Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this
third to last Sunday of the church year, the text is the Gospel reading for
Do you remember the horrible tsunami wave that completely
demolished lots of Sumatra, Malaysia, not too many years ago? It’s funny how,
if it’s not in front of us on the television screen, we quickly forget because
it’s not necessarily important to us. Well, then there were some earthquakes
around the world and some prominent ones occurred in the country of China right
before the Olympics, if you remember. It was a horrible devastation, like the
tsunami where tens of thousands of people were killed. Tens of thousands.
But, again, if we’re not inundated with it on the news screen, we forget about
Most recently, just in the Gulf of Mexico, the island of
Cuba again, hit by hurricanes. But if it’s not before us on the news screen,
we don’t remember it. That’s sad, isn’t it, when you think about it? Because
earthquakes and wars, and rumors of wars, and devastation of those types are
supposed to move us to see how transient and vaporous is this life. It is very,
very vaporous, short indeed. And we know not when God’s going to call us home,
nor do we even know when He is going to come again with glory to judge the
living and the dead.
But God has allowed these signs to have occurred, and I’m
only mentioning the few that have occurred in the most recent of times. And
I’m only mentioning those few, not the others that occurred also around the
world during that same block of time.
Now, you consider all of those things around the world at
various eras and epochs and eons, and they all, since Christ came again….when
He died on the cross and rose again, from that point to when He comes again,
these signs have been occurring for your sake and for mine that we might see
this world as being very transient, that we may not look upon this life as
being the thing that matters most.
Can you imagine Noah and his sons building that ark in the middle
of the land, nowhere near an ocean, and with only eight people to build it? It
took a while for it to be built. But by having it built on Interstate 35 in
the Middle East where people were traveling for the trade routes, the word
about that got spread around the world of this crazy man building this ark.
“Why would he build an ark?” they would ask.
“Because it’s supposed to flood and the whole world will be
“Oh, that’s just an old wives’ tale.” No different than, “God
will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead.” In fact, the
Scriptures say Jesus Himself talks about, in the times of Noah, people were
marrying and giving in marriage all the way up to when the door of the ark was
shut. They lived as if life was going to continue on and there was not going
to be this end that God had promised in a very visible form of an ark. No
different than there are many people, including you and me, who are tempted to
live our lives as if that day of Christ’s coming is way off in the future and
it’s not going to happen here and now.
Yes, indeed. You talk to my eighth-grade kids up there that
are singing this morning, and you talk to my confirmation kids and they’ll tell
you, “Pastor just does that every once in a while.” The reason being is, at
that moment, that could have been when God called you home. Though Jesus has
not come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, that could have
been your defining moment, your judgment day. And the last thing on your mind
as you were sitting there and heard the “Bam!” come out of my lips was, Wow,
you know, Jesus is so great. I love Him. I’m so glad I’m His child.
You were probably thinking of….Where we’re going to eat
out after church. What a game last night between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech!
What about those Longhorns whooping up on those Baylor Bears? And all kinds
of other things that have nothing to do with the kingdom of Heaven. That’s how
Satan works in your and my life, slowly and very covertly moving our conscience
and our focus off of the things of God and onto the things of the world that
seem to be so penultimate in importance rather than vacuous and vaporous as God
Himself describes in His holy Word.
It’s very interesting that, when Jesus preaches this
parable, it’s not the parable of the five virgins and the five prostitutes, or
whores. It would have been obvious to us then who would be the five and who
would not be the five. It’s the ten virgins. Ten virgins, of which five were
wise and of which five were foolish, but ten virgins.
A lot like the parable of the seed and the sower where many
fall among rocky soil where it sprouts up and grows for a time and then thorns
and thistles choke it out. That’s the five foolish. But for that time, the
five foolish and the five wise are together in one place. That’s scary,
because that one place is here where there are those of us who are wise and
those of us who are foolish. But all of us are being tempted to fixate upon
this world and the things of this world and not about the things of God. Each
and every day, war is waged in your heart and mine where that is attempted to
be pushed forward by God and by Satan and your own flesh to not focus on the
things of God.
I’m still learning, but I will have to admit, two combat
tours did help me see that my life is not my own, and neither is your life your
own. You can tell me stories of when God allowed something to occur in your
life financially that really made it very difficult to make it. But isn’t it
interesting that, if it’s not being experienced, the moment is kind of dulled
with time? Or maybe something that you could tell me about would be some
tragedy within your family that you look to which God allowed in your life to
have caused great consternation. But again, time tends to dull that pain, and
we don’t see it as clearly. Kind of like not having it in front of us on the
television screen about the signs of the times.
