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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Keep Watch

Michael Youssef - Keep Watch

Michael Youssef - Keep Watch
TOPICS: Is The End Near?, End times, Second Coming

This fourth and the last in the series of messages from the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24, the signs of the end of time, the signs of his return. And here there is a contrast. In fact, there are going to be several contrasts in this message, but the first contrast that you see right here is between verses 33 and 36. In verse 33, he said, "You know". You know. In 36, he said, "No one knows". We do not know the exact time, the exact date, the exact hour of the return of the Lord. Ah, but we know when it's around the corner. Today, I want to look at the passages, beginning at verse 36 to 51 of Matthew 24. And Jesus saying to those who are watching, he gives us three illustrations or three stories, and these three illustrations are emphasizing how suddenly and unexpectedly the return of Christ. It's gonna be so sudden, it'll be so quick and so fast.

As we look at the remaining verses of 24, of Matthew, I want you to keep in mind the difference between the baby's birth, and that's the imagery that our Lord gave us in the very beginning, right? The baby's birth and the thief in the night. Keep this imagery in your mind. The baby's birth is expected; the thief in the night is not. In my simple way, I see the true believers, those who love the Lord Jesus, those who have committed their life to him, are like the family member of a pregnant woman. They are expecting the great event. They are looking forward to the great event. They are anticipating that great event. They're waiting for that great event. They do not know when or what hour, but they are expecting. The professing Christians, believers in name only, and the nonbelievers, they will be in a state of shock when they suddenly wake up and their most valuable possession, which is their soul, is gone, is lost. And so with that kind of brief background, let's look at the passage.

As I said, our Lord gives these three illustrations or stories to emphasize the suddenness of his return. The first is the equivalence to the days of Noah. The second is the separation between believers and nonbelievers on that day. And the third is the thief who breaks in homes at nighttime while everybody is asleep. Then, finally, he emphasizes the imperative for being faithful, and he distinguish and contrasts between those who are faithful and those who are not. So, first of all, the days of Noah. It is fashionable today, among mega-church pastors, in order to please their nonbelieving churchgoers, they say or deny the historic account of the flood and Noah, and they say, "If you don't want to believe it, you don't have to believe it". Read my lips: yes, you do. I'm going to tell you why. I'm going to tell you why.

If Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who coexisted with the Father before all worlds, whom the Bible said through whom and for whom the whole world is created, who was there in the time of Noah, when he says it happened, it means what? It did happen. Otherwise, you are questioning the integrity of the Savior. And how can you worship a Christ as your only Savior and Lord when you question his integrity? Do you understand why? Both Old and New Testament affirm the flood as a historical event that had taken place. The most important thing here that the Lord is emphasizing in this telling of the story, and the telling us why it's gonna be similarities between the days of Noah and the days of the return of the Lord is the suddenness of it. It's going to be sudden for most people. Those who have rejected Noah's invitation to be saved and enter into the ark, they were taken by surprise. What were the days of Noah like?

You've got to look back to text, Genesis chapter 6. Let me tell you a few things. From Genesis chapter 6, it tells us, first of all, there was a rapid increase in population. The Word of God said it came to pass that when men and women began to multiply on the face of the earth, increase in population is neutral. It's neither good or bad. Often, with increase of population comes an increase in moral decadence. Then there was an increase in knowledge. Knowledge used to multiply every few hundred years. Now they're multiplying every few months. Increase in knowledge contributes to wickedness, to self-indulgence, to complacency, to greed, and to demand for luxury. The Bible said there was also an increase in wickedness. The Bible said, "God saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thought of man's heart is only evil".

Another characteristics of the days of Noah, which we're seeing today, literally with our own eyes, is the mockery of the preaching of biblical truth. And 2 Peter 2:5 says that while Noah was building the ark, inviting people to come and escape the judgment, they were mocking him. They were laughing at him, and they were ridiculing him. And, no doubt, they thought that Noah lost it. He just lost it. They have never seen rain in that region of the world, let alone a flood. What is he talking about? And the Bible said that for 120 years, think about that, this guy preached for 120 years, and he preached, and he warned, and he invited people to repent, but none of them would. They scoffed at him. They mocked him.

In 2 Peter 3:3-4, it says, "In the last days, scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is his 'coming' that he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'" In 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 1 to 5, "There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, having the form of godliness but deny its power". In 1 Timothy 4:1, it says, "They will abandon the faith". You don't abandon the faith if you did not claim it at some point. Hear me right, please. When God shut the door of the ark, never says Noah shut the door. No, no, the Bible said God shut the door. Nobody could open it. Just as... and that was too late, and just as the return of Christ will be too late, too late to repent, too late to believe, too late to come to him.

The second illustration our Lord uses here to emphasize the suddenness of his return is in the separation between believers and nonbelievers, between those who love the Lord Jesus and those who pretend to be Christians. Some people have created a doctrine out of that verse. They call it the secret rapture. Now, look, if you believe it, that's fine. You're not gonna lose your salvation one way or the other, it's fine, but that's not the issue that Jesus is making here. That's not the point he's making here. The important lesson that Jesus is teaching is this: he is warning us that it is going to be sudden separation, two working together, two closely related to each other, two next-door neighbors, two may share office space, two roommates. One will go to heaven; the other one will go to hell. That alone, my friend, that alone should make everyone at the sound of my voice, everyone at the sound of my voice do some soul searching.

