Why are we told to watch as world events unfold around us?
[Roy Holladay] Brethren, I think most of us keep up with what's going on in world news. We see our nation spiraling down as far as a nation—its power, its greatness, its vitality. We see moral decay we see the spiritual condition of our nation lagging. If you remember the Beyond Today program last week it addressed those questions if you had the opportunity to ask the President. And it addressed the fact that all of us have a part in maintaining the stability, strength, vitality of this nation and it has to do with our spiritual character. And our spiritual character as a nation as a whole is declining. I think we sigh and we cry over this development and yet the Bible prophesied that it was going to happen.
Let's go back to the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel, chapter 9, we'll begin to read in verse 3, Ezekiel 9:3 Ezekiel 9:3And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
American King James Version×where we find a description here of what was going on in Jerusalem. And it shows that there were some among the people even at that time who were deeply disturbed about the abominations and the leadership and everything that was going on within the nation. Says, "Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherubim, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said to him, 'Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh, who cry over the abominations that are being done within it.'"
Now, if God were to send an angel today to this nation to look and find out who is it who sighs and who cries over the moral stance of our country, the abominations that are going on, would there be a mark put on our heads? Would we be one's who would be singled out?
Sometimes we can become so focused also on what is wrong in government around us, in our society, morally, with politics, that we can begin to focus in wrong direction. Our focus can be misdirected, and that's something we want to look at. We see the leadership of our country leading us in a wrong direction that is the opposite of the Bible, of the godly standards that God has set for us. And I'm not just talking about one particular party or individual, but leadership as a whole in our country.
You might remember that king Saul was chosen to be the first king over Israel, the combined nation of Israel. And even after he was told that he was going to be removed, God allowed him to remain for a while. Sometimes God can look down and see that an individual perhaps is a trouble maker, that he's leading a country or a nation in the wrong direction, and God doesn't always just immediately zap them and, boy, they're gone. He allows sometimes that to continue.
We see today in this country the words like: fairness, equality, tolerance are commonly espoused. These are the big words that are used to describe having a just type of society. Yet, we don't see words like: righteousness, morality, for keeping the Ten Commandments, biblical standards, much of that being talked about. And we find all of these other esoteric philosophical approaches being mouthed and being given credence to.
And yet we see a country that is divided. Our country is divided. It's divided, many would say, between those who are more conservative, religious, and those who are liberal. We have find a nation that is increasingly becoming more secular in its approach and its conduct, what it tolerates, what it allows. And those who are supposedly stand for biblical principles are laughed at and made fun at, referred to as being intolerant and are put down.
Brethren, do we moan and groan for what's going on? Do we cry out? Do we sigh? Is it something that really bothers us and upsets us? There are reasons why God is allowing what's going on, He eventually says that our country will go into a national captivity because of the sins of the people. Now, when we look and watch and see what's going on, there should be something that we're learning. And one of the things that we should be doing, we should have learned to pray more fervently "thy Kingdom come."
When you look at this nation and the fact that we have been the greatest nation on the face of the earth, and does the average individual understand where that greatness, that power came from? The blessings came from? We look at the capitalistic system, many say, well, it's because of that, it's because of free enterprise and certainly they've played a part. But we have to realize that the greatness of this nation is a direct result of the blessings of Abraham. That God said that “I will raise up a nation and a company of nations and they will become the greatest peoples on the face of the earth.” And God has carried out that promise.
Now, the problem is with people, especially in the Western world, living in such comfort and having so many blessings and not one car but two or three cars to drive around. Clothes to wear, food to eat, houses to live in, then we begin to feel comfortable. Why would you want God's Kingdom? This world's pretty good.
And the average American, the average Westerner doesn't stop to realize what the world really is like, what the average person lives in. All you have to do is go to Africa and some of the nations around the world and you begin to see how people, the vast majority, really live. Well, God's going to have to take those blessings away. He's going to have to remove them for our people to finally come to understand that we do need God's Kingdom.
And brethren, we should be those who follow in Christ's example when He said to pray "Thy Kingdom come," you and I should be able to see and discern and understand that this world desperately needs the Kingdom of God. And it is taking the removal of the blessings from the nations of Israel for the average person to begin to see that.
We see moral decay in our nation, the Western world and that was prophesied to take place. And yet as it takes place, it's not something that makes us happy. It's something that you cry over. We see today that homosexuality in all of its forms, transgenderism, all of these things are being accepted as normal today. You find that marriage has been redefined today that marriage between almost anybody in any shape and form is classified as a family.
