No one knows when the chain of events including the rapture of the church, the day of the Lord, and the return of Jesus Christ will happen. But what the Bible does reveal about the world's ultimate consummation should bring godly motivation.
This was the point Jesus made in the parable about the ten virgins in Matthew 25. In a Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom and his groomsmen would pick up the bride and her bridesmaids at her house then parade back through town to the groom's house. This parade was often done at night, so lamps or torches were lit, with the attendants adding oil from little flasks to keep the flames burning.
With that background in mind, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps" (vv. 1-4).
He went on to explain how all ten virgins fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom, and when he finally did show up at midnight, "the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut" (vv. 8-10).
Here's the lesson: we need to be righteous, ready, and responsible as we wait for the Lord to return. The foolish virgins who had torches but no oil were like so many people today who profess to follow the Lord but really aren't ready for Him. Now, of course you can't just sit in your pajamas all day singing, "The Lord is going to return." Life has to happen. But because life happens, so many people doze off and forget all about living in expectation of the Lord's return.
Just because someone goes to church every week and knows Christian songs, it doesn't mean they're a wise bridesmaid. There are a myriad of churches filled with unprepared, unrepentant, unsaved people. This obviously concerns the Lord. I wish it would concern more of us.
"Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (vv. 11-13).
There are some things you just can't leave to the last minute, and one of them is dealing with eternity. If you put off a decision for Christ, you're playing against the odds because you could very well drop dead tomorrow. Take it from someone who's done a lot of funerals. And you can't borrow someone else's oil--someone else's relationship with the Lord. "Oh, I think I'm okay--my grandma's a believer." You need your own relationship with Christ.
As Christians, we know what's coming. If anyone should be ready and passionate in the way they live their lives, it ought to be us. Let's go into this week with the mindset of readying ourselves and looking for the Lord's return.