Matthew 24:32-51 Part 2

Maybe I’ll find out as we go… why the official “chapter divider” ended a chapter at verse fifty one instead of verse forty-four – or verse thirteen of the next chapter.  Sometimes I think these are the real “mysteries” of the Bible!

But even though Jesus is interrupted here by a chapter division at an important point, we’re going to complete chapter twenty-four this morning.  We left off last Lord’s Day at verse forty-two; so we’ll hear some comments this morning on verses forty-three and forty-four and then finish with the first of three parabolic-type allegories (verses forty-five through fifty-one).

But first, I think an additional point (or two) needs to be made here about Jesus’ reference to Noah and the flood.  If ever it was necessary for the New Testament to verify an Older Testament historical event (which it isn’t, since it’s all God’s Word), then every professing believer out there ought have no difficulty rejecting every evolutionist theory that comes out of the stone-dead hearts and minds of men!

Jesus Christ God’s Son, second Person of the One Triune God, Who brought the deluge/judgment upon this cursed earth, likens that event to His Parousia/judgment upon Israel (which is soon to come “in this generation!”).  Like I said, no historical event recorded in the Older Testament needs to be verified… it’s God’s Word!  But Jesus, in comparing the two judgments, recalls the floods historicity!

In a time when the theory of evolution is presupposed as fact, the real historical data is rejected because it’s found in God’s Word.  And since the pagan mind hates God, the facts are also hated!  That’s why every branch of science (from human psychology to astronomy to zoology) begins from presuppositional evolution!  And since their beginning point is incorrect, every study is made infinitely more complex!

But the historical fact of the flood completely destroys all evolutionary thought!  It doesn’t fit the theory; so it’s rejected and classified as legend.  And, according to evolutionary thought, since the flood didn’t occur, then the entire Older Testament Word of God is unreliable since it represents the flood as fact.  And, further, Jesus’ reference to it as historical fact is sufficient grounds to doubt His truthfulness and His reliability!

So any evolutionary thought is anti-God, anti-Scripture and anti-Christ!  And it’s ultimately anti-human since all anti-God thought is destructive and decreative!  So the very theory upon which science seeks to study the progress of life and existence, is destructive of the very existence it seeks to study!

But Jesus recalled Noah and the deluge to illustrate some aspects of His Parousia and consummation of the age.  And He did so because the flood is factual history.  It’s abominable that so many scientists begin the thought process and the experimentation process on the basis of their own theories rather than on the basis of the facts of history!

Let’s continue now from where we left off last Lord’s Day – with the command to “watch” and be ready (verses forty-two through forty-four).  The “thief in the night” figure, found all through the writings of the apostles (some of which we’ll read in a minute), comes, as expected, right out of the prophetic Scriptures!

And here Jesus combines it with the “watchman” motif which runs all through the historical and prophetic Scriptures.  The situation was that there were four “watches’ of the night… each comprising three hours:  six to nine PM, nine to midnight, etc., until dawn.  Watchmen took turns up on the walls of the city where they could see what was going on.  At night they could see the lanterns and torches of other towns and villages and cities miles away!  Those were the telephones and telegraphs of civilization!

And should they see greater light then there ought to be, then a city may be burning.  And if the lights went out, then there was another kind of disaster!  In either case the watchmen on the walls or in the towers were supposed to sound a clear trumpet warning (not muddled or confused) to alert the city of impending danger!  So being awake and alert, interpreting the signs, and sounding a clear trumpet signal were the three things critical to the watchman’s duty; and the punishment was severe for a watchman who figured everything was peaceful and was found asleep on duty!  The safety of the city was in his eyes until the dawn arose.  His alertness was the “light” of the people while they slept.

Now, for forty-one verses of this monologue, Jesus has responded to His disciple’s request for information about “when these things shall be” and “what shall be the sign of Your Parousia and consummation of the age.”  Uninterrupted, He has spoken to them, directly from the prophets, in order to answer them.  And He has told them twice to watch and be ready – for “in no way” would this generation pass until all these things took place!

They were to be alert and ready… living in the “light” of the warnings and instructions He has given them from the prophets.  And they were to be “watchmen”… trumpeting the sure sounds of the coming “Jubilee/Parousia” of Christ.