Note, Scripture says very clearly we will not know that day
or that hour. No different than you did not know when I was going to say,
“Bam!” But that that hour and that day will come is for certain and sure.
Then, if we do not know when that day or that hour is to come, then these signs
that God is allowing to occur before our very eyes are meant to push us to
repentance, repentance that we daily wrestle with fixation upon the things of
this world and not the things of Heaven.
Why it takes such chaos in our lives to push us to that
state ought to be obvious, but it’s only obvious after we have gone through it;
isn’t it? While we’re experiencing it and in the throes of this chaos, we then
tend to think that we’re the only ones who are struggling, and then Satan again
pulls us into a temptation to compare ourselves with others. Wow! I wonder
why it’s not occurring in their lives and it is occurring in my life. Or, I
wonder why it’s occurring in their life and not in my life. Wow, that’s great!
I must be doing something.
How absurd of a temptation, but we bite on that bait. And
we bite on that bait more than we wish to admit; hence, the need for you and me
to repent. God is showing us in this parable. Wisdom is focused upon the things
of God. And that’s daily what we struggle with.
That’s why we gather here, to be reminded again, the only
place in your life other than in your own private devotions where you hear with
others about the things that are waiting for us in Heaven and that will be done
to us, as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the epistle reading. It’s here.
But here is also the place where there will be five foolish virgins found upon
“Watch therefore for you know neither the day nor the
Surely, we’re not naïve enough to think that, when God
closed the door of the ark and the rain began to rain, nobody went and pounded
on the edge of the ark, crying out, “Let us in, Noah. Let us in.”
Surely, we’re not too naïve to think that there wasn’t even
the neighbor, possibly, of Noah, pounding on the door, saying, “Noah, I’m your neighbor.
I live next door to you. We birthed calves together. We birthed lambs together.
Surely, Noah, you will let me in.”
And can you imagine the tumult that Noah and his family had
to experience as they listened to the screams and cries of those outside of the
ark as the flood waters rose. No different than the virgins who come and knock
on the door. “Lord, Lord, open to us.”
And He says, “Truly, I say to you, I don’t know you.”
Do not let your insight into the things of God be shaped
only by what you read and hear on the television or in the papers. That merely
gives you a great list of reasons God is coming. These are the reasons to
remind us that this world is not all that there is and that our life is and can
be ended at any moment. It is in the hands of a loving God Whose hands have
been pierced for you, but it is still in His hands. And He will do with you
and with me anything He desires, but they’re the hands of a loving God. Know
that. That’s why the five wise virgins waited with joy, not with fear, for the
Lord’s return. That’s why you and I wait with joy for the Lord’s return, not
with fear, for we know the hands that hold us. And this world that, no matter
what may occur to you or to me in this life, has no meaning eternally.
When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our
daily bread,” we pray very, very finitely for the things of this world.
Finitely. For the glimmer of moment that you and I have been given to live and
breathe today, we have that day. We may not have it tomorrow. None of us
may. Today we have that day, because there is no guarantee for tomorrow. The
only guarantee you and I have is exactly what was read. The hope of the
Christian faith, a sure and certain hope, but that is all that we know for certain.
But for today, God grant what I need for this day. Hence,
the need for God to work through you to love and serve someone else today whom
God has laid in your life today. It may not have the trimmings of something
glorious. It may be simply in completing the tasks that you have in your
little corner of the world, but that is what God has given you to accomplish
today. And if you’re given tomorrow, God be praised that you have tomorrow.
But Scripture….our Lord Himself, declares in Matthew’s Gospel,
as well as Luke, today’s troubles are sufficient for the day. Seek first the
kingdom of God and his righteous. That is what the five wise virgins did. And
the five foolish lived as if there would be time, that there would be an
opportunity, there would be the occasion, because they were with others who
were wise, not realizing that they themselves must be wise.
Because your faith can only save you. It cannot save someone
else. God worked that miracle in your heart and brought you to faith that you
may believe that it can happen at any hour or any day. That’s living by faith.
We repent for we know not when that time will come.
The next three Sundays, you will hear….today and the next
two….you will hear about that end. And it’s heard for one purpose—to encourage
us to live out the faith today. Not someday. Today. And to continue when we
close our eyes, putting our head to rest, to close them in faith, knowing, Lord,
have mercy on me, a sinner, and bring me to your kingdom when it is Your will
and time. Amen. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.