Subject 13 : The Gospel According to MATTHEW

[Chapter 24-12] Be Watchful and Prepare For the Judgment (Matthew 24:37-43)

Be Watchful and Prepare For the Judgment
(Matthew 24:37-43)
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”
When will be the Lord’s second coming? Today’s Scripture passage says, “As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Only the Father in Heaven knows the day of the Lord’s return for it is hidden to the Son Himself and to the angels. Therefore, the Lord has spoken to us through signs. When the fig leaves become abundant, that is, when the Israelite nation will be restored and once Israel is revitalized, God tells us to understand this as a sign that the second advent of Jesus Christ is near. Also, the Lord tells us that the coming of Christ will be the same as in the days of Noah’s flood. It is these two things of which the Lord speaks. 
The destruction of the world will come upon all people. However, the Lord has hidden His second coming to unbelievers. It is only to His people that He has shown that His coming is near. All Scriptures speak of the sinner’s salvation, of rapture, of Heaven, judgment, and of eternal life. 
The Lord has told us that His coming will be as in the days of Noah. Long ago, in Noah’s time, people were not aware of the judgment of God and were consequently judged and perished by water. The Lord says that similarly, people will not comprehend and will suffer destruction when He comes again. By not realizing the day of the Lord’s second coming and also by not accepting the grace of God that makes them receive the remission of their sins, they will suffer judgment. 
Let us seek to understand what condition the Old Testament people of Noah’s time were in and to whom God’s judgment and destruction fell. Genesis 6:5-7 says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 
The Bible says that the sins of the people were great in the days of Noah. Hence, this means that when the sins of the world are great, the end will come. What is the world in which you and I live in like? Are the iniquities great? Or is it a just and moral society? The world we live in now is truly full of sin. Even within the lines and order of its laws, the world is still full of great sin. It is time for God’s judgment to fall upon this world. Therefore, you and I must hurry to prepare a way to avoid the judgment.
God destroyed the world in Noah’s time by water. Excluding Noah’s eight family members, everyone was judged. He even judged all living creatures that had breath. The people back then lived lives that were tied to sin. Everyone’s plans and thoughts were always evil. The Lord has already told us this fact, but even historians say that like Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham (Genesis 19:5), there were many homosexuals in Noah’s time. The Bible records that in Sodom and Gomorrah men committed adultery with men and women with women, and thus the Lord judged with fire and brimstone. Consequently, the word sodomite originates from Sodom. 
Sin was too rampant and widespread in Noah’s time. It is normal for a man to live with a woman. It is normal for a woman to cherish her husband and for the husband to love his wife. The sins overflowed so greatly in Noah’s time that the people of the generation only pursued pleasure and even worse, extreme hedonism. Put differently, they overstepped the bounds of morality to enjoy the bodily pleasures which God had allowed us and sought a far more extreme pleasure. 
This is the same phenomenon of these days. A certain cardinal of the Catholic Church said, “We must not hate homosexuals. We do not have the right to hate them,” thereby advocating them, and in another case a certain United States presidential candidate during his campaign made a public pledge as he said to the nation, “If I become President, I will acknowledge homosexuals.” Even in my country, South Korea, it is said that there are many homosexuals. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the judgment that fell upon all people during the era of Noah’s flood, will also be true in the future at the second coming of Christ. Currently, gays and lesbians are rapidly increasing in the world today. Of course, they must also receive the remission of their sins, yet these are the kind of people that God dislikes the most. God dislikes them because they disrupt His divine providence and the laws that He has established. 
The wickedness of the world is great. But the Lord says, “As in the days of Noah, so will my second coming be.” Yes, this is right. If the iniquities of the world are great, our Lord will come soon. The world today is such a generation. We therefore must be awake. Those who were not awake ate, drank, were married, and were given in marriage till the very day Noah entered the Ark and till the flood swept away their lives. Even if the Judgment Day should be tomorrow, people will laugh as long as the weather today is serene and there is food to eat. The Bible says that these people are “like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20). A pig being butchered tomorrow shall be very happy today if it is given slop. Beasts are like that. People who are not aware of the times are just like those beasts and will fail to understand to the day that they perish. They cannot comprehend the Advent of the Lord and His judgment. However, those of us who have been born again must be aware of the times, and we must live preparing for the future. We must critically think about the world today and live in preparation for the future. 
It is stated that approximately one billion people of the world are in a state of starvation. In the South Pole of the Antarctic, an iceberg the size of Cheju Island has broken off and is drifting upward along with the ocean current. Because of this, the salinity of the seawater at the poles has declined, putting the marine ecosystem in great jeopardy. Also, as the icebergs at both poles rapidly melt, the level of surface water has increased, and it is said that a large-scale atmospheric abnormality will come. This is why there are warnings against global warming and why there are efforts against environmental pollution that cause the melting of icebergs that can eventually flood all the seashore of every continent. The climate around the world today is quite awful. Droughts are severe throughout the world. Also, all over the world, climactic irregularities are severe. Typhoons do not occur only in a particular season, but they occur during times of the year when typhoons do not normally occur. The theory that typhoons only originate from sea has been negated as they have occurred on land as well. Also, earthquakes are happening too often these days. God said that as natural disasters become more frequent, through it, the world should more rapidly be dismantled. Though the end of the world is not far from happening, we must spread the gospel with more zeal because we still have some time. 
