The Importance of Watching
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The Importance of Watching
Your life and spiritual well-being depend on hearing and acting upon God’s warning messages made clear in His Word.
[Darris McNeely] Today we have had an alarm go off and the world has been in the grip of a pandemic. It came suddenly, and no nation was prepared for it. And so we asked ourselves, what does it mean for now? What do we learn from this? In fact, what should we learn?
I grew up in a small town that had a lot of tornadoes and severe storms that would come through. We didn't have sirens that sounded through the town. We relied on the radio or the television to warn us. And my family always knew when the warning was out. Our next-door neighbor, Dorothy, would come running to our home because we had a basement to shelter in and she didn't. So when Dorothy, the neighbor, was pounding on our door. We knew it was time to head for the basement because a twister was in the neighborhood coming through.
Now I never actually lived through a tornado touchdown where I lived but my mother had. And my mother always took these warnings very seriously. In fact my uncle and many other people during that period of time would build underground tornado bunkers in their backyard. And building a shelter at that time was a pretty good precaution if you didn't have a basement.
Now today in my neighborhood we have sophisticated weather sirens that go off when tornadoes are near. Today weather forecasting is much more sophisticated than when I was younger and the alarms still sound. In fact a few years ago the alarms would go off in my neighborhood constantly because they were set to detect tornadoes or storms from a very large area. If the sun was shining in my neighborhood and I saw no storm clouds, I didn't take notice. But several miles away there was danger. You didn't see the danger though. In time I was conditioned to not take notice. That's very dangerous.
You see when an alarm sounds, it means something. Now let's talk about a bigger alarm, let's talk about COVID-19. Today we have had an alarm go off and the world has been in the grip of a pandemic. It came suddenly and no nation was prepared for it. It had devastating impact. And so we asked ourselves, what does it mean for now? What do we learn from this? In fact what should we learn? The real question is, what will we learn from this event to be better prepared for the next time. And make no mistake, there will be a next time.
In the Bible God tells us that He does not do big things without revealing it to His servants, the prophets. In the book of Amos 3 there is a very interesting statement that God makes, the prophet makes for God. He says, "Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants, the prophets." How does God do this? Well He does it in two ways. First, God places some of His servants into the role of what He calls a watchman. And secondly, Jesus Christ, Christ was a prophet. And He gave us an outline of end time events before his Second Coming. So let's look at these two.
First, let's go back and let's look at the watchman and what that means. In Ezekiel 33 we have this stirring dramatic image of a man standing on a wall. And it's the prophet Ezekiel. It says, "The word of the Lord came to me, 'Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them when I bring the sword upon a land, the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman. When he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but he did not take warning. His blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he's taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.'"
So in this dramatic passage we have three elements. We have a watchman, we have a warning given by the watchman through the sound of a trumpet. Now let's go back to the COVID-19 pandemic. Does this count as a threat? Without doubt. Did anyone see it coming, give warning, prepare? Well no, not really, not this specific one. Very little. When the world thought that there was prosperity, security, and peace, suddenly, this COVID-19 panic came upon the nations.
It was described by U.S. President Donald Trump as a war. In terms of the economic impact, nothing like it since the period of the 1930s to the 1940s, with the Great Depression and World War II has happened. We've had a combined medical, economic and psychological impact upon the nations. And so the question is, does the Bible give us some guidance to understand this, and a path forward from here? Indeed it does. Really, it will help us to understand a need to change and return to God.
Here's what's happening now, God is taking the measure of the nations of the world. God is involved in this recent pandemic. He is shaking the nations and He's trying to wake up this world because that is His pattern. Look back at ancient Egypt, the story of the Israelites in Egypt and their deliverance. The plagues that God sent to shake their foundation, to shake their confidence in those elements that they worshiped - the Nile River, the sun, frogs - all thinking that they were secure there. God attacked every one of those.
God has revealed through Christ what we should understand about this devastating pandemic. It's not just a message given long ago by prophets; it's very relevant and up to date for now. And we need to know because there are more storms coming. This recent pandemic and world crisis has laid the foundations for future prophetic events that are coming. And your life and your spiritual well-being depends on listening to, hearing and acting upon God's warning message that comes from His word.
