When I was in the Gulf war I had a platoon of soldiers that I was responsible for. We maintained our sector of security around the unit to keep us safe from the enemy. In wartime, sleeping on duty, especially while maintaining security was a serious offense. Both your life and other people’s lives depended on you keeping a vigilant watch. Still, it was easy to live in the moment and occasionally someone would take lightly their duty and responsibility. It was hard work to maintain that vigilance. Soldiers were tired and sleep was a huge luxury that didn’t come often enough. Regardless, lives depended on those that secured our lines.
Mark 13:35-37 (TNIV)
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ”
In many ways it is good that we don’t know the day or the hour that Jesus will return. Human nature being what it is would be that we completely let down our guard, throw caution to the wind and open ourselves up the attack of the enemy…Satan. Satan would want us to just keep sinning, to make bad decisions, and to turn from God thinking that, “Hey, all I have to do is change my mind at the end and I’m good”. Satan knows that as we accept his SEEMING wisdom in our lives that we become jaded, complacent, our hearts harden and we often start down that road of unbelief.
Jesus tells us here to keep watch, not to be found sleeping. The Greek word translated as “sleeping” here is “katheudo” [kath-yoo-do]. It is often used throughout Scriptures as a figurative way of saying, “yield to sin and laziness spiritually” as well as “to be indifferent to your salvation”.
It is as important for our TODAY as it is for our TOMORROW…… and important as well for the day and the hour that Jesus comes again……….our eternity……..that we stay on guard and actively seek Jesus and His way of life. When we start pushing prayer aside, when we start listening to seeming worldly “wisdom” and discard the true wisdom of God, when we replace God, indeed, when we replace Jesus in our lives with other things (ambitions, money, prestige and the list goes on)….we are like the soldier that is in the foxhole sleeping……the opportunity is now there for the enemy to strike and be successful. Standing guard in a foxhole is good and getting baptized in a foxhole is even better. Here’s a picture of a soldier being baptized in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. Now that will keep the enemy away! LOL
It’s funny to me how my life in the foxhole standing guard is the same but different than our daily life awaiting the return of our Savior, Jesus. It’s the same because in both cases we must be vigilant at all times, guarding against an enemy. It’s different because in the foxhole we are guarding against an enemy that seeks to kill us, to destroy our lives, and all those around us………in our daily life we are guarding against the enemy that wants to keep us from a relationship with Jesus–our hope and salvation.
What should we be doing in that foxhole (and in our lives)?
1. We should not be misled by confusing claims or speculation, let alone confusing interpretations of what might happen (Mark 13:5-6).
IN THE FOXHOLE: “The enemy, what enemy? Cmon’ soldier, get a grip. There is no enemy!” or “The enemy is going to come next month in the afternoon, you can sleep now, just be awake then.”
This is me and one of my squad leaders, SSG Jarrett with captured enemy weapons and vehicle in Saudi……there is an enemy! >>>>>
IN OUR LIVES: “There is no God, so why keep trying?” or “It’s so hard to always do the right thing, and besides, it’s no fun. Just give up. You’ll have more fun.” or “Jesus is coming May 2nd, 2011…….chill, better live it up now!”
2. We should not be afraid to tell people about Jesus, despite what they might say or do to us (Mark 13:9–11).
IN THE FOXHOLE: As a Platoon Sergeant it wasn’t a popular thing to make out the guard roster and to tell soldiers that they had to sit in a hole for hours at a time keeping watch.
IN OUR LIVES: It’s not always popular to tell people what Jesus is doing in our lives.
3. We must stand firm by faith and not be surprised by persecution (Mark 13:13).
IN THE FOXHOLE: As a soldier, we were tired, wore out and ached every day from the beating of war. It’s not like we didn’t know it would be that way. Living in a desert day-in day-out is not pleasant. Yet, most of us persevered because we lived for something greater than ourselves, the love of God, family, country and freedom!
This is another of my squad leaders, SGT Holt. He is now a Pastor in Texas >>>>>
IN OUR LIVES: It’s no surprise that people that are lost in their lives will look at us as followers of Jesus (who have been found) and feel that we are trying to be “better” than them. The reality is, we are trying to share a timeless truth that heals lives. Still many won’t be able to see that and will strike back, mock, and laugh.
4. We must be morally alert, obedient to the commands for living found in God’s Word. Interestingly enough, this is not just for that distant “hour” when the enemy strikes or when Jesus comes again….but it is also for the day-to-day wellbeing!
IN THE FOXHOLE: Eat nutritious food, stay healthy, learn and apply defensive measures, work as a team, don’t make stupid decisions.
IN OUR LIVES: Jesus shares timeless wisdom concerning humility, love, forgiveness and helping those in need (and so much more). Apply these concepts as well as live a life of prayer, study of the Scriptures, seeking and maintaining a close relationship with God and with others……and you will be ready! Resist the temptation to lie, cheat, steal, slander, cause pain, humiliate, and to be selfish and you will find that your day-to day goes better as well as….you will be ready!
Are you ready? Are you ready to defend yourself in the foxhole against a certain enemy? Just as important….are you ready to live a life in peace, with love and in a relationship with a Father, indeed, with Jesus, that extends into an eternity?
NOTE: This is the last part of the “Olivette Discourse” in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus is specifically asked by the disciples about the end-times/His second coming. Next, we will continue on with Mark, chapter 14.