When the Son of Man Comes
I would like to speak about God's ways with men and with His people in the day in which we live, dear brethren. In Genesis 6, we read of the end of one dispensation, the end of one period of God's dealings with men. From the beginning of God's dealings with man, with Adam, to the time when the flood came and destroyed the earth, and when Noah and his family were saved, was one period in God's ways with men. After Noah and his family were saved through water and came out of the ark, God made a covenant with Noah, which was the beginning of another dispensation in God's ways with men. But here we have the end of a period: "The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was full of violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth."
Well, as we look at God's ways with men at the incoming of the Lord Jesus, the end of another dispensation — John the Baptist being a link between two dispensations — we see that Israel, with whom God had been working and laboring for so many centuries, had come to the point where it says of the Lord Jesus, "he came to his own, and his own received him not." There were those who received Him, but just as in the days of Noah, there is a state of things among men where God finds very few who answer to Himself and His thoughts.
Now we have come to the end of another dispensation, another period in God's ways with mankind. And the Lord asks a serious question as to what He will find when He comes: "When the Son of man comes, shall he indeed find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). That is a question for each of us to consider.
Well, we read in Matthew 24: "But as the days of Noe, so also shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as they were in the days which were before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day on which Noe entered into the ark, and they knew not till the flood came and took all away; thus also shall be the coming of the Son of man." How solemn that is! In the epistle to the Hebrews, we read: "by faith Noah, oracularly warned concerned things not yet seen, moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house." And Peter writes as to the ark which Noah made: "into which few, that is, eight souls, were saved", 1 Peter 3:20.
Now I believe we are at the end of the dispensation of grace, in which God is dealing with men on the basis of grace reigning "through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord", Romans 5:21. And the question for each of us is: Shall the Son of man find faith in me when He comes? Will He find what answers to His own heart, what corresponds to what there was in Noah, of whom it says, "Noah was a just man, perfect amongst his generations. Noah walked with God"?
It says of another man, Enoch, in that same period, that he "walked with God, and he was not, for God took him." And here, at the end of this period, "Noah walked with God." That is a challenge to each of our hearts: Can I be spoken of, can I be assessed by heaven, by divine Persons, as a just man, a man who walks with God? Abraham was a friend of God, and God said, with reference to Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed and a righteous man, Lot, being rescued, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing"?
In verses 40 and 41 of Matthew 24, we see God's sovereignty: "two shall be in the field, one is taken, and one is left", and "two women grinding at the mill, one is taken and one is left." And the Lord says, "Watch therefore, for ye know not in what hour your Lord comes." Then the Lord Jesus speaks of two bondmen and how they act in their responsible settings: the faithful and prudent bondman in verses 45-47 and the evil bondman in verses 48-51. In this gospel, the wheat and the darnel grow up together, and it may take a long time before it becomes evident what's wheat and what's darnel. The Lord says, "Suffer both to grow together unto the harvest." A time comes — "in the completion of the age" — when the wheat and the darnel are clearly distinguished. So, in this section, it becomes clear who is the wheat and who is the darnel. Oh, beloved brethren, may we have our part amongst those whom the Lord Jesus can assess and speak of as "the faithful and prudent bondman" and "the bondman whom the Lord on coming shall find doing thus." How attractive and blessed it is, that the Lord Jesus can find those, at His coming, who are "faithful and prudent." That's like the "faithful men" of whom Paul writes to Timothy: "And the things thou hast heard of me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men" (2 Timothy 2:2).
Well, beloved brethren, are we going to be faithful men? Are we persons who are walking with God? It's not just for the brothers, you know; it's for the sisters too. Each of us, whether a brother or a sister, can be a faithful and prudent bondman, a person whom the Lord on coming can find doing thus. How solemn and sobering to read of this other character of bondman: the evil bondman, who begins to beat his fellow-bondmen, and eat and drink with the drunken. Let us not find our part amongst such!
Then, immediately, the Lord Jesus goes on to speak of the kingdom of the heavens, made like ten virgins — five wise virgins and five foolish virgins. What distinguishes the five wise virgins is that they "took oil in their vessels with their torches." That means they have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, that they are filled with the Holy Spirit. We read recently in the Acts about some who were "full of faith and the Holy Spirit." Well, the Lord Jesus means for us to be "full of faith and the Holy Spirit." The Lord Jesus does not mean the dispensation to end in declension and faithlessness; I believe He means to have persons who are "full of faith and the Holy Spirit." He means to have persons who "take oil in their vessels with their torches", and who are ready when the Lord Jesus comes for His own.
So it says, "But as they went away to buy, the Bridegroom came, and the ones that were ready went in with him to the wedding feast." How blessed to be among those wise virgins! We certainly would not wish to credit or elevate ourselves in any way, but simply desire to be among the five wise virgins who "take oil in their vessels with their torches", to be persons in whom the Son of man finds faith when He comes.
May it be so. For the Lord's name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman
When The Son Of Man Comes