If there is no food to eat, can people or animals live? What happens if there is no water? No one can live and all will die. All over the world, starvation has begun. Also, in the future, a global war will begin. Someday, inevitably, there will be an atomic war. We no longer live in an era where we shoot guns and cannons from trenches. We live in an age when a computerized atomic missile finds its target with unfailing accuracy. The nations possessing these atomic weapons are aiming at their enemies to maximize their gains. They have shown the will to fire at the slightest encouragement. 
In previous conflicts, when the tension grew between two countries and war was resolved, because the country going to war would go through a veto process, declare war, and then go to battle, it was easy to predict the adversary’s attack. Even if the war occurred without a formal declaration, it took a considerable amount of time before the armies of both countries clashed because the army was advanced by horse or by car. However, these days the day the war starts, air strikes and missile attacks begin as well. In 1995, the earthquake that struck Kobe, Japan taking the lives of over 6,000 people lasted a mere 15 seconds, yet if a war began now, it is possible to end the war in a similar time frame. So, we must no longer think of war in terms of the outdated form of war that goes for days on end. Victory is decided within 10 or 20 minutes. We must not forget that we live in an age when a colossal catastrophe is imminent, and we must seriously consider how and with what kind of faith we must live in such a time. 
“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:38-39). When people are unaware of the imminence of the end, our Lord will come. Dear fellow believers, though those who have not been born again are unaware, we who have been born again must know that this is the tribulation period and must stay awake. 
Dear fellow believers, is it not strange that the El Nino and La Nina phenomena are being increasingly amplified? Isn’t it correct to predict an immense climactic shift as the temperature of the sea is rapidly increasing? Epidemics such as SARS and the mad cow disease are continuously appearing. While before if you took medicine for two or three days a cold was cured, now it lasts for a month or two, and there are many who die in severe cases of flu. Take a look at the affairs of the world today. The world is moving in the direction of unification with superpowers at the center. These observations are the signs that demonstrate the world is headed towards its end. 
Can you feel and taste this reality? As the end nears, we must understand the times and live out our faith. The Lord says that He will come when the leaves of the fig tree flourish. He has said that He will come when the anti-Christ stands upon the ark of the Tabernacle in the Israelite nation. Therefore, both you and I must live with a clear awareness of the times. The Scriptures say that those who are not born again cannot understand, and as many died in the days of Noah, so also they will perish in a matter of seconds. Everyone in the world today lives in fear. 
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:40). This will be in the end times. When we will no longer be able to spread the gospel and the seven years of the tribulation period starts, about midway through that period, the Lord will take away those who have been born again. He has said that when two people are working in the field one will be taken and the other left. 
Dear fellow believers, the rapture will be a real event. It points to the period of three and a half years of the seven years of tribulation. It is then that when two people are working in the field one will be taken away while the other person will be left behind. Both those who have been born again and those who have not exist and live in the world. To work in the field implies working in the world. We live similar lives of doing business, going to work, and living out our faith. Yet, it is recorded that one person will be taken away while the other is left behind so that people will see with their eyes the rapture of which they had only heard of before, and those without sin will be taken away while those with sin will be left behind to go through all the abysmal tribulations. Those who are not born again will be left behind.
Our Lord will come when the corruption of the world is great as in the days of Noah’s flood, and if we are alive in the world during that time, we will be taken away. Those without sin will be taken before God. It is not because this is our desire but because it is God’s will. However, those who have not been born again will be left behind. People will realize then “Oh. It was real,” but it will be too late. Only when you accept the gospel of the remission of sin, that is, the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you will be saved from perishing at the end times. If you reject the gospel of Truth, you will perish at the end. Now is the only chance to spread the gospel or to receive the remission of sin because once the end times come about, there will no longer be any second chances. If you accept the gospel now, you will be saved. However, if you reject the gospel, everything will come to an end for you. 
Lately, people’s hearts have become more obstinate. It is because of Satan’s manipulations. Yet, when the Lord comes, the righteous will be taken away. Therefore, those who have been born again look towards that day with faith. However, those that live their spiritual lives without being born again will be left behind by the Lord on that day. Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, those who believe in Jesus Christ but reject the gospel of baptism, and those who believe yet still have sin within their hearts will all be left behind. 
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:40-41). The first part of this passage speaks of two men while the latter part speaks of two women, and women signify the church. While both believe in Jesus and both serve God, one woman is taken away while the other is left behind. That the two women were grinding at the mill means that both were doing the same work. What work was this? They were both doing the same work of serving God. Those who have not been born again still serve God. Those who have been born again also serve God. Of course, God doesn’t accept the worship of those who have not been born again, while He accepts the worship of those who have been born again. 