Let's go back to the book of Isaiah 5:20 Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
American King James Version×because God comments on this in Isaiah. Isaiah 5:20 Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
American King James Version×says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" So today doesn't matter what goes on, people call it good. And so we could be morally going down into the cesspool and if people can redefine that and call it by a good name, then supposedly it's good. And yet, that's what God is talking about here.
People called what he brands in the Bible in the scriptures that are evil that are wrong, people call them good. And so God says that he's going to bring an indictment against our people because of that. Notice in Isaiah 1:2 Isaiah 1:2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
American King James Version×, Isaiah 1 beginning in verse 2 is an indictment that God brings against the people of Judah, but it is a principle that applies to all nations because God will either bless a nation based upon their morality and obedience to Him or He will curse them based upon their disobedience.
And notice how God describes our peoples. "Hear, O heavens," verse 2, Isaiah 1 "and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: 'I have nourished and brought up children, and they've rebelled against Me; the ass [ox] knows its owner, the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider. Alas,'" He says, "'sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord.'"
So we're not holding to God, they have forsaken the Lord. "They have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, and they've turned away backwards." It's like our nation has turned its back on God and are going the opposite direction. God says, "Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick," Gods says. "The head" being those in charge, the leaders. "And the whole heart faint," but we do not have the determination, the strength to stand up against others.
And He says, "From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment." And so God is describing our nation as a rebellious nation that the whole nation is compared to a person who is sick, terminally ill. And unless our nation turns to God, that illness will kill us.
Verse 10, it says, "Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah." So notice how God describes our nation, like Sodom and like Gomorrah. He says, "'To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’ says the Lord. 'I've had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of the fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices.’"
And so God shows that if a nation says that they're religious, as our nation claims to be, and yet we come before God in our assemblies wherever they might be, on whatever day a person might assemble, and during the rest of the week: we steal, we rob, we commit adultery, we break God's law, we go against the principles of His law, and we think, well, we can come to church occasionally on Christmas and Easter. When I say "we" I'm talking about the nation. The nation believes that they can do things of this nature: sit before God, hear a minister speak for 15 or 20 minutes, give a little money, help the building program, walk away, and that God is going to accept them.
And God says here, "I don't accept your offerings." He didn't accept their… even though they were doing "what He said", He didn't accept it because of the way they were living. The same thing can apply to us, we must be living God's way if we expect to come before God, sit before Him as His people and that He will accept us.
Verse 21 in this chapter, "How the faithful city has become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers." Our country started with the basis of at least believing in the Bible as the Word of God. Says "Your silver has become as dross, your wine mixed with water. Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, and follows after reward. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them."
So to explain some of the sins of our people, of our nation. And brethren, when you begin to look around, you begin to see what's happening in this country, you see all of these being repeated. You would think that we could look back at history and say, “Okay, the Roman Empire fell for these reasons. Babylon capitulated because of this, the Assyrian Empire dissolved because of this.” And you can read all of these histories and learn from it, we're not going to do the same thing. No, people don't do that. And quite frankly, my own children don't do that, do they?
We as parents try to tell them don't do certain things because we've already done it, we know it doesn't work, it's bad for you. They say, "Well, I've got to learn my own way." And it seems one generation after another keeps doing the same thing over and over again, learning the same lessons because they refuse to listen and to learn from history from what has gone on before.
Now, God has given us His word, He's opened our minds. He's given us a breadth and depth of understanding that we wouldn't have had normally. We can look at the history, look at the lessons, we should be able to learn from history what is going on.
As an example, Ezekiel 20 you might just jot down if you're taking notes. It explains why there's going to be a future captivity. It's because of two reasons: Sabbath breaking, God gave His Sabbath weekly and the annual Sabbaths to His nation to show as a sign that they were His people. And idolatry, anything you put before God that's more important to you than God becomes your god. Again, we can become so focused on what is wrong around us, and it's not wrong to want to know what's going on in government and society and morality and politics but our focus can begin to be misdirected.
