As you know, we have been studying the highlights of the gospel of Matthew, trying in just twelve brief messages to cover this immense treatise on the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because we are limited to only twelve messages, we've had to pick the highlight themes of the gospel of Matthew and address them.
One such theme is that of the coming of Jesus Christ in future glory, we call it the Second Coming. Matthew calls it the coming of the Son of Man. In fact, chapter 24 and chapter 25 of this great gospel are all devoted to the return of Jesus Christ. Chapter 24 is loaded with 51 verses and there are 46 verses in chapter 25 and all of them are devoted to the return of Jesus Christ. Because it is such a monumental and significant theme in this gospel and because so much of Matthew's attention is devoted to it and because it is such a critical and crucial and glorious hope in the life of Christians, we have to select a portion of that great text to address as we look together at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And I've chosen to draw your attention to chapter 25, the first 13 verses.
Here is a parable set in the midst of this great sermon that Jesus preaches on His own Second Coming. Matthew chapter 25 beginning at verse 1: "Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be comparable to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish and five were prudent, or wise, for when the foolish took their lamps they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep, but at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom, come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps and the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too, go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast and the door was shut. And later the other virgins also came saying, 'Lord, Lord, open up for us.' But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour."
At the heart of this great Olivet Discourse, this great sermon on Jesus on His Second Coming is the warning that He is coming in an hour when you're not going to be aware. You're not going to know. His coming will be like a thief in the night, unexpected, sudden. And so we have to be ready at all times.
As He begins this parable, our Lord says, "Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be comparable to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom." That's a very familiar scene to Jewish readers, very familiar. They had weddings all the time, just like we do. Weddings in our culture, in our society are of great importance, of great significance, take a tremendous amount of planning. People invest a lot of money into them. They are a highlight of a family's life and we all come alongside who are members of that extended family, or friends, to celebrate that great moment with the couple being married. It was no different in ancient times except for the fact there was probably less to entertain them by a wide margin than we have today and so weddings took on an even greater significance and frequently lasted, are you ready for this?, seven days...seven days.
During that seven days there would feasting and celebrating and rejoicing and a marvelous time. And the culmination of that seven days would be the turning over of the bride to the bridegroom and the final consummation of all of the preparations in the beginning of a real marriage. Jesus uses this picture of a wedding, of a bridegroom coming to get his bride for that final hour when the wedding is consummated. And Jesus says that is analogous to My return. And He pictures people who were ready and who weren't ready. That's the simple and graphic point of this parable. Jesus is coming. He's coming back to earth to judge sinners, to collect His bride and take her to Himself. Be ready because when it occurs and He takes His bride away, there will be no way after that to get in to the wedding. The day of opportunity will come and go forever.
Now let me footnote at this moment by saying Jesus does not give us here a detailed chronology of eschatological events. He is not talking about specific things. He is not talking about timetables, events. He is simply in one general picture in this parable saying Jesus is coming back, be ready...because the day of opportunity will close.
Now it's not too difficult to understand the parable because it's not too hard to reconstruct the understanding of Jewish marriages. And what you have here in this parable are four things...you have a wedding, bridesmaids, a bridegroom and then a warning...and that's the way we'll look at it.
Let's talk, first of all, about the wedding itself. This would be probably under the formula of a very typical Jewish wedding which would be the most special event in a village. In fact, it would be the happiest and most festive occasion in their existence...family, friends, townspeople, everybody would celebrate this nuptial occasion. And in our Lord's time, normally there were three elements to the proceeding, leading up to the final consummation of the marriage.
First there was the engagement. And I like the way they did it. It was a formal contract drawn up between two fathers. I like that. Well that constituted the engagement. It was very formal. It was serious. Following that formal contract by the fathers called the engagement there would come the betrothal. The betrothal actually involved a ceremony of vows. Those vows were given before witnesses. Presents were brought from the bridegroom to give to the bride and if necessary even to the family of the bride to compensate them for the loss of this girl who certainly rendered dutiful service in the family in meeting the necessities of life. This exchange of vows, this ceremony before witnesses was binding. Breaking it was not permitted. To do so constituted a divorce. If a man died during this period, the woman was considered technically a widow.
