Have You Understood All These Things?

I could have limited this Advent message to the usual Happy Christmas greetings!  It’s not that I wouldn’t want to wish you all a very happy Christmas, I do, but these are very serious times. Indeed, for believers these are critical days, as I have been at pains to emphasise in my recent Blogs.

As a child, growing up, my father would ask me exactly the same question that Jesus asked His disciples! “Have you understood?”   I knew at those times that he was being very serious. He wanted to know from my own lips that I had ‘got the message’, and that I knew there would be consequences if I didn’t remember the lesson he had just taught me!

In a similar way, Jesus wanted to know that His disciples had fully understood the lessons He was teaching them through his parables. He wanted to hear the disciples’ response to his question “Have you understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:51). In Matthew’s Gospel alone, there are seven powerful parables which Jesus uses to warn his disciples about the coming judgement, and the separation of the good from the bad, at the end of our time on earth, or when He returns:

The Wheat and the Weeds (Matt 13:24-30); The Net (Matt 13:47-50); The Tenants of the Vineyard (Matt. 21:33-41); The Wedding Banquet (Matt. 22:1-14); The Wise and the Foolish Virgins (Matt 25:1-13); The Talents (Matt. 25:14-30); The Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46).

The message of all these parables is essentially the same. There is a time coming when there will be a reckoning – and none of us know when that time will be – either the moment when we die and leave this earth or when Jesus comes again to reign. For us all it will be a surprise  when it actually happens. It will be too late then to get ready. We will be out of time.

A key element of both the first and second Advents of Jesus is one of surprise. The Jews had waited hundreds of years for their Messiah to come, but when He came the first time, they weren’t ready. And the people of God have now waited two thousand years for Jesus to come again. And all the parables I have mentioned above are essentially asking us the same question, “Are you ready?” for when He comes?

When dawn breaks, it is the tops of the mountains that catch the first light of a new day. Henry Burton used this fact to capture the truth of the second coming in an amazing hymn (679 in Mission Praise), written to prepare believers for the biggest surprise in the history of the world:

“There’s a light upon the mountains, and the day is at the spring,

When our eyes shall see the beauty and the glory of the King;

Weary was our heart with waiting, and the night-watch seemed so long;

But His triumph-day is breaking, and we hail it with a song.”

In the parable of the talents Jesus commends those who had used what had been given them. The read-across is not about how much money you have made on earth, but how much treasure there is in heaven because of the investment of your lives on earth, as salt and light for the purposes of God and, most importantly, out of a love relationship with Him, a knowing of Him and walking with Him.

In the parable of the ten virgins, the question asked is whether or not there is any oil in their lamps. The foolish ones are without any oil when the Bridegroom (Jesus) comes for His bride (the Church).  But then it is too late to fill the spiritual tank with Holy Spirit inspired ‘oil’. God forbid that the Bridegroom comes and tells us He does not know us.

We sit between the first and the second Advents, but very close to the second. This is where we are in history. And world events are telling us that the mountain tops are beginning to be touched by the “beauty and the glory of the King”.  The dawn is rising.

I believe that, in these latter days of expectancy, God is speaking clearly to His Body, the Bride.  It is a wake-up call for those who are sleeping – for this is a time when we must be ready and work. For, as Jesus said, “as long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me, Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

There will be things that we once took for granted, which will be swept away under unprecedented moves of God’s Spirit, bringing about re-alignments in the Kingdom of God which will be strategic for His purposes in the days to come.  A remnant church is rising to the call of God.

In discerning the signs of the times, amid the shakings that are taking place globally and the great distress there is in the Middle East and Israel, we must remember that Jesus said, “these things must happen” (Matt. 24:6). But there are also signs of an end-time harvest to be brought in.  There is a critical need for preparing the nets and spreading them wide, and for workers to be ready and trained. For, knowingly or unknowingly, people are desperately in need of God’s intervention in their lives and the time will come when they begin to seek Him. I will share more in the New Year about some of the things God is doing and our response to them.

Yes, Fiona and I do want to wish each and everyone of you a very blessed and happy Christmas with your families, as you look back with joy and thanksgiving to the world-changing event that took place in the stable of Bethlehem. But, over this particular Christmas Season, may I urge you also to consider the question Jesus asked of His disciples, “Have you understood all of these things?”

Our eyes must now be focused on the future, as we look to the spiritual mountain tops and prepare ourselves in our hearts for the day when the skies are riven in two by the glorious revelation of the King of Kings! In the meantime, the urgency of the days presses upon us as we recognize how critical it is that when He comes we should be occupied with the work of the Kingdom, playing our part in bringing in the harvest.

Copyright Peter Horrobin 2023

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  1. I look forward to your writing arriving in my inbox. God has, and still does, use you so powerfully, to grow, strengthen and challenge His people in our journey with Him.
    Thank you for your obedience and devotion to the tasks He has laid on your heart.
    Prophetic, inspirational, encouraging, leading, growing. I am one of multitiudes who have benefitted, I am sure.
    God bless You and Fiona.
    Have a wonderfully blessed 2024.

  2. Peter and Fiona Have a good Chistmas and much peace for 2024 coming . Thankyou for sharing all this truth I agree with you in these times. I.pray that the spirit of God kisses the heart of .his children and awakens us all.to the truth of what He wants us all to walk and partner with Him in 2024 ahead.
    Love Catherine baker

  3. Yes I too agree with you Peter and Christopher. Yes we must have our lamps trimmed as we collect the sheaths for the harvest.. Thank you Peter and God’s blessings to you for Christmas Day

  4. Thanks Peter. I am with you that the days we are in, have the sense that we are approaching the end times. Of course this has been said throughout the centuries. But I think that one would be foolish not to prepare for hard times for all believers. I have just recently read the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Scary stuff. Let’s start to prepare now for what is coming.

  5. Thank you Peter for this timely warning and encouragement to be ready for Jesus return. May the Lord bless you and Fiona at this season and in the future.
    There is just one thing that I find difficult and that is the idea that the church is the Bride of Christ. I know that most of the church believes and teaches this but did Jesus ever say it. You quote the parables in Matthew but Jesus speak s of 10 Bridesmaids not His Bride and elsewhere it is said “ blessed are those who are invited the the wedding feast” ; you don’t invite the Bride. What do you think? It is probably not important and our salvation does not depend on our understanding of this. I don’t spend sleepless nights wondering about it nor would I share these thoughts with unbelievers but I would be interested in what you think. Many you and Fiona be blessed, Roy Clayton

  6. Happy Christmas Peter!
    Glad you are still listening to God and sharing His truths.
    Thank you.
    God bless.

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