“Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:44).
The Olivet Sermon prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by Titus. History verifies the city was laid desolate in 70 A.D. That Jesus spoke of this decimation is clear when He said,
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39 ASV).
The sermon also foretold of the end of time. That these are two separate events can be a difficult study. Some argue that the Second Advent is already past because Jesus said His Olivet sermon would be realized in the days of that generation. Certainly, much of Matthew 24 does prophecy of the destruction of the temple and the overthrow of the entire Jewish system of religion, heritage, and economy. There were signs given in anticipation of this judgment against the Israeli nation. The premillennialist is wrong in interpreting the signs to be still in the future. There is the Second Advent wherein Jesus will literally return to judge the living and the dead.
But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man (Matthew 24:36-39).
The lesson to learn from Jesus’ prophecy of the judgment against Jerusalem is to be ready. We must constantly be on the alert for the coming Judgment at the Second Advent of the Christ. That is the meaning of the two men and the two women taken in the Matthew 24 illustration.
Then shall two men be in the field; one is taken, and one is left: two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken, and one is left. Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through (Matthew 24:40-43).
The two men and the two women are metaphorical for being ready. The person who is prepared for the conquering Christ will see Him coming in the same manner in which He left (see Acts 1:10-11). Signs were given to the Jewish Christians to watch for when the Christ would figuratively come against Jerusalem, the capital city and primary place for worship. Signs for the Second Advent (the coming of the Son of Man) are not given. Since it is the fact that nobody except Father God knows when Judgment Day will be, it is imperative that we keep oil for our lamps and the wicks trimmed (Matthew 25:1-13). “Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13). Being good stewards of the talents entrusted to us will determine our readiness (Matthew 25:14-30).
For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away. And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:29-20).
Which side will the Son of Man place you, the right or the left? The goats are left behind, resigned to damnation.
But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).
Does being a Christian embarrass you? Jesus said, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). Let Jesus ask you a question. “Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). Without faith pleasing God is impossible (Hebrews 11:6). Without a confident faith that Jesus will save you, and without a faith that works through love (Galatians 5:6), you will be one of the goats.
God takes no joy in making a judgment against anyone. It is Jehovah’s will that Israel turn to Him. Judgment will come as a nation of reprobates, but it will also come on an individual, personal level. Read Ezekiel’s pronouncement against the house.
And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? “And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live. “Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways. (Ezekiel 33:10-20 ESV).
Ezekiel preached the warning to Jerusalem that she was about to go into captivity. The Jews would be dispersed, as was confirmed in the first century A.D. Similarly, Jesus preached the sermon on Olivet warning the Jews of impending desolation. “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27). Judgment against Jerusalem would be final. The temple will no longer have its glory because God now has built the superior tabernacle made without hands (Hebrews 9).
When the Son of Man comes in the literal Second Advent those who have not repented and turned their lives over to God will be put in the place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51). Just as real as Hell is, the sublime reward is for the faithful servants of the Son. “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Matthew 24:46). Hell was not originally designed for the unrepentant. Nevertheless, it is the designated place for the majority of people, who refuse to yield to the law of faith and grace. Hell is hot, dark and painful (see Matthew 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28). When the Son of Man returns this world will be destroyed and everything in it will be ruined.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:9-13)
When the Son of Man cometh everything will be settled forever and ever. Unbelievers will be in Hell and the righteous will be in Heaven. The faithful Christian will have an everlasting home (John 14:1-4). Jesus has prepared a place for us. Tell me friend, when God separates the sheep from the goats which side will you be on? Are you certain?
-Donny Weimar, Tennessee Bible College Online Instructor