But the last of the three aspects of marriage was the wedding itself. That was the consummation. A man had basically a year to get things ready generally. Once the fathers made the contract, and once the betrothal took place before the witnesses and the vows were made and everything was signed and sealed, although not delivered, the bridegroom had a year to put things in order, to get a proper place to live to prove himself capable of caring for his betrothed, to make sure the home was ready and everything was attended to appropriately. During that year he would take care of everything that was necessary and she would know how committed he really was. And then at the very end of that year the festival would break lose, culminating in a final event where he went to the house of the bride to collect her and take her to his own home. And that signaled the actual consummation of the marriage.
Now in this parable we are at that moment. The contract or engagement is in the past. The betrothal period is at its end. The festival has been going on. She has now gone back to her home to make her final preparations and waiting there she listens and watches for the arrival of her bridegroom.
The term in verse 10 "wedding feast" is gamos, it literally means wedding festivities. That is precisely the very event of which Jesus speaks. Now I just would remind you of a couple of other footnotes. There is no particular ceremony at this moment. The ceremony was in the betrothal period. This is just the consummation of the wedding after a final feast...a final festivity, on the final last evening. Already there could have been days of this feasting going on, or perhaps this is the time he comes and the seven-day period of feasting or two days or three or whatever may have begun at this point. It's in history possibly to find all kinds of options. But whatever is that particular point in the festivities at the end, he comes to take his bride. The end of all hopes, the end of all preparations. He comes with his men to the bride's house to get her and her bridesmaid, which indicate that there is till yet some festivity to occur, and they march through town...typically they go right through the village, this great festive congregation of people, to bring to an end the great celebration. A common practice, history tells us, was for the bride to sit on that final day and wait, and wait, and wait until all the preparations were ready. Her maidens would be around her waiting with her. It usually occurred at night so that the people would be through with their workings so that the day would be cool, so that the sky would be lit up by the torches and the lights and the lanterns. The songs and laughter would ring across the hillsides. It was a beautiful time. The bride was ready. The groom was ready. And the maids were there and so the wedding scene is set.
Let's move from the wedding into the parable and we, first of all, meet the bridesmaids. "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Bridegroom." Virgins is the Greek word parthenos, unmarried girls who are virgins. No doubt this refers to the typical scenario, here was a very young girl...they married very young, certainly in their teen-aged years in ancient Israel. Here was a very young girl, she had chosen some of her young virgin friends to be her attendants, her special bridesmaids. There were ten of them. Nothing particular sacred...particularly sacred about the number, the synagogue had to have ten men present to have a proper service, ten men had to be present at a wedding to give the proper blessing. Josephus said there must be at least ten men assembled to partake of a paschal lamb. Ten among the Jews seems to have been the number of completion, and so our Lord selects ten. It would indicate also a formidable group, a fairly large wedding. And they took their lamps.
Now I need to describe what these lamps were like. Typically they had a wooden pole and on the end of the wooden pole they built some kind of a wire frame. And in that frame they stuffed cloth, and over that cloth they poured oil. They would then light that cloth and it would act like a torch. They would burn brightly and rather at some length of time. And they would burn for a while and then more oil would be put on to continue the burning. They were essential to the celebration because they brought the festivity to light, no pun intended, got everybody's attention, showed the procession through town.
But it was very necessary for those who came with those kinds of torches to have a flask of oil...obvious. You couldn't keep them burning through all of the festivities unless you did. So here are the ten virgins taking their lamps and going out to meet the Bridegroom. Literally in the Greek they went to a meeting with the Bridegroom...THE meeting. The term is used technically for an official welcome given to a dignitary. They went to an official meeting for an official wedding.
Now the question is immediately...who did these girls, these maidens illustrate? And the answer is very simple...professing believers...professing believers at the time of Christ's coming. They know about the bride. They know about the Bridegroom. They know about the coming of the Bridegroom. They know about the wedding. They know the time is near and they know about preparation. They're not people outside the family, they're people attached to it. They are interested parties. And the parable is very clear in indicating their interest, they have a high-level of interest, they have lamps. The lamps indicate their profession. They show outward marks, they're there, they're with the bride, they're awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, they're watching. There's a certain degree of readiness and anticipation. They have associated themselves with the believing community. Who are these people? They're all who profess to love Christ's appearing, all who have heard the gospel and profess to believe it and who are waiting for the Son of God to come and bring His Kingdom. They are people who have joined themselves outwardly to the Christian assembly. They appear on the surface equal in zeal, equal in fervor, equal in love, equal in involvement. They're very much like the tares which are indistinguishable from the wheat. Very much like the stony ground or the rocky ground, much like the weedy ground, on the surface you can't tell the difference between them and the good soil.
