His disciples wanted to know when it would happen. They wanted to know what would be the signs. But, if I’m picking up what Jesus has been laying down in Mark 13, He wanted them to be more concerned with how they should prepare.
“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:37 ESV)
Last night’s conversation was kind of deja vu all over again (Thanx Yogi Berra). Getting older has a way of making that happen. I was saved in late 70’s and one of the most popular books at that time was “Late Great Planet Earth”, a step by step mapping of the imagery of Revelation into the actuality of our “modern times.” It made the apocalypse fertile ground for speculation. Technology which was, at best, sci-fi in the 50’s was now present in the late 70’s and 80’s in a way that trumpets sounded and bowls poured out in Revelation were being mapped to realities experienced. This is it! We’re in the end times!
Now, in the 2020’s I hear the same conversations increasingly. Technology today makes the 70’s pale in comparison. The physical dynamics and logistics required for one government world control are so much more apparent. The groundwork and infrastructure for all to be deceived and follow a lie now resides on a little device most of us carry in our purses and pockets. No, this is it! We’re in the end times of the end times!
And, to be sure, we are. Our final redemption certainly is nearer than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11). But not so we can speculate, opinionate, debate, and separate. Nope! It’s so we might stay wake.
You can’t miss the repetition and progression in Mark 13. “But be on your guard” (13:9) . . . “But be on guard” (13:23) . . . “Be on guard, keep awake” (13:32) . . . “Therefore stay awake” (13:35) . . . “Stay awake” (13:37). Three “be on guard”s. Three “stay awake”s. So whaddya think we should be doing?
Be on guard. Take heed, says the NKJV. Watch! Be alert! That’s how the CSB puts it. Behold what’s going on. Have the presence of mind to see the pieces in play. Discern the times. But not for the purposes of trying to figure out when. Not to engage in trivial exercises of mapping imagery to actuality. But so you’ll stay awake.
Stay awake. Be alert (CSB). Keep watch (NIV). Jesus is coming on a day and at an hour which “no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (13:32). So, says Jesus, be ready.
When the Son returns He wants to find faith in action (Lk. 18:8). He wants to walk in on His servants busy doing the work He’s asked them to do (Mt. 24:45-46). He doesn’t want to find them snoozin’ at the wheel or distracted and entangled by things of this world. He wants kingdom people who are actively anticipating the kingdom and engaged with kingdom work. So stay awake.
It’s not about figuring out exactly the when. Not about matching up all the pieces of the what. It’s about the how of waiting. About being awake. Ready to see Him. Active to please Him.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.