Last week we heard Our Lord warn His disciples to flee from Jerusalem when it would be destroyed (Matthew 24:15-28). He was no longer talking to the masses at that moment, but privately with those who were His own, to His intimate followers. That means the Word of God in the flesh speaks to us this day, not to the world, but to we who live by Him and His Word alone. For we listen to Him as believers in Him. We walk by faith in His Word and not by sight. Our five senses may tell us one thing. But if His Word says something that seems to disagree with what senses tell us, then we follow His Word. For instance, your five senses say you are eating only wafer and wine in His Holy Supper. Meanwhile, His Word tells you that you eat the Word of God in the flesh by which He inhabits you and casts out wickedness, and drink His blood which cleanses you from all sin and defilement.
God's Word tells us that apart from the Living Word of God inhabiting us, we are dead. But with Him in us we are alive! Thus, truly alive we live. And thus, though our bodies die, though your five senses can confirm physical death in our loved ones, God's Word tells you that anyone alive in Christ merely sleeps. For we are in Him who is alive, who is life to the full. In Him we can never die.
So the wise and foolish virgins are baptized ones. They are ones who have been slain to their sin and raised up in Christ Jesus, He who was dead, but lives! They all had lamps. Recall the psalm, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105) But the groom of the heavenly banquet delayed His coming. And they fell asleep in the sleep of physical death. But on the Last Day the cry of the archangel went out, "Awake, you sleepers arise! The bridegroom comes!" And so on that Day the time for acquiring oil is over. Like a thief in the night, those who did not live from His Word will be unprepared and left out in cold. Though baptized they will be unknown and rejected by Our Lord for they rejected His Word, they did not live from His Word during their earthly lives. Their lamps burned low, and sputtered out because though baptized, they neglected to eat the Word of God in flesh into them, they did not fill up their lamps with the oil of Spirit poured out to them by the preaching of God's prophets that He gave to them. They did not receive His transfusion of forgiving Gospel in His absolution which wipes sins away. Though they may have prayed, their faith wandered. It wandered away from the Word of God, Jesus Christ. They started praying merely to the generic god of the godless, rather than the saving God whose Word came in our flesh to die for our sins and whose flesh gives life.
Baptism saves! But you who are baptized stay alert unto death for you do not know the hour or the Day of His coming. Be ready. Live from His Word. That doesn't just mean, be good. Being good is a blessed thing. But it does not save. His Word of Law which tells you what good behaviour is never justifies your behaviour. It always points out how you have failed to keep it fully and completely. To live from His Word is to trust in His Word of promise to save you. To be filled with His Word of promise, called the "Gospel". To eat His Word of promise into you so that you are filled with it. To remember that you are baptized., claimed by Him, belonging to Him, and not to the darkness, not to the sins of your past, or even your present. It is to listen to His Word regularly, and receive His absolving Word that warms your faith, fans it into flame, and keeps you alert.
For though we do not know moment of His coming, we are not ignorant to the signs of the season of His coming. The appointed times of God have been made known to us. In particular, the day of His salvation on a cross 2000 years ago has been made known to us. So that that day is everything to we who are being saved. It is the day of our salvation. The day of our redemption,. The day of our only hope and our future.
That Day of our salvation 2000 years ago became our Day either on the day when we were baptized or when we first came to understand His salvation of us from His Word. In our lives His Day of salvation was that Day when we realized we were crucified with Him. And so we are eager for the Day of His return. For then He will fulfil all He has begun in us. We who are being saved, will be fully and completely saved on that Day. The world will know we are the children of God. Everyone's five senses will know it, for we will visibly shine with His glory as our bodies are translated into His eternal glory. We will then inhabit our eternal tents.
Until then, we live in His Word. We stay alert by His Word reminding us, reviving us, living in us. For the oil of the Spirit "purchased" from God without cost (Isaiah 55:1-2) has filled you and made your lamp burn bright. For the Word which is the lamp pours oil into your lamp. This is circular reasoning. The Word gives life and light. The Word fills your heart and fills your lamp with oil. Thus, the Word of God's salvation is everything! For the Word of God is Jesus! (John 1:1-14) The same Jesus who died on cross for you.
This word of forgiveness in Christ makes us alert. It gives us life in Him. It makes our minds sharp. Making us soberminded, not drunken, not fuzzy headed from wine or slumber. It makes our minds sharp. It shines the clear light of day on our hearts, on our desperate condition, and more importantly on our only hope in the blessed salvation of Christ. His Word sharpens our minds and senses. It readies us. For it saves us.
Stay in that Word, that Word which does it all. Come buy oil without cost from Him who has given you free forgiveness. For life and salvation is yours right now, simply by your hearing this Word.
In +Jesus' name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11