What did Christ mean? You may not know the answer. Your future safety will depend on HOW you watch! Learn to avoid the tragedy of USELESS watching.
June 4, 1967--The world stood in numb suspense as Israeli and Arab belligerents faced each other on the borders of Israel.
Then the sickening news – war in the Middle East. Maybe it would be a quickly ending flare-up. Suddenly, this last dwindling hope was smashed! A drastic change of attitude exploded over the entire Arab world. Radio Cairo detonated Arab fury by broadcasting that the United States planes were fighting with the Israelis. The volatile Arab world was inflamed.
The explosion shattered the peaceful little world of the Americans living in Arab territory. The latent, smoldering Arab resentment became a cauldron of hate, bitterness and revenge!
The American Embassy attachés’ warned them to get out! They took that warning. They looked into the angry face of Arab mobs who wanted their blood. They knew their only safety was in flight.
These refugees came out by any means possible. Wives, many separated from their husbands, mothers with small babies, oil workers, students and government employees, ran for their lives. Most had only a suitcase and the clothes on their backs. All other possessions were left behind.
By heeding this warning, they got out with their most priceless possession, their lives!
I wonder how many people in God’s Church are truly watching. Let’s face reality! God does not warn in vain. He does not need to fill up space, to pad out a story. Every word written in His Book is written out of love and concern for us!
God said He is going to pour out His Spirit on us and make His words known to us! But He also warns that when He does this, people will not turn at His reproof. And, tragically, because we refuse to heed, God is going to totally disregard us when panic, distress and anguish come upon us (Prov. 1:23-28)!
Judah, however, will not listen. “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, The Lord lives; surely they swear falsely you have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have commanded them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return (Jer. 5:1-3)!
Read Matthew 24:16; “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. Let’s look at the rest of Israel. What is prophesied for the United States and Great Britain staggers the imagination and defies description.
Do the words like United States and Great Britain seem impersonal to you? All right, let’s make them personal. Your state, your county, city or town – perhaps your own relatives and maybe you are going to know terror which has never yet been described or experienced!
You think that is a sensational statement that can’t be backed up? Well, let us tell you, it isn’t! Jeremiah cried out in horror when he saw the future of those two great nations. “ALAS! For that day is great, so that NONE is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s (Ephraim (Britain) and Manasseh’s (United States) trouble…” (Jer. 30:7).
Don’t carelessly gloss over what it says! It plainly says no time of suffering or horror has ever approached this time! These days have no parallel in all history. No horror stories yet written of the bestiality, savagery and atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps are capable of showing the misery to come! There has never been a time like it! Get that in your mind!
And here is the warning for the Church of God! “And some of those who are wise shall fall” – for what purpose? – “to refine and cleanse them” (Dan. 11:35).
God is going to literally haul Israel into total destruction. But of all the people of Israel those in God’s Church have the matchless gift of being called – not just to survival in horror-- but to survival in safety (Rev. 12:14). Unbelievably, some won’t choose this way. They will do it the hard way. God specifically says of some, “Take from these (those who are going to die or be taken captive), a small number, and bind them in the skirts of your robes. And of these (those offered a place of safety), take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire” (Ez. 5:3-4).
Ezekiel could be talking about some of us! Does it disturb you to know that there are specific prophecies about some of us? The big question is, why? Why, with all the fantastic warnings we have been exposed to, should it happen to any of us?
Today – as you read this article – we know a temple is to be built. It can’t be stopped. We will see the fulfillment of this prophecy. It is already an established fact. It’s history that hasn’t yet happened – that’s what prophecy is! When we see this building progress, what will be our reaction – casual apathy or excitement? This is our warning like the Ark was to the people of Noah’s time. That time is drawing rapidly to a close.
As this building and other prophecies take place before our very eyes, there should be a deep realization that what Ezekiel said about those who could have been saved but were cast into the fire will take place. Don’t let this be a prophecy about you!
Let’s understand, brethren, our minds have been opened. We know God! Israel and the rest of the world is going to know God through great tribulation. “So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ez. 6:14).These are stern warnings that are every bit as sure as the Jews’ takeover of the temple site.
Why have we been given knowledge of these prophecies? It is because they are the warning signs to members of God’s Church who have a mind to see that we are approaching the end of the road. Just as surely as the diminishing mileage pictured on road signs as you draw closer to your destination, these prophecies are our road signs – our mileage markers!
Are we blind to them? Do they have a profound affect upon us? It they don’t, there is a specific reason and that reason is terribly important. The only reason we see or can see is because we have something to spotlight the danger in our minds. The world can’t see. Just like a darkened road sign at night without some illumination the world can’t see the signpost.
The world can see something is wrong, but blindly continues on the path of destruction because it knows no other path. They will hear our sermons and read our articles; but there is no real sense of danger. Do you see the signs that are extant now, today, of the decaying morals and values in our great nation?
Let me explain it to you this way. You and I are just as interested today as we were yesterday in preserving our physical lives. If we saw physical danger approaching we would react just as fast as our ability would permit. We watch alertly for approaching danger when driving an automobile. If danger approaches, we take every precaution possible to preserve our lives.
There is a bigger danger, however. We think we will be aware and be watching for the danger that is to come upon our people. And we will if we know what it means to watch. But we must understand the Biblical meaning of watching. There is a vast difference between watching God’s way and watching the world’s way!
