The other day I was driving home from work when I encountered heavy traffic, not uncommon on the interstate near my home. Speeds began to slow. Irritating but familiar red lights began to pop on. The space between cars grew less and less.
Out of nowhere, the vehicle three or four cars ahead of me slammed on the brakes. Frantically, the drivers between him and me hit the brakes as well, swerving in different directions to avoid a collision. Thankfully there was not an accident.
It was fortunate I had been looking ahead a few cars, or someone could have been hurt. It’s likely that you’ve probably had a similar experience while on a highway or another busy road. It sure was a good thing I was looking ahead!
While on the highway of life, Jesus has charged us to watch and prepare ourselves for that time.
Clearly, looking ahead is a good thing. It’s no surprise, then, that God tells us to do so in His Word: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 Proverbs 29:18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.
American King James Version×; King James Version).
God wants us to look ahead, not just on the interstate, but as a way to approach life. When we look ahead, we are able to avoid trouble and danger we would otherwise walk into blindly. This method gives us better perspective in life and helps us plan for big changes.
There’s an interesting application of this principle in the Bible. Jesus taught this during His earthly ministry and, like on the highway, it is critical to our safety.
In the oft-quoted parable of the 10 virgins, we can get a glimpse of this lesson (Matthew 5:1-13 Matthew 5:1-13 1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came to him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his flavor, with which shall it be salted? it is thereafter good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
American King James Version×). Ten young women were heading off to a wedding, and while five were prepared with extra oil to fuel their lamps, the other five had not taken any. Today, this would be a bit like leaving the house with 100 percent smart phone battery versus 20 percent. It wasn’t until nighttime that the wedding began. The five well prepared young women were able to find and enter the wedding using their extra juice. But the other five couldn’t. In their irresponsibility, they tried to go buy more, or find an outlet to charge their phones in. By the time they got back, however, it was too late. They did not get to join the wedding.
Jesus ended the parable with this saying: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (verse 13). None of the 10 women knew the moment when the wedding would happen, just as no one on Earth knows when Christ Himself will return. However, five of the women were wise and tried to look ahead. Similarly, Christians should look ahead to Christ’s return.
At another point in His ministry, Christ was tested by the Pharisees, who requested a “sign from heaven.” He responded by saying, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2-3 Matthew 16:2-3 2 He answered and said to them, When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O you hypocrites, you can discern the face of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?
American King James Version×).
Followers of God ought to be aware of and understand the “signs of the times.” Sadly, these religious leaders could not do that. But just what does that mean? What are the “signs of the times”?
Out of all of the Bible—the Word of God—about one third is prophecy. Many of those prophecies are as-of-yet unfulfilled. This means that God has given us a good deal of insight about the future and what will come to pass. This is certainly a great way for us to look ahead. Are we truly using that portion of God’s Word to the best of our ability? We may be able to look up what tomorrow’s weather will be, but do we grasp where the world stands in terms of the Bible? The fulfillment, and trends leading up to the fulfillment, of Bible prophecy are the “signs of the times” Jesus was referencing.
God does not want us to forget about, be unfamiliar with, or misunderstand the prophecies of His Word (1 Thessalonians 5:20 1 Thessalonians 5:20Despise not prophesyings.
American King James Version×). Interpreting them and applying them appropriately is part of our Christian duty to “watch” and be ready as we approach the end of the age (Mark 13:35-37 Mark 13:35-37 35 Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you I say to all, Watch.
American King James Version×).
I encourage you to spend some time in study, going over these special parts of God’s Word, and not to be intimidated by them. Don’t let the heavy traffic of life put you down or distract you from this responsibility. Be sure to pray to God and ask for understanding. If you don’t know where to start, our study aid You Can Understand Bible Prophecy is a good starting place, and a quick search for “prophecy” on this website will yield a bevy of rich and insightful results.
We live in especially uncertain times, and it seems that a calamity or controversy is always just around the corner. But God has given us the constant of His Word to help us through when the future looks bleak. All of His Word points toward a bright future full of joy, mercy, and love. Jesus will return to Earth to establish this Kingdom of peace and justice for the benefit of all humanity.
While on the highway of life, Jesus has charged us to watch and prepare ourselves for that time. He has said He will return at an unexpected hour, like a thief breaking into a house at night (Matthew 24:42-43 Matthew 24:42-43 42 Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord does come.
43 But know this, that if the manager of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
American King James Version×). On this packed interstate, we must drive with caution and always look a few cars ahead. Always be ready to put on the brakes.