What do you see?
Matthew 25: 1-6.
In the 24th Chapter of Matthews Gospel, Jesus sets out to answer a question posed privately by his disciples. “Lord…what will it be like at your coming and at the end of the age” verse 3.
As we read from this chapter a few moments ago, we saw Jesus reveal a great deal about how things will look at that time, and how dark those days will be. Jesus goes on in the next verses into Chapter 25 to illustrate the answer more fully. The Chapter begins with the Parable of the Ten Virgins, and the significance of the wise and the foolish. Let me refresh your memory as I read a few of the opening sentences. Jesus said:
“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;” Matthew 25: 1-6
My Sermon today, entitled “What do you see?” is an attempt to help you to understand exactly why Jesus used this very striking illustration to help explain the “end times”. I have no doubt whatever, that the times of which Jesus was speaking about here, is the time in which we live now. While Biblical Scholars around the world agree with this view, in the courtroom of “probability” there is yet another witness. It is an inner witness, the witness of the Holy Spirit, that tells us “it is time to look up, “our redemption draweth nigh.” Luke 21:28
In the parable Jesus taught, He himself is the coming
bridegroom, coming for his bride, the Church, to take her home for the great feast, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Before that event, he asks those invited, to watch, to be on the look out, or the “look up” for His coming. This is why the women brought their oil lamps in the first place. In darkened surroundings, they could light their lamps and therefore see clearly when the bridegroom was coming. Without oil in their lamps, they would remain in the dark.
The first thing I notice about these TEN virgins, is that they all appeared to have been invited, in other words, they typify those who have been invited to the Marriage, the Wedding of the Lamb of God. This then is a picture of today’s Church. They are all invited, they are all welcome, they are all there, waiting, watching, working and wanting the Groom to appear. Is that an accurate description of the folks in your Church right now?
But look more closely at those ten women in the parable; … for FIVE of them were sitting in Darkness, and without oil, while the other FIVE had oil, and were sitting in the LIGHT. Clearly, it is possible to be sitting in Church and still sitting in darkness. What made the difference, was the OIL, the fuel. Oil, throughout the pages of the Bible’s old and new testaments, speaks repeatedly and consistently of the Holy Spirit. It is the oil that speaks of the anointing, the power, the light, and the glory of God. Indeed I am convinced that here Jesus is speaking expressly of the Holy Spirit, when he uses the illustration of the oil. So that we can conclude that without the Holy Spirit, without that light, we may not see the bridegroom approach?
This is why I am asking the question, “What do you see?”
(but more about that in a moment)
Notice, before we leave the text, … that while the bridegroom was expected, and delayed; all, including the well prepared… slept?
How awful it would be if our Blessed Lord Jesus were to return for us today, and find us sleeping in the pews. Some preachers will tell me that there are those that sleep during the sermon,
(I don’t know anything about that???) but the sleep of which I speak, and the sleep of which I fear, is the slumber and sleep of death, the deadness of those who have never truly known Christ’s “resurrection” as their experience. Those who are still dead in trespasses and sins, and tragically, although it should not be so, many of them still claim to be Christian.
These days of which Jesus speaks and the days in which we now live, will apparently change all that. Those who have oil in their lamps can see it already. So then let me use my time today to compare the things that those who sit in darkness are seeing, and the things that those who have the “light of life” can see. Then you will be better fitted to answer my question, “What do you see?”
(Remember that I am approaching this subject from the point of view that all, whether in the dark or in the light are in the Church… and like the ten virgins are truly awaiting
Christ’s coming.) so “What do you see?”
Let me show you what some are seeing. Many in the Church today have become increasingly weary at the lack of general response to the Gospel, and the lack of commitment to Christ and His Church. It seems that its usually the same folks doing the same things, week in and week out. There is no fresh word, no fresh initiatives, no fresh vision, and no fresh faces. Many attend worship out of a sense of duty to Pastor or Priest, more than out of a desire to be with God. Prayer times are silent times, and most will have no problem in talking about all kinds of things after the Service, but have a real problem in talking with God? The Spirit of criticism, and jealousy have crept into the pews and sit comfortably beside us week by week. We may not notice the new family sitting in the back row, but we did notice the new suit on the preacher, and the new hat on his wife? “What do you see?”
