Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
May 3, 2012
Last Updated :
May 3, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Remain Alert, Be Faithful, Keep Occupied, Watch And Be Ready, No One Knows The Day Nor The Hour, False Prophets' Erroneous Jesus-Is-Coming Dates, Churches Movements And Cults Founded On False Prophecies, Endtime Deception And Scoffers, Parable Of The Wise Servant, Dangerous To Set Dates In Our Minds, Be Diligent And Faithful In Lord's Business, Don't Be Slothful, Sluggards And Sloths Bible Verses, Parable Of Ten Virgins, Be Well-Oiled With God's Spirit, Will The Lord Delay His Coming? His Spiritual Lights In This World, Exhort One Another Daily, Be Not Weary In Well Doing, Will We Someday Know Day And Hour, Parable Of The Talents, Our Time May Be Shorter Than We Think, Importance Of Bearing Fruit, Seek God's Will For Your Life
In the closing verses of Matthew chapter twenty-four, as well as in all of Matthew chapter twenty-five, Jesus shares three Parables with His listeners which emphasize the importance of His children remaining alert, continuing to be faithful, and keeping occupied in the affairs of the Kingdom. However, just prior to sharing these three Parables, He advises us to watch and to always be ready, because we really do not know the day nor the hour of His Return, as we see by the following verses:
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
Matthew 24:42-44, KJV
Of course, over the decades and centuries, a number of people have claimed to know the day and the hour of Christ's Return; but as I point out in such articles as "Sorry . . . Jesus is Not Coming at Any Moment", as well as in "The Misguided End of the World Predictions of Harold Camping", such people have only embarrassed themselves, and fallen flat on their faces every single time. Sadly, some of these false prophecies, and the misguided, self-assigned "prophets" who have proclaimed them, have resulted in the birth of a number of new religious movements and churches which continue to deceive their members to this very day.
The tragedy is that even though it has become quite apparent that the so-called "prophecies" of their founders and leaders were false, many of these people continue to stubbornly and blindly believe in and follow the doctrines of their movement or church. Remember this: Just because a particular movement or church has acquired a certain degree of respectability in the world, and even though it may have thousands or millions of members, and even though it may have been established many years ago, does not mean that it is not a cult.
As I explain in the aforementioned articles, one of the bad fruits of all of these failed predictions is that they have resulted in a lot of people hardening their hearts to the point that they even scoff at the mere mention of the idea that Christ is going to return. However, in their Wisdom and Foresight, God the Father and Jesus Christ knew ahead of time that such a sad day would eventually arrive. Thus, we find verses such as the following in the New Testament:
". . . Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Luke 18:8b, KJV
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV
Of course, that such profound deception should occur in our modern day should not really come as a surprise to those of us who diligently study God's Word, because it was prophesied to occur thousands of years ago. In fact, as I point out in other articles, even before the First Century had concluded, the dark shadow of deception had already begun to infiltrate the Early Church. Thus, we find both Jesus and His Apostles issuing such warnings as the following in the New Testament Scriptures:
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many . . . And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many . . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24, KJV
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;"
1 Timothy 4:1-2, KJV
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
Acts 20:29, KJV
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition . . . And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:"
2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-11, KJV
But again, the point is that because we really do not know with any degree of certainty exactly when Jesus will return, we must guard ourselves against slothfulness, remain alert, and keep our hands on the plough by remaining faithful in our daily tasks for the Lord. If we strive to do this, then in reality, regardless of when the Lord returns, we will be ready, and we will not be ashamed at His glorious Coming. In the first Parable that follows, the servant did the exact opposite. He lost the vision, he lost the spirit of urgency, and he lost his faith. He deceived himself into believing that he had all the time in the world, he became slothful in the Lord's Business, and look what happens to him:
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 24:45-51, KJV
There is something else that is worth noting in the previous Parable. Please notice that the evil servant says to himself "My lord delayeth his coming." Now think about that statement for a moment. Why would he say that? The implication seems to be that the evil servant may have believed that he knew when the Lord was going to return. How else could he determine that the Lord had delayed His coming, unless he already had a specific date in mind? Or perhaps the evil servant had a date in mind, and when the Lord did not show up, that is when he decided that the Lord had delayed His coming. No matter how we look at it, it is dangerous to set dates in our minds for the Lord's Return, because doing so may ultimately affect our attitude, and how we act, live and work for the Lord, just as it did with the evil servant.
