Author: Brandon Hughes
In Matthew 24, Yeshua (Jesus) told His followers to look for very specific signs that will mark the end of this present age and signify His Second Coming. But what are faithful followers of the Messiah supposed to do with these signs? How are we to live our lives as these signs begin to take place?
Many Christians are familiar with the Biblical end times. In fact, a simple Google search shows that there is no shortage of available teachings about the signs that mark the end of the age. The signs are the main focal point of these teachings and there are scores of theories about the prophetic timeline. But how did Yeshua say we are to conduct our lives in light of these things that will happen in the last days? How did Yeshua Himself live out His “last days”? These are very important questions that actually affect the timing of His return.
In Matthew 24 and 25, Yeshua gives four parables that are often overlooked but are directly connected to how a believer should live in light of these signs. In the first parable, Yeshua compares living in the end days to a servant watching over his master’s house:
“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:45-51)
We must be a faithful servant. As we get closer to the time of our Master’s return, are we feeding those around us with the Word, or are we trying to get away with as much evil as possible? Are we speaking the truth in love to those around us? Paul gives the following exhortation to followers of Messiah regarding this:
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21)
The second connection that Yeshua makes to the last days is the parable of the ten virgins. Ten virgins are waiting for their bridegroom to return and consummate the marriage. Five were wise and took flasks of oil with their lamps; the other five were foolish, not taking any extra oil with them for their lamps. All ten became drowsy and fell asleep because the bridegroom was delayed. When the cry came that the bridegroom had come, the five wise virgins kept their lamps lit and the five foolish virgins had to go into the marketplace to buy more oil. While these five were in the marketplace, the bridegroom took the five wise virgins to the marriage feast and shut the door. As the five foolish virgins returned, they were denied entrance as the bridegroom proclaimed that he never knew them (Matthew 25:1-13).
Much insight can be drawn from this parable, but two connections are worthy of mention. Oil is often connected to the Word of God in the scriptures. Are we the wise virgins that have an abundance of the Word in our lives to keep our light shining bright? We need to walk out His Word, which is summed up by loving God with everything and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). The other connection worthy of mention is the idea of the bride of Christ. We all want to be a pure bride for our Messiah. We want to be presented as holy and without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27). But oftentimes this becomes an illusive thing that can lead into a“holier-than-thou” mentality where we isolate ourselves from the “filthy” people of the world. But what does the Bible say about being pure in an impure world? The book of James gives us some insight:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)
Are we visiting and ministering to those in need as the days draw to a close, or are we hiding ourselves away from our fellow man? Do we love both the spiritual and the physical orphans in our world, or are we leaving them defenseless?
The third exhortation that Yeshua gives to His followers is in the familiar parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In short, a master leaves to go inherit a kingdom and entrusts a portion of his money to three servants each. To one servant he gives five talents, to another he gives two talents, and to another one talent. The servant with the five and the servant with the two invest and double the money given to them. The servant with one talent buries the money in the ground out of fear. The master returns and blesses the servants who double his money; he tells them that he will set them over much and invites them to enter into the joy of their master. But the third servant who buried the money is condemned; the master gives the third servant’s portion away to the one who had ten talents.
Again, much could be gleaned from this parable, but two things are worthy of note as it pertains to how we are to live in the last days. As believers, we need to invest wisely the things He’s given us and not sit on them in fear. Often we fall to the fear of man and allow insecurity to cause us from replicating the gifts He’s given us. We cannot let the evil that is growing in this world and the trials we face cause us to shrink back.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:36-39)
Second, are we focusing on the devil or on God? The answer seems obvious, but the heart of the matter is seen when the question is posed a different way: Are we focusing on fear or confidence? I believe the third servant in the parable can represent what we often do as believers when it comes to the end times. We focus so much on what the enemy is doing that we are consumed by fear, which is what Satan embodies. He has us so wrapped up in his every move that we forget the mission and calling that God has on our lives to reach the world. When we focus on God and submit to Him, we automatically resist the devil. We don’t need to figure out every move of the enemy; we just need to know God’s plans, and then we will always be one step ahead of the enemy. He is under our feet just as much as he is under the Messiah’s (Ephesians 1:21-23). Look at what comes first in the order of Peter’s plan for how to live for God and resist the devil:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9)
If we focus on God, then His heart will become ours, and we will love our neighbor and fulfill the mission He’s given us for this short time on earth.
The fourth parable is not necessarily a parable but a reality of how we are to live our lives:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)
Have we focused on the least of these in our world and in our own personal spheres of influence? Do we go out of the way for the lowly of society? The poor? The homeless? The imprisoned? How we treat the lowly will be our judgment. We embody the heart and lifestyle of the Messiah, and as we have done (or not done) unto them, so will we have done (or not done) unto Him.
So what did Yeshua do?
How did Yeshua spend His “last days”? If we look at the life of our Messiah, whom we are called to emulate, we see that His life is in stark contrast to many of the conclusions that believers take from the signs of the end of the age. Yeshua spent His time ministering to the tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, and the outcasts of society. He healed everyone he came into contact with. He set people free from demonic oppression. He proclaimed liberty to those who were in spiritual bondage. He called a lowly cast of men to be His disciples and spent time teaching them and showing them how to live in the kingdom on earth. He prayed to His Father in secret. He called both sinners and the righteous to repentance and brought the heart of His Father’s Word to the ears of those who would listen. He laid His life down for both His family and His enemies. We must ask ourselves if we are living as our Messiah did when His days were numbered.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6)
If we truly believe that Yeshua is coming back soon, then why is there not more of an urgency to reach the lost? There seems to be just the opposite many times—a fear-based apprehension. If He is truly coming back to separate the sheep from the goats, then we must be compelled and passionate about reaching those who are not yet in the kingdom.
Romans 5:8 says “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the love that we need to have at work in our hearts and lives, because this was the same love that was shown to us. When we look at the world today, the love of many has grown cold due to lawlessness (Matthew 24:12). We must be willing to become the same love that was given to us and that brought us into the kingdom of light.
So the next time you hear about some world event that seems to fit within the confines of a sign for the end of the age, don’t buy into fear. Remember how our Messiah walked when His last days were at hand. When you discover these signs in the Word or hear a sermon about them, don’t stop there. That’s not where Yeshua stopped. Live as He did in this world!
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