|“Therefore keep watch, because you do not |
know on what day your Lord will come.”
“Shh! Here she comes!”
Most teachers of young children have heard this from time to time when they have had to step out of their classrooms for a couple of minutes. Children take the opportunity for a fun game of “Surprise!” The teacher enters the room to see students popping up from under their desk in an effort to startle her.
What anticipation children enjoy! We, too, should anticipate the wonder and element of surprise that will come at the Second Advent of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Scripture often refers to Him as the “Bridegroom” and we the church as the “Bride.” Jesus spoke in length about His Second Coming in Matthew 24 and 25.
Jesus wanted to make sure that His Bride keeps watch, and does not give up the anticipation of His coming. He does say, however, in Matthew 24:36:
“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father.”
However, He does give us some clues about the state of world cultures before that day arrives. It would seem from these clues that we are closer than ever to His appearance.
Jesus, as a way of illustrating how He intends His Bride to watch and prepare during a long delay, tells the story of the Ten Virgins in a wedding party in Matthew 25:1-13. Five of the virgins looked ready because they held lamps, but only five of them also carried the oil for the lamps. Lamps took perpetual filling. In the story, at midnight the Bridegroom surprised the virgins with the call, “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Only those with oil had prepared themselves when the Groom arrived.
God looks for faithful followers. He wants us to watch for Him and to “keep our lamps trimmed and burning.”
During this time of Advent, we should pay close attention to the words of Advent hymns. Many not only reflect the anticipation of Jesus’ first coming, but also the anticipation we should feel regarding His second coming.
The hymn, “Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers” paraphrases the story of the Ten Virgins for us:
Rejoice, rejoice, believers!
And let your lights appear;
The evening is advancing,
and darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising,
and soon He will draw nigh;
Up, watch and pray, nor slumber;
At midnight comes the cry.
See that your lamps are burning;
Your vessels filled with oil;
Wait calmly your deliverance
from earthly pain and toil;
The watchers on the mountains
proclaim the Bridegroom near;
Go meet Him as He cometh,
with alleluias clear.
Our hope and expectation,
O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, Thou Sun so longed for,
O’er this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted,
we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of our redemption,
and ever be with Thee! 1
|1 “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers!” A hymn by Laurentius Laurenti (1700) and translated by Sarah Borthwick Findlater. Public domain.|