13 September: Are you ready?

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
13 September 2020

Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.

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Start the video, then click the Settings button, then “Subtitles”, then “English”. This will display English transcript as Harry speaks. The occasional word will be displayed incorrectly (it is a machine translation), but the majority of words will be correct: it can be a helpful supplement.

Welcome

Testimony

(Thanks Olive)

Although these have been difficult days with many challenges, I can honestly say that I have known and felt the Lord’s Presence with me throughout it all. I don’t know where I would be without Him being with me continually, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it all. However, He has answered many of my prayers and what could have been a discouraging time of life has been an encouraging one. It is such a blessing and privilege to have the Lord in our lives and to take it all to Him, to take it to the Lord in prayer. I know we are not through it yet and challenges lie ahead but based on all that’s gone before I continue to worship, praise and thank the Lord, Amen!”

Worship

(Thanks Sophie)

Song: Light The Fire Again
Artist: Maranatha! Music
Writers: Brian Doerksen

Word

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

Matt. 24:36-39

“that day or hour” – Jesus is answering the second question of the disciples: “what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” – We have seen previously that the phrase: “that day” refers to Jesus’ Second Coming (His ‘parousia’). In the OT it is referred to as the ‘Day of the Lord’ and Matthew has already used it a number of times specifically referring to “the day of judgment”: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:22 cf. Luke 10:12-14; also see Matt. 10:15; Matt. 11:22, 24; 12:36). The apostle Paul continued with it: “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day (2 Tim. 1:12 see also:18); “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

And here in this section this is a recurring phrase and theme, as Jesus reinforces the message that: “about that day or hour no one knows”; e.g.

  • they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:39);
  • “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt 24:42);
  • “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.” (Matt. 24:44);
  • “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of” (Matt. 24:50);
  • “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matt. 25:13).

Jesus is reminding them of the unpredictability of His ‘parousia’.  

“no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” – The angels do not know when the ‘parousia’ will take place. This brings to mind a passage in 1 Peter which speaks of our great salvation in Christ and how the prophets searched intently and with the greatest care trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. The passage finishes off: “Even angels long to look into these things” (see 1 Peter 1:10-12).

That the angels do not know might seem remarkable enough, but nothing compared to the fact that the Son does not know. Bear in mind the Son and the Father are so close, so intimate, in their relationship such that Jesus could testify: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Mathew also records this oneness and equalness: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matt. 11:27); They are along with the Spirit, co-equal and co-eternal: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). However, for His work of salvation and redemption, and for the period of His incarnation, He humbly submitted Himself to the will of His Father and hence could also testify: “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28); “Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father (Matt. 20:23).

So Jesus was dependent upon His Father in heaven to reveal all things to Him during His earthly ministry, and the day of His Second Coming was not one of them. What He taught the people was what the Father gave Him: “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work” (John 14:10).                                                                                   

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” What is Jesus trying to teach them about His Second Coming by referring to the days of Noah.

(1) Life goes on as normal

“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark” – these are the activities of everyday life, eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and they continued right up until the day Noah entered the ark. Here, in this second section, there is such a difference to Jesus’ teaching than in the first section in which He gave an outline of events that would occur prior to the end of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem, even to the point of telling them that their generation would not pass away before these events took place. There is no such thing here and people will be caught unawares, they will be unable to evade it, and only those who had made advance preparations are saved.

The mentioning of this fact is something that will come back to haunt the scoffers referred to by Peter: “They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). “The time of normal banality is potentially the time of danger” (France). The fact of normal life going on, is again emphasised in the next two verses: “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left” (Matt 24:40-41). This was everyday work for a large number of people of the time, working in the field, on the farm, and grinding grain. Suddenly, the consummation of the age will take place and people will be completely taken by surprise, unaware, unprepared. Jesus exhorts everyone to be ready because His Second Coming will be at a time when least expected, when life is going on as normal: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt. 24:42).

Interestingly, theologies of the end-time rapture have been built on this word taken, “one will be taken and the other left” (Matt 24:40-41 above). Some regard the verb as a divine passive, so “God takes His people to Himself” as in the rapture. Others, look more to the context for the meaning of the word “taken” and regard it as a taking away for judgment of the unrighteous (cf. Jeremiah 6:11 in the context of the wrath of God: “For even the husband shall be taken with the wife” (Jer. 6:11 NKJV) and note the same verb in Matt. 27:27 – Jesus taken away by the Roman soldiers who had just arrested Him.

The verb itself does not determine the purpose of the “taking” and it could as well be for judgment as for refuge …. In the light of the preceding verses when the Flood “took them all away” [the unprepared], that is probably the more likely sense here.

(R.T. France)

(2) What does it mean to be ready?

The world of Noah’s day was only evil all the time which deeply grieved the heart of God: “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time … and His heart was deeply grieved” (Genesis 6:5-6). Because of this wickedness, God was going to do something drastic: “So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created – and with them the birds, the animals, and the creatures that move along the ground – for I regret that I have made them’” (6:7).

But Noah was different, he was ready: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Gen. 6:9). Noah was, by faith, in a right relationship with God, and as a result God spoke to him, and Noah was in that place to hear God, and then to obey God, despite all the corruption that was going on around him: “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood … This is how you are to build it … Noah did everything just as God commanded him … And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him” (Gen. 6:11-15,22, 7:5).

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Heb.11:7

We have Noah as a model of someone who was ready, for he lived in a right relationship with God, he heard God speak to him and he acted in obedience upon what God had told him:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Rom. 12:1-2

(3) Most people weren’t ready

Why weren’t they ready?

  1. They were living wicked lives as we have seen above
  2. The Flood (like the ‘parousia’) was unexpected, at an unknown time that couldn’t be predicted and caught people unawares. This is reinforced by Jesus’ teaching about the thief who comes at night: “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” (Matt. 24:43-44). This metaphor of the thief at night impacted a number of other NT writers: e.g. Luke 12:39; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15
  3. People will resort to living wicked lives because of the long time before His Second Coming: “But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of” (Matt. 24:48-50). This theme also occurs in the following two parables: “The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep” (Matt 25:5); “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them” (Matt. 25:19).

Hence we should be ready for His Second Coming, the ‘parousia,’ at any time! But this readiness does not consist in watching for Him e.g. as in Acts 1:10-11: “They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” Rather there is a need to live holy and godly lives, and get on with the work He has given us to do, Amen!

Quote of the Week –

“Jesus the very thought of Thee, With sweetness fills my breast; But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy Presence rest.”

Bernard of Clairvaux

Verse of the Week

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”

Ps. 37:4

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, may we Your Church, get on faithfully with the work You have called us to do, especially making You known to those who don’t know You. Bring people to us and lead us to people, those divine appointments, people whose hearts You have been preparing to receive the Good-News of Your Son. 

And in doing this may You build Your Church, and let not the gates of hell prevail against it. Help us Your Church to rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, continually encourage one another, and always be ready should You come soon. Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, in Jesus Christ Name, Amen.