Then there's one thing I've noticed recently in just conversation with God's people, that too many of us are getting involved in the human solutions to solve our problems. We'll address that more as we go on. I think sometimes we get too involved in politics, in our thoughts, how we think, in our actions, in voting. We actually have members who think, "Well, we've got to resolve these problems. We've got to get out and vote. We got to get our man into office." Have we not learned anything yet over the years? That human beings do not know how to solve their own problems. If we did, point them out to me. There's no one, no nation who's come along who's been able to resolve the problems of this world. And it's going to take the Kingdom of God.
In fact, let's notice John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×, what Jesus Christ had to say. John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×, notice and, "Jesus answered, 'My kingdom is not of this world." Remember this world, this cosmos, this society today, this age that we live in, the Bible calls this present evil age. Says, "'My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight." Now were they fighting? Well, no, so, therefore, it was not of this world. "So that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here." So He clearly shows that His Kingdom is not of this world.
We represent a completely different kingdom, the Kingdom of God. We're representatives, ambassadors of that Kingdom. We pray and should pray "Thy Kingdom come." The solutions to man's problems is not getting a particular party into power. Not whether a person's liberal, progressive, socialist, communist or whatever. It is for the Kingdom of God to return to this earth, and Jesus Christ to right the wrongs that we see around us.
Can we see the evil going on and still obey God? God says to watch and we're commanded to do that. But let's go over here to 1 Timothy 2:1 1 Timothy 2:1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
American King James Version×, 1 Timothy 2, and we'll begin to read in verse 1. Paul writes, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings…” Now notice "for kings", in other words, for our rulers, for “…all who are in authority,” do we pray for our rulers? When was the last time you prayed for the President? Now, you might say, "Well, I don't agree with the President." Well, I don't agree with him either. It doesn't say if you agree with him, don't pray for him. It says pray for him.
Remember, this was during the time of the Roman Empire, the Caesar's rule. The world was ruled from Rome and if you've studied any of the history and the practices or the leadership in the Roman Empire, you know that so many of them were homosexuals. So many of them were pedophiles, so many of them had all kinds of weird ideas and approaches. And yet what is Paul saying? Well, pray for kings but notice how he says to pray, "for all who are in authority." Why? "That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." So that we might be able to obey God without a lot of persecution.
Now, right now we're not being persecuted. We're able to meet together, assemble together, we're able to publish literature, we're able to put a broadcast on and we're able to do all of these things. There's going to come a time when that won't happen. There's going to come a time when we will be hated of all people. But right now we need to pray that and, you know, that happened for a long period of time. When the church first started it was considered a Jewish sect and that's why it was not persecuted in the Roman Empire. They allowed the Jewish sects to come along. They didn't allow any new religions.
But later on when persecution came from their own people and it became obvious that this was not a Jewish sect but the Jewish sects were persecuting them, then they began to be persecuted. But brethren, we need to pray and ask God that whatever is done, that God will bless us. We have a work to do. We need to ask God to open doors to make things available to us so that we're able to preach the gospel to this world.
We don't like it at all when we see things going on around us, especially in the leadership of government. That's not to say, and I'm not trying to whitewash what's happening. Those things are not right. But as I said earlier, have we not learned it doesn't matter who fought parties in power, who's in charge, that man doesn't know the way to peace? God says He appoints leaders, He sets them up, He takes them down.
Daniel 4:7 Daniel 4:7Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me the interpretation thereof.
American King James Version×, Daniel 4:7 Daniel 4:7Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers: and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me the interpretation thereof.
American King James Version×, here was a great Babylonian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar was the king. He was about to go insane for a period of time. And notice beginning here in verse 17, the message that Daniel gives to him. "This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and He gives it to whomever He wills…”
So God rules, He sets up rulers, He takes down rulers and He sets over it the lowest of men. I think the King James Version says, the basest of men, the lowest of men. And I think we live to see that taking place in our country. That God hasn't always set or allowed a man to be in office that is a man of integrity and high principles, but sometimes you find that the nation gets what it wants. And we pray that God's will be done.
Now we're told to watch. What are we supposed to watch for? Have you ever asked yourself the question what's the reason for watching? Well, we can all think of one thing, to see what's going on, the evil that's taking place and that's true. But you know, there are other reasons that we should be watching, as we will see. We should be watching so that we might be prepared, that we might get ready, that the time of the end doesn't slip up on us.