At first they're really indistinguishable. They're ten virgins, they're all there. They're all ready. But they're not alike at all in truth. And the searcher of the heart knows it. Verse 2, "Five of them were foolish and five were wise, or prudent." Sensible, that word means, thoughtful, prudent is the most apt translation. The others were foolish, morosfrom which we get moron, witless, stupid. One great old commentator by the name of Arneau(?) says, "There is not a more grand or a more beautiful spectacle on earth than a great assembly reverently worshiping God together. No line visible to human eye divides into two parts the goodly company, yet the goodly company IS divided into two parts. The Lord reads our character and marks our place. The Lord knows them that are His and them that are not His in every assembly of worshipers," end quote.
And what differentiates these girls from each other is the matter of preparedness. Look at verse 3, "The prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps," verse 4, rather. I'll go back. Look at verse 3, then verse 4, "For when the foolish took their lamps they took no oil with them but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps." And there's the dividing mark. There is the line that divides. We have heard already in verse 2 that five were foolish, now we know why. They took their lamps and took no oil. We heard that five were prudent, we know why. They took oil along with their lamps. The wise carried a flask of oil which could be squeezed out on the material that was on the little wire frame on the end of the pole so that no matter how long the festivities went on they had appropriate oil to keep their lamps lit. The foolish made no such preparation.
So, we could conclude then that all ten made a profession. Only five had the real thing. Ten made profession, five made preparation. I suppose you could say that the oil in this parable is not unlike the garment back in chapter 22 where Jesus, you remember, described a feast, very well could be a wedding feast, for his son. Certainly this would be a parallel since the guests had to be dressed in wedding clothes. This could be a picture of the Lord, Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom being joined in the wedding with His bride. But down at the end of that parable, chapter 22, verse 11, "The king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man not dressed in wedding clothes and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?' And he was speechless. And the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness.'" In that parable of our Lord, unpreparedness was pictured with the absence of the right clothing. Here unpreparedness is pictured with the absence of the oil. It's the same imagery.
There is a necessary preparation without which no one enters fellowship with God, no one enters the Kingdom, no one enters heaven. You could say with the Apostle Paul who said to Timothy, "They have a form of godliness but they deny the power of it." They were outwardly attached, they may well have been committed intellectually, they may have been externally, but they were committed hypocritically. They didn't possess the life of God in their souls. They didn't possess the true light. They didn't possess the Holy Spirit. They didn't possess inner conformity to the law of God. Their faith, according to James 2, was dead. It was a non-saving faith.
And so the purpose of this parable, beloved, is very simple. It is to call for inward preparedness for the return of Christ, rather than simply an outward show. This particular theme is found all the way through the New Testament. Over and over and over again God expresses His concern for those people who outwardly make a profession of Christ, but inwardly do not know Him who are so ill prepared for the inevitable encounter which they shall some day have either at the return of Christ, or in death.
I think it adds greatly to the power of this parable that the foolish virgins are not reprobates. They're not drunkards. They're not fornicators. They're not slanderers. They're not atheists. They're not even agnostics. They're not anti-Christ. They're not the forces of hell. They're not demon-inspired. They're not involved in the occult. They're not irreligious, profane, outwardly ungodly. No. They're in the church. They're in the family but they have no real relationship to God. They have no true prayer life. They have no genuine fruit. They have no real good works. They have no true appetite for God's Word and God's will and the whole of their profession is to satisfy the eyes of men, rather than please the one who sees in secret. If we were using the picture that Jesus gave in Matthew 13 about the soils, we would say they have no deepness of earth. Here they had no oil, they had no real saving faith, they had no real saving grace. Half of them were without it, half with it.
So the bridesmaids are divided. And I simply remind you that that's how it is in the church, that's how it will be with the people of God until Jesus comes. It will always be this way, even during the time of the Great Tribulation, there will be those attaching themselves to the church who are professing believers but who are not real. The future assembly of those who are outwardly attached to Christ will be very little different than the current one, the church will be a mixture of wheat and tares right up until the Lord comes in judgment to set up His Kingdom.
