“A man living in wild country has to be aware of everything around him. He has to keep his eyes looking, his ears listening, his every sense alert.”
--Louis L'Amour (The Lonely Men)
"Now when these things begin to occur, stand tall and lift up your heads [in joy], because [suffering ends as] your redemption is drawing near.”
--Luke 21:28 (Amplified)
Some call chapters 24-25 of Matthew the Olivet Discourse when Jesus tells the signs of the end. Many believers in the world are saying that we are living in the end times, and that is most definitely true, but it is not the end yet. Let's see where the discussion by Jesus starts. He sat down, whether to teach or to rest or to get away from the crowds. From the wording, I believe He wanted to get away from people, to spend time privately with His disciple and His Father because the dreadful day of His crucifixion was approaching.
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, 'Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'"
--Matthew 24:3 (NKJV)
The words of Jesus immediately after these questions should grab our attention. Jesus was warning His disciples and that warning goes out to us as well. It is a warning as well as a command:
"...Take heed that no one deceives you." (24:4, NKJV)
Deception is the way the devil operates from the Garden to the events of our lives in this day. It is so easy to be deceived and there are many places in the New Testament that tell us to guard the truth, hold on to faithful and true doctrine. But the problem is that sound doctrine is not preached often today. People hear fanciful stories that scratch their itching ears--deception. People hear a doctrine, not sound but false, that tells them to "blab it and grab it." There are some churches which I wrote about last week that are promoting universalism and other false teachings. It is important that we don't succumb to every wind of teaching out there, but that we study it closely through the Word of God.
That becomes another problem. Besides the fact that many/most churches do not teach/preach a complete gospel the people are lazy as well. Statistics show that only 11% of Americans have read the entire Bible. Look at that in another way, 89% have not read the Bible. That is alarming for a nation that was founded on the Bible and biblical principles.
The disciples raised good questions; questions that you and I have asked and Christians throughout the centuries. Jesus speaks much about His coming, but He doesn't answer their specific questions, instead He says,
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." (24:36, NKJV)
He then gives indication of what life will be like when He comes and what will happen, but He doesn't tell them when. He reemphasizes the importance of watching. This is the duty of the truly wise man--to keep watch. Man must watch. Joseph Parker says, "The watcher wins; the watcher reacts; the watcher sees the coming day." In the next few parables, though not necessarily stated, the term "watch" is emphasized. We are to watch for His coming.
"Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (24:44, NKJV)
Do not be lulled to sleep--watch! Do not be unprepared--watch! To "be ready" is the consequence of watchfulness. We must stay awake at this late hour. Oh, sometimes it is so hard to stay awake. "We are beset by perpetual temptations to sleep, to spiritual drowsiness and laziness." (Alexander MacLaren) However, we must watch--we must be ready. We are to be kept busy in expectation of His coming.
I am thinking that this world is becoming more and more a wilderness. Not in the sense of unoccupied, untamed forests, mountains, or deserts, but a wilderness of danger and terror that is filled with evil. We have to stay alert, listening and watching. The trumpet may sound--are you listening? The Lord may come for those who are ready--are you ready?