“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
After Jesus tells the disciples about the end times, He warns them: “Watch yourselves.” Don’t watch the signs of the times or the things of this earth, but your own heart. Stay awake, pray; keep your lives free from the sin that so easily hinders us.
- 2 Peter 3:11-18; “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not
carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”
Lest your hearts be weighed down
We are called to live our lives differently in light of Jesus’ promise to return. Considering our hope of eternal life, we are commissioned to conduct ourselves in holiness. This is not to for the sake of earning favor with God or impressing each other with greater levels of self-attained righteousness. The purpose of our calling to holiness is so that our hearts will not be weighed down. Sin is an entrapment. It burdens us. The Lord wants us to be free from the cares of this world. He wants us to be free from the encumbrance of sin.
- Hebrews 12:1-2; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Stay awake at all times, praying
Psalm 127:2 says, “He gives His beloved sleep.” Jesus is not asking us to stay awake physically but to stay awake spiritually. Be alert. Be watchful. Be aware. Do not be spiritually lazy. Keep watch, not for signs of the times necessarily, but of yourselves. Set your eyes on the Lord and so keep yourself in the love of God.
- Colossians 3:1-10; “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
Watch yourselves. In lieu of Jesus’ imminent return and your guaranteed inheritance in heaven regardless of whether He returns in your lifetime, live your lives in holiness conducting yourself throughout the time of your stay here in godly reverence. Don’t become entangled in the overwhelming weight and hindrance of sin, but set your eyes on Christ, our life. When He appears, we will appear with Him and be evermore in His presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasure forever.
“These are the inheritances that Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the people of Israel distributed by lot at Shiloh before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. So they finished dividing the land.”
They finished dividing the land
Hundreds of years have passed since God made His promises to Abraham. We get the privilege of reading this testimony of God’s faithfulness as it unfolds. Too bad Abraham didn’t get to read what we are reading! Having the promise of an inheritance in Canaan and of an offspring as numerous as the dust of the earth, he believed God without receiving the outcome. He “died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar;” Hebrews 11:13.
- Romans 4:18-21 “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
Abraham looked forward to that which was unseen. His faith, we’re told, was reckoned to His account as righteousness. The Lord considered Abraham to be a righteous man because he took God at His word and trusted Him as able to do that which He promised.
We have received promises like Abraham did. With some of the promises we even have their fulfillments written down for us in the book of Revelation. Having witnessed the Lord’s faithfulness to Abraham, and having every reason to believe He is both faithful and able to carry out His promises to us, let us also grow strong in faith.
We have the promise of Jesus’ continual guidance and presence on this earth
- Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'”
- Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Psalms 48:14 “This is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever.”
- Matthew 28:20b “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We have the promise of Jesus’ return
- John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
We have the promise of Jesus’ kingdom
- Luke 12:32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
- Hebrews 12:28 “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
- James 2:5 “Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
- 1Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
We have the promise of being brought into Jesus’ presence for all eternity
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
- Revelation 21:3-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”
- Revelation 21:22-23 “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.”
- Revelation 22:3-6 “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true.'”
I have only mentioned a fraction of His promises and a fraction of the verses concerning the fraction of promises I mentioned! How overwhelming does the Lord need to convince us before we believe in Him wholeheartedly?
- 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
“He said therefore, ‘A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.'”
A far country
Jesus is telling this parable because He is on His way to Jerusalem to be crucified, but those who were with Him thought He was going to establish His kingdom immediately. The death of their promised king would be misunderstood. So, just as He did in His upperoom discourse in the book of John, Jesus tells them beforehand that He would be leaving. “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe;” John 14:28-29.
Jesus always conducted Himself in light of His heavenly citizenship. He knew His kingdom was not of this earth. He knew He was a sojourner here.
- John 18:36 “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.'”
It was not that He disassociated Himself from the world; on the contrary, He loved the world and desired to gather all men to Himself.
In leiu of His belonging to a heavenly kingdom, He spent His life loving people.
- John 13:1-5 “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
To receive for himself a kingdom
Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands. He knew where He had come from and where He was going. In light of this He stripped Himself and served.
- Philippians 2:4-11 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God has highly exalted him
It was not Christ who exalted Himself, but God.
- John 8:54 “Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, “He is our God.”‘”
- John 3:35-36 “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
- Ephesians 1:16-23 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
And then return
Just as surely as He came, Jesus will return.
- John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
Jesus promises He will return because He wants us be with Him (John 17:24). He has every intention–He is purposed, He is resolute to keep His promise: He will return.
- 2 Peter 3:9-14 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”