, it means keep watch all the more! Things will be going on like normal. Don’t be lulled into complacency as the masses were in the days of Noah. Don’t let your eyelids hang heavy, or your heart grow weary because the Day is coming. Jesus is coming for you!

Jesus goes on with the second command, “Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into” (Mt 24:43). I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a thief call ahead. The two times my car was stolen, I didn’t get a call or a text. After the first time, and getting the car back, we were vigilant! We bought a steering wheel club and used it every day. But then we grew lax, thinking it would never happen again – certainly not twice to the same vehicle! Again, no text, no call, car was gone a second time. Understand this: there is great loss resulting from a failure to keep watch at all times. Christ has already come in grace to make you an heir. He will come again in glory to judge all people. He’s given you the text! He’s called you through his ministers. All the more reason to be prepared every day and not take chances.

Finally, much a restatement of the previous two, “Be ready, because the Son of Man WILL COME at an hour when you do not expect him” (Mt 24:44). The truth is, even for you and I who are aware that the day is coming, and heirs of the one who is coming, that day will still come as a surprise to you who are watching and waiting – to you who are prepared. But it will be a joyous surprise for those who are aware, are an heir, and are prepared!