Gospel Reading: Matthew 24:37-44
37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
1 The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Meditation: Do you know what it feels like when you expect a friend to come whom you haven't seen for some time, and he or she delays? Or when you get excited because you are anticipating some important event to take place, and you wake up in the morning with that thought on your mind? The Lord Jesus expects us to watch in great anticipation for the most important event of all – his return in glory at the end of time! The prophets foretold the coming of the Lord when he shall judge between the nations and decide for many peoples (Isaiah 2:5). The Advent season reminds us that we are living in the end times. The end times begins with the first coming of Christ (his Incarnation which we celebrate at Christmas) and culminates in his final return on the Day of Judgment. Jesus spoke of his return in glory at the end of time as a for certain fact. Jesus' audience understood the title, Son of Man, as referring to the Messianic prophecy of the Annointed King who comes to establish an everlasting kingdom over the earth (see Daniel 7:13). While the second coming is for certain, the time is unknown. The Lord's judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly. Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives. It will surely come in God's good time! Do you earnestly pray for God's kingdom to come – here and now!
What does Jesus mean when he says that one will be taken and another left? Having the right friends, even those who are very close to God, will not guarantee our entry into heaven. We can live and work with godly Christians, but no matter how close they may be to God, they cannot win a place for us in heaven. God offers each of us a personal invitation to accept his kingdom or to reject it. There is really no middle ground. We are either for God or against him, for his kingdom of righteousness or against it. The choice is ours. And God's grace is available to those who are willing to believe in God and obey his word.
God knows our struggles and challenges well, and he gives grace and help wherever we need it. But there is one excuse that God will not accept from us – that is trying to pass off personal responsibility for our lives and for our decisions to someone else. God's judges each of us individually according to how we have responded to his gracious invitation to live for his kingdom. No one can discharge his or her duty by proxy or association. The good news is that God is merciful and he gives grace to turn away from sin and he gives us the help we need to follow in his way of holiness. God's judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet the Lord when he returns in his glory. He gives us fresh hope each day so we can keep our eyes on the eternal reward waiting for us. What is that reward we long for? It is God himself, who is the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness, and the fullness of undying love and abundant life that never ends.
In every age God issues his warning as a sign of mercy to those who will heed it. The people in Noah's time ignored the Lord's warning of judgment. They missed the boat, literally! Whose boat are you taking – the world's boat to false success, empty promises, and fleeting happiness or God's boat to unending peace, joy, and union with him? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when God's judgment comes. They rejoice even now that they will see the Lord in his glory! Is your hope firmly placed in God and in his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy?
Jesus concludes his warning with a parable about a robbery that could have been prevented. If you knew that a thief wanted to steal your prized possession and your inheritance, wouldn't you guard it with your life? How foolish to leave our treasure unguarded where the thief can easily steal. God promises each of us an inheritance and an eternal reward which he calls a "treasure beyond measure" (see the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46). What is this treasure of immeasurable value? It is the Lord himself who is our treasure, and the kingdom he offers us is a kingdom of true and lasting peace, joy, and righteousness. The Lord offers us a personal relationship with him as his sons and daughters and the promise of eternal life as well. This imperishable treasure will outlast any earthly treasure. But it is possible that we could lose this treasure of supreme value if we allow sin or Satan to rob us of our faith and hope in God. Do you keep your sight on the heavenly treasure which awaits you?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you are my hope and salvation. Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven and give me fresh joy and zeal to live each day for your kingdom."
1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
2 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they prosper who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers!"
8 For my brethren and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!"
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.