Jesus, if He wasn’t the Creator God of all that is and the Savior of the world from the dread sway of sin, might be considered a person obsessed—especially in one particular area. He constantly and consistently commanded that those who identified with Him “watch.” This seemed all-important to Him.
Because He is, in fact, Creator and Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, it behooves us to examine this obviously most important directive.
Jesus chastised the religionists—the Judaizers of that day—for their inability to discern the times—their failure to “watch” to see what was going on around them.
When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:2–3)
Those He chastised at that time could not discern the times; they couldn’t “watch” for their Messiah in the proper way because they didn’t truly believe in God’s way. That Way was right in front of them, and they wouldn’t believe in Him. So, belief is at the center of any such “watching” process in terms Christ presents.
The spiritual principle for attaining this level of discernment is laid out by the Apostle Paul.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12–14)
In the case of believers in this Age of Grace (Church Age), the indwelling Holy Spirit provides this discernment. We who have Christ dwelling within us have the ability to “watch” in the way He wants us to observe the times and seasons.
Sad to say, the vast majority of pastors today are themselves not “watchers on the wall” for prophetic stage-setting issues and events literally exploding around them. Thus, Christians in their pews who are true believers are not being instructed to “watch.”
That fact of pastoral neglect is no excuse if you and I are believers. We’re to study to show ourselves approved, so that we will not be ashamed at our Lord’s appearing (the time of Rapture). Such “watching” and working makes us workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. And the Truth is that Jesus Christ is about to make that sudden appearing we’re to be watching for. The evidence for that any-moment appearance is in all directions we observe.
Jesus knew that neglecting to “watch” would be a major symptom of apostasy at the end of the Church Age. He knew that people will be more and more caught up in the affairs of an increasingly sinful world the nearer history moves toward the Tribulation era. (Read again Matthew 24:36–42 and Luke 17:26–30)
As a matter of fact, the Lord voiced His thoughts in that regard. He was concerned for the generation of believers who would, like Lot of Sodom, be vexed by the evil all around them. I think His words shows that He would avenge this evil, even though He knew there would be very few believers who were truly faithful enough to be looking for His sudden, catastrophic intervention.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:7–8)
This statement makes me hold to the contention that there is no ”Great Awakening” prophesied for the closing days of this age. Certainly, the trend in the opposite direction of such an event seems to be irreversible. That trajectory is easily observable to the spiritually-attuned watchmen on the wall of unfolding history.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Luke 13:35–37)