The Bible shows us the way to a spiritual security, a spiritual security that comes from understanding God and His purpose for your life. A security that comes from understanding Bible prophecy. Events like COVID-19 pandemic do not happen without God knowing and allowing it to occur. You know we ask ourselves, why do events like this happen? Why does a loving God allow something so destructive?
Well the short answer is this. We live in a world of God's design and that includes free will and choice for mankind. God does control history, according to His plan, but He allows mankind the freedom to choose between good and evil, between truth and error, and there are consequences for each choice. So we need to ask, what does this mean and how should we live?
We're going to look at what Jesus said about watching and heeding warning signs of coming danger upon the world. Jesus Christ was a prophet, and that is a little understood part of his role for those who believe in Him. Christ gave us a roadmap to understand Bible prophecy. Is there a watchman today sounding a message of warning? Is there a player trumpet being sounded that is an alarm to wake up? And who is that watchman? Well stay with us. And we'll come back and answer those questions in a moment.
Because at a time like this people want to understand what the Bible says. This program we are offering our free study guide, which is really a primer on Bible prophecy, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy." Our study guide here is an integral part of the Bible story and showing what prophecy does. God's inspired revelation to mankind. Through prophecy God reveals Himself, His plan for humanity, and why we are here. So you can get your free copy of the study guide, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy," by going online to beyondtoday.tv or you can call the number on your screen. And you can call, but listen carefully to the rest of this program.
We want to understand and ask now what is it that Christ told us about this idea of watching? Again remember Christ was the greatest of the prophets. And this dimension of His mission among mankind is woefully neglected and misunderstood by those who claim today to speak in His name. The reality is Jesus lives today. He is the Lamb of God, poised as the returning King of kings. He's given us a clear roadmap to understand today's world and what this recent crisis means.
Never has it been more important than now, for you and for me to understand what Jesus taught about this present age of mankind. While He was with his disciples on the Mount of Olives some came privately and asked Him, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?" Jesus's answer began with warnings about spiritual deception, wars, earthquakes, and troubles, which include famine, and pestilence. He said, "Take heed that no one deceives you, for many shall come in my name saying, 'I am he,' and will deceive many." So Christ warns us today, do not be deceived spiritually. So test yourself.
Does your image of Jesus see Him as the returning King, poised, waiting to appear in judgment? Anything less is a false Christ. He went on to say, "When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled for such things must happen. But the end is not yet for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom." And He went on to talk about famines and, yes, pestilence or what we use today are the term we call a pandemic.
All of these troubles, war, spiritual deception, famine, and pestilence, they've all been a part of the human experience, and they are certainly with us today. But in verse eight of this passage it ends with Christ saying, "These are the beginnings of sorrows." Now your Bible will have a marginal reference that says, "That these are like birth pains." They are a sign to understand that a new age is about to begin.
A disciple of Jesus reads these words and applies them to their day. They mean something to each generation of those listening and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus then goes on to say, "But watch out for yourselves." And He lists persecutions and testimony that they would have had to deal with then. And even today, betrayal from those closest and a hatred would be experienced for His namesake. Christ counsels endurance and the promise that He would be with them through the power of the Holy Spirit, they would not be alone.
The next few verses then goes on to give more details of the events that are surrounding His coming. A key marker is in verse 14 that speaks to an event that is yet to occur. He said, "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken up by Daniel, the prophet, standing where it ought not, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains." Christ is speaking of a specific historical event that occurred during the second century BC when there was a pagan idol set up in the Jerusalem temple, and swine's flesh offered as a sacrifice on that altar. His disciples knew precisely what He spoke about.
That event has not happened since Christ gave His prophecy. And Christ said it would happen and we do not yet see it happening in our world now under the present political configuration in Jerusalem. So we conclude that as Jesus said, "The end is not yet." Now if you want to understand more about this abomination of desolation, we have a whole chapter in our booklet here that does talk about that, and it explains it quite well. But we are to watch and understand our times. And as we read Christ's statements about spiritual deception, war, and other troubles, we see His emphasis on showing us today, you and I, how to understand these events in the long historical and prophetic context.
