Sooner than Expected

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:45–51 (ESV)

45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Matthew 24-25 make up what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. In these chapters, Jesus gives us his most lengthy teaching on the end times. In the verses we have looked at so far, Jesus has emphasized that the timing of the end is to remain unknown to us, but we must be ready at all times by living holy lives and preaching the gospel to the world.

In today’s reading, Jesus changes his teaching method. He begins using parables to teach his disciples. Today’s parable is about a servant who is left in charge of his master’s household while the master goes away. While the master is away, the servant is unfaithful in his duties and even beats the other servants because he thinks that the master is going to be gone a long time. However, the master returned sooner than expected and saw what the wicked servant was doing. The servant was cut “in pieces and put with the hypocrites.”

This parable reinforces what Jesus has been teaching all along. We do not know the timing of our Lord’s return and we must be ready for him to come at any moment. He may come sooner than we expect. Will he find us being faithful to our task or will he find us unfaithful like the wicked servant? The one who truly belongs to Christ will remain faithful to his Master, while the unfaithful will be judged. We must not wait until later to serve the Lord. Later may never come.

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The Heavens Will Be Shaken

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:29–31 (ESV)

29 “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 heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus described what it will be like when he returns. The heavens will be shaken and when the Son of Man appears in power and glory, the nations will mourn. Why will they mourn? The world will realize that the gospel that has been proclaimed and denied is true and that the opportunity for salvation has passed. Jesus will send out his angels to gather those who are his.

We must realize that time is running out. As Christians, we have to understand the urgency in preaching the message of salvation and the coming kingdom. Our families’, friends’, and neighbors’ eternities depend on hearing the gospel from us. If you do not know the Lord, today is the day to reconcile with God while there is still opportunity. He sent his Son to pay the price for our sin. We must repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness and life. God has shown us his love and grace in Christ. Turn to him today.

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The Gospel Will Be Proclaimed

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ.

Reading the Word

Matthew 24:9–14 (ESV)

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:9-13; Luke 21:12-19

Wars and Rumors of Wars

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Reading the Word

Matthew 24:3–8 (ESV)

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Parallel Texts: Mark 13:3-8; Luke 21:7-11

Understanding and Applying the Word

Matthew 24 begins what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. The discourse runs to the end of Matthew 25 and gets its name from the location of Jesus’ teaching, the Mount of Olives. In these chapters, Jesus’ instruction is in response to his disciples’ questions regarding the coming of the last days (cf. Matthew 24:3). The topic of the end times is one that raises much interest and much speculation still today. It is important for us to read the words of Jesus and understand what Scripture says on this subject.

Jesus told his disciples that there would be those who would come and claim to be the Christ (or “Messiah” in Hebrew). Jesus’ followers must not be fooled by counterfeits. There will also be much conflict (“wars and rumors of wars”) and many natural disasters in the days leading up to the time of the end. However, those things do not mean that the end has dawned. They are simply the beginnings of birth pains that will later lead to the birth of the last days. Wars and disasters, as we see throughout history, are a common theme in our world and remind us that something is very very wrong with this world.

Scripture’s description of the last days fascinates many, but we must keep in mind the primary points that we can know about it. It will be a terrible time. It will be a time unlike any other in history. God’s people will face severe persecution under the rule of one who makes himself as a god. However, as bad as it will be, it will come to an end. Jesus Christ will return and will defeat his enemies and also gather his people. The Lord has promised that sin and evil will be judged and that the people of God will find rest in his presence for eternity. We can find strength and encouragement today knowing that the trials we face are temporary and that our God’s plans are in place, even if we have not been given all the details we would like. Let us find our hope in the words and promises of our Savior who is risen and coming again!

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In Those Days

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do included a Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Mark 13:19–23 (ESV)

19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Understanding the Times

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested passage from Scripture to read. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 12:54–56 (ESV)

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Stay Ready

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:37–40 (ESV)

37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

We must be ready at all times. Our Lord will return one day and we must not be caught unprepared. When he comes, those who have remained awake (i.e. those who are ready) will be rewarded for their service. He may come later than we expect, but we must remain diligent. We must be like a homeowner who is aware of a thief coming to break into his house. The homeowner would be ready when the thief came. So, we too know that the Lord will return and we must be ready.

Being ready is not a call for us to try to figure out the timing of Jesus’ return. It is a call for us to spend our lives in service to our Lord. Jesus began this chapter speaking about possessions and coveting. It is no accident that we are now reading about Jesus’ return. The two topics go hand-in-hand. When we have a proper understanding of the Lord’s return and when we focus our lives on what is truly important, coveting becomes less of an issue for us. Earthly possessions become less important when we consider them in the light of eternity. Our focus must always be on Jesus’ return and our service to him until that day. When our focus is on Christ our hearts turn to what truly matters.

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The Lake of Fire

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Reading the Word

Revelation 20:11–15 (ESV)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we near the end of Revelation, and the Bible as a whole, we find one last judgment. This is the Great White Throne Judgment. At this time, all non-believers throughout history will be gathered before Christ who will sit as their final judge. All of these will be judged according to what they have done and cast into the lake of fire where Satan and his followers were cast in Revelation 20:10. Death and Hades are also thrown into the lake of fire.

Those who have not trusted in Jesus Christ to save them will stand and be judged for their actions. The Bible tells us that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There are none found not guilty at this judgment. May believers praise God for his grace and for the salvation we have in Christ. May we take the opportunities that we have to proclaim the good news that salvation is free to all who will call on the name of Jesus!

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A Thousand Years

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Reading the Word

Revelation 20:1–10 (ESV)

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this vision, John sees what will happen after the tribulation period. This is what is often described as the Millennial Kingdom or the Millennial Reign of Christ. During this time, Christ will return to reign on the earth for one thousand years. Also during this period, Satan will be bound and unable to cause trouble. It will be a time of great peace on the earth. However, Satan will once again have a brief time to wage an attack after the thousand year period is over. There will be a final battle and Satan and his followers will be defeated.

One day evil will finally be defeated once and for all. That which has caused so much pain and suffering in the world will be cast into the lake of fire forever. Christians live with a hope of a world that is free from these things where we dwell with our Savior and glorify him for all of eternity.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!