The extremity comes in verse 5. "Now while the Bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep." While the Bridegroom tarried. Now this is a good note, I think, that Jesus gives to His disciples because the Twelve were always in a big hurry for the Kingdom to come immediately. And even in Acts 1 they're saying as...Is this the time for the Kingdom to come? And here the Lord gives them a pretty good hint that it's going to be delayed because in verse 5 the Bridegroom was delaying. So He hints at the fact that they're is going to be a period of delay. It doesn't tell when, don't know how long the delay will be, consequently all generations live in the light of the reality that the events of His Second Coming could unfold at any moment.
And I really believe that this is a powerful and necessary and authoritative and compelling motive to righteousness. I would even go so far as to say that I think the reason it is so difficult to absolutely and unequivocally fix the timing of the Rapture and fix the timing of every other event in the eschatological sequence though we do our best to understand those, the reason we don't know all those specifics exactly is so that we will all live in the light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ with all that that implies. And each generation since Christ has lived with the possibility that this could be it, Jesus could come. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said, "Of that day and hour no one knows." So we all live in the light of that.
But then Jesus is so magnificently insightful. He says this also in verse 5. "They all got drowsy and began to sleep." You know, you can imagine when the first preparations were getting ready and they knew it was going to be the week that it was all going to happen, and then they knew it was going to be the part of the week it was going to happen, and then they knew it was going to be the day it was going to happen...they didn't know exactly when it was going to happen, but it was...it was imminent. Those early moments when they first realized that were just literally filled with anticipation...not unlike your own experience perhaps when Daddy's away and you tell the kids Daddy will be home and they say, "Will it be soon? I want to wait for him." Pretty soon they've fallen sound asleep on the couch because Daddy was delayed.
Nothing sinful about this. It's not intended to tell us these virgins were somehow sinful, from what I can read, all ten of them fell asleep. What it sort of tells us is that the time went on and it went on and they waited and they waited and they waited and they waited and finally they got a little bit indifferent to the event. They lost a little bit of that thrilling, exciting edge and they kind of began to relax a little bit, the excitement of all of that that was anticipated began to drift away from their conscious mind and they just fell off to sleep. I mean, that's understandable. I mean, look, we believe Jesus is coming but we're not sitting on the roof of this church with our pajamas on singing, "The King is Coming." We've waited long. Lots of believers have come and go and gone and lived and died and He's not here yet. And you kind of go back to normal things and sleep is one of them.
You know, in the chapter before this, Matthew chapter 24, Jesus says, "When I come some will be grinding at a mill, some will be lying in a bed sleeping." That's because when it's daylight in one part of the world, it's light on the other part. People will be doing normal things...sleep, eating, doing business, taking care of family, attending to the affairs of human life. That's what that pictures. The Second Coming may surprise one in the field and one at the mill, one at business, one at play, one asleep, but that doesn't mean they weren't prepared. It's not an event that you sort of have to be there with your eyes wide open waiting for and that's the kind of preparation it calls for, it's an event you have to be ready for in your heart. And if your heart is right, it doesn't matter if Jesus comes when you're sleeping. If your heart isn't right, it doesn't matter if He comes and you're awake. We can't keep all of our spiritual faculties operating at a fever pitch in anticipation of the Second Coming twenty-four hours a day. We can't be lying in bed saying, "I'm trying to stay awake because He might come, dear." No, you go to sleep, get up the next day and do whatever you do. And in your heart there's always that eager anticipation.
I say all that simply to point out the fact that there's nothing wrong with the fact that they succumb to the normal routine of life. And when the Bridegroom came, it didn't matter whether they were asleep or awake, it only mattered whether they had oil or not. They were all startled by His coming, but the wise were nevertheless ready.
And so, we meet these bridesmaids. Thirdly, the Bridegroom. He's the main character and the focus of the next and lengthy part of this parable, verse 6. "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the Bridegroom, come out to meet Him.'" Midnight was an important time in redemptive history. Back in Exodus 12:29 it signalled the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. And I guess because of that many of the rabbis used to teach that the Messiah would come at midnight. But the point of midnight here is because it was customary that these kind of events happened when the day was ended, but it also perhaps indicates a delay. It also reminds us again that we're going to wait and wait and wait and the expected time may pass and indeed when He comes He will come as a thief in the...what?...night. That's simply to say it's going to be later, as opposed to earlier. And so when midnight came there was a shout, or a cry, "Behold, the Bridegroom, come out to meet Him."
