March 14, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Warning

Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (25:13)

For the fifth time in the discourse (see 24:36, 42, 44, 50) Jesus called on those who will be alive during the last days of the Tribulation to be alert, because they will not know the day nor the hour of His appearing. They would know its nearness by the catastrophic signs, but the exact day and the exact hour they would not know.

“Be on guard,” Jesus had said in the Temple on the previous day, “that your hearts may not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34–36).

In his epic poem Idylls of the King, Alfred Lord Tennyson used figures from the parable of the ten virgins in a song directed to the wicked Queen Guinevere, who learned too late the cost of sin:

Late, late, so late, and dark the night and chill!

Late, late, so late, but we can enter still.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

No light had we, for that we do repent;

And, learning this, the Bridegroom will relent.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

No light, so late, and dark and chill the night!

O let us in, that we may find the light.

Too late, too late, ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the Bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, tho’ late, to kiss His feet!

No, no, too late! Ye cannot enter now.[1]

13 The theme is reiterated once more (cf. 24:36, 42, 44, 50). Jeremias (Parables of Jesus, 52) and others suggest this verse is a late addition to the parable, since it is at variance with the fact that both the wise and the foolish virgins fell asleep. But this misses the purpose of v. 13. “Keep watch” does not mean “keep awake,” as if an ability to fight off sleep were relevant to the story. Rather, in light of the entire parable, the dominant exhortation of this discourse is repeated: Be prepared! Keep watching![2]

25:13. Jesus’ closing exhortation is the central application point of the parable, using almost exactly the same wording as when Jesus first introduced the command in 24:42. As in 24:42, we find again the present tense with the imperative mood of the verb gregoreo, which means, “be staying continually awake, constantly keeping watch.” And the same reason is given—we do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. Our preparedness for Christ’s coming demonstrates our personal trust and respect for him.[3]

13. Keep on the alert, therefore, because you do not know the day or the hour. See on 24:36, 42, 44, 50.

Having now studied the parable, and having fixed our attention upon its main lesson, namely the necessity of constant preparedness, hearts and lives ever consecrated to the Lord in the here and now, we are entitled to ask, “In keeping with this main application, what are some of the ancillary truths taught here?” Probably the following:

  1. All who profess to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are alike in many respects; especially in this, that all are on their way to meet the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. See Matt. 25:1.
  2. The resemblances are, however, superficial. There is an essential difference. By no means all who read the Bible, attend and even belong to a church, sing the songs of salvation, make public profession of faith, even preach in Christ’s name, are going to share in the blessings of Christ’s return. Some are sensible. Religion with them is not sham and pretense. They believe in being prepared by faith in the Savior and lives dedicated to him and therefore to God Triune. Others are foolish. “They have a form of piety but deny its power” (2 Tim. 3:5; cf. Matt. 7:22, 23). Unprepared they travel on—to meet the Judge. See Matt. 25:2–4.
  3. A long span of time will elapse between the first and the second coming. See Matt. 25:5; and on 24:9, 14; 25:19.
  4. The return of the Lord will be sudden, visible, and audible. See Matt. 25:6; and on 24:31.
  5. Preparedness is not transferable from one person to another. See Matt. 25:7–9; also Ps. 49:7; Prov. 9:12; Gal. 6:12.
  6. For those who are not ready—that is, for those unsaved before they die, and for those who in their unsaved condition survive on earth until Christ’s return—there is no “second chance.” See Matt. 25:10–12; also 7:22, 23; 10:32, 33; 24:37–42; 25:34–46; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10; Gal. 6:7, 8; 2 Thess. 1:8, 9; Heb. 9:27.
  7. Therefore—and in view of the fact that the moment of Christ’s return is unknown—watchfulness at all times is required. See Matt. 25:13; also Ps. 95:7, 8; 2 Cor. 6:2.

Whether or not the “oil” in this parable has a symbolical meaning is not certain. If it does, it would point to the Holy Spirit, through whose transforming and enabling power men are prepared to welcome the Bridegroom. See Matt. 25:2–4; and cf. Isa. 61:1; Zech. 4:1–6; 2 Thess. 2:13.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 4, pp. 92–93). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 577). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 419). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 878–879). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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