Signs. We see them every day. We see traffic signs that help us to safely navigate through traffic to our intended destination. We see signs that warn us of dangers ahead, whether it is going down the road or entering a building or room, they are there to warn us. We see signs that identify places of interests, whether it’s a restaurant we’re looking for, a hospital, a tourist attraction or a place of historical significance, or even where restrooms are located, among other places. Signs even tell us where we can locate things like a fire extinguisher or first aid kit. What about signs for life itself, especially signs of eternal significance?
In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they knew how to interpret signs relating to the weather, but they could not interpret or discern the signs of the times. Jesus told us what signs to look out for regarding the end-times and when He will return, both His return for His Bride and when He returns to establish His kingdom here on earth. In Mark 13:32-33 and Luke 21:34-36, Jesus lets us know that only the Father knows when He will return for His Bride, the Church, and then tells us to be watching for Him. In the parable of the ten virgins mentioned in Matthew 25:1-13, in verse 6 we’re told that a cry went out that the bridegroom was coming, and that the virgins representing the bride were to go out and meet him, of which only five were prepared to do so at that time. I believe the cry going out is the fulfillment of the signs given us in Scripture pointing to His return, and I believe that cry is taking place even now.
In Mark 13:37, not only does Jesus make it clear that everyone is to be watching, but His command for us to watch is strong and with emphasis so that we will know how serious He is in this. In Revelation 16:15, Jesus accentuates the need for us to be watching by us that those who do will be blessed, and then rebuking those who didn’t and were left behind when He came back for His Bride. Jesus’ command to watch and pray regarding His return is not a casual suggestion, nor is it something that can be negotiated if we don’t think it necessary or vital. Jesus does something that too few of us do, yet it is something that we all should be doing, and that is the fact that He means what He says, and He says what He means. If He tells us to watch and pray regarding His return, then He means just that and nothing less or more.
I’ve had Christians tell me that they don’t need to be watching for Christ to return, citing the belief that when He returns they will automatically be ready and caught up to be with Him. This is a very dangerous position to have on three accounts. First, those that believe this way are saying they know better than Jesus as to whether or not they need to be watching for Him, much less praying that they’re ready when He does return. Second, they are, in essence, in rebellion to Him if they are choosing to disobey His command to watch and pray. And third, they are under the false assumption that all professing Christians will be caught up to meet Christ in the air, something that Scripture very clearly states is not the case.
I remember one Christian, a pastor, tell me one time that we don’t need to be watching for the return of Christ, and this on the basis that just living the Christian life as we ought to be is the same as watching. If living the Christian life as we ought to be is good or sufficient enough, then why would Jesus speak so strongly about us watching and praying that we’re ready for Him when He does return? Again, this way of thinking discounts Christ’s commands to watch and pray, and that is a very dangerous position to be in. I should add, however, that this particular pastor doesn’t even believe in the physical and literal rapture of the Church to Christ, much less a tribulation period, but rather an emotional, euphoric experience.
Some Christians take another approach to the subject of watching for Christ’s return. When they see and hear the news, or even some of what is happening around them, they get so angry or depressed that they stop wanting to know more of what is happening. In many ways, it’s as if they are choosing to stick their head in the sand so they don’t have to see or hear anything more. These Christians are dealing with a gloom and doom perspective, having no real hope of better things ahead for them in Christ. Even though what we see and hear can be very disheartening and depressing, if we see these things as not only signs of the times, but also signs pointing to His very soon return, then we can see these things with excitement and joy knowing that our Redeemer is soon to return for us. This doesn’t mean that we are to be insensitive to what is happening, but that we need to keep a right and proper perspective of what is happening so we can be a light to those around us.
The other night while watching television a thought crossed my mind. Christians in America, for the most part, are very distracted in what they are focused on. Instead of maintaining a healthy perspective of watching the signs pointing to the soon return of Christ for His Bride, many Christians are caught up with watching several other things. Some are watching news and politics to see how it will impact them and their standard of living, or even how it will impact them living as Christians. Some are caught up with looking for the prosperity and material gain they think they are entitled to as Christians. Some are caught up with spiritual manifestations and the feelings associated with them, even if false doctrine is present and promoted alongside such manifestations. Some focus on building the kingdom of God here on earth and establishing a strong Christian presence in the “seven mountains of influence”, forgetting that this is not our home to create a “Christian Utopia” in. Some even focus on and take the role of what I’ve called for years, the doctrine police, focused more on identifying and exposing false doctrine than pointing people to truth and the need to be prepared for Christ’s soon return. Amid such distractions, Christians in America seem to lose sight of what we are to be focused on, and that is to live a life pleasing to God while actively watching the signs for His imminent return for us.
We are clearly living in the last days, and the signs we’ve been given in Scripture to be watching for are clearly converging together for their ultimate fulfillment. It is imperative that we be paying attention to them. Some see the signs but have become desensitized to them because their fulfillment is not happening as quickly as they want or in the manner that they anticipated, and that is something we need to be guarded against happening within our own heart and mind. We’re told in 1 Peter 3:3-4 that in these last days’ people would mock and scoff of the fulfillment of God’s promise to us because that’s all we’ve heard about since the beginning but nothing has happened so far. We live in a “microwave” society, where we think things should happen quickly and in a preconceived manner, and because of it many are becoming disillusioned to the reality of the days we are now living in. Unlike any other time in history, all the signs we’re given pointing to the last days are happening all at once, and we need to be aware of them and making sure we’re prepared as we ought for when Christ returns for His bride.
Are you watching the signs, or are you distracted with other things of life, or have you been choosing to “stick your head in the sand” because you don’t want to see or hear them being fulfilled. Jesus makes it very clear, that those who are not watching but are otherwise distracted with life and other pursuits will be left behind when He returns for His Bride, and I don’t want that for you. That doesn’t mean we stop living and sit in a chair watching and waiting, but that rather in all we do it is with the awareness that the signs being raised all around us are pointing to His very soon return, and our life needs to reflect that as we live in a way that is pleasing and honoring to Him in every way, not being ashamed to live for Him even if it means offending those who don’t understand or feel the same way. Our eternity hinges on it.
Mark 13:37 – WATCH!
John Johansson (Pastor John)