Thief In The Night (Part Two)

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 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. So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
— Matthew 24:42-44 (NIV)

The motif of the “thief in the night” is repeatedly used in the Gospels and New Testament writings. It conjures the image of stealth and surprise. That is how it will be when Jesus returns and catches us up to be with Him in the clouds. This event will catch the world by surprise and leave it in a state of shock. However, the fervent followers of Christ will not be in the least surprised because of the proliferation of biblical signs. We ought to be eagerly anticipating it.

Most people who are keen on eschatology - the study of the End Times – focus mostly on the events that will take place and the timing of their occurrences. Much have been revealed in the bible, yet much remain shrouded in mystery. In His riveting Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25), where Jesus teaches about the End Times, He spends half the time talking about the signs and events, and the other half warning His disciples to be prepared for His return. Be watchful and be ready are His constant refrain.

How To Be Prepared, Watchful & Ready?

Jesus does not leave us to our imagination concerning how to be prepared, watchful and ready. He speaks about it at length (Matthew 24:45-51; 25:1-46). Everything He says about this matter can be condensed into one word, faithfulness. Be faithful in your relationship with God and in serving Him. Upon His return, many who have professed to be Christians will be caught napping and found guilty of failing in their Christian life and service.

Christians can fail in different ways. Jesus gives a few illustrations.

Abuse of Power & Ungodliness

In His first illustration, Jesus expects leaders to carry out their duties and discharge their responsibilities wisely and faithfully (Matthew 24:45-51). He warns them to be careful how they treat those who are put under their charge. Leaders who lack love and abuse their authority and power will be taken to task. Jesus also warns leaders against mixing with the wrong company and leading an ungodly lifestyle.

A Cavalier Attitude

Complacent Christians come under fire next (Matthew 25:1-13). The five foolish virgins exemplify believers with a cavalier attitude toward our Lord Jesus. These Christians cannot be bothered with how they live their lives. They are lukewarm and complacent. Consequently, when the Bridegroom, Jesus, returns, they will be caught unprepared. Like the people during Noah’s time, they will miss the boat. Only those who have lived wisely will be raptured. That is, caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and taken to heaven.

Complacency carries the price of a frightening eternal consequence. That is the warning of the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Utilising Our God-Given Resources

Next, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents. It illustrates the importance of deploying our God-given resources to serve the King and His Kingdom. How we utilise our natural talents, spiritual giftings, money, time, and energy have eternal implications.

Many Christians live without seriously considering how they should prioritise and allocate their resources for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Their starting point is invariably self – me, my family, my career, my ambition, my pleasure, etcetera. God is usually given secondary priority. Sometimes, He gets only the crumbs. If you do that, you cannot expect Him to be pleased. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about the materials we use to build God’s house (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Do we use our best – gold, silver and precious stones – or do we use our second best or third best – wood, hay and straws?

In the parable, Jesus makes it very clear that God expects us to invest our God-given resources for His Kingdom purposes. Not doing so will incur His displeasure. There are serious implications. While the good and faithful servants will be commended and rewarded, the lazy and wicked servant will be taken to task. God considered wicked those who live only for themselves without any concern for His Kingdom business.

Accountability & Eternal Punishment

Every believer of Christ will be called to give an account of how they have lived and served Him in their lifetime. No one will be exempted.

A frightening prospect awaits those who are not prepared, watchful and ready for Christ’s return. Jesus will claim that He does not know them. He uses terrifying and even gruesome imageries to describe their eternal fate – they will be cut to pieces; thrown into outer darkness; assigned to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth; go into eternal punishment (Matthew 24:51; 25:12, 30, 46).

Be Prepared, Watchful & Ready

Like a thief in the night, Jesus is coming back soon. The rapture will certainly happen. Those who are prepared, watchful and ready will be taken to heaven and rewarded. The foolish, lazy and wicked servant will be left behind and punished.

So, be prepared, watchful & ready!

Preparation begins today if you have not taken your relationship with God seriously. Get your act together. Do not be indifferent and complacent. Instead, be proactive and faithful in your service.

Pastors Leslie & Adeline Chua