KEEPING WATCH FOR GOD’S FINAL JUDGMENT means always living according to the mission for which he created humankind. God creates every person to convey his image and compassion in human interactions and relationships. He will determine who has fulfilled the mission and at time of final judgment will instantaneously separate them to inherit eternal life in his kingdom. The rest he will condemn to eternal punishment. This bible study discusses Christ’s teaching about keeping watch to be prepared for final judgment by living in the image of God always.
Christ Teaching on Living in God Perpetually
Christ taught us through his disciples to be ready at all times for God’s final judgment. He explained the judgment will occur instantaneously everywhere: God will separate the righteous (people that he has judged to have lived according to his purpose) from the wicked (people that he has judged to have not lived according to his purpose). No one knows the day or the hour: “…not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” [Matthew 24:36]. Christ used parables to explain that being ready for the final judgment means living in the image of God perpetually.
LIVING IN THE IMAGE OF GOD He had in previous interactions explained the meaning of living in the image of God through formal teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (This_Link), parables such as the Good Samaritan (This_Link), and demonstration of human service such as in feeding a crowd of thousands (This_Link). As we discussed in previous bible studies (e.g., This_Link and This_Link), living in the image of God implies representing God in every human interaction such that your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Furthermore, you fulfill your responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, willingly and gracefully providing service to benefit others when God places a need in your path, or accepting service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness. Those that God judges to have lived in his image will inherit eternal life in his kingdom. In contrast, those that he judges to have lived a different kind of life will be condemned to eternal punishment.
READY FOR JUDGMENT In this bible study, we focus on understanding what a person needs to do in order to be ready for final judgment. Being ready means living a life that pleases God. We examine Christ’s teaching in the parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant [Matthew 24:45-51] and the parable of the Ten Virgins [Matthew 25:1-13] to understand the meaning of “being ready” or “keeping watch” in the context of human interactions and relationships.
Final Judgment (End of the Age)
In an interaction with his disciples [Matthew 24 and 25], Christ explains the basis and process by which God will judge people to separate those that have lived in accordance with his mission from those that have lived a different life. He explained the judgment will occur at the “end of the age” [Matthew 13:39], when he will return with his angels to separate the righteous (those that God has judged to have lived according to his purpose) from the rest of humanity [Matthew 24:30–31]. The separation will be unannounced and will occur instantaneously everywhere [Matthew 24:27 and 36–41]. In order to be selected, a person needs to “…keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” [Matthew 24:42]. He used the parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant to explain the meaning of “keep watch.”
Parable of Faithful and Wise Servant
In this parable, Christ talked about a servant whose master placed “…in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time” [Matthew 24:45] while the master was away. The faithful and wise servant would perform the assigned service diligently and consistently according to his master’s instructions. His master will on his return find the servant doing exactly as he was assigned.
In contrast, a wicked servant would take advantage of his master being away to maltreat his fellow servants and indulge himself, expecting he will be able to clean up his act before his master returns. Unfortunately for the wicked servant, his master “will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of” [Matthew 24:50] and find him to have failed to perform his assigned responsibility.
PROVIDER ASSISTANT We note that the central character in this parable is a servant assigned to provide for the need of fellow servants. The parable, therefore, underscores God’s purpose of creating each person to provide for the needs of other persons as his provider assistant. God creates every person to be a “brother’s” keeper: a link in a complex chain of provider-receiver relationships among people, such that every person is potentially a provider of services to others or a receiver of services provided by others. He creates people to care for each other, expects each person to be a conveyor of his image and channel for his compassion in every human interaction, assigns people responsibilities to perform the function as he chooses, and will judge each of us on performing or failing to perform the responsibilities. He will judge every person according to how he sees the person on the day and time of judgment.
Parable of the Ten Virgins
Again, Christ emphasized keeping watch using the parable of the Ten Virgins, in which he described the behavior of ten young women that were interested in meeting a bridegroom. They waited near the entrance to the banquet, each with her individual lamp. Five of them were prepared with extra oil for their lamps but the other five (the “foolish”) did not take any extra oil. They waited longer than expected for the banquet. The foolish ran out of oil and had to go out to buy more. But “while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut” [Matthew 25:10, NKJV]. The foolish could not get in for the banquet because they did not keep watch and were not ready when the door opened.
Living in the Image of God
To keep watch in order to be ready on the day and hour means living in the image of God perpetually. That is, living and interacting with people for the purpose of representing God in everything and accomplishing the objectives that he places in your path. Your interactions convey the image of God, such as through humility, love, politeness, attentiveness, responsiveness, peacefulness, truthfulness, and other qualities that contribute to people perceiving a person as Godly. Furthermore, keeping watch implies being attentive to the needs around you, committing to doing what you can to provide for the needs, and persevering until you succeed. Your life shines goodness that other people perceive and are impacted by it, not because you tell them: they just perceive it as you interact with them.
The bible provides several examples of people bearing witness to another person’s Godliness.
JOSEPH IN POTIPHAR’S HOUSE Consider this account from the life of Joseph as a slave in the house of captain of Pharaoh’s guard Potiphar (see our previous bible study at This_Link) [Genesis 39:3-4]: “When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.” Potiphar believed that the Lord was with Joseph based on his observations of Joseph’s interactions with him and with other people. He came to the conclusion based on what Joseph did, how he did it, and how he impacted people that observed or were affected by what he did. Because of his confidence in Joseph, he placed him in charge of his household and everything he owned, not minding that Joseph was in fact a slave.
DAVID RECOMMENDED TO SAUL In another example, a servant of first king of Israel Saul recommended that he take David into his staff, saying: “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him” [1 Samuel 16:18].
SHUNAMMITE WOMAN RECOMMENDS ELISHA In a third example, a Shunammite woman recommended to her husband to make a place in their home for Elisha, saying: “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God” [2 Kings 4:9].
In each of these examples, a person is recognized by others as Godly because of his/her actions and words in interacting with other people. That is the meaning of keeping watch by living in the image of God. Apostle Peter describes keeping watch as follows [1 Peter 4:7–11]: (1) maintaining a clear mind and self-control so you can pray, (2) loving each other deeply, (3) offering hospitality without grumbling, (4) using your gift to serve others, and (5) conveying Godliness in speech and service.
Summary of What We Learned
God will judge every person based on how the person lives his/her life relative to the mission for which God created humankind. He creates every person to convey his image and compassion in human interactions and relationships. Every person has his/her entire life up to the time of final judgment to live toward fulfilling God’s mission. Even a person that has lived a life of wickedness (i.e., a sinful life) can repent and turn to living in the image of God any time and be accepted by God at the time of judgment. God determines who has lived according to his mission based on his standards that no one knows. On judgment day, also not known by any but God, he will instantaneously separate the people that have lived according to his mission to inherit eternal life in his kingdom. The rest he will condemn to eternal punishment. Christ teaches us to prepare for final judgment by living in the image of God perpetually.