How old were you when your parents decided you were mature enough to stay home by yourself? I think I was around 12 or 13. Both my parents worked, so during the summer months, my mom would leave my brother and me at home with a “to do” list. I’m sure the items on the list were important and helpful but looking back she probably agreed with that old adage, “idle hands are the devil’s work!” Without the accountability of expectations, most kids would waste the entire day watching television or getting into mischief. We were given specific jobs to do and knew there would be unpleasant consequences if we failed in our required duties. We also knew the “approximate” time my mom would be pulling into the driveway and would schedule our day accordingly.
I did learn one thing that summer: men and women work differently! My thought was to immediately dive in and get the work done so I could have some free time. My brother, on the other hand, wasted a lot of time trying to figure out an easier way to do things. By the time he gave up on his crazy ideas (like creating a “conveyer belt” of my dad’s belts to make an assembly line for cutting beans, instead of just sitting down and snapping them like a normal person), I was done with my work, and he was just getting started.
Mark 13 reminded me of the dangers of being distracted from our assigned work because the Master is coming back for an inspection when we least expect it. In His grace and kindness, Jesus gave us lots of details to tell us the “approximate” time of His return – signs that will indicate “He is near, right at the door” (Mark 13:29). As He describes the state the world will be in at the time He returns, He keeps repeating a few commands to His close disciples who have questioned Him about these things (Peter, James, John, and Andrew).
* Do not be frightened (13:7).
* Be on your guard (13:9).
* Do not worry (13:11).
* Take heed (13:23).
* Take heed (13:33).
* Keep on the alert (13:33).
* Be on the alert (13:35).
* Be on the alert (13:37).
I believe Jesus is specifically describing the 7-year Tribulation; in fact, He says, For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will (13:19). It will be a time of worldwide wars, great earthquakes, famines, persecution, family betrayal, hatred, false Christs, and upheaval of the created world (stars, sun, moon). Life as we know it will not exist.
Think about this…during the Holocaust, especially in the days leading up to it, there was an opportunity for people to leave their home country and escape to a safer place. There was hope to get out of the horror. But the Tribulation is going to be happening all over the world. There will be no “safe” place to go, other than crying out to God for salvation and escaping to heaven through martyrdom. The alternative will be to submit to the new world order, receive the mark of the beast, and seal your fate eternally (Revelation 14:9-13). You might survive the Tribulation, but you will not enter heaven upon your death.
We are seeing the signs that Jesus talked about now. Things are falling into place faster than we could imagine. If the signs of the Tribulation are that clear, how much closer is our hope of the catching away of the church – the body of Christ? We don’t know the day or the hour, but Jesus doesn’t want us to be surprised at His return. But take heed, behold, I have told you everything in advance (13:23) … Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door (13:29) … What I say to you I say to all, “Be on the alert!”
Right now, we’ve got work to do. God has given us our assignment: Go and tell the world about Jesus. Are you faithfully laboring for the kingdom, or are you “dithering” around, wasting the day on things that don’t matter, thinking you have plenty of time to make things right?
The clock is ticking, and the day is late. Are you ready for the Master’s return?