And that’s the context of the figure that Jesus has used in verses forty-two through forty-four.  If the housemaster had known the “watch” during which the thief was coming, he would have been alert; and the thief wouldn’t have broken into his house!

Do you remember the “thief in the night” figure that we’ve seen once previously?  Listen to Paul as he writes to the Thessalonian Church:


“… For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace!  and Safety!; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  But you, brothers are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all the children of Light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep as others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.  But let us who are of the day be sober; putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation….”


Peter writes the same thing to the remnant Jews – refugees in the nations….


 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up….”  (II Peter 3:10)


The apostle John, in his Revelation (3:3) records Jesus saying the same thing to the Church as Sardis:


“Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast; and repent.  If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief; and you will not know what hour I will come upon you….”


So the “thief in the night” image is well established in the New Testament… by the apostles and by our Lord.  But where does it come from and what does it mean?  Jesus said that He would come upon the Church at Sardis as a “thief” if they didn’t repent and watch.  Paul and Peter say that the “day of the Lord” will come as a thief in the night… but believers weren’t of the night – they were of the “day.”

Well, as usual, the figure comes directly out of the prophets!  (Jesus is the fullness of the Word, isn’t He?)  In discussing this figure once before, we turned to the second chapter of the prophecy of Joel.  And we do again this morning.  And it reads, in part, like this:


“Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy Mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the Day of the Lord comes.  It is nigh at hand.  A day of darkness and of gloominess; a day of clouds and of thick darkness.  As a morning spreads upon the mountains… a great and strong people there has never been the like, neither shall there be any more after it – even to the years of many generations.

“A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns; the land is as the garden of Eden before, yet behind them – a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them….”

(And then there’s a lengthy description of the agility and ferocity and greatness of this army which is coming.)  Then he says:

“They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief!

“The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.  And the Lord shall utter His voice before His army; for His camp is very great; for He is strong that executes His Word; for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”


Now it’s very obvious that the “thief in the night” figure that Jesus uses with regard to His Parousia comes directly from Joel’s prophecy which, itself, describes the great and mighty army that God will bring against His apostate nation Israel!  And that “Paradise/universe” that God made for Himself on earth will disintegrate and be “decreated” before the terror and fire of His great army.

And all of those who are faithfully watching and anticipating and doing what they’ve been commanded will be alert; and they won’t be surprised when the “Day of the Lord” arrives.  They aren’t people of the night – and darkness – they are people of the Light!  People of the day!

The watchmen will sound clear and sure blasts of the trumpets; the great jubilee will be near; all who have heard the Word of God through the prophets and the Word of Christ and His apostles won’t be overcome as one whose house is broken into by a thief.  Having done all the Lord’s commands, they’ll be prepared and ready for all that’s about to happen!  They won’t “assume” an hour; and, therefore, they won’t be surprised and unprepared!  They’ll be delivered from the wrath to come!

A housemaster who “assumes” that his house will be hit by a thief at a particular hour will most likely give up sooner or later… and be totally unprepared for the Parousia of Christ – which will come upon those in darkness like a “thief in the night!”  (Joel chapter two and verse nine)

Now.  As I said earlier, verse forty-five begins a series of three additional parabolic-type allegories ending in chapter twenty-five.  As we look at this first one we need to remember something that we learned earlier.  And that is, that there is a central truth that is illustrated.  And if an attempt is made to relate all the points and factors in the allegory to something else (this is this; and this must be that!), then violence is done to God’s Word.  The allegories of Christ aren’t meant for that.  And one man’s opinion about what means what is just that… it’s an opinion.  And one man’s opinion is hardly better than that of another!  So our Lord’s parables and illustrations ought to be used in the manner in which they were designed.

And, further, please, we must remember the whole context.  Jesus is still responding to His disciples’ concerns over His Parousia and consummation of the age.  And the central themes of these allegories have to do with the same things He’s been talking about!  He’s answering their question.  We can be sure that He hasn’t shifted off to another subject!

And in all that He’s said so far, Jesus has had two primary lines of thought:  first is the Presence of the King of Kings in final judgment over an apostate old covenant nation.  And, secondly, the Presence of that King of Kings also means the deliverance/salvation of the elect remnant of Israel, and the dayspring/dawning of a New Covenant in which all the nations of the earth will participate!

