Always Ready and Watching?
In the parable of the servants found in Luke 12:35-48, we see a scenario in which some of the head servants got lazy, began to beat the other servants, and essentially stopped watching for the Master’s return. The fact that they stopped watching, which in effect means they stopped expecting the Lord of the household to return at any moment, gave way to laziness and ill treatment of the others.
A great deal has been read into this parable, including the fact that the Master of the house is said to have gone to a wedding celebration. The truth of the parable can be found within the pattern of the slaves. Note that some of the slaves stopped to think about the situation, then said, “My master is delayed in returning.” It was because of this thinking that these slaves began “to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk.” What is the point here? The point is that it was the slaves who actually began to doubt the return of the master of the house, which caused problems. We see this today with Preterists, and others, who teach that the Lord returned spiritually in A.D. 70, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. If you pick up reading material written by some of these individuals, you are met with some of the most antagonistic, sarcastic ridicule of those who believe in a literal return of Christ, that ever exists in written form. Some of these individuals know no bounds of good taste, and certainly do not understand how to approach a subject charitably.
The entire tone and portent of the parable states unequivocally that we should always be ready for the Lord’s return. We should always be living with an attitude of expectancy. In fact, the parable makes it clear that the Master of the house might have returned at any moment. The parable loses its impact immediately if the directive given by the master of the house before he left that he could return at any moment, was not true. Think about it for a moment. The master of the house goes to a wedding. As he leaves, he says, “Not sure when I’ll be back, but expect me to return at any moment.” So he leaves, but the slaves know perfectly well that it would take him three weeks travel time to get to the wedding celebration, then another three weeks to get back from it. In the meantime, their master had not given any indication that he was going to return directly from the wedding itself.
By this point, the slaves know that they have at least six weeks of lead time, so they wait for six weeks. Six weeks goes by, and then more time continues. They are now at a point of heightened alert, so they make sure things are in order, they do their daily chores and ensure that all of the master’s household business is performed, as if he was actually there.
More time goes by, and still the master of the house does not return. Now, some of them begin to think that he’s gone on a very long journey and got sidetracked. In fact, as more time goes by, the greater the chance of the master returning at any moment, yet some of the slaves begin to think that he is never returning. Maybe he has been hurt, or even killed? Maybe something took hold of him so thoroughly that he has no interest in his house anymore?
In other words, the parable is clear that the longer the master is away, the more reason there is for people to doubt that he will ever return. At the same time, the longer he is away, the greater the chance of his immiment (or any moment) return. It is obvious that most of the slaves continued to work and do their expected chores, dutifully working for the master, as if he was actually present with them. A few of them became convinced that he was not going to return at all, and began to trifle with the well-being of the other slaves. They likely started to put the word out that the master of the house was not intending to return at all, or like our Preterists today, turned Christ’s physical return into a “spiritual” return. He’s still going to return, but no eye will see Him.
Please note that the parable also indicates that nothing is to occur prior to the master’s return. He will simply appear. One moment he won’t be there and the next, he is there. There is nothing in the parable which would give notification of his impending return. He simply returns and when he does, he sees that some of his servants have been and are mistreating the others. He quickly puts a stop to that and metes out punishment.
As indicated, a lot has been made out of this parable, from the timing of the wedding celebration that the master of the house attends, to everything else. With parables, it’s best to go from the largest to the smallest. In other words, the overriding message of this particular parable (like most parables), is not found in the minutae. It is found in the theme, which runs through it and the theme is being prepared for the return of the master of the house. We see if in verse 46 of Luke 12, “then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful.”
Notice the servant knew the Lord’s will (v. 48), which was that he was supposed to continue to watch, fully prepared for the fact that the Lord of the house could arrive at any point in time. Christ is not speaking in generalities here. He is not saying, “Look, I’m telling you that you should always be alert for my return, even though the Tribulation is going to occur first and after seven years, then I’ll be back.” If that is the case, the parable loses its impact.
The reality here is that when Christ spoke this parable, He was speaking to the house of Israel, who would live through the Tribulation (and the Remnant also), and then they would come to the point of realizing that Christ was on the verge of returning. However, there is an obvious message here for the Church as well and that message is that the Rapture could occur at any moment. Since the Rapture could happen at any moment, it behooves us to always be prepared for its occurrence.
Think about how quickly we as human beings lose interest in things. Imagine if a parent said to a child, “Jimmy, be ready to go to Disneyland. It could happen any day now that we will all jump in the car, head to Anaheim and play for a couple of days at Disneyland.” So little Jimmy starts thinking about all the fun he will have at Disneyland. Each day he wakes up, he rises to a new day of expectation, a day when he may find himself heading to Disneyland. If the parents were being literal, then we can expect them to mean that any day now, they could all pile into the car, and drive toward Disneyland. After a bunch of years, he might get tired of waiting and start to believe the trip was never going to happen.
Here’s a similar situation. Mom says to Janie, “Janie, be ready because when your father comes home, we will be heading to Disneyland any day after that.” While little Janie is excited, she also knows that they are not going to head to Disneyland until something very important happens; the return of her father from Iraq, where he is stationed. She knows that he is not coming home for another six months at least – could even be longer, or possibly shorter - so while she is excited about Disneyland, the reality of the situation tempers her enthusiasm. Certainly she knows that going to Disneyland cannot occur until her father returns and that will not happen for at least another six months.