Let’s assume you watch as the governments of this world do. They spend millions of dollars on watching. Huge espionage rings and fantastic communication facilities with listening posts around the world; satellites in space to spot danger by the mode of the day. In every intelligible language, skilled men analyze newspapers, magazines, books and periodicals written in foreign languages. Learned men spend lifetimes in learning languages and how to analyze the slightest movement of a foreign power.
Governments watch with physical resources. The United States has spent literally billions on earth satellites to keep track of the weather. They know what it is worldwide.
Now, let me ask you this question – what good does it do? At best there is a possibility that they can warn some few people to move out of a possible storm area or international trouble spot. But they don’t have the power to watch in the way that could or will save their lives. As you read this article the Philippines are trying to clean up the devastation of a terrifying storm. They knew it was coming but they could not save themselves.
“He that flees of them shall not flee away, and he that escapes of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them: And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set my eyes upon them for evil, and not for good” (Amos 9:1-4).
Only we are given the power to escape! What did Christ mean then when He said to watch and pray always, that we may be accounted worthy to escape (Luke 21:36)?
He didn’t mean it the way the Pharisees watched. They watched Christ selfishly - for their own personal gain (Luke 14:1). Christ didn’t tell us to watch for the purpose of escape. That would only serve a selfish purpose.
The word “watching” indicates a person has a sense of danger. Watching is a job. We are called His watchmen (Ez. 33:1-9). A watchman is alert and aware of what is going on. He usually watches at a time of darkness because that is the time of greatest danger.
Christ said, watch and pray that you might be worthy to escape. All right, you just get down on your knees right now and ask God, “Please help me to be worthy to escape.” Will that prayer make you more worthy to escape than you were when you went down on your knees? I doubt it seriously!
The watching and praying, brethren, is not a watching and praying for ourselves to escape. The watching and praying is what is done by an individual who is in the process of becoming worthy. By offering a prayer that we might be worthy, does it make us worthy? If we are only praying to escape, these prophecies will have little meaning!
Do you understand this? Or are we in the condition of the world – hearing and yet not perceiving? God doesn’t want it this way. It is our doing. God gave His Spirit that we might understand! That is why Christ said, “Watch”! “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour (there is some uncertainty) your Lord does come” (Matt. 24:42). It is called a time of great darkness.
The only ones who can watch in the way Jesus Christ intended (to become worthy to escape) are the people who are not in darkness.
There are going to be thousands of people who know the truth through this website. They will know what is going to take place but they are not going to be accounted worthy to escape! Many are going to “almost” make it!
They are going to be, oh so close. Just as close as their computers. Some are going to be even closer. They are going to be in the very company of those who will make it. Notice Daniel: “But many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white” (Dan. 11:33-35). That’s real close. Close enough not to have missed.
But then look at the Ten Virgins. You can’t get any closer than they were. Notice Matthew 25:6 ‘And at midnight (a period of great darkness) there was a cry made.” There is a great cry going out in this period of great spiritual darkness. In this hour of great darkness there is light. That is, for those who want it? This parable shows clearly that the wise took “oil.” Because they “took” the oil (did what was necessary to acquire the ingredients that would light their path) they could see at a time of darkness.
Without oil they couldn’t see. Neither can we! These tremendous warnings, the unbelievable opening of prophecy to God’s servants, will not be plain and clear or motivate you unless they are spotlighted by the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit.
Don’t be like the Foolish Virgins. They saw it too late – just when the rest of the world did. They saw danger, but the curtain had dropped, it was too late!
What we must come to understand is that the fight is physical. But it’s going to be spiritually motivated. Without seeing in the light of God’s Spirit we are like those described in Matthew 13: “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, by hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed” (vs. 14-15).
Yes, we know this refers to the world. But it also refers to anyone who permits his eyes (spiritually speaking) to close.
We should watch, but watch in a particular way. You could subscribe to all leading newspapers, periodicals, magazines and study them diligently. You can listen to news on the television and radio. You might even hear our sermons and read our articles until your eyeballs become bloodshot and still miss the boat. That’s what the world is doing.
Here is how we are to watch. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write, ‘The end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (I Peter 4:7). This is the key to the way we should watch. This is how the prophetic knowledge will cause us to react so we can become worthy. This is how we will really understand. This is the big test. If these prophecies are a reality in our mind we will be engaging in more of the spiritual work of God’s Church – Praying! Fasting! Serving the brethren! Overcoming!
Notice carefully in Luke 21 the admonition: “And take heed to yourselves (carefully examine yourself), lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (the opposite of fasting), and drunkenness, and cares of this life” (v. 34). Making the cares of this life your first concern is going to take you in exactly the opposite direction from concern for God’s work. God’s work will lose meaning to you!
The word “watch” means to become spiritually alive – spiritually active! This isn’t a matter of seeing with our eyes. It is not a matter of looking at our website and taking advantage of the information there. You could be blind and deaf and still do God’s work. This is a matter of a spiritually active individual!
Let’s ask ourselves, brethren, if we are spiritually alive. Are we watching in the right way? If we are, we are putting out all effort in this last-ditch struggle to get the Word of God done. Brethren, let’s examine ourselves so we won’t just almost make the really big event to follow! Watch God’s way!
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