We need to watch for the coming of the Lord and be found ready
Sermon by J.K. Townsley
Paraphrased by Sherry Collins
Scripture Text: Mark 13:32-37
June 6, 1944 was one of the greatest days in all of history. Beginning just after midnight, the allied forces began what was to be called “the longest day.” After four years of war, the allies were going to invade German-occupied Europe. D-day marked the beginning of the end for the Third Reich. Germany had been preparing for years for this invasion, building a fortress along the Atlantic sea wall 1,800 miles from Holland to the Brittany Peninsula.
They sent their best strategist, General Erwin Rommel (aka, the Desert Fox), to prepare for the invasion that would come. For eight months he strengthened the coastal barricade. He pushed himself and others working day and night for a June 20th completion, yet on the morning of June 6th the fifty-one year-old General was five hundred miles away in Germany asleep. Thinking that nothing would happen, he had taken a three-day holiday to be with his wife on her birthday. The invasion took place at the exact time that he thought not. It is disastrous to be attacked when you think not.
The United States learned this same lesson on December 7th, 1941. The Japanese destroyed the Pacific fleet in a matter of a few hours. Our recovery took four long years of fighting from island to island in the South Pacific. Millions of lives were lost and trillions of dollars spent on the war. All because the enemy struck at an hour when we least expected it. Jesus is coming back for His church, and according to multiple scriptures, it will be when mankind least expects it. Matthew 24 tells us that no man knows the day or the hour. Jesus said it would happen as a thief in the night. If we knew when the burglar would come, we would stay home and be prepared. “Watch and pray,” and don’t be caught sleeping.
Of course, we understand that Jesus is not the enemy of the church, but He will seem so to the wicked that are not ready. Matthew 24:37-39 says, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (38)For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (39)And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” On that day, people will be going about their lives as usual. Matthew 24:40-41 “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (41) Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” He will appear as a savior to the saints that are ready, but as an enemy to the lost. It will happen when we “think not.”
It is important to realize that the scriptures dealing with the Lord’s return were directed at the believers, not the unbelievers. (Matthew 24:3) Jesus and the Apostles were warning the church to be ready, rather than telling the lost to get ready. Parables pertaining to this subject referred to the “servants of the Master,” the waiting virgins with their oil; the children of the day, not the children of the night. The warnings were written for those who already thought they would be ready. This is not a time for the church to take a three-day vacation and miss the moment that we have been planning for. To have done all that we have to be saved and then sleep through His coming would be a horrific waste.
A life of preparing does not make us secure if we snooze through the last few minutes. In Luke 21:34-36 we are reminded to “…take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.(35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” In the last days hearts will be overcharged: weighted down, burdened, pressed. Surfeiting will be common: headaches, pain, the results of careless living. Drunkenness: Intoxication, trying to forget the cares of this life. Distraction: preoccupied with problems and anxieties. Aren’t these the things that occupy most of our lives?
It is when we think not that Jesus will return. It is while we are lost in our own little worlds that we will miss the moment. Romans 13:11-14 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (12)The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” It is high time to awake out of sleep for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
Since we, the church, know that He will come as a thief in the night, and that we can’t predict the hour, we must live in readiness. We must not be distracted by the pressures and responsibilities of our lives, for in an hour we think not, the Son of Man cometh. “There’s a blessed time that’s coming, coming soon