“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Mat. 24:42,44).
The call to be ready for the coming of the Lord has often been shouted from the rooftops. Billboards, church signs, street evangelists and end-time teachers have echoed the need to be prepared for Christ’s return. Such teachings are readily preached by those who believe in a “second coming” theology – the physical, bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth as King. For those whom God has begun to enlighten by His Spirit, I trust the Lord has erased the false image of a man that sits in some far-off heaven. No greater an idolatry has religion masterminded than to confine the omnipresent glorified Lord to a body of flesh.
So, for those who no longer hold to the erroneous notion of a second coming of a physical Jesus, what does it mean for us to be “ready” for His coming? Readiness is associated in the Word of God with being in a state of watchfulness and prayer. Watching and praying are phrases often mentioned together throughout scripture. They are interrelated activities. But, they are more than activities, they are states of being, spheres of existence or lifestyles. We remain watchful through prayer and we remain in prayer through our watchfulness. In Luke 21:36, Jesus warns: “Watch therefore, 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”. Paul too encourages every saint: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2). It was also in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus found the disciples asleep and admonished Peter saying: “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Mar. 14:37-38). With this in mind, let us further consider the significance of watching and praying.
With regards to the coming of the Lord, watching has generally been understood in reference to the signs of the end times, namely the observation of world events: wars, the rise of political powers, famines, diseases, natural disasters, etc. But, being watchful is much more than being current on the daily news. If this was so, even the world can be said to be at watch. However, to watch, metaphorically, means to “give strict attention to, be cautious, active”. Jesus said: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me” (Joh. 14:19). The world cannot watch because it sees Him no more. Only those who can see Him can effectively be at watch.
Watching is fundamentally the faculty of the mind of the spirit. Our spirit man is always in a state of watchfulness – attentive and perceptive to every moving and utterance of the Spirit of Christ, for it is in an unbroken state of communion and oneness with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17). Thus, it is by the mind of our spirit that we watch and perceive all things concerning the coming of the Lord. But why is it that every born-again spirit-filled Christian cannot bear witness to the Lord’s coming? Why is it that many reject as heresy the things we declare about the appearing of Christ, criticizing us of over-spiritualizing scripture?
The carnal mind is the chief enemy to discerning Christ’s appearing. It is the flesh that blinds and keeps the saints from exploiting the potential of their spirit to behold the current and ongoing revelation of the Lord. Jesus warned His disciples: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mat. 26:41). The flesh is perpetually given to temptation. Each of us are drawn away by our own desires and enticed by the corruption of our flesh, be it its cares, its fears, its ideologies, its teachings, its dogmas, its rituals, its ceremonies, or its traditions. And it is this dilemma of the flesh that has kept the Lord’s people from being watchful and receptive to the progressive coming of the Lord.
Being watchful was so important to Jesus that He dedicated a couple of parables to the topic, including the parable of the ten virgins (Mat. 25:1-13) and the watchful servants (Luk. 12:35-48). Both stories offer a number of key lessons about what it truly means to watch.
The first and perhaps most evident lessons is that those who watch must be awake. While the bridegroom was delayed, both the wise and foolish virgins slumbered. But at midnight a cry was heard saying: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” (Mat. 25:6). This was a shout that brought a renewed consciousness of the Lord’s presence among those who slept. It was accompanied by a call to action – to awake, to light their lamps, to put on their clothe and to “come out” of their former condition, and to arise and shake off the spirit of slumberin order to meet the Lord.
Though the parable does not state from whom the midnight cry came, we can surmise that it came from the watchmen. The Lord declares: “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent” (Isa. 62:6). The role of watchmen is to keep watch, especially at night. They are faithful custodians and wise stewards of household and cities.
In this hour, the Lord’s watchmen are summoned to remain spiritually vigilant for the purpose of perceiving and heralding the Lord’s coming. Dear beloved, it’s now the midnight hour and every elect son of God who has been appointed as a steward of His house is commissioned to raise a cry towards those who are in a perpetual slumber in religious Babylon. This commission was typified in the life of Ezekiel who was told of the Lord: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Eze. 33:7). To the Lord’s watchmen who have come into the conscious awareness of this day of the Lord, the Spirit still declares – you who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent! “For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God” (Jer. 31:6).
