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  • God does not want you to stay behind: so, be watchful and prepared! | Photo: Pixabay
Teachings

Be watchful – Not fearful

Rev Jaap de Vreugd - 13 January 2021

What does the COVID-19 pandemic tell us? Does it belong to the woes that announce the coming of Messiah? Now, it is a striking fact that according to biblical vision the intensity of the signs increases the closer we get to the end. That is also inherent in the imagery of the woes. What is the biblical attitude in this regard?

“Be watchful, because you do not know which moment your Lord will come”

We focus on Matthew 24:36 on Lord Jesus’ Olivet Discourse. In it, Jesus is very clear about the attitude He expects from us: Be watchful, because you do not know which moment your Lord will come. His sermon is a reaction to the question from the disciples asking about the end of times and the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. The question has been raised by His words about the destruction of the Temple. He speaks in this large sermon about the final things about cosmic signs: the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Before that He already spoke about a great distress that will come over the earth and fear will come over all people. We recognize that only too well!

Cleansing and purification
Is it only a gloomy outlook for the future about which people speak these days when it comes to the major world problems like depletion of the earth, destruction of the environment, et cetera? Exacerbated by the worldwide fear for a virus like we are experiencing these months? What Lord Jesus promises is something completely different from a major catastrophe that frightens us. Certainly, if the end of times is the subject, the Bible speaks of fire, for example. The fire of judgment. But God is not after destruction. The fire of judgment is much more cleansing, purification. A purification that prepares the world for the final breakthrough of God’s salvation. That is what all these cosmic signs have to do with. God is a God of salvation, not of doom. When you notice these signs occurring, Jesus says, raise your head: your salvation is near. Because then the Son of Man is coming in glory. And that is the ultimate perspective! When you look around you, you have little reason to believe that everything ends well. But the prophetic Word aims our eye and our heart at God and His Son, the Messiah. The Son of man is coming. And because He comes, we have a future. And that is what we are still waiting for! And in that Jesus calls upon us: be alert!

“God is a God of salvation, not of doom”

Noah’s time
Jesus draws a parallel with Noah’s time. The stories are well-known. God has decided to end the old world. One hundred and twenty years are granted to the generation then living to listen and repent. Noah is the only one who obeys! He takes God’s Word for it. Then it is too late. The churning water becomes a mass grave. If only they had listened to Noah!

“The churning water becomes a mass grave. If only they had listened to Noah!”

Raise your head
Now, draw lessons from it, Lord Jesus says. Because the mentality will be exactly the same in the final days prior to the coming of the Son of Man. And then the big day arrives. All of a sudden. God doesn’t hasten the day of His coming because He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, says Peter. God does not want you to stay behind: so, be watchful and prepared! The point is to let God’s message get through to you and to hear and accept the invitation of Jesus and be watchful in view of the great future! The day of the Son of Man. That is, after all, the decisive turn for the better. At the end of the world is not a gigantic catastrophe waiting, but a wonderful future with God! More accurately: through the catastrophe, through the judgment, a wonderful future. The Bible is clear about that, without us being able to fill in how and what exactly. But anyway this: God will be with man, and they will be His people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes. Jesus’ sermon is directed precisely against fear, against hopelessness, against cynicism, against pessimism. He opens the eyes to a fantastic future. He doesn’t want to miss anyone, that is why He says so intrusively: just be watchful now and prepared! Being watchful means; watch for the signs. Raise your head when you see God’s signs, don’t let yourself being taken hostage by fear and pessimism and certainly not by indifference, but raise your head in the radiant expectation of the coming of the Lord!

“God doesn’t hasten the day of His coming because He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”

 

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