“...Tell us, when shall these things be?...” Mark 13:4
Peter, James, John and Andrew sat at the feet of Jesus with this question. Christ’s first instruction to them was to “take heed” (13:5) Take heed to themselves that they be not deceived by what they hear and see around them. (13:9) Take heed to how they respond to difficult circumstances. (13:23) Take heed because they have been forewarned (13:33) and then to watch and pray that they are ready for the Lord’s coming. “Watch ye therefore; for ye know not when the master of the house cometh...” Watch. “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
As taking heed has to do with the internal, watching has to do with the external. Or, are they closer related? If we were watching with expectation would we not also be taking heed?
Matthew 25:1-13, the parable of the ten virgins, illustrates the difference in those that are watching and taking heed and those that are not. All of them were waiting for the bridegroom, but only half of them was ready and prepared when he called. The other half was not watching and was not taking heed to be prepared. The results were sure and final. Only those prepared were able to go to the marriage.
Through God’s Word we are forewarned and admonished to be ready and watching. I John 2:28 “And now, little children, abide in him (take heed) that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at this coming.” It is not enough to simply know that He is coming – the slothful virgins knew that fact. We need to be actively waiting in anticipation, our bags all packed and ready to go!
WATCH! When Jesus comes, will he find us watching with our lamps all trimmed and bright?
“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Mark 14:38
This usage of the word means: Stay Awake! Of course, the disciples slumbered; this happened not once, but twice. Christ came back to check on them and there they were, sleeping.
Though the disciples failed to keep watch on Christ in the garden, God was on the job. How wonderful is Psalm 121 - “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” Though we, too, fail to be watchful, God is still watching over us in love. He who sees all and knows all – loves. And, he loves watching over his sheep. He is ever vigilant.
Our Saviour is vigilant as well. He is ever making intercession. We have been bought with His blood. He has a vested interest in our protection. He is watching out for us and keeping us before the throne.
Two who are mutually watching have an active relationship. God the Father and God the Son are mutually and actively watching over us in love until the time comes for us to join them. We, then, should not be slumbering, but watching so as to be ready when he calls. What expectation! Let us be girded up and ready!
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
So, Christian, are you awake in your Christian walk?
“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” Habbakuk 2:1
The prophet puts himself into a position of watching. He sees it as his responsibility. He is positioned and expecting to hear from God.
Matthew Henry describes it this way, “Those that expect to hear from God must withdraw from the world, and get above it, must raise their attention, fix their thought, study the scriptures, consult experiences and the experienced, continue instant in prayer, and thus set themselves upon the tower.”
Rarely will we hear from God unless we are listening. We have a responsibility to position ourselves so that we can and will hear a word from the Lord. I think it is interesting to note that the prophet was not necessarily expecting to hear that, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” He was not pious or self-righteous. He honestly wanted to hear God’s direction and correction. He was ready and careful to be in a place to hear and he was also ready to give an answer. Not an excuse! But a real answer, even if it was a reproof.
A position of watching, an expectation of hearing from God, and a responsibility to give account, these require the servant of God to be vigilant, to have spiritual radar and discernment.
What about you? Are you expecting to hear from God? Is your antenna on? Are you prepared to answer?
“…The LORD watch between me and thee, when we
are absent one from another.” Genesis 31:49
This verse forms part of the covenant made between Jacob and Laban as Jacob was leaving with his wives, children and herds. Traditionally, at the forming of such a covenant, a pillar would be erected (vs. 45), a sacrifice would be offered, (vs. 54) a meal would be shared (vs. 46), a new name would be given to the place (vs. 47, 48), and an appeal made to God as we see here in verse 49.
The “watch” had two ideas. First, that of a witness, recognizing that no matter where they were, they were always under God’s eye. Secondly, that of a judge, that under God, whom they both served, there should not be strife between them.
It reminds me of an old hymn:
God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus' feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.
The idea of God watching over those who are apart from us and having such deep covenants of friendship is maybe less heard of today. In our times where we can reach each other through the social media and telecommunications, we may forget the value and truth that is held in developing and maintaining deep relationships. Yet, all of us long for these deep and lasting friendships.
Can you think of someone you ought to communicate with today? Is there an old friend who would love to hear from you?
“But watch thou in all things…” II Timothy 4:5
Here the word, “watch”, literally means to be self-controlled and sober.
Watch in all things! Paul is telling the young pastor, Timothy, to keep his head about him, to keep his eyes open, to walk circumspectly, to be vigilant and aware of his surrounding, and to be sure he is doing his job, to be in control of his life.
Charles Swindoll wrote in his book called Strengthening Your Grip,
“God’s eternal and essential principles must be firmly grasped…we need biblical fixed points to hang onto – firm solid handles that will help us steer our lives in a meaningful manner.”
If we are going to “watch”, we need to know where those fixed points are and how to appropriate them in our lives successfully. We could make a list of things, like soundness of doctrine, purity of life and spiritual disciplines like giving, simplicity, forgiveness, etc. All of these things give us guides by which we can measure and direct our lives. It is our responsibility to put them into practice. We must exercise our self-control in order to maintain a watchfulness that results in a successful Christian life. Without them, our Christian life unravels.
What about you? Are you “watching” over your life? Are you careful and self-controlled? Do you have a good grasp on the really important matters of the Christian life or are you unravelling?