I was really stuck on this page! This chapter in Matthew has Jesus talking about end times. He tells the disciples that no one knows when the end will come. How do I draw all that stuff?! But then, after chewing over what is written, I noticed that GOD does not want people to be caught unaware. There is talk of earthquakes, wars and trumpets … He gives signs and signals that shake, unsettle and are loud.
GOD is actually being very generous. He isn’t going to come back and no one notice. He isn’t going to sit back and watch people destroy themselves but is giving them chances to respond to Him. He is saying, keep watch and be ready. Let’s look at these little instructions:
Keep watch – Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Verse 42.
The whole idea of keeping watch appears a few times in the Bible, here a few …
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8
I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1
This is what the Lord says to me: “Go, post a lookout and have him report what he sees. Isaiah 21:6
There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’” Jeremiah 31:6
Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Message)
These verses tell us that keeping watch is a physical and spiritual thing. They talk of deliberately looking to see where and how GOD is speaking, seeing the fulfillment of the prophetic and standing firm in what GOD has done in you. To keep watch involves us willfully staying focused on GOD. He calls us to (spiritually) stay awake, stay alert, use our minds and be discerning. It is a very physical thing that is done with purpose. I don’t know if you are like me and can become easily distracted … I suspect that there are a few of you out there that are like that too, but keeping watch involves a concentration and focus on Him. Looking to see where He is moving, not giving up in the wait, being in the right position to see Him and learning the ways of GOD so that our energy and focus is on the right thing. Keeping watch can be protective and the first line of defense against attack.
Be Ready and Prepared – So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Verse 44
Jesus referred to the times when people would have been prepared had they known – the parables of person whose house was invaded by a thief and the women waiting for the bridegroom. Jesus has instructed us to be ready. Be ready with the gospel, with mercy, with grace, with love, with wisdom, with peace, with generosity, with kindness, with patience, with time, with money … with a heart like his. Let’s not be like the people referred to in Jeremiah.
I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Jeremiah 6:17
Jesus spoke about the trumpet call in Matthew 24:31. The trumpet in the Bible symbolises the call of war, to assemble and to march. Lightning is also symbolic of GOD’s voice. Having a trumpet and lightning makes me sit up and take this seriously. He wants us to treat this moment as if it was our last on earth and to live it with Him firmly on the throne. What a challenge!