Good morning brothers and sisters in Christ and any visitors here today. As you’ve noticed I’m standing in from of you but stuck behind a laptop trying to record this before the service today. I went for a standard Covid test yesterday as I have an operation on Tuesday and the test came back positive. I feel absolutely fine and was actually shocked that the test came back positive.
It’s a privilege to be here with you today albeit through technology and not face to face, and to share with you what our Heavenly Father has put on my heart to speak about.
The last time I taught from the front I spoke about certain words being almost like swearwords where we substitute the actual word with a letter. So last time it was the D word which stood for doctrine. This time it’s going to be the R word. R standing for Rapture. Another word that gets hidden away as much as possible and spoken about as little as possible.
Maurice asked me speak on one of the parables that Jesus taught and I’ve decided to talk on the ten virgins/ also known as the wise and foolish virgins.
I asked our bible study group two weeks ago about what they thought about the end times and the answers were interesting. I realised then that this is a taboo subject in some ways and because there are a few opinions or teachings out there it becomes something that gets shelved or at least dropped down to the basement from a priority point of view. This is sad to me because one third of the entire bible is about prophecy and yet statistically only 2% of the time spent teaching from the pulpit is spent on prophecy or the last days.
I am also very aware of the fact that when it comes to talking about the end times people don’t often have a stand of their own, it’s often something they’ve been taught and not necessarily found out for themselves. It’s not something that they’ve wrestled with and asked God to show what the truth is.
Now I want to say from the outset that my goal here today is not to get all of you to become followers of Dave’s view on the end times, but rather to spark an interest in these things that will drive you to read the bible for yourself so you can have an answer when someone asks you about where you stand.
We’re at a time in history where things are coming to a head. If you look at what people have been through during Covid, and how the whole world came to a standstill for an illness that statistically has been found to cause no more deaths than the flu. We have a supreme court judge in America that cannot define what a woman is. We have a male swimmer self identifying as a female who is winning all the events he is taking part in as a woman with the full blessing of the powers that be. There is a push to be able to abort a bay 28 days after it’s born. We are possibly on the brink of a nuclear war in Eastern Europe. The world has gone mad and how do we as believers deal with this?
Before we start reading Matthew 25 I just want to repeat something I heard a while ago from a teacher that I respect.
God says in Ephesians 1 vs 4 that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
God knew us before He even made the earth or time. That means that He chose us to live at this time, this specific time. He could have had Dave Williams live in the 18 hundreds or at the time of the old testament, but no, He chose me, and he chose every one of you to live now, at this time in history. He also made us to fulfil a purpose at this same time in history.
Please open up your bibles to Mathew 25 and we’re reading from verse 1.
Parable of Ten Virgins
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
In the Jewish tradition there were three parts to a marriage. The first was the betrothal or engagement and this was the legal part of the marriage. Once betrothed you were already bound to your future spouse. That’s why Joseph would have had to get a divorce from Mary, even though they hadn’t consummated their marriage yet. The betrothals mostly took place in the spring at around Passover. After the betrothal the husband would go away for roughly a year to prepare a place for his bride in his father’s house.
Once that year was over he would then go and fetch his bride at which time the marriage ceremony would take place. The bride would know roughly when He would be back but didn’t know the day or the hour, so she and her bridesmaids would have to be prepared for him. Most of the time the bridegroom would arrive at night. The night is used as a metaphor in the bible for the tribulation.
1 Thessalonians 5 vs 2 says: For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just as a thief in the night.
Once the bridegroom arrived they would then have the marriage ceremony and finally consummate the marriage.
In the Songs of Solomon there are two dreams that the bride to be has. In chapter 3 she is eagerly waiting for her bridegroom and even goes out into the city to find him, and when she does she is incredibly happy.