This cry forcefully resounds in the spirit of every apprehended son and it shall be released toward every child of God bidding them to come out to receive the Bridegroom. Dear ones, come let us raise a shout to the multitudes in the valley of decision that the day of the Lord is here. Christ is in our midst! Christ has come! He is coming, and He will continue to come, until He has come in the fullness of every dimension in which He can come – for the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. And yet, raising such a cry to awake those who sleep demands that we too remain awake to behold within our inward man the coming of the Bridegroom.
Secondly, we learn from the Lord that those who watch are clothed. “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Rev. 15:16). It is the garment of His nature that covers the shame and corruption of our human nature. For this cause we are admonished time and again to: “put on the new man which was created according to God” (Eph. 4:22), “put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:11), “put on love” (Col. 3:14), “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Col. 3:12), “put on righteousness as a breastplate” (Isa. 59:17), “put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12) that we may be “clothed with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2).
To be clothed is to be endued with the divine nature of God. Paul encouraged the saints to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in putting on the mind of Christ, the garments of His salvation and the robeofHis righteousness will we be equipped to meet the Lord and usher His coming in our lives. Those who have put on Christ are like the faithful servants in Jesus’ parable who were clothed and ready, for when the Master comes and knocks, they open to Him immediately (Luk. 12:36).
For long the Lord has stood knocking on the door of Laodicea. But, they have neither heard His voice nor opened the door. One of the demises of the Laodicean condition is their nakedness. The Lord councils them to buy from Him white garments, that they may be clothed, that the shame of their nakedness may not be revealed (Rev. 3:18). It is this condition that keeps those who dwell within the walls Laodicea from being ready to open the door that the Lord may come in to dine with them.
In addition to being clothed, those who watch have their waists girded. Jesus said: “Let your waist be girded… and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding” (Luk. 12:35-36). To be girded is to be equipped with the knowledge of the truth. One of the armors of God is to have our “waist girded with truth” (Eph. 6:14). One cannot be a watchman in God’s kingdom without their mind being equipped with the truth. There is a divine freedom and an impartation of His life that accompanies one’s knowledge of the truth. The truth liberates us from the futility of our mind and the blindness of our heart, it enlightens our spiritual understanding so that we are no longer alienated from the life of God. These qualities of being girded and clothed are exemplified in the Lord Himself. John saw in the midst of the seven lampstands: “One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” (Rev. 1:13).
Fourthly, those who watch have their lamps burning. “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning” (Luk. 12:35). A burning lamp offers light by virtue of its oil, which the five wise virgins took with them. A lamp that has no oil and which cannot be lit is the lamp of the wicked, it lacks the essence of God’s life. That the indwelling Spirit of Christ is both the oil (the anointing & source) and the light (illumination) is a mystery of His all sufficiency in our life. So, just what does it mean for our lamps to be burning?
The object of the lamp signifies the spirit for “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord” (Pro. 20:27). Accordingly, our lamps are said to be burning when our spirit man takes its rightful place in our lives. This is when Christ enlightens our thoughts, illuminates our path, and guides our every step by His indwelling spirit. Then will we become the light of the world and the day of the Lord. The Lord declares: “I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa. 49:6).
Light is divinely rich and multifaceted in its meaning. It stands for life, for truth, for purity, for understanding, for wisdom and for whatever is pure, holy, glorious, good and beneficial. In the supreme sense, light signifies the Lord Himself. All the attributes and qualities of light are encompassed in God. For God is light (1 Joh. 1:5) and the Father of lights (Jam. 1:17), Christ is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) and the light of the world (John 8:12) and the true Light (John 1:9). We read of our Lord Jesus that “in Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). John testifies of the greatness of this Light as one which lights every man that comes into the world (John 1:9). Such was the measure of glory and life personified in the true Light; our Lord Jesus Christ. And so we are called to have out lamps burning – to let this Light shine as we proceed to meet the Lord and sup with Him in the marriage supper of the Lamb, so that ultimately we, like Him, may be illuminated by the light of God’s glory to become light-beings.
May God make these truths real to your heart and establish you as His faithful watchman in this hour!