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The Parables of Jesus Part 21
Mark 13:33-37 - Be sober and alert and work to bring the Gospel to the lost before the judgment of God
““Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. 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. 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— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ ””
Mark 13:33-37 NASB1995
This short parable in Mark 13 is another one where Jesus tells His disciples to take heed and be on the alert, because no one knows when the appointed time will come for His return. He has put us in charge of His house and we are to remain vigilant, because His return could happen at any time.
Believers today, if they even pay attention to eschatology, are lulled into thinking that we don’t need to pay heed to events because it has been so long since Jesus gave us these warnings. I’ve always struggled with eschatology, finding the prophecies and imagery in books like Daniel, Matthew 25 and Revelation (among others) to be confusing and a source of many heated theological arguments. Some have even argued that many of the events are in the past and we are in the millennium period of His rule before the final end. So what is eschatology, anyway? Eschatology is the doctrine of the last things or end times and it appears in many religions on Earth in various ways. Gotquestions.org has a nice summary of the murky aspects of this “ology” from a Christian perspective:
The Bible describes a terrible period of tribulation in Revelation chapters 6-18. Will this Tribulation be preceded by the Rapture, will it conclude with the Rapture, or has it in fact already occurred? These different perspectives have a great impact on what we should be preparing ourselves for. Eschatology helps us to understand the Bible’s prophetic passages and how to live our lives in response to what God is going to do in the end times. There is a great deal of controversy in Eschatology, but that does not relieve us of our responsibility to study and understand what the Bible teaches about the end times. An understanding of Eschatology will eliminate many of the fears we have about the future. Our God is sovereign, He has a plan, and it will all unfold according to His perfect will and timing. This is a great encouragement to those who are in Christ!
So my photo selection at the beginning is great advice - be alert, not anxious! I know more than a few people who think the return of Jesus is imminent because of the current horrific events in Israel and the Middle East along with other troubling signs in our ailing culture. But even Jesus doesn’t know the time! Although He is an equal part of the Triune God, He has voluntarily, in submission to the Father, restricted His knowledge of this event.
Precept Austin has a superb summary of this parable from John MacArthur, who sees these events as being in the future. The “Olivet Discourse” referred in this is the apocalyptic teachings that Jesus gave in Matthew 24/25, Mark 13 and Luke 21:
So in response to the disciples’ question about the end of the age, the Lord Jesus explained that He would return after a long period of world history, which will culminate in a final, catastrophic period of global tribulation. Jesus carefully forewarned the future generation that will witness those final events, including the rise of the Antichrist and his desecration of the temple, that the end is near. Though the events predicted in the Olivet Discourse are still future, its truth serves to instruct every generation of believers throughout church history. On the one hand, it serves as a vivid reminder that the things of this world are temporary (cf. 2 Peter 3:11–13; 1 John 2:15–17; 3:2–3), and that the redeemed are citizens of an eternal kingdom that is yet to be revealed on earth when the Lord comes in glory (Phil. 3:20–21; Heb. 11:16). On the other hand, it provides a compelling motivation for believers to proclaim the glorious gospel of Christ to those who are perishing, so that they might be saved from the impending judgment of God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20–21; 2 Peter 3:14–15).
Bottom line: Cling lightly to the things of this world, be alert (but not anxious), and work to bring those who are lost the Gospel of truth so they may be saved from judgment.
My final parable devotional coming up next explores the parable of the faithful servant, found in Matthew 24:45-51 and Luke 12:42-48. After that devotional, I plan to explore in-depth the Paulian epistle of Galatians, which has been called the “Magna Carta” of Christian faith.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Help me to be alert (not anxious) and work to bring others to faith in You before the end times. I trust in You completely and know that all things work for Good and Your Kingdom! Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Gotquestions.org was accessed on 10/23 to understand eschatology.
The personal testimony of Bruce Hurt, the founder of Precept Austin, can be found Here.