The unannounced hour of our Lord’s return makes imperative constant readiness. As a prophet foretelling His own Advent, our Lord gives to His disciples emphatic and pointed warnings to watchful readiness (Matt. 24. and 25.).
“WATCH ... lest coming suddenly He find YOU sleeping. And what I say unto YOU, I say unto all, WATCH” (Mark 13: 36-37). Speaking as one with authority, our Lord begins and ends this solemn Advent-warning with the single, explicit command to WATCH!
Christians who are really preparing for the Lord’s impending Advent are to-day living in the ever-vigilant attitude of heart, life and conduct that springs from one constant and predominating aim - that they may be accounted worthy to escape the Judgment Wrath that is now coming swiftly upon the end of this Age.
Luke 21: 34-36 makes it startling and plain that translation is an escape from judgment. Many are taking for granted that they are ready to escape. How presumptuous their assumption when contrasted to the example Scripture sets before us in Paul! In anticipation he writes to the Philippians:‑“Not that I have already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after ... I Press towards the mark for the Prize.”
Paul lived out his daily Christian experience as a man running a race with the purpose in view of winning the prize. He stripped himself in his race for the crown laid up for all them who overcome and live godly in Christ Jesus (Rev. 12: 11). Thus Paul could say “Thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” That he might be a victor and not a victim of his circumstances Paul put heart and soul into his Christian experience. He strained every nerve, bent every muscle to apprehend that for which Christ apprehended him. Not long before he departed he evidently attained to the high calling of God in Christ, for he said, “I am ready now ... I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith ... henceforth there is laid up for me a crown ... which the Lord ... shall give me in that day.” What a rapturous assurance was Paul’s! And it may be ours, if we, like Paul, press into the overcomings that make us more than conquerors over the world, the flesh and Satan.
Enoch was translated because he had the testimony that he pleased God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. Can we, therefore, hope to walk with God and please Him as long as we have any carnality, fleshliness, earthliness in us? “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal ... for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3).
The words “WATCH” and “PRAY” are constantly on the lips of our Lord when warning of His sudden thief-like returning. All teaching, all preaching, all activity which annuls the Lord’s solemn warning to His own to take heed to themselves and watch and pray always makes for dangerous unalertness. This is the reason why many Christians to-day are walking carelessly, as though going to a picnic, when as a matter of fact, we are in the very hour of the Advent and judgment has already begun at His Sanctuary. The rapture itself is a token of that judgment on those who are left. Hence the whole strategy of Satan is to prevent the vigilance and alertness the Lord has so solemnly counselled.
“So shall also the coming of the Son of man be. There shall two be in a field: one shall be taken and the other left ... WATCH, therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24: 39-42).
It has been said the only difference between the one the Lord takes in translation and the one left to earth’s last judgments is the difference of watchful readiness. In His last discourses our Lord sought to rouse with exhortations to watchfulness the unwatchful disciple, the “robbed goodman of the house,” and the unfaithful steward (Matt. 24 and 25).
“Watch therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh.” Christ made ever-pressing the necessity of being ever ready. “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning: and ye yourselves like unto men thay wait for their Lord ... Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find WATCHING” (Luke 12: 35-37).
We stand on the threshold of Christ’s returning. Every tick of the clock draws us nearer. The darkness of earth’s midnight is overspreading. The coming of the Bridegroom is at hand. Hence His Bride is making herself ready. The Spirit of the Antichrist is abroad in the world. The great tribulation is casting its shadows before. Christians, look up! Be instantly ready, vigilant, watchful; “Now is the time for you to wake out of sleep; for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand” (Rom. 13: 11, 12).
An almost imperceptible spiritual movement is at work in the hearts of all true believers separating the gold from the dross, the real from the unreal, the precious from the vile, the chaff from the wheat. It comes like a sacred hush upon the soul, the overshadowing of the Presence drawing near.
Christ is coming! Be ready when He comes. Separate yourself from the world’s indulgence. Disentangle yourself from your immersion in the affairs of this life. Watch and pray always! A carnal Christian cannot be watchful. We can only watch as we keep spiritually awake. The word “Watch” means to be spiritually aroused, to be on the constant alert. “I sleep, but my heart waketh; it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me ... my dove, my undefiled, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night” (S. of S. 5: 2).
He is coming when we think not. There is to be no warning. “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24: 27). One quick, blinding flash and the watchful will be with the Lord. The unwatchful according to our Lord’s own words will not escape earth’s last judgments (Luke 21: 34-36).
“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord” (Prov. 20: 27). In His parable of the virgins our Lord reveals there will be a lamp-trimming revival on the eve of His returning. How long does it take to trim a lamp? The wise have only time to trim their lamps, not fill them, before the door is closed. It is going to require constant, vigilant preparation of heart, life and lip to make and keep us ready to meet and greet our soul’s Beloved when He, all glorious, comes to receive those “accepted in the Beloved.”
“One known sin un-dropped, one known command disobeyed, one known truth unbelieved, one part of the life knowingly un-yielded, and we stand in jeopardy. The last shadows are falling across the world, and therefore across your life. Yet you are not ready; but there is time to win the victory before the sun goes down. YOUR
COMING JUDGE IS YOUR PRESENT SAVIOUR.”
‑The Midnight Cry.