In a world experiencing random disasters ranging from floods and earthquakes to power outages and terrorist attacks, having at least a week's supply of food and water available in our homes, if not considerably more, is a good idea even when no immediate threat is apparent. The U.S. government's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists practical advice and contents for a family emergency supplies kit at ready.gov/kit. Our readers in other countries can find similar recommendations at Web sites managed by their governments.
It would be wise to be prepared in at least such a basic way for emergency situations. As Proverbs 27:12 tells us: "A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences" (New Living Translation). And certainly dangerous times are ahead for the entire world, as we know from many Bible prophecies.
At the same time, we must remember that the Bible emphasizes looking to God for our physical needs as we seek His Kingdom. Indeed, we are directly told that if we pursue His Kingdom and way of life first, then God will provide our physical needs (Matthew 6:33).
In line with that, Jesus Christ Himself warns us to be vigilant concerning our spiritual state. In His last major prophecy before His crucifixion, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, He describes and summarizes the conditions and events that will lead to His second coming.
After describing the dire state of the world to which He would return, Jesus said to His disciples, "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32, New American Standard Bible).
The next verse clearly shows that we should continue to keep a watchful eye on world trends and conditions as well as our own spiritual state, for we will not know the exact time of His return: "Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come" (verse 33, NASB, emphasis added throughout).
Christ then compared Himself and His second coming to a man who traveled to a distant country, left his servants in charge of his property and asked the doorkeeper "to stay on the alert" till he returned. Then He gives His warning to His disciples a second time: "Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming" (verse 35, NASB).
Next Jesus warns His servants not to fall asleep on the job, followed by a third and final appeal emphasizing the importance of their task: "What I say to you I say to all: Be on the alert!" (verse 37, NASB).
Luke's account emphasizes our personal conduct, with Christ warning us to be diligent in keeping our spiritual house in order and showing us exactly what type of distractions to avoid: "Be on your guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation [excess] and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day [of Christ's return] will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come on all those who dwell on the face of all the earth" (Luke 21:34-35, NASB).
The vast majority of people, being neither spiritually alert nor aware of prophetic trends and conditions, will be taken by surprise. So Jesus tells us in verse 36, "But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man" (NASB).
The emphasis again is on the importance of being personally prepared spiritually for Christ's coming and having a heightened alertness and anticipation of that event.
So how can we do that? First, you should prove for yourself that the Bible is God's Word. Also find out where He is working and see how God may be leading you to become more involved with proclaiming the true gospel. For starters you could read our free booklets Is the Bible True? and The Church Jesus Built. Also subscribe to our free Bible Study Course. The course's easy-to-follow lessons will take you through the major themes and teachings of God's Word.
These steps should lead you to consider and follow God's words in Isaiah 55:6-7: "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
One of the most encouraging aspects of this prophetic subject is knowing that God has promised to watch over and care for His true people during this time of unprecedented worldwide turmoil (see Matthew 24:21-22; Luke 21:16-18). God will provide a way for many of the faithful to be supernaturally protected during those very few years. As the prophet Zephaniah tells us: "Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger" (2:3).
Our Creator will provide the means for many of God's people to be spared during this dangerous period of time (Revelation 3:10; 12:13-17; Isaiah 26:20-21). These people are those who truly observe God's commandments and have the testimony and faith of Christ (see Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14).
Although this crisis at the close of this age is a time of unprecedented world trouble, it will also herald the threshold of God's Kingdom. Jesus said, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" (Luke 21:28).
We should take great comfort in God's promises and be thankful for the sure knowledge that He has made available about the end time. If we prepare ourselves spiritually, in spite of the adverse physical circumstances, this can be a time of confidence and hope leading inexorably to God's incomparable Kingdom.