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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord
Nearly every newspaper I read has something in it related to Bible prophecy, and the end of the world as we know it. And I believe these are signs God has given to show us how little time we have left before our world comes to an end.
Listen to these headlines from the Daily News here in Los Angeles.
Bridges Falling Into Ruins. More than a quarter of the nation's bridges are too weak, dilapidated or overburdened for their current traffic according to federal records that detail an American road system that hasn't kept pace… (ibid., February 20, 2001, p. 1).
America is the greatest nation on earth, but we can't even keep our roads and bridges operating!
Drug Deficit Hits Hospitals. Hospitals nationwide are rationing adult tetanus shots…because of a huge shortage of the crucial vaccine. It's one of the worst drug shortages facing hospitals in years - and don't expect it to be the last. Shortages of medications that hospitals use every day are (now) occurring with more frequency, and worse, they more often involve products with few good alternatives…(it) haunts doctors and pharmacists struggling to cope…Hospitals are feeling shortages sooner than ever before because, faced with steep medical costs, most now keep only a few days' supply in inventory (ibid., pp. 1, 6).
Kilimanjaro Ice Field Melting. The white ice atop Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro…could be disappearing, the victim of a process shrinking mountain glaciers everywhere. Lonnie G. Thompson, an Ohio State University researcher (said), "The ice will be gone by 2015 or so" (ibid., p. 7). This is part of a dangerous world-wide ecological nightmare called "global warming," that threatens the entire world today.
Sylmar Earthquake - Legacy of Fear Left by Temblor. Unpredictable disaster looms over their everyday life. Nurse Gloria Muetzel (says) "After the '94 earthquake I said, That's it. I'm out of here"…But even in Wisconsin, "it's always on your mind" (Daily News, February 9, 2001, pp. 1, 13).
Car Bomb Explodes in Jerusalem. A car bomb exploded Thursday in a strictly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, shaking buildings and sending chunks of metal hurtling through the air…The bombing came two days after the rightist leader Ariel Sharon swept to a landslide victory in the vote for prime minister on a promise of restoring security (ibid., p. 19).
These may seem like random events. But those who know about Bible prophecy realize that they are signs that we are now living in the last days. The end of the world as we know it appears to be very near to those who understand the prophecies of the Bible. Jesus said:
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come"
Jesus warned against setting dates (Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:7). But He told us to watch for general signs of the approaching end. I believe that we are now living in that time. I am convinced that the end is near.
The number-one best-selling book in America, according to the New York Times, is the latest book in Dr. Tim LaHaye's series, titled Left Behind. And he's right. The Bible teaches that Christ is coming in the air. The living and dead, who are truly converted Christians, will be raised to meet Him in the sky (ref. I Thessalonians 4:14-18). Some who don't believe the Bible mock at this prophesied miracle. They laugh and say that it will never happen. But they are wrong. One day soon the rapture will occur. And they will be left behind!
Let us think briefly about three things connected with the rapture.
I. First, the conditions before the rapture.
The Bible tells us exactly what it will be like in the world right before the rapture. Jesus said:
"But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe (Noah) entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37-39).
Noah was a preacher of righteousness (II Peter 2:5). He warned his generation that judgment was coming. But people laughed at him and made fun of his message. They did not listen. They went right on with their sinful lives.
That's the way it is today. Someone brings you to church. You hear the sermon. Then you go right back to your old way of living. You don't repent. You don't fully place your trust in Jesus Christ. When we phone you, you don't come back to this church.
You want to have fun. To use Dr. A. W. Tozer's memorable phrase, you think the world is a "playground instead of a battleground." You think of life as a sort of nightclub. You think the whole purpose of your life is to have "fun." You refuse to make time for God in church every Sunday. When any little thing comes up, you miss church. You are not converted. You are not a real Christian. When death comes for you, you will not be ready. When the rapture comes, you will be left behind! As Miss Jeanne sang a moment ago, "The Son has come, and you've been left behind."
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matthew 24:42).
II. Then, secondly, think of the danger of being unprepared for the rapture.
Please turn to Matthew, chapter 25. Some Bible teachers say that the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 are the Jews in the Tribulation. But I question their interpretation. No evangelical preacher interpreted the passage that way until quite recently in church history. The old preachers all said that the virgins in the passage referred to people being unprepared to meet Christ. And I am convinced they were right and these modern Bible teachers are wrong.
In this passage, Jesus gave a parable, a story illustrating a great spiritual truth. What is the great truth He was trying to get across? Look at Matthew 25:13. Jesus said:
"Watch therefore, for ye (not the Jews in the Tribulation, but "ye," "you") know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13).
So, this passage is a warning to you!
Five of these virgins were prepared. They were ready for the coming of Christ. But the other five were not ready when He came. It is dangerous to go into too much detail in understanding a parable. The simple message of the passage is this: many people will not be ready when Jesus comes in the rapture.
Now look at verse ten:
"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (Matthew 25:10).
You see, after the true Christians are raptured, the door will be shut, just as the door of Noah's Ark was shut. No more people will get in.
Look at verse 11,
"Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not" (Matthew 25:11-12).
And then Jesus makes this great application to you:
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13).
We can know the general period of time, but not the day or the hour. And when that day and hour comes, it will be too late for you. As Miss Jeanne sang before the sermon, "The Son has come, and you've been left behind."
III. Then, thirdly, the majority of those left behind at the rapture will be given up by God. They will be reprobate, incapable of being converted.
Turn to Revelation, chapter sixteen. In this passage we learn of the wrath of God, which will be poured out on the Christ-rejecting world after the rapture. Verse two tells us they will have painful sores. Verse four tells us the world's water supply will be poisoned. Verse eight tells us that mankind will be scorched with fire. Verse ten tells us that there will be great darkness and that people will gnaw on their tongues for pain. Verse eighteen tells us there will be great, devastating earthquakes. Verse twenty-one tells us that there will be "great hail," probably meteorites falling from the sky.
Will the people turn to Christ when all this happens? NO! Look at the end of verse nine:
"They repented not to give him glory" (Revelation 16:9).
Look at verse eleven:
"And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds" (Revelation 16:11).
Look at the end of verse twenty-one:
"Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great" (Revelation 16:21).
You see, they will have been given up by God. It will be too late for them to get saved. They will have committed the unpardonable sin.
"God also gave them up" (Romans 1:24).
"God gave them up" (Romans 1:26).
"God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:28).
As Miss Jeanne sang, "The Son has come, and you've been left behind."
If you want to be raptured, if you want to be saved and go to Heaven, you must get saved now, while God is still speaking to you. If you wait too long, it will be too late.
Christ died to pay for your sins. He rose from the dead and is seated in Heaven at the right hand of God. Believe on Him now and His Blood will wash your sins away, and you'll be ready for the rapture. But if you wait, it will be said of you, "The Son has come, and you've been left behind."
Our deacon, Mr. Griffith, did not sing a solo before the sermon. He is with his dying mother in New England.
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Matthew 24:42).
I. The conditions before the rapture, Matthew 24:37-41.
II. The danger of being unprepared for the rapture,
III. The reprobation of many who are left behind at