Then there are the “appeals” almost every week, a new reason to drag more from our emptying purses or wallets. Where are the “good old days” when a pound a week paid for all. But the Lord loves a cheerful giver, and that’s a rare breed.
“What do you see?”
Christians don’t sing like they used to. Bring back the Organ and the Choir. Away with all this Jazz, away with all this happy-clappy praise, away with all this waving of the arms and lifting up of the hands, as some do. Where have all the silent, the serene, the sincere, the simple worshippers gone? And people don’t dress like they used to, they come in as if they were going to the football match, or the Saturday golf. Don’t they know that this is a place of worship? “What do you see?”
Then look outside the Church at the world. Look at home and family life, look at the awful statistics on Divorce and re-marriage. Look at the Child abuse and the way in which we educate our Children, indoctrinating them with theories that have not been proved, and teaching them as facts. Look at our neighbourhoods, our lack of community care and compassion.
Many still don’t know the family that lives next door? Look at the rising Job-less figures, the unemployed and the unemployable. Look at the failing economy and the many businesses that have gone to the wall. “What do you see?”
Look at the Global tensions, the world leaders and the scandal of selfishness and greed. Look at our politicians and the empty promises that they make on our door-steps. Listen to their feeble excuses as they shift the blame to someone else. Look at the climate changes, and the weather conditions that are breaking new records everywhere. “What do you see?”
Now my dear friends, these things are what most of us
see and hear every day, both within and without the Church. And ALL acknowledge that a “change” must come, and MOST Christians acknowledge that Christ is coming again to
effect that change.
If you have “oil” in your lamp, if you have the LIGHT of the Holy Spirit within you, then I suggest you will see things differently than this. Jesus himself said; (speaking of the Holy Spirit) “he will show you things to come” John 16:13
Only those five wise virgins who had oil in their lamps could see and shout “Behold, the bridegroom cometh” Matthew 25:6
and if like me you can see the bridegroom coming, then I believe you are seeing more, you can see by the light of the Holy Spirit, things that others cannot see, so I ask again…
“What do you see?”
Let me tell you what I can see!
The First thing I want to share with you is that I can see
“AN OPEN HEAVEN”
God has promised that in the last days he will “pour out of His Spirit upon all flesh” . Joel 2:28 & 29
and give the “Latter Rains” for harvest. Zechariah 10:1
This is a time for the impossible to become possible. I have been thinking since the beginning of the year about the Children of Israel when they were fleeing the Egyptians and facing the Red
Sea. There was no way forward and no way back for them … but when there is no way, God can make a way! You may be in just such a place right now, and can see no way out, and no way forward. Gods word to you today is this; “I will make a way in the wilderness and springs in the desert” Isaiah. 43:19. God is not restricted to answering your prayers or mine in one way or in two ways, – why in 10,000 different ways he can do it, he can make a way where there is no way, and open up heaven for you. That’s what I see!
The Second thing I can see is
“A FAITHFUL CHURCH”
I use the word “faithful” in its true sense; meaning full of faith.
I believe that the cry of the Almighty is
“When I come shall I find Faith on earth?” Luke 18:8
Of course God is pleased with our Worship, with our Prayers, with our Evangelistic efforts, and with our Ministry and message, but none of it, I say again NONE of it counts for anything except there is faith! Jesus wants to see the Faith evident in the book of Acts again in his Church. The wonderful thing is that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever Hebrews 13:8 – but the Church has changed and for the greater part – lost its faith? No longer do we attempt great things for God and expect great things from God. We have become contented with lesser things. Shame on us! This is why the world is not convinced, nor challenged or changed by our influence, we are far too much like the world, and they can see little difference in the Christian and the Atheist or Agnostic. Lack of faith has robbed God of his power and his place in our midst, and tied his hands and stopped his blessing. I have said over and over again in these broadcasts that Faith is not the same as Belief. Many of us believe God, but very few of us know what it is to venture faith in Him? But I see the day ahead of us, when our confidence in this world and in its systems and in its securities will be shaken, and we will have to have faith and believe God for the miracles that we need.