People often say, "Well, God is not going to send anyone to hell". Huh, well, that's actually half truth, 'cause they're gonna take themselves to hell. They're gonna take themselves right there by themselves. God's longing, God's desire, God's wish, if you like, is that no one would perish. Why do you think he left heaven and came to earth, lived as he lived, died as he died, rose again, ascended into heaven? So that he may give everyone the opportunity to come and believe in him. No one, no one, no one, no one, no one in the Bible spoke more about hell than Jesus. Did you get that? He even goes on to say in verse 51, saying, "When the Master returns, he will cut down the unfaithful and send them where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth". If you think I have joy in saying that, please understand: I don't. No one should, no one who has a heart for the lost. See, in this illustration of the separation, our Savior, who paid with his blood for our salvation, is warning us that not everyone will be saved. Many will be lost. God is going to separate the faithful from the unfaithful. That's why anyone at the sound of my voice must examine themselves. "Am I in the faith? Am I in the faith"?

The third illustration that our Lord uses here is that of a thief at night. You have to understand the Middle East. In the time of Jesus, certainly I remember as a boy, too, growing up in the Middle East, that was common. You seldom get the house burgled during the day. There were not many thieves would come around during the daytime, because always somebody's in the house. House being empty during the day is just unheard of. So, generally speaking, robbers and thieves don't come in the daytime; that's why, you now understand why at night. They always came at nighttime, nighttime. These night thieves actually start by pushing on the door of a house or a shop. They kind of push on it gently first. They want to see in case the owner of the house forgot to bolt it, so that way, they can still freely go in. Then, even if it's bolted, they have ways of kind of breaking in quietly so that they will not have to wake, they don't beat the door down.

So, they know if they make a ruckus, they're gonna wake people up. They don't do that. That's why it talks about the thief at night. They're more what we would call cat burglar. And that's why we say... see the same thought in 2 Peter. We see it in 1 and 2 Thessalonians. These two apostles, Peter and Paul, basically repeating what our Lord Jesus said. And again you find it in Revelation 3:3, in the letter to the church in Sardis. Listen to me. This is a letter to the church in Sardis. I want to keep making sure you understand as I read what it says. Here's what he said: "If you do not wake up in time, church, I will come like a thief in the night, and you will not know at what time I will come to you".

Question: What does a thief comes to steal? What does he come to steal? The trash? Well, the trash bag is outside. He can take it, actually save them trouble. No, he comes for the valuables, the valuables, that which we consider the most valuable prized possession. That's what they're after, and that is why people place their valuables in a safety deposit box and have alarms, and we insure our valuables with the insurance company. We don't leave them lying around carelessly. You know, come in and help yourself. We don't do that. Only careless people do that. Question: What can be more valuable possession than your soul? Your soul is the most valuable possession, and that is why Jesus asked the question, "What can anyone profit if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul"?

And if your soul, which is your most prized possession, has been deposited in the greatest safety deposit box of all, the hands of Jesus, then you can sleep like a baby. The world will be falling apart, but you're at peace, you're at peace, because your most valuable possession, your most prized possession is in his hand. It's in his hands. You have no worries, no fear, no anxiety. When you see the signs of the end of times, you're not worried at all. You have no anxiety when you see the signs of the birth pains. Even when everyone around you is panicking, you're at peace, you're at peace, why? Your most prized possession are in the very hands of the safest deposit box of all. In fact, that really motivates us to live more for Christ, because we're at peace with him. Regardless of when Christ will return, you have your spiritual bags packed. It's more than that. It's more than, it's watching, not just waiting for him but watching.

Verse 42, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know when". Verse 44, "So you also must be ready". In each of these three pictures, listen carefully, please, that our Lord uses here, he's stressing the suddenness, the suddenness of his return. In the picture of Noah and the flood, it reminds us that many will be lost. In the picture of the two men and the two women working in the field reminds us that we are not saved by being close to other saved people. It's an individual salvation. And thirdly, the picture of the thief in the middle of the night reminds us to be prudent about our souls, which are our most prized possession.

Finally, in verses 45 to 51, our Lord gives us another contrast. I told you there's several contrasts in this passage: the faithful and the unfaithful, the watching and the oblivious. The faithful servant is not only ready at any time; but he or she is faithful in serving, and doing, and giving of themselves. In fact, it is their expectations of the return of the Master that motivates them to be faithful in this life. Don't miss that, don't miss that. That's why Jesus said, "Occupy till I come". He did not say, "Take it easy till I come. Put your feet up till I come. Say, 'Here I am, send my sister' till I come". Occupy. What's occupy means? Occupy is "being busy working, serving, witnessing, ministering to others till I come". And that's what he means by giving food in due season.

You say, "What food are you talking about"? Spiritual food, sharing with each other the Word of God, words of encouragement from the Word of God: "Here's how God ministered to me through his Word today; let me share it with you, let me encourage you today, let me minister to you today". And as we minister to one another, that's the kind of food Jesus is talking about. The faithful ones who are watching. They're watching. The unfaithful putting it off, maybe even give up. My beloved friends, the Bible speaks about now. The hour is now. The day of salvation is today. Don't put it off. Don't put it off. The time for faithfulness is now.
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