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What? Me Worry?

 

By John Funk

 

There are a lot of people out there who display this attitude:  What?  Me Worry?  Why should I?  When they speak in these terms, it concerns the return of Jesus Christ to this earth to “rapture” or “snatch away” His believers.  These individuals rightfully believe that Jesus will return whether or not they are looking for Him.  They maintain that the Rapture of the saints will happen, if it happens, when God ordains and not before then. 

Each of these statements is absolutely true upon its face so why do some people seem to be consumed by the idea of looking for Christ’s return and anticipate that it could happen at any time?  Isn’t this just a big waste of time and effort?  Why would reasonable, intelligent people spend their valuable time and money trying to persuade others that Jesus is coming soon and that they need to be prepared?  More than just being prepared for His coming, these people scan the newspapers trying to tie world events to end times prophecies and actually want others to spend their time looking for the return of Jesus Christ.  Are these people deluded, brainwashed or just hopeful that Someone will extricate them from the causes and concerns of life?  In the meantime, aren’t they failing to make the most out of life and bothering other good people who need to be living life to its fullest?

 

There is a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that chronicles the nighttime adventure of one particular individual in the year 1775; perhaps, you have read it sometime during your life.  It is called “Paul Revere’s Ride” and was written on April 19, 1860.  The first part of the poem is as follows:

 

 

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

 

The purpose of this chronicled event was to spread the alarm of the impending invasion by the British army who intended to quell the revolution by those upstarts who would call themselves Americans.  Spreading the alarm – that is an interesting and compelling purpose for anyone, wouldn’t you agree?

In today’s world, what is there to be alarmed about?  You can stop laughing now; it was rhetorical.  Let us not kid ourselves.  There is plenty to be alarmed about.  Whether it is crime, war, terrorism, drugs, the economy, this week’s latest natural disaster, increasing taxes, one world government, globalism, the loss of individual rights, your children’s friends, the state of marriage or numerous other reasons, we have good cause for alarm.  Evidence of the declining state of our world is shown by the number of people who rely upon antidepressants to just cope with each day.  What is even more alarming than any of the reasons cited herein is the world’s lack of preparedness for the return of Jesus Christ.  Just look around you and see if you think that this world (and the church) is ready for the return of Christ.  It is not and it is for this very reason that we should “sound the alarm.”

In the context of the Olivet Discourse when Jesus spoke with His disciples about the end of the age, He indicated that even though we would not know the hour, we could discern the season.   The fig tree was a metaphor for Israel and Jesus noted that you could tell when summer was near by the fact that the leaves were budding.  Similarly, we should be able to tell when the end of time is near or “right at the door” by the condition of the world around us.  Many place the seminal event or triggering point, i.e. the leaves budding out, as the re-assimilation of Israel in 1948; others point to 1967 when Israel took back Jerusalem.  In any event these individuals focus on verse 34 which states that “this generation shall not pass away until all these things have happened.”

Matthew 24:32-36

** New International Version

King James Version

32 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

 

Jesus then went on to explain that the Rapture would take place when it was totally unexpected.  Just like it was “in the days of Noah”, people will be living life.  They will be going about their work, eating, drinking and marrying.  There will be no expectation by the world at large that this could be the end of the age as prophesied so long ago.  Just like those people then, people will know nothing until it is too late.  God shut the door of the ark after Noah and his family entered and the world then perished.

Matthew 24:37-44

** New International Version

King James Version

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 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; 39 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. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But 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. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him..

37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 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, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 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. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

 

 

Those who take the attitude that Jesus is going to come when He is going to come and that there is no real reason to watch with anticipation fail to heed the admonition of verse 42.  Jesus Himself commanded “Watch.”  The reason is that if one was diligent and kept watch, he would not be surprised and would be ready.  If he is ready, then his house will not be broken up.  Could this be a warning for us that by keeping watch, we will be able to avoid the breaking up of our homes?  By keeping watch and anticipating His return, we will have an increased sense of urgency to try to witness to others and therefore fulfill the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:19-20).

In the following chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus spoke of the parable of the ten virgins and the wedding party.  In this parable all ten virgins clearly wanted to be there for the bridegroom as all ten had brought their lamps; however, only five had brought any oil for their lamps.  All were sleeping when the bridegroom (a metaphor for Jesus) came as He had been a long time in coming but when the cry (or alarm) was sounded, they all woke up and trimmed their lamps.  Only the five who were prepared were admitted.  Even though they cried out to Him, the five who were unprepared were shut out; He did not know them.  Once again we are commended to watch because we do not know the day nor the hour when Jesus will come again.

Matthew 25:1-13

** New International Version

King James Version

1 "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' 7 "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' 9 "'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' 10 "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' 12 "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.' 13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 

 

The Gospel of Mark addresses this same parable concerning the fig tree with many of the same ideas but there is an interesting admonition contained in his depiction.

Mark 13:28-37

** New International Version

King James Version

28 "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 32 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35 Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back-whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'".

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.34 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

 

 

 

 

 

Starting in verse 34, Jesus analogized Himself to a man going on a long journey and leaving His servants in charge.  He commanded his porter or the one at the door to keep watch because you would not know when the master of the house would return.  Verse 36 emphasizes that He should not catch you sleeping, i.e. unprepared for His return.  He emphatically states in verse 37 that all are to keep watch for His return.  It was not a suggestion or merely a good idea; it is a command given by Jesus Christ Himself, our Lord and Savior.  As such, it is a command that is not to be taken lightly but rather is one that should be obeyed to the absolute best of our ability.

Finally, in the Revelation of John as Spirit addresses the church in Philadelphia, there is a promise for those who keep the faith.  In verse 10, it is promised that the church will be kept from the hour of trial or temptation that is coming upon the whole world.  It is widely interpreted that these verses refer to that time commonly described as the “Tribulation” which will be the seven years immediately preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  For those who adhere to the pre-Tribulation viewpoint (as do I), this period will follow the Rapture of the church which is that event that we are to diligently anticipate.

Revelation 3:7-13

** New International Version

King James Version

7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars-I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. .

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 

 

So when someone takes exception to those who watch for the return of Jesus to rapture or snatch away His believers, they need to know that we do it because we are commanded to do it by the One we love.  By doing so we are past the point of being prepared; in fact, we now act to sound the alarm, begging the world around us to come to Christ in faith before the door is shut.  When that door is shut, a time of travail such as has never been seen before will come upon the earth.  That time is drawing ever closer and many of us believe that just as the fig tree gives evidence of the coming of summer, the current world events commencing with the re-assimilation of Israel manifest the nearness of the rapture of the saints.  We do not want to be found sleeping but rather diligently working, preparing the way, for the advent of that time when we will depart this earth and spend our time at the wedding feast, celebrating with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  That is why we do it.  Any questions?

 

 

 

 

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