In chapter 5 the bridegroom arrives when she has already taken off her shoes and her dress to go to bed and she hesitates. The bridegroom then moves on and she loses out on the chance to be married. These same scriptures were read at Passover time as part of the fixed readings that take place at the same time each year. So when Jesus used this parable they had literally been reading this portion of Songs of Solomon in the synagogue.
When we as individuals became born again we were betrothed to Jesus. We are legally His and we are meant to eagerly await His return so we can become officially married. The marriage supper of the lamb.
The bridegroom symbolises Jesus who is coming for his bride, the church. So the ten virgins represent the church at the time that Jesus comes for His bride.
The lamps represent the word of God, the bible. In Psalm 119 vs 105 it says ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’.
The oil in the lamps and that carried by the wise virgins represents the Holy Spirit who reveals the word to us. The oil is a reflection of the state of the church, it’s discernment and how close the church is sticking to the truth of the bible. The oil is a barometer of where the church is.
So here we have ten virgins all going to the same wedding ceremony, but the virgins all know that they don’t know the exact time that the bridegroom will arrive. So five of the virgins decide to take extra oil for their lamps to make sure they are ready for when the bridegroom arrives.
This represents the true church storing the true word of the bible, the church that is eagerly waiting for Jesus to return, that has the knowledge and the truth to she needs to be ready at the right time.
The other five virgins are complacent, they have oil, but only so much. This represents the church that has lost its way in the darkness, has compromised with the world in that it has left the truth of the bible and adopted its own way.
54% of churches worldwide now accept same sex relationships.
Many churches are taking part in ecumenism, which is seeking unity with the Catholic church. The same Catholic church that martyred Christians in the past. There is a push within churches to have an inter faith dialog and relationship with other religions like Islam, Stating that we all serve the same God.
The foolish virgins have no real desire to see Jesus come back and that is why they didn’t bother with making sure they had the oil. We even having the New Apostolic Reformation crowd that believe they need to win the whole world to Jesus before he comes back. They are already in darkness and can’t see they truth because they have no light.
I just want to repeat again the last few verses of this parable.
11Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
There is another parable where Jesus says the phrase. ‘I never knew you’. Matthew 7 vs 21 to 23 says this.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
So based on what Jesus himself said in scripture. It is vital that His body, His bride is ready for him. That we are waiting in anticipation for Him to return.
The requirement here from Jesus is that we, His bride, stays ready for His return. And when we have that outlook that we simply want Him to come back so that we can be with Him, we don’t get bogged down in this world, in this life.
We don’t get pulled down by the cares of this life, our homes, our jobs, our ambitions. But the opposite is also true. When we are focused on all the material and physical things in our lives, we aren’t concerned about Him coming back. We in the west in general are very comfortable so we are not desperate to see Jesus coming back.
The persecuted church however, only has that hope because there is nothing else they can hold onto.
Historical Christian Persecution Statistics
- More than 70 million Christians have been martyred in the course of history. More than half were martyred in the 20th century under communist and fascist government (Gordon-Conwell Resources).
- In the 21st century, roughly 100,000 to 160,000 Christians were killed each year (Gordon-Conwell Resources and World Christian Database, respectively).
- Roughly 1,093,000 Christians were martyred, worldwide, between 2000 and 2010 (World Christian Database).
There have been more Christians martyred for their faith in the last 100 years than all the previous years combined. I’m going to repeat that. There have been more Christians martyred in the last 100 years than in all of previous history.
You may be wondering why I’m reading off that statistic and what that has to do with the rapture, the R word so I’ll tell you.
We in the west have had more than 300 years of peace, in the sense that we have not been persecuted for our faith. And I believe to a certain extent that this has shaped our view of the end times and the rapture. There is a belief that the church will never experience tribulation and that we will be raptured out of here before anything bad happens.
What does Jesus say about tribulation? John 16 from verse 33 says
33These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
So what is tribulation? What does this word actually mean?
