Have you looked around lately? Things are kind of bad out there. It’s enough to make a person ask, “Isn’t this enough?” I heard about a baby that was born in Canada, and there was no sex declared on the birth certificate. The parents want to wait and let the child choose that for themselves. I mean how bad does it really have to be before the Father looks to the Son and says, “Saddle up your horse, Jesus.”
I didn’t used to think about end times much. I knew Revelation was super tough to understand, and who knew who was right about how the end of the world will happen? All I knew is that I didn’t know, and I decided to just trust all that to God and think about easier things. Scarlett O’Hara’s got nothing on me.
But that was before. That was before things got this bad. Now, it’s hard to look around at the world and not think that surely Jesus will come back soon.
We don’t really have to tackle Revelation to get a glimpse into end times. In Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonian believers, he talks about how it will go down, and the things to look for when the time is close. It basically describes our present world. Maybe it’s referring to now, maybe it’s not. But if we are wise, we will live as if it’s now. Does that mean we build a bunker, hoard food, stockpile weapons, quit our jobs and preach on street corners about how the End is Near?
I don’t think so.
The Bible tells us to live, but to live with our eyes turned to the sky… expecting the return of Jesus (Luke 21). Jesus told a parable to teach us about the time of His return and how things would go down. (Also not in Revelation, but in Matthew 25.) So ten virgins showed up for a wedding carrying oil burning lamps to wait for the bridegroom and the wedding feast. All of their lamps had oil, but only five of the virgins had brought extra oil. When the bridegroom did appear, five virgins had lamps that were empty. While waiting, (and sleeping- the bridegroom didn’t show for a long time), their lamps burned through all of the oil in them.
Quickly, they begged for oil from those who had thought to bring extra, (It’s a classic case of being caught with one’s pants down.) but they sent the unprepared virgins away to go buy oil from a merchant. When they had filled their lamps, they returned only to find the festivities had started, and they were left out. They knocked on the door, the bridegroom answered, but he did not recognize them then, and did not let them in. It was too late, the ship had sailed.
Here’s the thing. To the untrained eye, I imagine that all ten virgins looked the same. (Hint: the ten virgins represent the church. The Bridegroom is Jesus.) They are appropriately dressed and carrying their lamps. But the moment the bridegroom appears, the five without oil suddenly realize their mistake, and what is missing becomes painfully evident.
I think the moral to the story is it’s not too late until it’s too late, and we don’t know when it’s gonna be too late, so we need to keep our lamps full all the time.
Regardless of what you believe about how the end is going to play out, I think we can all agree we have to be prepared. We prepare by filling our lamps. Luke 21:36 says, “Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Meaning, evaluate yourself. Make sure you are ready. Check your lamp. Pray that you are worthy to escape what’s coming so that you can stand blameless before Christ on the day of His return. Just because you believe there is a God, or your name is on a church roster somewhere, doesn’t mean your lamp is full. (Matthew 7:22) Jesus seemed to be expecting about half of the church to show up with empty lamps when He returns. That’s not good.
Live life! Love life! But be ready to leave it behind without a single backwards glance. (We can’t act like Lot’s wife. There is nothing we own or possess that is better than being in glory with Jesus. Luke 17:28-33) Stay close to Jesus. Be full with your relationship to Him. It is Jesus who fills our lamps. It is Jesus that makes us worthy.
It’s true. Things are looking bad out there. But Jesus is coming, and that is good!