We are commanded to watch. We need to see what's occurring. God wants us to be ready as a church, He wants us to be prepared. And there are certain pitfalls or problems that we can fall into if we're not careful. We're all familiar with Matthew 24, the Olivet prophecy, but remember there are three chapters. Mathew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, these are all parallel, they all basically say the same thing but when you look at them, each one adds a little something different. So let's go back to Matthew 24:32 Matthew 24:32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near:
American King James Version×to begin with.
Matthew 24 and we will read here beginning in verse 32. It says, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things," when you see the things that have been prophesied taking place, "know that it is near — at the very door!” So you know that the end is near, the coming of Christ is near when you see these things happening. "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled." All these things come to pass and happen.
Now, what generation? Christ's generation died, they died in the second century, they died the third century, the fourth, fifth and so on. Here we are in the 21st century. Well, I think it's talking about the generation in which it's possible for all life to be destroyed because that's what it talks about prior to this. That generation was not possible until our generation. It is now possible to destroy all life off the face of the earth.
So notice what he says in verse 33 , “Heaven and earth will pass away,” the physical is not going to last forever, “but My words will by no means pass away.” What Christ said here, what's been written down is not going to pass away. It will happen as He said it would happen. We can be absolutely assured of that because He says, "My words will by no means fail." It's not going to just go by the wayside.
Now in verse 36 here, it says, "But of that day and the hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as in the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man." Now, in what way? Well, "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man."
So just picture it back before the flood. Here's Noah, nutty Noah out here, he's got this ark built. His animals are being accumulated, food's been stored. He's got all this. One day God says, "That's it," shuts the door and locks it. And all at once, it starts raining. And it starts raining more and it doesn't quit raining, and the fountains of the deep break up, and water, artesian wells and soon begin to overflow, the oceans begin to overflow the continents, rivers begin to overflow. Earthquakes and all these kind of things begin to take place, and as it says here, they didn't know.
Now, Noah was a preacher of righteousness. He certainly proclaimed the message. Nobody believed him. And it came upon them unaware. And you think at the end time that people will be marrying, giving in marriage, working, having jobs, going here, going there and they're not going to be aware that things have happened until they happen.
And yet at the end time, God's going to have two witnesses who will be there proclaiming the truth. The Laodicean church will live into that time and they may carry on with the work. There will be a work done before all of that takes place so you and I are involved in and others are involved in. The world will continue as normal but it's not to overtake us. So we're told then in verse 40, "Two men will be in the field: one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding in the mill: one will be taken, the other left. Watch" he says, "therefore, for you do not know the hour your Lord is coming." So we are told to watch.
Why? So that we might be aware of what's going on, that we are not caught off guard. You know, the word "watch" means to refrain from sleeping. Now, is it saying you should never go to bed? Of course not, but you are not to fall asleep spiritually. You're to be aware, you're to be awake as to what is going on. We're to be awake in the spiritual, moral sense that we know what's going on around us. The Lonida Greek Lexicon says it means “to be in continuous readiness, alertness to learn, to be alert, to be watchful, to be vigilant, to stand fast in the faith.” That's the way we're supposed to be.
We are, as verse 43 says, "Know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken in." Now if you know that… let's say back at this time if a master knew his house was going to be broken in, what would he have done? Well, he'd have gotten his servants in there. They would have gotten their bows and arrows, their spears, their clubs. They would be waiting and the first time a person tried to break into the house, they would shoot him full of arrows, beat him over the head, spear him, chase him. He wouldn't get in.
Now, the lesson is not get your AK-47 and blow everybody away who comes to your door. That's not the lesson. The lesson here is that we are to watch. And then verse 44 says, "Therefore you also be ready…” The lesson for us, we watch so we can be ready, we could be prepared.
There are two reasons for watching: One is to see what's happening, and secondarily so that we can see our own spiritual condition. We're watching ourselves, we see ourselves and we're ready, we're prepared “…for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect” Him.
Now verse 45, "Who then is a faithful and wise servant…” now notice those three words, each one carries a meaning: faithful, wise, servant. That should be us, “…whom his master will make ruler over the household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, shall find so doing." So when Christ comes back, He expects His servants to be doing something, to be serving, to be wise, to be doing the work that He has given us to do.
Now let's go over to Mark 13:24 Mark 13:24But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
American King James Version×, Mark 13:24 Mark 13:24But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
American King James Version×, because Mark adds a few details that we do not find in Matthew or he states it a little differently. In verse 24, "But in those days, after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, gather together His elect from the four winds, from the furthest part of the earth to the furthest part of the heavens." So this is talking about the time of the tribulation when it occurs, and the time of the heavenly signs.
