The Need For Personal Watchfulness
Luke 21:34-36)
By Perce Mansfield, The Story of the Bible, Vol. 11

At the conclusion of the Olivet prophecy, the Lord added further words of exhortation impressing the Apostles with the need to watch both the signs of the times, and their own characters in view of the ungodly environment that would be in evidence at the time of the end. He emphasised their personal responsibility towards these matters, and urged the need for individual watchfulness. Luke alone records these words which shouId be included after the accounts given by Matthew and Mark.

How To Meet The Problems Of The Last Days

The Lord realised that in spite of his careful outline of future events contained in his Olivet Prophecy, the Apostles did not really grasp the significance of what he had said.

It seems incredible that they should fail to do so, for his words seem so clear and obvious to us. But, of course, we view them from the standpoint of explanation that the Apostles' own experiences provide. They heard these words with minds that were completely biased in one direction: that when the Messiah appeared he would immediately restore the Kingdom to Israel, would reign in Jerusalem and overcome the enemies of the nation. We read of their expectations knowing that such was not to be.

Their understanding of God's purpose provided no room for a Messiah who would come under the curse of the Law by being crucified, or one who would be rejected by his own nation.

It was only later that they came to comprehend fully the significance of all the words spoken by the Lord.

Jesus sensed this, and gently warned them; and his warning is recorded for our benefit as well.

"Take heed to yourselves," he told the four men as they rested with him on the Mount of Olives, "lest at any time your hearts he overcharged with the pleasures and cares of life and so that day come upon you unawares. For, as a falling trap will it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Keep awake at all times, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

The conditions, ecclesially and nationally, that existed just prior to the destruction of the Jewish State in A.D. 70 were very similar to those of today.

It was a time of affluence, when men were governed by selfish ambition for worldly success at the expense of all else, and opportunity existed for them to gratify it. Ecclesially, it was a period when doubts were being raised regarding matters until then accepted without question, and a state of apathy and apostasy was developing (see 2 Peter, Jude).

In such circumstances, and they also exist today, there is need to look inwards, and Christ stressed it. There is a personal responsibility resting upon each one to seek the things of God, and therefore he warned the Apostles: "Take heed to yourselves!"

He declared that the world would be "overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, and the cares of this life."

The word "surfeiting" is from a Greek word (bareo) signifying "to be heavy, weighed down," and hence drowsy through over-eating and the effect of gluttony. When a person "over-eats" of the pleasures and cares of this life, he becomes spiritually heavy with sleep as far as responsibility towards the things of God is concerned, and unfit for the vigilant watchfulness that Christ would have him exhibit.

And Christ warned that the world would be in that state; and the danger would exist that his disciples would be influenced by it.

Is not that the condition of the world today?

Is it not apathetic to its true need? Does it not, with heavy, drowsy aspect, turn from the things of God to satisfy self?

What is to be its destiny? Every true student of the Bible realises that the world is facing a climax from which it will not be able to extricate itself. It will be caught as a bird, or an animal, in a falling trap, that will destroy its way of life, and those who rejoice in it.

In view of this, Jesus exhorted his disciples to "watch and pray." The word "watch" signifies to be sleepless, and in the Greek is derived from a word that means to chase away sleep. That needs some effort on our part. We are called to be awake to the conditions around us, to the signs that speak of Christ's return, and to the true state of our characters in the sight of God. By so doing, and by seeking Divine help through prayer and a study of the Word, we will derive the strength to rise above the evil environment in which we find ourselves, and will develop those attributes that will please the Father and His Son, and find for us approval when we stand before Christ in judgment.


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