We look back over 2,000 years since this prophecy was given and we can see easily how these events have occurred in waves through the centuries. And Jesus said, "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved." Now that statement could only happen now, in our day with the invention of nuclear weapons. "Take heed," He says, "See, I have told you all these things beforehand." This is all very encouraging. Mankind's not going to destroy himself, nor the earth, in a nuclear conflagration, God will intervene before that happens.
Now how can you understand the signs of our time, signs like these, these big events like a pandemic, potential nuclear war, large cultural changes that we deal with? Well you need to understand how Bible prophecy, indeed, all the Bible describes our current world and the future events that are leading to Christ's coming. That's what it means to watch exactly what Christ said, to be warned, and to heed a warning, like the tornado drill that goes off in our neighborhoods, to listen, to know something is happening.
You see a watchman does not tell you when something is going to happen in an empty prediction. He tells you what the big things. Most importantly, a watchman tells you how to prepare spiritually. It means to change your life. It means prepare to meet your God. Christ was a prophet and He looked down into our time and He predicted what conditions would be like today. That's why it's so critical to see this dimension of your Savior and King. Bible prophecy comes from Jesus Christ.
And Christ said there would be a watchman. Is there one today? "Beyond Today," what you're watching, watch your reading in our magazine, "Beyond Today" is like a watchman. And obedience to Christ demands we understand that this message from His word is a wake-up call, the events that we're living through.
Christ is taking the measure today of the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, China, India, and the nations. The nations have been startled by this pandemic, the foundations of our modern world economy have been rocked. The foundations of a much different world are being poured right now. We're in the beginning of a new world scene. And I think the prophetic stage is being set for the bigger prophetic events foretold by Christ and what we've just read.
Out of this time will rise a world that will astound everyone. Do not look for everything to collapse, it's not going to happen, but the world will not be the same. And you are hearing the sound of a watchman. During this crisis, I've been teaching a class on the book of Revelation. I've had my students say to me while we were going through some of the prophecies, "Wow, we're living the book of Revelation right now during this pandemic." And I said that's exactly right. We need to understand what we're being taught. Do you? Do you want to understand more?
Well now's the time to set yourself to understand Bible prophecy. It's not as hard as you might think. Our free study guide that we're offering for today's program, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy," will be very helpful. You know we ask sometimes in one of our chapters here is does history prove the accuracy of the Bible, and of prophecy? Well the answer is right here, we discussed it. We shall discuss that and much more. So call the number on your screen, order your free copy, or go online to beyondtoday.tv. This is a guide to help you understand the basics of Bible prophecy. You'll want to use this to help understand today's world for yourself and for your family.
Now the alarms that are sounding and the trumpet that is blowing, give us something very important to understand. Let's look at what Christ said, "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life. And that day come on, unexpectedly. For it shall come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch, therefore," he said, "And pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
You know this is the cover of our January - February 2020 issue of "Beyond Today" magazine. It had the headline, "The 2020s Are Here. Are You Ready?" Well it turns out, we were not ready for what happened. We have to be honest about that here on "Beyond Today." We did not see COVID-19 coming. But we have been warning for decades such events would come.
We have long been urging our readers to read their Bibles and understand what the prophecies say about the fragility of our world and our uncertain times. "Beyond Today" takes very seriously what Christ said in the passage that I've just read to you. And we at "Beyond Today" understand the what of prophecy and future events. We don't know the when. Only God knows the when. But we can tell you how to prepare spiritually and to be ready for whatever is coming next.
Here's something else. We understand how we can be weighed down with what Christ said were the cares of life. You see our lives are pretty busy, they're hectic, they're full of details, much of which can divert our attention away from the state of spiritual alert that is needed to stay on top of the times as Jesus warned. Frankly a disciple of Jesus Christ must live his life at what I like to call a spiritual DEFCON level 3 or above. That's not always easy, it's not easy to maintain that alertness for a long period of time.
I'm at an age where people begin to think about slowing down with work and retiring. I have grandchildren who I want to spend more time with, and I want to watch them grow up during their teen years and their events. And I know that many of you have the same with your family and you have plans for a future. We're caught up in so many details that consume our interests, our passions, and the days of our life. There's nothing evil or out of place with those desires so long as we keep them tempered by the tension of the knowledge and the understanding of Bible prophecy. That's the challenge.