All of this is going to happen (as Jesus told His disciples) in this generation.  Therefore the children of Light will always be prepared and will be delivered in the coming day of the Lord; and those of darkness will suffer all the consequences of their unbelief and lack of preparation.

And that’s what this first allegory illustrates. (verse forty-five)  It was common for a “lord,” or owner/master, of a household to have a number of slaves, or servants, to run the operation (vineyards, fields, animals, property), and the master of the house would put one or more of his servants in charge.  They were, in effect, head-slaves!  And then the master would leave and go elsewhere to do whatever – buying, trading and selling (at home or abroad), religious functions in Jerusalem… any number of reasons for his being away.  And the slaves had no idea where he was going and how long he’d be away.  (It was to his advantage not to tell them!)

And, of course, when he came back he would immediately see whether his slaves had been operating according to his best interests, and according to His instructions.

As you can see (verses forty-five through fifty-one) in Jesus’ allegory there is the contrast between the faithful servant (on the one hand) and the wicked servant (on the other), (just like the two lines of thought in Jesus’ monologue).  The faithful one did all that he was commanded to do, and provided for the others; but the wicked one thought to himself, “Ah, he’s going to be gone a long time – I’ll just do my own thing!”  And he began to mistreat the others and live like a pagan!  And when the owner came back before it was assumed he would, and he saw what was going on, he appointed the one to the highest position and cut off the other one!

Now, regardless of all the applicatory sermon material many would find here, we’ve got to understand the allegory in its own context.

The Faithful and Prudent Servant who always feeds and nourishes His people in due season, Who is always doing what His Father commands, and Who is appointed Ruler of all He possesses, can be none other than Christ Jesus – the True Prophet, Priest and King!  No one else in Scripture – no man – is referred to in Scripture in those terms.  He is the Faithful One and the Wise One.  He is the only One Who provides all that His people need; and He is the One Who has been given all power in heaven and earth.

On the other hand it is Israel and her leadership that will be cut off because of wickedness.  They have mistreated the people of God – leaving them blind, and sick, and spiritually, psychologically and economically destitute!  The priests and elders of Israel are described on numerous occasions as reeling to and fro from drunkenness… as they shared food and drink with pagans from other nations.  And, from all indications, they also became gluttons and drunkards on the Levites’ portion of the tithes!  (And the Law states that it is a capital crime for a Levite or a judge to carry out his official duties while drunk with wine!)  And, in addition to all that, they were blind leading the blind – living from day to day with no understanding of the Parousia/judgment of Christ about to come upon them – saying “Peace,” and “safety,” when there was no peace and safety!  Blind guides!

The end of the age was upon them; the annihilation of the state was upon them; tribulation such as had never been seen, nor ever will be, was upon them….  “No, nothing’s wrong; Israel’s safe; that ‘Jesus’ is an imposter/misfit from Nazareth – the big crowd with Him is just a bunch of cripples and lepers; a messiah will come and we will rule the world again from Jerusalem; we’ll make it… God will always protect Israel!”

But the Lord came… and cut Israel off from His covenant.  And the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem and the towns, and the wholesale slaughter of the people by the millions, was cause for wailing and mourning from God’s people.  And while they mourned in repentance and joyed in the New Day dawning, the hypocrite/wolves were in paroxysms of snarling fury and bitter resentment and revenge (the gnashing of teeth – Zechariah 12:10-14).  That’s the nature and meaning of this allegory, you see.  Jesus was Faithful and True – and He received all power.

It was for us – the Church of Jesus Christ – that all of this happened, according to Paul.  It was the great love that God has for us – His people; the true seed of Abraham… in Christ.  The Day of resurrection of the dead from all the nations of the earth came to pass because of the work of Christ, God’s Faithful and True Servant.  Cursed and dead in the grave we were… until the risen Christ tore down the wall of separation – that we (Jew and Greek alike) might be born anew and have access to God.  It is no small thing that the One in Whom we live and breathe and have our being did that for us.

Next Lord’s Day we will begin chapter twenty-five; and we will serve the Lord’s Table and eat and drink in joy of life in Him.