However, many Christians, even though they are not born again, hide within the world’s approved church denominations breathing sighs of relief for the sole reason that they are a part of such a denomination. There are people who think, “I will be okay since I am part of the traditionally orthodox church. Though I have sin in my heart, I will be able to go to Heaven since I am with people of strong faith.” Such people who reject the gospel of truth will suffer abandonment. Without a doubt, those who are taken by the Lord are those who have received the remission of their sins. Only those who have received the remission of sins and whose hearts have become as white as snow shall be called by the Lord to attend the feast in Heaven. Sinners cannot enter into Heaven. On that day those who prophesied in the name of the Lord, who displayed great power in the Lord’s name, and those who claimed to have driven out demons will be condemned and thrown out by the Lord. Those who believe in Jesus Christ yet still have sin within their hearts are abandoned by the Lord. 
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). The Lord tells us to be watchful. Those of us who are living in the end times must be watchful and live in preparation. This is as important as spreading the gospel. In the end times, it is very important that we know correctly the age we live in so that we shall be prepared for the coming persecution and tribulation. Those who are watchful realize that there is not much time left and are well prepared at heart and in their faith. They also sort out their lives on this earth. If the person knows when the thief will come and if he is watchful, he will have a defensive plan beforehand and will wait prepared. Those who truly believe and are aware that the Lord will come do not hoard treasures on earth or set their hearts on this earth. We must live in preparation for the end times.
We must be watchful. In our lives of faith, we must not become people who are asleep but people who are awake. However, in these end times there are in reality more people who are asleep than those who are awake. Among those who have been born again there are two kinds of beliefs. Till the very last day, the person who is awake spreads the gospel and lives preparing for that day. Among those who are born again, the people who slumber drift along with the tide of the world. The people who are awake do not set their hearts in this world as if they had a couple thousand years left to live. 
To have life, those of us who have been born again by the gospel of the water and the Spirit must stay awake in the last days. We must not prepare a house on earth, but instead we must be prepared for a house in Heaven. Such a one is the wise person. We must all become wise people. Among the believers, those who are awake do not consider this and that of reality as important. They consider the coming of the Lord and think “What life of faith must I live till that day and how much longer do I have to live? How many decades are left before the end of the world? Or how many years are left?” And with such calculations, they realize that there is not much time left to work and hence live by faith. This is the kind of person who is awake. On the other hand, the person who follows the current of the world as if he had a thousand or millions of years to live is still asleep even though he was born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” We must be in preparation as we stay awake. We must prepare beforehand. We must be awake, and we must prepare. Do you understand? From those of you here who are single men and women, the people who are of age will get married before the Lord comes, but there will be people who will not do so. If the Lord comes late, you will get married, and if the Lord comes early then you will not be able to do so. Be thinking of this, but do not think more or less of it. This is spiritually wise. 
You and I must not set our hearts on earth, but instead we must set our hearts on the Lord and continue to prepare. What must we prepare? We must prepare our faith, and we must dedicate our hearts to the Lord beforehand as we consider what we will be doing and how we will receive the Lord when He comes. This is to say that we must prepare to meet the Lord as we live a spiritual life of faith. We must prepare this because we have been born again. Because we have been born again, we must wait for the Lord. Because the Lord is our Lord, we must wait for Him. Because He is coming so that we may live with Him in Heaven, we must live prepared. 
If the Church is not getting ready, this is truly foolish. If a certain church of God is interested in building a large chapel, this is unwise. Do you understand? It is foolish for a person who is born again to pay attention to succeeding in the world and to earning money. The person who wisely prepares as he awaits the Lord will work at his job for the gospel, live his social life for the gospel, and also live the rest of his life for the gospel. He who lives such a life for the gospel is the person who is watchful, and it is this person who does what pleases the Lord as he awaits and prepares for the coming of the Lord. 
My fellow saints, do not be disappointed that you do not have any property on this earth. Do not be sad that someone has this and that. It might be a pity that because of a lack of money we cannot serve the Lord even more, but a shortage of money does not mean we cannot serve the Lord at all. Even without money, we can spread the gospel, pray, and serve the Lord. Therefore, do not be worried because you are poor, lacking, or incapable. Rather, we must become wise servants who prepare as we think of how we can follow the gospel and how we can spread the good news to more people. Let us become people who prepare to meet the Lord so that when He comes we will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.”
Dear fellow saints, we are not a congregation that is here to build larger chapels. We are a congregation whose only desire is to zealously spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the entire world. In this age, we must receive the remission of our sins, prepare our faith, and live watchfully. We must prepare to go to Heaven. Do you understand? Also as the end nears, we must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some (Hebrews 10:25). We must congregate more often. As the end is near, we must convene more frequently. In order for us to preserve our lives, we must congregate often. For us to rightly prepare our faith, we must congregate often. 
Dear fellow saints, though we will suffer persecution and trials, our Lord will come soon. The time we have left to do the work of the Lord is not long. In a short time, the Lord will surely come, and so let us live preparing for that day. The Lord will come soon.
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