This is the announcement of His approach. And this could be parallel in some ways, I suppose, to all of the signs in chapter 24 of Matthew, our Lord starts this great preaching on His Second Coming with a series of signs that are going to take place. But you're also delineated in Revelation 6 and following. It could be what He refers to as the birth pains, the sign, the signal. Here it's called the cry. And when you begin to see those signs, look up, your redemption draws nigh, here comes the Bridegroom, go out to meet Him.
There will be a generation, by the way, alive in this world who will see those signs. As I said, they're laid out so wonderfully clear as to their character, if not their chronology in the book of Revelation starting in chapter 6. They will know that indeed the King is coming.
Verse 7, "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps." All the virgins got up, clipped the cloth, stuffed it in the little frame, got ready so that they could light their lamps. You see, it was at that moment that the foolish knew of their condition. They came to grips immediately at that moment with their unpreparedness. They should have known it before. They should have done something about it. In the spiritual realm, they should have done some self-examination. They should have looked to see if they were in the faith, 2 Corinthians 13:5. They should have examined themselves. But they didn't. They should have tested to see if their faith was real faith that produced works, or dead faith. And in that moment when the Bridegroom comes, no one will be ignorant of his or her condition. Everything hidden will be revealed.
And verse 8, "The foolish in response to realizing their condition said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil for our lamps are going out.'" We aren't ready. We don't have any oil. That means they never were really saved. They had no spiritual life. They were stony ground. They were weedy ground. They realized their condition. They cried for help. "Give us of your oil." They turned too late to the wrong place.
Let me tell you something. We can't save people, even desperate ones. Is that not true? Christians can't save people. Arneau says, "Brother, if the call came to you while you are not in Christ, reconciled and renewed, though all the saints in heaven and earth stood weeping for you, they could not save you." Give me some of your oil is not a request that we can fulfill. You can't get it from another Christian. You have to have your own salvation received as a gift from God in the time of grace when it is made available. Salvation is a personal possession, non-transferable...to your spouse, your children, or anybody else. We cannot impart our salvation, the life of God comes only from God through the Holy Spirit. You have to get your own.
The prudent then in verse 9 answering said, "No, there will not be enough for us and you too." It's not an exercise in selfishness here. Oil was plenty and available, but not at midnight. They had had equal opportunity but allowed the day of mercy to run into the night of judgment. And they said, "Go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves, we can't give you ours, ours is ours, it's for us, it's inimitable to us, it belongs to us. The sellers of oil were known to you, the Scriptures, the prophets, the apostles and teachers and pastors. If you don't have a lit lamp, you can't get it and we can't give you our oil, you need to go and find your own."
Boy, the picture is so dramatic. It's reminiscent also of Luke chapter 6, and there are a number of comparative Scriptures we don't have time to turn to, but in Luke chapter 6 verse 46 Jesus says, "Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like, he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock and when a flood rose the torrent burst against that house and couldn't shake it because it had been well built. But the man who has heard and not acted is like a man who built his house on the ground without any foundation, the sand and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed and the ruin of that house was great." The house without a foundation, the seed without soil, the lamp without oil, it's all the same.
Well, they run to their only option, verse 10, "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the Bridegroom came and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut." It has to be one of the saddest pictures in all of Scripture...too late. The tragedy of being unprepared. Too late to get things straightened out, too late for grace, too late for mercy. The water was over their heads. The teachers are silent. The oil is not available. The Spirit is no longer striving with man. The door is shut.
This is a warning, isn't it, about those who might think there's a second chance after Jesus comes. It's open now, it's shut then. Some will not be ready, though they've seen the signs, they've had opportunity to buy the oil...that is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. They...they associate themselves outwardly, but they will not turn from their sin. And that's always what keeps people. It's not intellectual, it's moral. They want their sin, their selfishness. And when the time comes when they realize their condition, it's too late...it's too late.