In a few of their Epistles, the Apostles Peter and Paul also admonish the Disciples of the Early Church to not be slothful in the Lord's Business. They urged the early Christians to maintain diligence, to remain fervent -- or on-fire according to the original Greek word -- in spirit, to be faithful in the Work of the Lord, and to patiently wait to receive the promises, as we see by the following verses:
"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;"
Romans 12:11, KJV
"Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."
1 Corinthians 4:2, KJV
"Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also."
2 Corinthians 8:7, KJV
"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Hebrews 6:10-12, KJV
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity . . . Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:"
2 Peter 1:4-7, 10, KJV
Obviously, being faithful and diligent in God's Business is the exact opposite of being slothful. It may interest you to know that just as the Bible has absolutely nothing positive to say regarding human pride, in similar fashion, it offers nothing positive concerning slothfulness either. We have already looked at a few verses. Following are several more that are found in the Book of Proverbs:
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise . . . How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?"
Proverbs 6:6, 9, KJV
"The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat."
Proverbs 13:4, KJV
"He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster."
Proverbs 18:9, KJV
"A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again."
Proverbs 19:24, KJV
"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing."
Proverbs 20:4, KJV
"The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour."
Proverbs 21:25, KJV
"I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man."
Proverbs 24:30-34, KJV
"As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth."
Proverbs 26:14-15, KJV
Exactly how do we accomplish these things? How do we guard ourselves against becoming slothful in the affairs of God's Kingdom? How do we remain faithful and diligent in the Lord's Business? Jesus shares the secret with us in the Parable that follows. He informs us that we must simply remain well-oiled with the Spirit of God, which is exactly what the Apostle Paul likewise means when he writes that we must be "fervent in spirit". Consider these verses:
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Matthew 25:1-13, KJV
Please notice that while in the first Parable the servant said "My lord delayeth his coming", in this second Parable we are told "While the bridegroom tarried". So twice now we are being told by the Lord that He may not arrive when some people think, and that He may actually arrive later than we think. That is an interesting thought to consider.
Concerning the wise virgins who had oil for their lamps, as the Lord and His Apostles inform us in a number of verses that are found in the New Testament, we are supposed to be the spiritual lights of the world. But if a lamp has no oil, or if a candle is foolishly placed under a bushel, how can it possibly give light to the house? Obviously, it cannot. Consider these verses:
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16, KJV
"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light."
Luke 11:33-36, KJV
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children . . . For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light . . . And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
Ephesians 5:1, 8, 11, KJV
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:15, KJV
Something else which we can all do to make certain that we remain faithful and diligent in the Lord's Business, with our lamps well-oiled and burning brightly for Jesus, is to exhort one another daily. This is something which I strive to do everyday through my articles, as well as through my daily Bill's Bible Basics Blog entries, my comments on my Facebook page, and via email messages that I respond to.
In the New Testament, we find a number of verses where the Apostles encourage the very same daily exhortation, so that we will not be weary in well-doing. Please note that in a few of the verses below, I have added the word "exhort" in brackets. This is because while the KJV translators chose to translate the word as "comfort", the actual Greek word that is used -- "parakaleo" -- is likewise translated as "exhort" in other verses:
"Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more . . . Wherefore comfort [exhort] one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:1, 18, KJV
"Wherefore comfort [exhort] yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men."
1 Thessalonians 5:11-14, KJV
"For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing."
2 Thessalonians 3:11-13, KJV
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Galatians 6:9, KJV
"Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded."
Titus 2:6, KJV
"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Hebrews 3:13, KJV
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
Jude 1:3, KJV
But let us return to Jesus' three Parables in the Gospels. Thus far, the Lord has reminded us three times that we do not know the day nor the hour of His Return. First He says "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Then, in the Parable concerning the evil servant He says "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of." Finally, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus says "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Despite this fact, and even though Jesus informs us of the very same thing in a few other verses that are found in the Gospels, amazingly, as I mentioned earlier, there are still some people today who continue to insist that they know when the Lord is going to arrive. Over the years I have watched so many YouTube videos, visited so many websites, and read so many wayward comments on social networking sites such as Facebook, where people delve into the Jewish feast days, and delve into gematria -- a Kabbalistic method of interpreting the Hebrew scriptures by computing the numerical value of words, based on those of their constituent letters -- and fiddle with dates on their calculators, and then claim "Oh! I've got it! This is definitely the date!" Sorry! Wrong!