The Greek word is Thlipsis which means to crush, press together, squash, hem in, compress, squeeze. Thlipsis is a strong term which does not refer to minor inconveniences, but to real hardships.
So when we look at the word Thlipsis and the way it’s used in the bible and compare it to what many of our brothers experience around the world we know that they have experienced tribulation even to the point of death. How is it then that the western church somehow believes that we are different. That we are going to escape the same type of tribulation?
Bare with me as we take a brief history lesson. John Nelson Darby was born in 1800 in England and when he became a Christian was a member of the Plymouth Brethren. Eventually because of his stance on certain issues within the church there was a split and he became the founder of the Exclusive or closed brethren. By 1830 John Darby was pushing what is now called Pre-tribulationism. The theory that these is a secret rapture and that the church will be taken up to Him before the tribulation.
None of the Reformers and prominent Evangelicals like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, John Knox, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Bunyan, John Wesley, George Whitfield, George Muller, or Charles Spurgeon ever preached an invisible Return or pre-Tribulation Rapture. All these Evangelical reformers, preachers and theologians studied the Bible most of their lives and never saw it anywhere in the Scriptures.
Yet this is now the dominant view on the rapture within the evangelical church. John Mcarthur himself has said that pre-tribulationism cannot be found directly in scripture but can be found ‘between the lines’.
Matthew 24 vs 29 says the following:
'But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky. And the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in the sky. And then all then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see Son of man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.'
In Revelation and other parts of the bible there is a very clear distinction between tribulation, and the wrath of God that is poured out on the world in judgement. The bible says that as believers we are not appointed to God’s wrath, but it says clearly that we can expect tribulation.
Matthew 24 vs 9 says: 'Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you be hated by all nations because of my name. At that time many will fall awayand will betray one another and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.'
Let me ask you this. If you do believe in pre-tribulationism and are convinced that the church is not going to go through hardship. What are you going to do when this doesn’t happen? When the western church starts to feel the Thlipsis what will happen to your faith? If your hope is in a quick get away and this doesn’t work out how do you move forward?
Right now some of you may be thinking that I’m just trying to sow discord and doubt but that is not the case. Remember that these different end time views should not be a cause for division. In many respects they are opinion and in and of themselves they should not be the reason for believers not to have fellowship together. I am quite happy to fellowship with brothers and sisters who have a differing view to mine.
So what is my goal here today? Why am I even bringing this up?
I want to stir you all up to want to check things out for yourselves. I want you to ask God to show you the truth in His word, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not going to know the whole picture now but if each of us goes through the process of searching the scripture we become steadfast in what He has shown us. We have something we can stand on that we can share with others with confidence.
It is so clear from scripture that there is going to be a falling away/apostacy within the church when it comes to true Thlipsis/tribulation. The reason for this is clear in the bible and it’s all about having hope in this life and being comfortable. So if our hope is in our material security, in our house, in our jobs, in the friends that we have or even our children. We will find it easier to let go of the hope that we have in Jesus.
I remember when Covid first started I had a very different outlook to most people regarding the vaccinations etc. I’ve had a few heated debates about this as well with a few people because I didn’t see things the same way they did. I’ve probably spent more then 300 hours researching all the information I could about Covid and the vaccines. Whenever I asked the question: How much time have you actually spent checking things out? The people I was talking to got defensive, every time. The more I encouraged people to check things out more deeply. Not to just accept things at face value, the more irate people became with me.
The topic of the rapture and end times is very similar. The mantra seems to be ‘my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts’.
But I don’t want to be the person that tickles anyone’s ears.
I want to see all brothers and sisters rooted and grounded in the faith. Our hope fully resting on Him and His return. I want to see all of us sober, being alert as Jesus said we should be. Not blown around by circumstances or in false hopes and promises.
Every person here has the call to work out your own salvation. To read the word, to pray, to wrestle with God when we don’t understand something. To be steadfast, to stand in Him when things are going rough. Not to give up on the hope we have in Him.