The tragedy of unpreparedness. It comes at the Second Coming of Christ, and may I quickly add, it comes at death as well. Death is no different than the Second Coming of Christ in the sense that when you die, you come before the judgment of God. Hebrews 9:27 says it. "It is appointed unto men once to die and after this, the judgment."
Christ calls away His own at some midnight hour when they're off their guard and they're surprised. But even though they're off their guard and they're surprised, they're not hurt. The five wise virgins were asleep when the Bridegroom's coming was announced, and yet they were ready to meet Him. Their safety resulted not from their fluttering activity at the moment of His arrival, but on their preliminary preparation. And the door was shut to keep them in, to keep everybody else out.
The principle...be ready or be left to judgment. Verse 11, "Later the other virgins came saying, 'Lord, Lord, open up for us.'" "Lord, Lord" sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds like Matthew 7:21, "And many will say to Me in that day...what?...Lord, Lord. And I will say, 'Depart from Me, I never knew you.'"
There's orthodoxy in their cry "Lord, Lord." There's passion in their cry "Lord, Lord." There's religion in their cry "Lord, Lord." It's too late, it doesn't matter. No second chance.
And that takes us to the fourth and final note in this parable, the warning. "Be on the alert then for you do not know the day nor the hour." That has been the theme of this sermon all the way along. Verse 36 of chapter 24, "Of that day and hour no one knows." Verse 42, "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." Verse 44, "The Son of Man is coming in an hour when you do not think He will." Verse 50, "And the Master of the slave will come in a day when he doesn't expect Him and in an hour when he doesn't know." That's the whole theme. Everyone all the time must be ready for the return of Christ because it's coming when we don't expect it. Be on the alert, watch at all times for you never know when the Lord will come. You never know either when death will take you.
In Luke's gospel chapter 21, listen to the words of Jesus. "Be on guard that your hearts may not be weighted 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 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." The only way you'll ever have that strength is to seek it from God Himself. His coming is sudden. His coming is unexpected. And His coming marks the end of grace.
This obviously speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when He destroys the ungodly on the face of the earth, takes His own into the glorious Kingdom which He promised. Are you ready for that? Alfred Lloyd Tennyson, the great poet, took this parable and he turned it into a song for a queen who learned too late the cost of her iniquity. This is what he wrote. "Late, late, so late and dark the night and chill. Late, late, so late, but we can enter still. Too late, too late, you cannot enter now. No light had we, for that we do repent. And learning this, the Bridegroom will relent. Too late, too late, you cannot enter now. No light so late and dark and chill the night, oh let us in that we may find the light. Too late, too late, you cannot enter now. Have we not heard the Bridegroom is so sweet? Oh let us in to kiss His feet. No, no, too late, you cannot enter now."
That's the heart of the message of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew with regard to His return. Be ready, so for you it's not too late. Let's bow in prayer.
Father, just as Jesus came the first time and fulfilled every prophecy of His first coming, so He will come and fulfill every one of His Second Coming. As surely as a baby was born in Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary, betrothed to a husband named Joseph, as surely as that little child escaped the murderous Herod, as surely as He grew up in Nazareth and was called a Nazarene, as surely as He lived the life the prophets said, died the death the prophets predicted and rose again from the grave, as surely as those are prophecies fulfilled and history completed, as surely as He ascended back into heaven, He will come again and every prophecy will be fulfilled, including the prophecies of judgment. We don't know when He's coming. We cannot be absolutely dogmatic about the sequence of events that behooves us to be prepared every moment. And I pray, Father, that in Your grace You will reach down and save the souls of those who are not ready and fill their spiritual oils...spiritual flasks with oil, that You would give them the light of life, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray for every sinner who hears this message to recognize that You will come to punish sin, except for those who have acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and had their sins completely atoned for in His death. Father, I pray that You would cause sinners to seek forgiveness, to accept the sacrifice of Christ so that their lamps can be filled with oil and they'll be ready in the day Jesus comes. And may we live, Lord, every moment as if it could be our last, as if the sky could break open and the events of the Second Coming begin. Father, we pray that no one in the hearing of this message will experience the horror of being among the foolish, especially those who are associated with the church, who hang around the bridal party but will never ever enter the wedding. Father, reach out in mercy and save them and we'll give You all the glory, in Christ's name. Amen.