Now, there is little point to this parable if in fact, the Lord’s return was not imminent. If we know that He will not return until after the Tribulation (not stepping out of the 3rd heaven to Rapture His Bride at some indeterminate point before His physical, 2nd Coming), then there is absolutely no point or reason to watch for His return. None. Zilch. Zippo. Nada. We would have an attitude of waiting only to be continually frustrated. It would be like waiting for father of the house to walk in at any moment yet the father is clearly in Iraq fighting a war, and will not be home for at least another 6 to 12 months!
This particular parable in Luke clearly speaks of imminency – a point in which the master of the house could return at any moment. If the master cannot actually return until certain events have taken place, then the immediacy of the situation changes drastically. We know that certain events are transpiring in the spiritual realm and we know also that He cannot return until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in, but we do not know when the fulness of the Gentiles will have been reached. That is something, that as far as we are concerned, could happen – at any moment. We are not privy to the remaining number of Gentiles which must “come in” before that has been fulfilled. Is it 1 more? Ten more? One hundred more? A million more? Only God knows.
What we do know is that there is going to be a period of time on this earth which is slated to last for seven years. Following this event, the Lord returns physically to the earth. Since we do not know when the Tribulation will begin, we do not know when He will return. However, when the Tribulation actually begins, it will be relatively easy to figure out when Jesus will return. In fact, it will be a no-brainer. The mystery is gone once the Tribulation actually begins, with the signing of the covenant with Israel and other parties of the Middle East, spearheaded by the AntiChrist. I do not see how Christ could have been referring to His actual 2nd Coming since knowing the day is not going to be difficult at all to figure out. Could He then be referring to the Rapture of the Church, because there are no signs preceding it that we are aware of? This makes more sense, especially when compared with the concept of imminency.
We do not know when the Rapture will occur. Therefore, every day should be lived as if it is happening today. We should be about the Father’s business with the understanding that before this day closes, we could be ushered into His presence. Does that scenario bother you? You feel as if you are not being true to the integrity of Scripture? Okay, that’s fine. Then instead of the Rapture, substitute the phrase “your/my death.” Do you have any logical arguments at all that would prohibit you from believing that before this day ends, your life could end?
It really doesn’t matter who you are or what your particular set of beliefs are regarding the Rapture. One thing is certain. You and I are going to die at some point and we will have no knowledge of it, generally speaking, before we die. Granted, people who have cancer or some other disease that defies medicine’s ability to heal it, do have some idea when they will die. Most of us do not. Most of us live life, going to work, running errands, going to school and doing a million things that everyone does, with little to no thought of our imminent death. When we jump in the car for a quick trip to the gas station or the grocery store, we do not stop to think that we may not be returning to our home and family. This is not to say that we should become paranoid about life, never wanting to leave our home. The Lord is in control of our life and destiny.
Understanding that our death is always imminent should create within us a respect for the time that we do have, so that we make the most of that time, appreciating life, and letting go of the things that do not matter. We should also understand that the time we have been given is extremely valuable, and we will be held accountable for it. Did you witness to anyone today? Did you spend time in prayer today? Did you get to know the Lord through His Word a bit more today? Did you see more of Christ developed in you today?
Posttribbers (and others) can complain as loudly as they want to about their belief that the PreTrib Rapture is nonsense. Good. Go for it. That’s fine. If Posttribbers do not want to understand imminency in terms of at any moment with respect to the Rapture, that’s fine. I don’t care. It makes no real difference to me. However, don’t make the mistake of doing that where your death is concerned, because your death is always imminent. You cannot argue that away. You cannot say that the imminency of your death is based on a conspiracy of a 15 year-old girl, carried forward first by J N Darby, then C I Scofield. You have no one to castigate or rake over the coals. You have no one to accuse of revisionism.
Death will take all of us and the people who are stupid enough to believe that they will live until the ripe old age of (fill in the blank), are unfortunately just that: stupid. They have not only mishandled God’s Word in that respect, but they have provided themselves with excuse after excuse to live the way they want to because they believe they have “plenty of time” to do what they need to do.
So, dear Posttribber and others who believe that I’m deluded, deceived, heretical and on my way to hell because I understand the Scriptures to teach a PreTrib Rapture, what do YOU have to say for yourself with respect to DEATH? As I said earlier, death TRUMPS the Rapture. My death will likely occur long before the Rapture or the Tribulation, but who knows. The only thing I’m counting on is that one day I will die and on that day I will see Jesus, my Savior and my Lord. In the meantime, because I know that my death is a matter of fact, it prompts me to live my life the only biblical way there is to live: putting Christ first, serving Him with gladness, and looking forward to seeing His wonderful face.
Go ahead, continue to argue that the Rapture is not happening BEFORE the Tribulation. Argue that it’s going to occur at the same time of the 2nd Coming, AFTER the Tribulation. Tell me that I’m deluded, deceived, dead in sin, hellbound because I believe in the PreTrib Rapture. Tell me that those who believe in the PreTrib Rapture become unspiritual, carnal, filled with sin, and more. However, you are going to have to think fast to come up with the reason why the very same arguments do NOT work for understanding that the Scriptures teach my death is ALWAYS imminent. Should not this also make me just as deluded, just as deceived and just as hellbound? If not, then you’ve got some explaining to do about why the PreTrib Rapture does cause deception and delusion, but the imminency of my death does not.
I’m waiting…take your time and really think about your answer.
Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, dispensationalism, Life in America, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology. Tags: allegory, anti-christian, anti-supernatural, anti-zionist, antichrist, arab states, as it was in the days of noah, atheism, atheist, christianity, covenant, death is imminent, earning salvation, end times, great tribulation, imminency, iran, literal hermeneutic, literal method of interpretation, mighty men of renown, president obama, pretrib rapture, prophecy, rapture is imminent, salvation, second coming, tribulation.