“There were ten young women, the equivalent of bridesmaids in our time, who were waiting for a bridegroom to show up outside the bride’s house. In their culture, the groom would host a big ‘bachelor party’ for his friends while the bride waited in her home. Sometimes, in his anxiety to join his bride, that party would be minimal and over quickly.
“However, other times the party with the guys could go on a looooong time. No one had a wristwatch to keep track, so it was up to the groom to decide. When he finally showed up with his entourage, the bridesmaids would join the procession of groomsmen into the wedding feast and marriage ceremony.
“Five of these young women knew the groom might be a long time and planned ahead. They had lamps to illuminate the wedding feast, and being wise, they brought extra fuel for their lamps. Five were not so diligent and only brought the fuel in their lamps.
“As the day wore on into evening, the less attentive girls asked the wise ones for some of their fuel. Prudently, the wise ones simply responded they could not give their fuel away or they might not have what they needed. This was not greedy, but simply the way it was. So the five “foolish” ones went into town before the shops would close in order to buy fuel. But by the time they got back, the groom had arrived, the feast had begun and the lights were blazing inside the walls of the bride’s home.
“The foolish young women begged to be let in, but the Master of the wedding told them, “Truly, I do not know you.” And so they were left outside, out of the party and uninvolved in the wedding.” (paraphrased; Matthew 25:1-13)
Sound harsh? This is the story Jesus told His disciples after He had just answered their tri-part question: “When will [the destruction of the Temple] be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and [what will be the sign] of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) This also was not a pretty picture, so for those who think of Jesus as a gentle, mild-mannered, sweet-guy teacher, all roses and lovey-dovey, Matthew 24 and 25 can be eye-openers!
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour,” (Matthew 25:13) and He was not going to tell them. In fact, His loving Father, the “I Am” who revealed Himself to Moses, is the only one who knows. Even Jesus is out of the loop for His return date (Matthew 24:34).
All New Testament references to Jesus’ return to rapture the Church out of the world emphasize that there are no markers we can lay down and say, “Okay, Jesus will come in three and a half years,” or “Jesus will return in seven years.” These views are referred to as mid-Tribulation and post-Tribulation rapture. If Jesus’ return to “catch away His bride” was on this schedule, we could pretty much count the days: precisely 1,260 days, or 2,550 from whatever event begins the first half of the Tribulation. (See Revelation 11:3, 12:14, Daniel 7:25, 12:7)
Furthermore, before He returns He noted that life would be pretty “normal,” at least as normal as they can be with all kinds of alarms going off and false prophets spouting “wisdom” in WordPress blogs about how to be happy, how to have a fulfilling life, how to make lots of money, etc.; “as it was in the days of Noah.” (Matthew 24:37-42, 2 Timothy 3:1-7)
Jesus specifically said these are NOT signs of the end of this age:
- People claim to be a Savior or to have all the answers to the world’s problems.
- Wars and rumors of wars.
- Persecution of Christ-followers to death.
- Many leave faith in Christ and betray and hate other Christ-followers.
- False “prophets” who claim to have special knowledge.
- Deception: calling “good” evil and calling “evil” good.
- Lovelessness; exaltation of self-love; love of pleasure.
Then WHAT IS the sign of the end? “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
With over 7000 languages in the world, most now have some of the Bible in their “heart language” and Bible translations societies are closing in on the most obscure of these. However, we do not know what God considers a language or “nation” in the Great Commission. In any case, there is no reason to suspect that this Gospel will not reach every nation of the world within the immediate future!