Matthew Chapter 24
Before proceed to the next verse, we should like first to take a closer look at the parable of “The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant” (Luke 12:35-40) that we might gain further insight on the significance of the “watches” eluded to both there and in Matt 24:43. This study will aid us when we take up the last several verses of Matthew 24 (Verses 45-51).
In our previous post it was noted that these “watches” were sometimes broken into three and sometimes into four watches.
“The watches of the night were originally three in number,
(1) "The beginning of the watches" (Lam 2:19);
(2) "The middle watch" (Judges 7:19); and
(3) "The morning watch" (Exod 14:24; 1 Sam 11:11), which extended from two o'clock to sunrise.
However in the New Testament we read of four watches, a division probably introduced by the Romans (Matt 14:25; Mark 6:48; Luke 12:38).
With the ancient Hebrews the divisions of the day were "morning, evening, and noon-day" (Psa 55:17, etc.). The Greeks, following the Babylonians, divided the day into twelve hours. The Jews, during the Captivity, learned also from the Babylonians this method of dividing time. When Judea became subject to the Romans, the Jews adopted the Roman mode of reckoning time. The night was divided into four watches (Luke 12:38; Matt. 14:25; 13:25). Frequent allusion is also made to hours (Matt 25:13; 26:40, etc.).” The forth watch would be early morning (between three and six o’clock in the morning), symbolically the early dawn of the Millennial Day.
“Following up his instruction respecting his approaching death and resurrection, and after the transfiguration vision which emphasized this lesson to the apostles, our Lord began to explain to them something respecting his second coming and what their attitude should be in the interval. The present lesson emphasizes this matter.
Verse 35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning.”
During the Lord's absence his people were to be continually on the alert; their waist girded would represent that they were to be ready for service all the time--actively engaged in promoting the interests of the Kingdom. According to the custom of that time, loose, flowing garments were used, and the girdle at the waist drew these into proper place so as to permit of the ordinary services of life. When rest was sought the girdle was loosed. Consequently the lesson of the figure is constant activity on the part of the Lord's people during his absence from us. We are not to become charged with the cares of this world and slumber and sleep, and thus refrain from attending to the duties properly devolving upon us.
Each one of the Lord's servants is represented as a light bearer, and instructed to let his light so shine before men that they, seeing his good works, may glorify the Father in heaven. The picture is that of general darkness, ignorance, superstition and sin in the world, while the Lord's disciples have been granted the light of divine revelation and wisdom and understanding, which not only transforms them and makes of them New Creatures, but also shines through them unto all with whom they come in contact.
"Ye are the light of the world." A suggestion is here in place, namely, that the Great Light, the glorious sunrise of the Millennial morning, has not yet taken place; the Lord's people are still in the world as little lights, shining in the midst of general darkness and watching and waiting for the morning. The Prophet's words were in line with this when he said, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." This night time of darkness and ignorance and sin began with the curse of death, which came upon our race through father Adam's disobedience and the whole creation is groaning and travailing together, waiting for the morning, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God --Christ Jesus and his brethren, his joint-heirs in the Kingdom.” (R3334)
“But as there are lamps of various kinds which produce different degrees of light, so there is a difference in these lamps of the Lord. Some shine out brilliantly, illuminating the darkness around them to a considerable distance, shedding their influence for good far and wide. Some shine with a clear, constant, steady light. Others shine with a dim, flickering, and smoky light, contributing very little to the enlightenment of others with whom they come in contact.
Which represents us?
A lamp burns bright and clear when the oil is of good quality and well refined, and when the wick is properly trimmed. Likewise a Christian's light shines out bright and clear when his heart is pure and free from defilement's, and when he in singleness of purpose, love and zeal is fighting earnestly the good fight of faith. On the contrary a lamp burns feebly and smokes a good deal when the oil contains impurities and likewise, when a Christian becomes overcharged with the cares of this world his light begins to smoke and grow dim and he needs to purify his heart, betake himself to prayer and supplicate the Lord for an increase of His Holy Spirit and grace to enable him to get rid of the engrossing cares. "Draw nigh unto the Lord and He will draw nigh unto you, Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; (use your powers and talents in the Lord's service and not for self) and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." James 4:8, 9 (1908 Put-In-Bay Ohio Bible Student Convention Report)
We will move on to Verse 36 in our next post.
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