"I am the vine, you are the branches"
The Second Coming, Part 3
Ready Yourself for the End
The last couple of months we have been looking at the end times, specifically Yeshua's dialogue in Matthew 24. We now want to look at six parables that follow in Matthew 25. Yeshua is not only telling His disciples that the time of His return would not be immediate, but these parables give us an important message.
The Thief in the Night
Yeshua tells a parable about a thief that breaks into a house in the night. He says that if the owner of the house knew that the thief was going to break in in the middle of the night that he would have been prepared for him. This illustration was told to His disciples to give them the message that first, no one knows the day or the hour that the Messiah will return, and second, we must be ready. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, "While they are saying ‘Peace and Safety,' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman in child birth; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night or darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Yeshua." One thing that we need to note is that Paul is telling us that if we walk as people of the day, then God's wrath will not be a surprise to us, and being prepared for it will allow us to not be caught up in His wrath. The key here is not that we will not be here when it happens, but that if we are walking with Him, in His ways, seeking Him out, we will know when His judgments will come, for He does nothing without telling first His people, for His people know His voice and listen.
Forty days before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the shofar (ram's horn) is blown just for this purpose, to wake people up; and after it is blown, everyone says, "Awake you who are asleep and consider your deeds; remember your Creator and go to Him for forgiveness. Don't be like those who miss reality in their hunt after shadows and waste your years seeking after vain things which can neither profit nor deliver. Look well to your souls and consider your deeds; let each one of you forsake his evil ways and thoughts, and return unto the Lord, so He may have mercy on you." Paul and Yeshua certainly knew all about the importance of this fall feast. So we must walk in the light of God's Word, being sober about God's ways and being watchful that we keep His commands so we may remain attentive to His voice.
The Parable of the Unfaithful Servant
Yeshua goes on to tell this parable by asking a question, "Who then is the faithful and sensible servant whom the master puts in charge of his household to give them food at the proper time?" The master goes away for a long time. He goes on to show the difference between the faithful servant and the unfaithful servant who He calls wicked. The faithful servant is the one who does his master's work even when he knows that he is away on a journey and will not be back for a long time. When the master returns, to everyone's surprise he finds the faithful servant carrying on as though his master remained at home. But the wicked and unfaithful servant is the one who says, "My master has gone away and so now I can do as I please, for he will not know what I do while he is away."
We want to look at the beginning of this parable. The master puts the faithful servant in charge to feed and care for his household. If we remember, Yeshua says to Peter, "Do you love Me? Then feed My sheep." And He went on to ask Him this three times, showing the importance of his calling. Any time something is repeated in God's Word, it was to show the importance or the magnitude of what was being said. So in the parable, the faithful servant was supposed to feed the members of the master's household. Yeshua, when confronted with feeding the multitude, said to His disciples, "You give them something to eat." Yeshua the great Shepherd was concerned about the welfare of His sheep and He knew that His sheep needed to eat not only physical food but spiritual food. So, "He called some servants to be apostles and some to be prophets, and some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and some to be teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by the craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for building up of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:11-16). There is only one body but many parts and we have all been given gifts and a responsibility to use those gifts for the building up of the body. So the question remains, are you a faithful servant or an unfaithful wicked servant? If you are not using your gifts for God by feeding His sheep, then this parable says that when the master of the house returns, he shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth.
The Ten Virgins
Yeshua goes on to tell a third parable of the ten virgins. Again He speaks about the kingdom and compares it to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now, five of the virgins were foolish, and why were they foolish? Because they took no oil for their lamps. Five were wise because they took a flask of oil with them. While they were waiting, they all became tired and fell asleep, for the bridegroom was delayed in his coming. When midnight came there was a great shout, "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!" Then all the virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish now did not have enough oil because they did not anticipate the bridegroom coming so late. But the wise virgins were prepared with plenty of oil. When the foolish virgins asked the wise for oil, they replied, "No, otherwise there will not be enough for us, and you too; go instead and buy some for yourselves." And so they went to purchase their oil but when they returned they found that all the guests had already gone into the wedding feast and the door was shut. To their surprise, they cried out "Lord, lord, open up for us!" But he answers, "I do not know you."
What's Your Fruit?
In Matthew 7 Yeshua tells His followers this: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few find it... Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves, you will know them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; and every bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruit. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many 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?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Torahlessness).' Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock; but everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall." You see, the five wise virgins can also represent the five books of Moses, the Torah which is the foundation, and the Rock, which one should build his house on.
So we see from Yeshua Himself that not everyone will enter into the kingdom. This seems to be very contradictive to what we believe. Yeshua here is talking about believers who go about prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles, yet Yeshua says to them, "I know you not!" So how can this be? Well the answer first of all is in the fact that Yeshua knows them not. Why does He not know them? Well, He says because they practice lawlessness. In other words, they do not keep His commands. One of the most popular illustrations in the Apostolic Scriptures, I think, is the Vine and the Branches. These verses are about abiding in God and bearing fruit. How do we bear fruit? Well, in verse 10 of John 15 it says, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and I abide in His love." We have also seen from Yeshua that a good tree will bear good fruit; likewise, a bad tree will bear bad fruit. We have seen from the Vine and the Branches that any branch that does not bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Verse 5 says, "But if we abide in Him, we will bear good fruit." Here we see that we must bear good fruit and we can only do that by abiding in Him.
So how do we abide? Well, we start by complying to His commandments. John writes "And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him; but whoever keeps His Word, in Him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." Yeshua was obedient to the Father even to the cross. If Yeshua is truly our Lord, then we too will be obedient to all that He stands for. To be His disciples, we must be as He is. He was a keeper of Torah. He kept all the teachings of the Father. He Himself said that the words He spoke were the Father's and the works that He did were the works of the One who sent Him. So if we do not keep His commands, how can we possibly have our lives hidden in Him? If we abide in the Lord and He abides in us, then He not only knows us but we know Him.
Paul writes, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Messiah Yeshua my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Messiah, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." Paul believed that we should not put any confidence in the flesh and that the flesh needed to be crucified. We can not have fellowship with the world and with God. John writes, "Do not love the world, nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world, and the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever." So we see that to abide with God we must put aside the world and its ways so that we can keep God's commandments. By this we will know God and be known by Him.
When we know God, then we will hear His voice and when we hear His voice, we will hear and obey. The five foolish virgins did not have enough oil for their lamps. Oil is a reference to the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can not walk according to God's will for us. He is the one who leads us in all truth. When we walk in the Spirit then we not only walk in truth but then there is no condemnation against us. The question we must ask ourselves is, "Are we walking in the Spirit?" Our lives must line up with the Word of God. So the five foolish virgins did not have the continual flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Remember, the Menorah in the Tabernacle had a constant flow from its source, which was the oil, which kept the light burning continually. This is what the five wise virgins had. Remember, we are the light of the world. When God is our source and we are following Him, then He leads us in all truth. And what is the truth of God? None other than the Word of God, and that truth will bear out fruit because we are walking in His ways. Scripture tells us that apart from God, we can do nothing. All the works in the world will not save you, only God can save you through Yeshua; but to have Yeshua means that we must live by His Word and by His ways, and to do that we must die to ourselves and put on the Lord Yeshua, the Anointed One, who anoints us for every good deed.
Next we will look at the last three parables.