To add a degree of balance to my previous statement, let me also mention that in 1999 I wrote an article entitled "As a Thief in the Night? Not for Me!". In the article, I propose the idea that while at this current time we may not know the year, month, day and hour of Christ's Return, perhaps it is possible that at some point in the future, God may choose to reveal this most important date. It does not seem to me that God would purposely provide us with so many prophetic signs in the Scriptures -- some of which are very time specific -- if He did not want us to know when Jesus will be returning to the Earth for His children. Perhaps, similar to the Book of Daniel, this vital piece of information is purposely being concealed from us until God's appointed time. Maybe we won't know until just a very short time prior to His Arrival. Who knows. God does.
In the third Parable below -- which most Christians refer to as the Parable of the Talents -- the Lord switches gears; and instead of emphasizing the fact that no one knows the day nor the hour of His Return, He encourages His followers to simply remain faithful in our tasks and duties, until His Father finally determines that the time of the Harvest has arrived:
"For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Matthew 25:14-30, KJV
From the previous Parables, it becomes evident that none of can afford to continue business as usual, because time may be shorter than we think, and we each may not even have as long on this Earth as we think. The Apostle Paul shares the very same message and spirit of urgency with his readers in his Epistle to the brethren at Rome when he writes:
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
Romans 13:11, KJV
Please notice the very end of the verse where Paul says "our salvation nearer than when we believed." Is it possible that they too had fallen under the delusion that they had all the time in the world? Had they become slothful in business, and weary in well-doing, so Paul was endeavoring to stir them up again through this epistolary exhortation?
As Jesus teaches us in the Gospels, and as other verses in the Scriptures likewise reveal, the truth of the matter is that none of us know our personal future. We could die and be gone from this Earth tomorrow. Due to unforeseen reasons which we have not anticipated, our lives could abruptly end due to sudden sickness, or due to an unexpected accident, or due to a multitude of other reasons. Consider the truth that is revealed in the following verses:
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
Psalm 90:10, KJV
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Isaiah 40:7-8, KJV
"But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"
Luke 12:20, KJV
"Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready."
John 7:6, KJV
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
Hebrews 9:27, KJV
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
James 4:14, KJV
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."
1 Peter 1:23-25, KJV
Some of you may be thinking to yourselves, "If I am taken from this Earth tomorrow, well, glory hallelujah! That means that I will go to be with the Lord! What is wrong with that?" Well, nothing, really . . . unless you have been slothful in the Lord's Business, and therefore have nothing -- or perhaps very little -- to show for your time spent on this Earth. In other words, the main purpose of the aforementioned Parables is twofold. They are to show us the importance of remaining alert; and they are also to stress upon us the importance of bearing some kind of fruit for the Lord. This is particularly evident in the third Parable -- the Parable of the Talents -- where the man -- obviously meaning Jesus -- goes on a journey into a far country -- meaning Heaven -- and expects his servants to increase his goods during his absence.
To reiterate, as I explain in such articles as "Parable of the Sower: Salvation and Service" and "Are You a Burning Ember for the Lord?", the purpose of accepting Jesus Christ is not just so we can save our own skins from the Wrath of God. It is not just so that we can sit lazily on our fannies and say to ourselves "Wow! I believe in Jesus! I am saved! I am going to Heaven!" Now, obviously, that is the main reason why most people accept Christ. However, if that is the only reason why you accepted the Lord, and why you continue to believe in Jesus, then I am sorry to tell you this, but you are acting and living in a very selfish manner.
Upon accepting God's free Gift of Salvation and Eternal Life through faith in the Atoning Sacrificing of Jesus Christ, the Lord expects us to demonstrate our appreciation for the Gift, and our love for Him, by becoming involved in the affairs of the Kingdom in some fashion. As a member of the Body of Jesus Christ, we each need to endeavor to find out how God can best use us for His glory. As I explain in the article "What is God's Will for My Life?", we each need to earnestly seek the Will of God for our lives. Quite often, our particular place in His Kingdom -- at least here on Earth -- may be directly related to the skills and talents which He has given to each one of us.
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .