Reasons for the Rapture
Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (February 2013)
In a growing number of churches, the promise on the rapture is denied, ignored or poorly presented in preaching on the end-time. However, this is an important promise which has, for very good reasons, been included in end-time prophecies. It gives Christians a positive and indisputable future expectation – a substantial hope of divine intervention and blessing to look forward to in an otherwise dark scenario of impending judgements upon a wicked world. The following reasons for the rapture are mentioned in the Bible:
The rapture is an extremely important promise in the chronology of end-time events. We need to properly understand it if we wish to be ready and worthy to escape the coming tribulation period. During the rapture, true Christians will disappear from the earth in the twinkling of an eye:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
The first and foremost expectation which we should entertain with regard to the rapture is not merely to get away from the sin-drenched world in which we are living as sojourners and pilgrims, but rather the exalted prospect of arriving at our final destination in heaven! The longing bride eagerly looks forward to be united with her heavenly Bridegroom. On that day He will come “to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thess. 1:10). They will look to Him with radiant faces.
People who reject the idea of a rapture, or catching away, should ask themselves how else they intend to be removed from earth and taken away to the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus in heaven? The Bible says that Christians will be “caught up” to heaven (1 Thess. 4:17). After His earthly ministry, Jesus was bodily “caught up” to heaven (Rev. 12:5). Paul was “caught up” to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2). In all these cases the same verb, i.e. “catch up” (Gr. harpazo) is used, which means “rapture” or “sudden snatching away”.
On this occasion the heavenly Bridegroom will come secretly like thief in the night (Rev. 16:15). He will only appear publicly, when every eye shall see Him, at the end of the seven-year tribulation period which will follow the rapture (Rev. 1:7). At the rapture He will not set foot on earth but meet His bride in the air and take her with Him to heaven. Those who remain behind will discover with a shock that all true Christians have suddenly vanished without a trace! The saints will then be in heaven, in the divine presence of the King of kings, and only return with Him after the dark days of the tribulation (Zech. 14:4-5).
It is important to note that a pretribulation rapture fosters a Christ-expectation – not an Antichrist expectation. We are waiting for the heavenly Bridegroom, not for the man of sin. The entire 70th year-week of Daniel 9 is part of Israel’s divine history, and will be initiated by a covenant which Israel and the nations will conclude with the false messiah. Christians who wrongly believe in a mid-tribulation rapture are diverting their attention from Christ as the central focus and often spend large amounts of money, time and energy in putting strategies in place to survive during the coming tribulation of seven years. Some of them even prepare places of refuge away from big cities because they do not expect the rapture before the outpouring of divine wrath. However, the Bible says that we should expect the Son of God from heaven, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).
The promise of the rapture fixes our attention on the sudden and unexpected coming of Christ for His bride. There are no explicit signs preceding this event – least of all the appearing of the Antichrist. We should engage in preparations aimed at leading a life of holiness unto the Lord, while inviting everyone to accept the long-standing invitation to the marriage feast of the Lamb. When the house of the Lord is filled He will descend from heaven with the sounding of God’s trumpet. After that, all the signs of the times which herald Christ’s public appearance at the end of the tribulation will finally be fulfilled. It will be a time of wars, pestilences and natural disasters as never before (Matt. 24:6-7).
The supernatural nature of the rapture, in which millions of Christians will be caught up in the air, will so clearly be an intervention by God that no scientific explanation will be found to account for this astounding phenomenon. There might be a few absurd explanations – as in the case of the evolution theory by which agnostics try to explain away God’s works of creation – but these theories will only be accepted by those whose minds have been blinded by the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). The Almighty God can indeed resurrect and change millions of Christians in the twinkling of an eye and catch them away from planet earth. He will take away His own and leave the others behind:
“I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left” (Luke 17:34-36). The “taking” of certain people will occur at the rapture. The “leaving” of others is an indication that unbelievers and deceived people will be left behind on earth to face the dark days of the Antichrist’s reign of terror during the great tribulation.
The hand of the Lord will also unmistakably be seen in the devastating judgements that will be poured out over a degenerate humanity after the rapture (Rev. 6:12-17). The dramatic effect of the rapture, as well as the severity of the apocalyptic judgements that will follow in its wake, will be a clear message to an agnostic, multireligious and apostate humanity that their only hope is in returning to the Triune God and His inerrant Word. The rapture will also utterly refute allegoric interpretations of the Bible, in terms of which literal and logical statements in Scripture are spiritualised and thereby deprived of their meaning. In this way, liberal theologians have nullified many of the precious promises and dire warnings in the Bible by alleging that they are merely to be understood in a metaphorical sense.
After the rapture, millions of people will continue to harden their hearts. As a result of this attitude they will receive a spirit of delusion which will induce them to believe the lies of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 2:11-12). However, there will also be many people who will show new appreciation for the Word of God. They will seek the Lord and call upon His Name, regardless of the consequences which their Christian testimony will elicit in the midst of a Christ-rejecting new world order.
The rapture is directly related to the first resurrection when all believers will receive glorified resurrection bodies. Millions of those who will be caught away are already dead; consequently, they must first be raised from the dead in incorruptible, glorified bodies, which are conformed to Christ’s glorious body. At the same moment, the mortal bodies of the living believers will be miraculously transformed into glorified bodies while they pass from mortality to immortality without dying. Paul explains this promise to fellow-believers:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
To the Philippians he said: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Phil. 3:20-21; cf. 1 John 3:2).
The first resurrection is also referred to as “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14), as well as “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29). These people are indeed blessed to be partakers of the first resurrection: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
The godless will have no part in the first resurrection, the rapture, or the millennial reign of Christ. That is why John says: “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5). They will be raised at the second resurrection which is also described as “the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29), and be judged before the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15).
Apart from the separation which the rapture will bring about between saved and unsaved people in the world, it will also separate true believers from nominal Christians within the church. Those who only have a form of godliness will be left behind. This fate will befall them despite the fact that they may have regarded themselves as members of the church of Christ – that is much the same mistake as the one made by the foolish virgins (Matt. 25:6-10). Many of them will only make an honest assessment of their spiritual status after the rapture and then discover that there is no evidence of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Although they can still surrender themselves to the Lord during the tribulation period, the Bridegroom will not open the door to them by way of a second rapture, much as they may desire it and pray for it. They will have to remain outside in the cold, face the dark days of the tribulation and be prepared to die as martyrs for their faith – all because of their own negligence.
Millions of “Christians” indeed find themselves in this category of self-deceived and unsaved church members who only have a dead form of godliness! They argue that since they are baptised and confirmed in the church, they have entered into an eternal and irrevocable covenant relationship with God. In the light of this deceptive idea they feel quite comfortable about eternity despite the fact that they don’t have a clear testimony of being saved and born again. The Lord Jesus said to such a nominal believer: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is only the regenerating power of the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, that can change your heart and save your soul!
Make very sure that you are not a victim of a dead form of godliness at the time of the rapture, because such people are without a testimony of rebirth. You will then be left behind when the Lord Jesus suddenly comes to catch away His bride (Matt. 25:10-13; John 14:2-3). A condition for salvation is an honest confession of your sins, together with faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour (1 John 1:9; Acts 16:31).
The rapture formally ends the dispensation of the church on earth since the members of the true church will then be removed from earth and taken to heaven. Only the backsliders, nominal believers, members of deceived and spiritually dead ‘Christian’ churches, as well as all the followers of false [non-Christian] religions will remain behind on earth. Those who do not subsequently turn to Christ to be saved, will join the deceived masses who will enter into a covenant with the false messiah to worship and follow him. The signs of the times indicate that we are at present very close to the end of the church dispensation. The Bible describes this time as a period of great falling away from the truth, and also of intensified demonic activities. Satan is lulling certain churches into a deep spiritual sleep, while occupying the attention of others with deceptive signs and wonders performed by false prophets.
At the same time, the coming antichristian dispensation’s inclusive ideology of universal or cosmic unity (holism) is actively propagated. Global structures are established for the world government, world religion, and world economy of the Antichrist. Ultimately, a false Christ will also be offered to the world. It was with a view to exposing this intense, end-time deception that the first warning in the Olivet Discourse of the Lord Jesus was devoted to a description of the satanic delusion which will culminate in the appearance of a false world leader: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). Do not be swept away by the strong current of postmodern thinking, by which the perverted principles of an antichristian new world order are promoted.
It is important to consider the rapture in its dispensational context – i.e. at the end of the church age and just before the beginning of the tribulation period. Within this perspective, we should resist the moral collapse and spiritual falling away that are typical of the last days of the church dispensation. We should also oppose the reforms aimed at promoting the global governance and ecumenical alliance of world religions that will allow the Antichrist and false prophet the opportunity to gain control over the world and to institute their new world order. We are dispensationally in a terminal situation in which most people sadly grow cold in their love towards Christ while unrighteousness is increasing due to an emerging international culture of sin. We should actively denounce this trend, as well as the globalising reforms aimed at ushering in the next dispensation.
In times like these, preaching about the promised rapture is critically important. We are like long distance runners who have heard the bell ringing to announce the last round of the race. This situation should motivate us not to relax in our efforts but to persevere to the end. Peter says: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Pet. 3:11-12). We should not lose perspective and start compromising under the pressure of a rapidly changing world, but keep on fighting the good fight of faith while resisting all forms of evil.
The rapture is directly related to the revelation of the Antichrist: “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:6-10).
The true church of Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is withholding the Antichrist who can only be revealed after the church has been taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit in the church is stronger than the spirit of error that is operating in the evil world to deceive people (1 John 4:4). When evangelical Christians are suddenly taken away, the light of the world will disappear and the hour of complete spiritual darkness take effect. Under these circumstances, the man of sin will be able to reveal himself without any opposition. The rapture has to occur before he can be revealed!
To prepare people to be ready for the rapture calls for a spiritual disposition of absolute loyalty to the true Christ and also the unqualified rejection of the false cosmic Christ of all faiths. You should be a withholder who can take a bold stand against antichristian ideologies and humanistic structures.
The coming of the heavenly Bridegroom will occur during a time of religious compromise and worldliness. There will be a great falling away from the truth of God’s Word. A relatively small group of evangelical Christians will shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). As in the times of Noah and Lot, the earth will be filled with violence, materialism and sexual perversion.
Unfortunately, the spirit of unrighteousness and immorality will also take its toll among Christians. They will relax their vigilance by continuously lowering spiritual standards: “And because lawlessness [sin] will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Many Christians will keep such a low profile that they ultimately lapse into complete passivity (spiritual sleep). Jesus warned His followers against this phenomenon and emphasised that the expectation of His sudden coming is a strong motivation for steadfastness: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:35-37).
Inactive Christians are obviously not strongly dedicated to the Lord and display a tendency to grow cold in their love towards Him. The process of growing cold manifests in two ways: firstly, they develop a love for the world and worldly parties where they eat and drink to excess; secondly, anxiety and depression take root in their minds and also weaken them spiritually. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples against this kind of waywardness by offering the rapture as a positive motivation to remain steadfast to the end:
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).
Do not leave your first love by backsliding from Jesus Christ – it will cost you dearly! The Lord withdrew His Spirit from the apostatised church in Ephesus; as a result, the congregation pined away and ultimately closed their doors.
The rapture also constitutes a dramatic rescue operation in which true believers will be removed from the scene of divine judgements. Although the rapture will be a unique occurrence, there are examples in the Bible of occasions when God poured out His wrath but provided an escape route to true believers since they were not the objects of His wrath (cf. Gen. 18:23). During the time of Noah, God announced His judgements upon a wicked and perverted generation: “And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark” (Gen. 6:13-14). Shortly before the beginning of judgements, eight believers escaped the disaster area by entering the ark. God Himself closed the door behind them before judging the sinners (Gen. 6:16-23).
During the time of Lot, believers were also rescued shortly before the impending judgements. The night before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah they were commanded to leave the city and flee to the mountains. The angels clearly stated that they could do nothing as long as Lot and his family were still among the wicked. Fire and brimstone rained down from the heavens directly after their departure. The wicked cities and all their inhabitants were destroyed (Gen. 19:13-25). The Bible says that there is a clear correlation between these historic events and God’s end-time dealing with believers and unbelievers (Luke 17:26-30; also read Gen. 6 and 19).
People who are cynical about the promise of the rapture reveal a very irresponsible attitude as they are not inclined to heed the admonition to be prepared to escape the coming tribulation period. What do you think would have happened to the believers (and the entire human race) if Noah argued as follows: “God is a God of love and I don’t really believe that He will send a flood to destroy all people; therefore, I am not going to build an ark to escape this so-called judgement”? Or what would have happened to Lot and his family had he taken the following stand: “I think the prophesied judgement over Sodom and Gomorrah should be interpreted metaphorically. I don’t have to escape to save my life. Even if disaster does occur I believe that God will protect us against His wrath right here in this place”?
The coming judgements during the tribulation period are irrefutable biblical facts which will be literally fulfilled, and there will equally literally be an escape from wrath for the children of God. The tribulation period of seven years should not be equated with the tribulation which Christians always experienced in a wicked world because of their faith. The end-time tribulation will be God’s judgements upon a Christ-rejecting world. True believers are not destined for these judgements: “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9; cf. John 5:24; Rev. 3:10).
The need to be well prepared for the rapture arises from the fixed appointment which all believers have to give account of their lives before the judgement seat of Christ (the Bema). This will take place directly after reaching our destination in heaven. The reality of the rapture clearly confronts believers with the responsibility to appear before the same Lord who has commissioned His disciples to proclaim the gospel of salvation, and thereby fulfil their obligation to be the light of a dark world and the salt of a corrupt earth. Our Saviour is also our King and Judge.
One of the explicit reasons for the rapture will therefore be a summons to appear before the judgement seat in heaven. Paul says: “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). To the church in Rome he said: “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:10). The Lord Jesus said: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).
The Bema judgement is not aimed at pronouncing the eternal destiny of believers and unbelievers. On this occasion Christ will assess the lives of believers with reference to the works which they have done after salvation, thereby revealing the quality of their faith and service to Him. Successful disciples will be rewarded while the lazy and carnal servants will be rebuked (Luke 19:20-23).
In view of the important appointment before the judgement seat we should never think about the rapture in a narrow way as merely a wonderful journey to heaven, without considering what is waiting for us at the end of the journey. An inherent part of the whole experience of the rapture is our obligation to give account of our earthly lives to Jesus Christ. To basically qualify for the rapture demands a clear testimony of rebirth. However, to be fully ready for the rapture in terms of what is expected of us in heaven, we must also be able to testify about sanctification and dedication to the service of the Lord.
Since only Christians will be caught away during the rapture, they will be the only group to appear before the judgement seat where their works will be tested during the presentation of rewards of grace: “...each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. ... For we are God’s fellow workers. ... But let each one take heed how he builds on [the foundation]. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:8-15).
We are not saved by works but by faith. However, faith without works is dead. In the lives of Christians, a true faith will produce works that are worthy of repentance. For these works of dedication which are done through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, rewards of grace will be given at the judgement seat of Christ. On that day it will be evident that some Christians were much more productive in the work of the Lord, having used their talents to their full potential. Others will be found to having been less productive, and yet others will stand there empty-handed – saved as through fire. The following five crowns will be awarded to Spirit-filled Christians for their service to the Lord:
· The imperishable crown for a holy life, dedicated to service (1 Cor. 9:24-25).
· The crown of rejoicing for people who lead others to Christ (1 Thess. 2:19).
· The crown of glory for faithful pastors who were not motivated by pride and greed (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
· The crown of life for Christian martyrs and all who suffered severely during their earthly lives (Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:12).
· The crown of righteousness for believers who loved the coming of Christ, eagerly expected it and refrained from pursuing a manmade kingdom of humanistic dominionism (2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 11:10).
