“Be on the alert!”
Mark 13:14-37 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 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. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.
28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 34 It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”
In today’s text Jesus says: “False Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.” There is a danger for those who seek after signs and wonders. They may be led astray. Supernatural power is available to those who believe, through the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately it is not limited to those who follow Christ. There are and always have been those who call on the super natural power of darkness. These include sorcerers, those who practice witchcraft, soothsayers, fortune tellers and false prophets. How can we know for sure if we are hearing a false Christ or prophet, or if it is truly Jesus who is speaking? Jesus tells us in John 10: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers…Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
It is important that we know the voice of Jesus. There are many voices in the world and they speak many things to all who will listen. One of the most dangerous deceptions is not of those who call themselves Christ, but rather of those who speak of a different Christ, in Jesus name. In warning the disciples, Jesus said: “if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him” Previously, in Mark 13:5-6, Jesus had begun by saying: “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.” The deception that will mislead many, is a deception that speaks in Christ’s name. It is though a different Christ, a false Christ. Perhaps it is a Christ who tolerates and embraces sin. Perhaps it is a Christ who was a good man and a good teacher, but not truly God, one who lived as an example of how to live, but did not really die for our sins, or was not raised from the grave. Perhaps it is a Christ, who they say is a way to God, just one of many ways. The voice of Christ, Jesus Himself says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
There are a few ways which help us to know if we are hearing the voice of Jesus or a stranger’s voice. One thing is to consider the motive of the one who is speaking. Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” What Jesus did, He did as a sacrifice, for the benefit of others not Himself. Very often we can discern who is really speaking by listening carefully and knowing who benefits by what they are saying. Are they laying their life down, or are they seeking personal gain or attention? Are they building and building up the kingdom of God, or are they building a kingdom here on earth? Most importantly though, to know the voice of Jesus, the only true Christ, we must spend time with Him. We need to personally know what He said. We need to know more than just snippets and sound bites; verses and phrases which can be misquoted and taken out of context. We need to know what He says about love, compassion, mercy and grace. We need to know what He says about righteousness, repentance, justice and judgment. It is important if we will know and discern what He may be saying, that we know what He said. Like God, the Father, Jesus is unchanging. What He says today will not contradict what He has already said.
Jesus is indeed coming. He says we will not know the day or the hour of His return, so we should “Be on the alert!” Jesus also is here now and every day. He speaks daily to all who will listen. It is essential that we know His voice. To know His voice we need to reduce the time we spend listening to strangers. Many people today recognize entertainers, celebrities, politicians and even preachers just by the sound of their voice. We need to listen more for the voice of Jesus than for the voice of any stranger.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I want to know Your voice above all others. I want to know both what You have said and what You are saying. One thing I know is that Your motive was not for Your own gain, but rather for mine. Holy Spirit may I always hear what You are saying. May I be alert so that I will not be mislead. Thank You that You came, You are coming and that You are here. Amen.