Now verse 28, again, we have the parable of the fig tree. But notice verse 29, "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near — at the very door!" So brethren, when we see these things, what are "these things?" Let's back up to verse 3 and see what some of "these things" are that he's talking about when you see these things taking place.
"Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, and John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 'Tell us, when will these things be? What will be the sign when all these things will be’” fulfilled or “‘finished?' And Jesus, answered them, and began saying, 'Take heed that no one deceives you.'" Do you think you could be deceived? Have members of God's Church been deceived?
What about a time when we had 150,000 in the church? Where are they? Are any of them deceived, misled, did they believe falsehoods, were they misdirected? Did they go off in the wrong direction? Where are they? Where are they today? So He said, “Don't let anyone deceive you.” Now we know the world's deceived. Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×, "Satan's deceived the whole world," so the world is deceived. "For many will come in My name saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many."
Now, what about even today? There are those who at one time who were with us. I say "with us", I'm talking about the former association, who now claim that they are the prophet, that they are apostles. We've got at least a couple claiming to be apostles. That they are Elijah, or they are… you put the name down and they apply it to themselves. And I think most of us looking at that would say, "Go on." But they have thousands who follow them who are being misled and being deceived.
Is this a warning to us in the Church? Don't you be deceived, because the world's already deceived. We were undeceived, a person can become deceived again. So that's part of these things when you see these things begin to happen. They are and they have happened. "When you hear of wars and rumors of war, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom. There'll be earthquakes in various places, they're be famines, troubles. These are the beginning of sorrows.” This is just the beginning. But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, you will be beaten in the synagogue. You will be brought before the rulers and kings for my sake for a testimony to them." Now, did that happen in the first century? Sure it did. Did it happen in second century? Yes, it did. Will it happen at the end time? Yes, it will. Will it happen to some of us? Yes, it will.
It says the gospel must first be preached in all the nations, that's our job, to preach the gospel. "But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” That God will give you words to speak and to say. "Now brother will betray brother to death, a father his children; children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all men." There's going to come a time when we will not be so highly esteemed. "You will be hated by all men for My name’s sake, but he who endures to the end shall be saved."
So we see that there is going to come a time when those who have been the closest to us will turn against us. Is it possible that somebody will say, "Yeah, I used to belong to that group I know who they are, I have their names. I'd give you their addresses, here are their phone numbers, you go get them!” Is it possible that we could be hated for whatever reason so much that that could take place?
Notice in verse 32 here Mark 13, "But that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, only the Father. Take heed." Now notice what he says here. "Take heed,” that's one thing you're to do, “watch,” that's a second thing, “and pray.” Three things we're told to do here, "for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, left his house, gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch."
So I want you to notice this isn't just talking about the ministry. It says, "each servant was given his work." Now, God has placed us each in the Body as it pleases Him. We all have our work to do; it could be prayer, it could be simply studying and preparing ourselves, paying tithes and offerings. It could be speaking, it could be song leading, it could be administration. It could be any number of things that we might be given. But whatever it is that we are to do, each is to be doing the work given to him, and that's God's doing.
So this is what He tells us, so we're told again verse 35, "Watch." And then verse 37, "What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" The word watch is mentioned several times here in this section, isn't it? So we're told to watch, to look out, don't go to sleep, that’s spiritually about ourselves as well as watching what's going on. The word to take heed means to be able to see, to have the faculty of sight. It's spoken of the blind recovering of sight. It's used of Christ once where he healed a blind man and it says he recovered his sight. You and I are to take heed, we are to see, we're to know, we're to know what's going on.
Now let's go over to Luke 21 quickly. Luke 21:29 Luke 21:29And he spoke to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
American King James Version×, "He spoke to them a parable: 'Look at the fig tree,’" He said." And verse 31 says, “So you likewise, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near." You see all of this taking place, know that the kingdom of God is near. "Surely, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." They will be fulfilled they will take place, they will happen as He said they would.
We're not to be caught unaware. We're to watch and to be ready. And again, if you back up verse 8, you see some of these things that He talks about. First of all is deception. And notice it says, "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name saying ‘I am He’ and ‘The time has drawn near.’"