After appearing before the judgement seat of Christ the bride will be united with her heavenly Bridegroom, never again to be separated from Him. The eager expectation of the rapture therefore expresses a desire to be part of the marriage feast of the Lamb in His ivory palace, and to be led to the King in a spotless garment woven with gold (Ps. 45:9, 13-15), “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).
Jesus Christ is not only our redemption but also our sanctification: “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Have you also trusted Christ for sanctification? The bride of the Lamb is “granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).
The Lord Jesus promised that He would return to take His bride to her heavenly abode. Before He ascended to heaven He said: “In My Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).
This mansion in heaven is so beautiful that it cannot even be imagined by mortal man. Paul says: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). John says that the mansions and streets of the new Jerusalem are built with pure gold, like transparent glass. Each of its gates is a large, magnificent pearl. The foundations of the wall of the city are adorned with all sorts of precious stones, and its light is like a crystal clear stone (Rev. 21:9-21).
This description conveys the idea of heaven being a quite superlative environment of dazzling beauty, magnificence, radiance and glory beyond anything we can imagine at present. To be caught up to such a place is indeed a most desirable thought and something to earnestly look forward to! “As the Scripture says, In Thy presence is fullness of joy; and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
After the rapture, the glorified Christians will judge the world together with Christ in righteousness (1 Cor. 6:2), and subsequently reign with Him as kings on earth. In Revelation 4 and 5, the glorified church is represented by the 24 elders: “And they sang a new song, saying: You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:9-10).
A final argument in favour of a pretribulation rapture is the fact that the book of Revelation is written in a dispensational and chronological way. First, the church dispensation is reviewed in Revelation 2 and 3, followed in Revelation 4 and 5 by a description of the glorified church in heaven after the rapture – the church is depicted as 24 elders who represent saints from all nations. The seven year-long tribulation is described in Revelation 6 through 19, which will be ended by the visible coming of Christ. Revelation 20 describes Christ’s thousand-year reign of peace, and Revelation 21 and 22 elaborate on the new heaven and earth which will be created after the final judgement at the end of the millennium.
At present we are in Revelation 3, in the seventh and last church period shortly before the end of the church dispensation. The spiritually lukewarm, apostate and materialistic church of Laodicea is dominant in the end-time world. Shortly, the true church will be called to heaven with the sound of a trumpet. Only the true disciples of the Lord Jesus have received the promise that He would return to take them away after He has prepared a place for them in heaven (John 14:2-3). Not all people who regard themselves as Christians are truly saved.
This sequence of end-time events, in which believers are first safeguarded and blessed before the wicked are judged, is also confirmed by Christ in a parable. In Luke 19:11-27, He says that when He returns as King he will first call His servants together to reward them for their service. When that is done, He will turn to His enemies and judge them for refusing to recognise and accept Him as King and Saviour.
Do you realise how extremely important the rapture is to every Christian, how highly dramatic the events are that are associated with it, and how exceedingly worthwhile it is to be ready for it? Christianity and the church stand to be spiritually deprived and impoverished if this promise, as well as all the obligations emanating from it, are not earnestly proclaimed. Without the Bible’s prophetic perspective on the end-time we will be uncertain about the future, grope in the darkness of spiritual ignorance, and never correctly determine our priorities.
While we are discerning the approaching footsteps of the Lord Jesus in the signs of the times, we must be very sure that we really belong to Him and comply with His standard of holiness. Unsaved, nominal Christians who have never had a personal encounter with the Lord will in vain plead for mercy before the great white throne of the final judgement. The Lord will declare to them: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness!” (Matt. 7:23).
There is no need whatsoever to be heading towards a tragic end of disillusionment and ultimate rejection. If we have truly repented, trusted the Lord Jesus to cleanse us from all sin, and surrendered ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit, we will have sanctified hearts and lives, worthy to meet the heavenly Bridegroom when He comes at the end of the church dispensation.
The Saviour, who is also the heavenly Bridegroom, said to His disciples: “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master. … Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. … Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:35-40).