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From the editor: "Ye know not what hour" (Matthew 24.42)

J Grant

In the Gospel by Matthew, chs.24-25 are occupied with the teaching of the Lord Jesus which follows His departure from the temple in Jerusalem. The disciples had shown Him "the buildings of the temple" (24.1) and He had responded, "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down". This prompted the question, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?".

The Lord instructs them as to what will take place in the time of tribulation that will follow the rapture of the church. These chapters, therefore, deal with events in relation to Israel in the period before the Lord Jesus returns in glory to set up His millennial Kingdom.

There are, however, in these chapters lessons that can be taken to heart today. The three parables (24.45-25.30), which deal with the faithful and evil servants, the wise and foolish virgins, and the talents, contain lessons for Israel as they await His return, but also hold practical lessons about waiting that can be profitably considered today as we anticipate the day of rapture. Each of these parables highlights "dangers associated with waiting".

The first parable (26.45-51) introduces a wise servant who, in the absence of his master, faithfully discharged his responsibilities. Another servant, described as "evil", considered that his lord was delaying his coming. There was with him no expectation of his soon return. The effect of this is that he became alienated from other servants and found his company with the world. Today we do well to take heed to the words of the Lord Jesus in His last promise in the Word of God, "Surely I come quickly". If we do not live in the daily expectation that He might come now, we also could find ourselves drawn towards the world and distant from our fellow believers. The "evil" servant did not deny that his master would come, just that it would be a considerable time before he came. May we never consider that the present time need not be given to devoted service. Let us live with the expectation that we could see Him and have to meet His gaze today.

The second parable is that of the foolish virgins (25.1-13). The dispensational lesson to be learned is not our present purpose. The point at issue is that the five virgins who did not bring oil for their lamps were guilty of no preparation. They brought lamps, but no oil. It may be argued that as believers we have made preparation when we were saved. What more needs to be done? John in his first epistle gives the answer to that when he writes, "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming (1 Jn 2.28). By not preparing to meet Him there is the danger of being "ashamed" before Him. Every day, therefore, we should be preparing for that moment. Differences with other believers, whether small or great, must be put right; time wasting interests must be discarded; prayer life must not be neglected; abiding in Him must be a prime objective daily; worldly ambitions and pursuits must be forsaken. Prepare to ensure that on that day we are not ashamed before Him.

The third parable (25.14-30), that of the talents, brings before us the danger of no multiplication. The servants to whom the master gave the talents were charged with the responsibility of trading with the resources committed to their trust. Two of the servants did so. The one who received two talents did not complain because another had received five. Both had received according to their ability. Let us note that the Lord does not expect us to work for Him beyond our "ability" but he does expect us to work to the full extent of our "ability". The servant who hid his one talent in the earth was guilty of neglect. He was not prepared to put time and dedicated effort into using the resources entrusted to him. Spiritual gifts have been given to every believer today. Do we use them to "multiply" the work of God? Do we develop them and use them effectively, as did the two diligent servants, or, when He comes, will our eyes be cast down because we did not use that which He gave us?

Let us apply ourselves to His service so that these "dangers associated with waiting" are not seen in us. May our lives be evidence of the fact that we are "faithful and wise" servants (24.45) who have not fallen into the trap of thinking, "My lord delayeth his coming" (24.48).


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