The Third thing I can see
“A BRIDE MADE WHOLE”
I have already made mention of the “worldliness” that has invaded the Church, the disease that has sickened and saddened her heart, and left her separated from her “first love”. I speak now prophetically, … for in my Spirit I see that God is about to Revive the Church, bring life back into her, bring the song back into her heart, and the spring back into her step. Some Churches are already experiencing this revival. This Revival will be like none other. A great Revival, that will sweep the Globe, nation by nation. For those who embrace the Lord Jesus, His mercy and His Pardon, His light and his life, His health and His healing, there will be great blessing. Yet for those who remain
“stuck in their past” and “tethered to their traditions”,
there will be no help and no hope.
This Revival will be about Jesus. If your Church is about JESUS then you can look forward to it, it will not be about your Denomination, your Parish, your Buildings, your Membership or your Loyalties. Unless your loyalty is about standing shoulder to shoulder with Jesus, then this Revival will pass you by and bless others. I urge Gods people everywhere, to lay aside your denominational differences, for the sake of Jesus and the sake of the Lost, and stand together for the sake of Eternity!
Gods promise is that where there is unity he will “Command the Blessing” ( Psalm 133)
The Fourth thing I see are
“WRONGS MADE RIGHT”
Already within this secular world we are reading every day of the things that were “whispered in secret places and are now being shouted from the housetops” Luke 12:3. This is only the start. God has been keeping the books. There is no illegal or erroneous entry in the records of Heaven. I can see the prison doors open for the wrongly accused who as a result, have so often been treated unfairly. The rejected, the outcast, the belittled, the minority, the downtrodden and the oppressed will all have their day soon, and the wrongs done to them will be put right …. for “the stone which the builders rejected will become the head of the corner” Matthew 21:42
The Fifth thing I see is that Judgement comes from
“A GOD OF LOVE”
I have mentioned the current shaking that is taking place around the Globe, and God has promised that in these last days “everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that only that which cannot be shaken will remain” Heb 12:27
Some have asked, “How long will the shaking last?” and God has said that it will last “until the people follow after righteousness” Isa 51:1 & 1 Tim 6:11. We are not there yet, people are not yet understanding that these present trials are not simply man made; but the move of God to challenge and change us. Yet as I read and ponder the Scriptures, I believe that Gods love will outdo his judgements. Gods discipline is a “loving discipline” and remember that God is “full of Compassion” and “plenteous in mercy” Psalm 86:15
God is not going to judge the world without first showing mercy and love and giving us a chance to repent and turn to him. Yes, there will be some terrible judgements, and the like of which we have not ever seen before and will never see again ( Matthew 24)
but we must remember that all of Gods acts and actions are tempered with Love. God is love, and Jesus showed it.
The Final thing I see is
“MY RETURNING SAVIOUR” (A welcome Groom)
Remember the parable of the ten virgins? Although they were all there, and they all had lamps, only those who had oil and therefore light could see the Grooms arrival. The rest remained in the dark and were left outside. In my Spirit today, I want to jump up and down for joy. I don’t see all those things that are wrong in the Church, and all those things that are wrong in the world, all those depressing and distressing pictures. The picture I see in my Spirit is My Returning Saviour and I am shouting “Behold, the bridegroom cometh” or to put it another way “Look up, Jesus is coming again.”
Regularly, I thank God that I am alive at this time. This hour, this day, these next few months and maybe years, herald the most exciting chapters in the Churches history. The great and good of past generations longed for this time. What an exciting time, what a time of blessing – truly for every true child of God, the best is yet to be. Are you still in the dark? “What do you see?”
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
2000 years ago on the hillsides around Bethlehem, the Angels appeared with a glorious message of light and life to humble Shepherds who watched over their flocks by night. These simple herdsmen were not among the throng of people that crowded the streets of Bethlehem, nor the ruling classes that sat in the places of honour, nor were they favoured guests at some great banqueting hall on that evening. But sitting out in the darkness, God shone a great light and brought a great revelation into their lives, and they were never the same again.
The light of Gods word, imparted and empowered by the Holy Spirit, can so revolutionize your life and mine, if we allow it, that we too will never be the same again.
This world is in a terrible mess, and it is in need of holy and heavenly help, so let the cry of your heart and mine today be “even so come Lord Jesus”