Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.
I. THE DISTINCTION. There are the greatest possible variations in providence. God does not follow any regimental orders. The ages do not march with the measured tramp of drilled battalions. Families are broken up. Aged men are left, while young men are snatched away. Bad people flourish to a green old age, and some" whom the gods love die early." The useless remain to cumber the ground, and the useful are cut down in the midst of their work.
1. Similarity of external conditions is no guarantee of similarity of fate. The two men are at the same field work, the two women are both alike grinding corn. Yet how different are their fates! We cannot judge of a man's future by his worldly position.
2. Association in life does not secure association in death. The family is grievously broken; old friends are parted; life partnerships come to an end. Two friends may be very near in life, yet death may make an awful separation, if one is called to the world of light and the other banished to the realm of darkness.
II. THE TWOFOLD FATE.
1. The one taken. Whither? There is an eerie vagueness in our Lord's language. The summons comes, and the most reluctant must obey without a shadow of resistance. But whither does it call? We vainly strive to follow the flight of the passing soul, and the utmost effort of imagination cannot trace it one step beyond the old familiar earthly scenes. A cloud receives the traveller out of sight the moment he takes his departure. Yet we know that there are tremendous possibilities in the unseen, and we know that the blessedness or woe of the future life depends on the conduct of this life. He who is taken has gone "to his own place."
2. The one left.
(1) To what is he left? To grief, desolation, and loneliness - but also to God who never leaves, to Christ who is never taken from us.
(2) Why is he left? Perhaps for further work, perhaps for finer chastening, perhaps to give one more opportunity for repentance. But let him consider that his time also must come. Before long all are taken. The distinction is temporal, not final; it is a matter of the postponement of the dreaded end, not of its avoidance.
III. THE UNCERTAINTY. Our Lord evidently desires to lay stress on this. We do not know when the final judgment will be. We do not even know when our own last day will come. This, too, may be swift and sudden as the lightning-flash, unexpected as the thief in the night. We never know which will be taken and which left. How often the feeble invalid outlives the strong man who is smitten down by some accident or fatal disease in the midst of his busy life! Such thoughts should not induce a morbid melancholy, or a listless indifference to life. They warn us to be always ready for the summons that shall call us hence. But then he is fit to die who is most truly equipped for the duties of life, and to him the sudden message will be no awful terror, but the trumpet of victory, or, better than that, the Father's voice calling his child home to himself. - W.F.A.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come:I. THE WARNING. Christ's coming is compared to that of a thief in the night. Seems disparaging, but is remarkably apt (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4). The dispensation under which we live is emphatically that of night, in comparison with the dispensation which is to be introduced at the day of the Lord, etc. The plans of the housebreaker are all laid beforehand, and yet studiously concealed. So the coming of the Lord and the day of His appearing are fixed with infinite wisdom, but kept secret with a profound reserve. That mystery wears a pleasing or repulsive aspect, according to the preparedness of those to whom the Master comes.
II. THE CAUTION. It is remarkable that the Evangelist Luke, while emitting the parable, gives us the most lucid account of its application (Luke 21:34).
III. THE PRECEPT. A personal preparation for the coming of our Lord is to be regarded as a matter of imminent motive with us all. You may be deceived as to the signs; but you are not to be negligent of the event. "Watch and pray." Watchfulness is the habit of keeping the eye constantly alive to events; prayer is the habit of keeping the heart constantly lifted up to God. Taking into account the conditions under which we are admonished to watch and pray, the intent becomes palpable that things we are not permitted to know beforehand will be gradually unfolded to us as the events are about to transpire. But the chief motive defies analysis. The holy instinct of loving hearts prompts that ardent expectancy with which "hope" anticipates the appearing of the Lord.
(B. W. Carr.)I. THE UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL.
1. Of what person?
2. In what manner?
3. For what purpose?
4. At what time? Date unknown (ver. 36), knowledge might induce carelessness, etc.
II. THE UNFORESEEN DISCLOSURE.
1. To many, of the character of others. It will be a day of great surprises. We only judge by appearances. God knows thought, intention, character.
2. To many, of their own destiny. Judge not. Leave the judgment with God.
III. THE NEEDFUL WATCHING.
1. With increasing prayer.
2. With unfaltering diligence.
3. With unfailing patience. Biding the Lord's time submissively, lie will not always tarry.
(J. C. Gray.)I. Temptations may enter the SENSES without sin, for to behold the object, to touch, or taste, is not to commit sin, because God Himself hath thus ordered and framed the senses by their several instruments and organs. He hath kindled up light in the eyes, He hath digged the hollow of the ear, for hearing, and hath shut up the taste in the mouth or palate, and hath given man his senses very fit for the trial and reward of virtue. Therefore, we may make a covenant with our eye, bridle our taste, bind our touch, purge our ears, and so sanctify and consecrate every sense unto the Lord, which is indeed to watch.
II. They may enter the THOUGHTS, and be received into the imagination, and yet, if we set our watch, not overcome us; for as yet they are but, as it were, in their march, bringing "up their forces; but have made no battery or breach into the soul.
III. The sense and fancy may receive the object with some delight and natural complacency, and yet without sin; if we stand. upon our guard, and then oppose it most, when it most pleads for admittance.
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