A year ago there was a prophet who used to be in the church, who prophesied, he said, he was one of the two witnesses and prophesied the end of the world, to go into a place of safety on a particular given time. And he said if this doesn't happen, you know I'm a false prophet. Well, it did not happen. And then he came back and said, "Well, I just got it wrong." He didn't step side and said, "I'm a false prophet." There are those who are setting dates right now. Beware of anyone who sets a date, because the Bible says, "you do not know the hour or the day." So don't go after them, the Bible says.
“But when you hear wars and rumors of wars” and goes on it mentions that, verse 11, "There'll be great earthquakes in various places, famines, pestilence; there will be fearful sights, great signs in the heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you. They'll deliver you to the synagogue, put you in prison. You will be brought before kings." And again, it goes on to show that God will give us something to say. And verse 16, "You'll be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends; and some of you will be put to death." And verse 17, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake." Brethren, these are the words that Christ has said and they will happen.
Now in verse 36 notice… well, verse 34 first of all. "Take heed to yourself,” okay, we're to watch world news but we're to take heed to ourselves, "lest your heart be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, the cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly." Remember in Hebrews 12 it talks about the sin so easily besets us or weighs us down, it clings to us. It's like a runner trying to run with a five-pound weight strapped to his back and he's trying to run the 100-yard dash. It's going to restrict you.
"For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the earth. Watch therefore, and pray always you'll be counted worthy to escape all these things that come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." So again, the word "watch" means to stay awake. Spiritually, we are to be attentive. To take heed means “to hold the mind to, or the ear toward something, to pay attention.” To be weighed down means “to have something that weighs you down, something that is heavy.” Or as it can be translated, “to be oppressed, dull, and stupid.”
You and I are not to be spiritually stupid or dull. We are to be alert. We are to know what is going on around us. And the word "unexpectedly" means simply “sudden, unforeseen, something you didn't anticipate.” I don't understand why it's happening, that type of thing. There should be not one of us that is unaware of what is going on.
Now, you can say, "Well, how could this happen to God's people, that day would come upon anybody unaware?" Well, let's go over to Revelation 3:18 Revelation 3:18I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
American King James Version×, it will help to explain somewhat. Revelation 3, well, let's back up here to verse 14. "To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful, the True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God. “I know your works, that you're neither cold nor hot.”’" “Neither cold,” in other words totally unconverted, “nor are you hot” or zealous. “I would that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." God says He's going to spew them forth, they'll be vomited out of His mouth.
So notice there are those who are classified, and this is at the very end. We live in an age where people seem to be lukewarm. I'm talking about society as a whole, not necessarily on fire, they're just sort of drifting along, "Don't bother me, leave me alone." And then you find that this attitude is also in the church. And because you say, "Now how could they have this attitude?" “Because you say…” here's what people say, “'I'm rich, and I've become wealthy, I have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched and miserable," this is what God says. "You're wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and then anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent."
So one of the predominant attitudes that He shows that will be prevalent at the end time is a lukewarm sort of drifting attitude. Not on fire for God, not on fire for the work of God, just sort of lukewarm. We're here but we're not on fire for church attendance, we're not on fire to serve one another, we're not on fire for God, His word, His study, for prayer, whatever it might be. We think, "Well, I've got it made. I know what God requires.” And we think that we're rich, wealthy, have need of nothing. And God says it's just the exact opposite.
Brethren, we need to take stock of ourselves before God at the end time. That's what He's telling us. We need to look at ourselves, we need to be ready, we need to be prepared, we need to make sure that we're not just sort of drifting along and, well, we know the truth. Again, it's not a matter of knowing the truth. Thousands know the truth but they don't do the truth. We have to do and practice not only halfheartedly, but with all of our heart, zealously with our whole being.
We have a duty as a church to be a watchman, to warn the nations, to warn this nation especially, U.S. and Britain, the Commonwealth of what's going to happen, to warn them of how their ways are wrong, the need for repentance and change. But we watch likewise so that we can be ready. We watch ourselves, we watch our attitude, we see when we fall short. So if I can summarize it, we're commanded to watch.
We're commanded to pray for one another, to pray for our leaders that we can live a quiet and peaceful life. We're told to take heed of what's going on around us. That we're not to be naive, we're to be wise, that we are to pray. We're not to get weighed down with the cares of this world and the debauchery of the society around us. Spiritually, God wants us to get our lives in order. And above all, He tells us to pray "Thy Kingdom come."