Bible Prophecy gives the framework to discern today's world, and to understand the general contours of the events that are shaping our landscape. Done properly, we can prepare and take certain steps to be prepared spiritually and even physically for what happens. I've lived long enough and I've been a student of Bible prophecy to know that there are times when prophecies kind of on idle. All right it's kind of slow. Not much is happening but then there are times prophecy speeds up. Now, I think we're in a period when prophetic events are accelerating and it's time to pay attention.
We have read where Jesus told His disciples, "Watch and pray always." The theme of watching is taken from the book of Ezekiel where God placed that prophet as a watchman to Israel. Again, the prophet's say, "The word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Son of man, speak to the children of your people and say to them, when I bring the sword upon the land and the people of the land take a man from their territory, and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, and does not take warning and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning. His blood shall be upon himself. He who takes warning will save his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned and the sword comes and takes away the person, he's taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.'"
The message of warning was to the people to prepare for a time of siege and all that that might mean including famine and pestilence. They were to take precautions to meet the trial, to stand, endure and prevail. Christ uses this term to take heed, which is the same as to watch, as a warning to us to be aware, to be alert, discern the times of our life and understand where we are in God's purpose for this world.
A disciple will want to understand the signs, spiritual deception, war, calamities, and live a sober, holy, and godly life. When you know there is a time of coming trouble and ultimate judgment on the world, you really begin to live differently. You know God's real, you know that His words a short guide to life and you take steps to live in alignment with the truth of the Bible. That's what a true disciple will do. He will also pray to God in a way that creates a relationship, a spiritual connection of love and trust.
Love is that core faith that allows us to manage our emotional health during a time of stress, like this current pandemic. Many of us do face uncertainty in jobs and health and the large picture of what's happening to our country and the world. It's unnerving, it's frightening and it could cause us to come unglued emotionally, I know. I see it in some of the strongest people I know. Worry, fear, it's at their door. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed.
You can understand what all this means, when we see nations and cities locked down under quarantine. We're seeing something that for us we've never experienced. Our world has been shocked and startled, a wake-up call has been given. And through the Bible Jesus gives us the basis to understand what this global crisis means. And as you talk to God on your knees in prayer, He and the Father will give you comfort and understanding rooted in spiritual truth.
This is the key to this moment. We want the world, our world, your world to return to the way we remember it was in 2019. And in many ways, it's going to be a different world, we’ll be a long time recovering. In many ways, it will be different. Life will go on but some things will change. This world will not be the same. How will your world be different? For a disciple of Jesus Christ we cannot go back to normal. A disciple of Jesus Christ must dig deep into what the Master taught.
Could God be measuring your life now? This is a moment of crisis that can bring clarity to your life now. Use it wisely. Do not let yourself be caught unaware at the next crisis. Christ said, "Watch, therefore, and pray always that you would be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man." With that warning the alarm has gone off, the trumpet has sounded. Take it seriously, and pray to be accounted worthy by God.
Our free study guide we're offering on this program is, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy." It's the best guide I think we can offer you to begin your study of Bible prophecy. So call the number on your screen right now, start digging into the prophecies of The Word of God. Go online to beyondtoday.tv and get your free copy of this critically important study guide to help you understand where we are in the flow of Bible prophecy.
Seize this moment to turn your life around and seek the true God. Turn from evil, injustice, turn from your life, forsake the gods of this world's culture offered up as counterfeits and begin on your knees to seek the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The God who sent the prophets to Israel, the Jesus who died for your sins and lives today as your Lord and Master, your King, and your God who says, "I do not take pleasure in your suffering from fear, uncertainty of this world. Find hope and comfort in Me, The Way, and the Truth."
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today's program, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy." Prophecy is God's inspired revelation to mankind. God shows us who He is and how He has an amazing plan for all people, it shouldn't be a mystery. This free study aid will help you see the true magnitude of prophecy as it places the past, present, future into clear perspective.
Order now, call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. This study aid will help you better understand what's ahead for our world and God's awesome purpose for your life. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one-year subscription to our "Beyond Today" magazine. The "Beyond Today" magazine brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet, "You Can Understand Bible Prophecy," and your free one-year subscription to "Beyond Today" magazine. 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.