By Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong
Mark 13:32-37 tells us, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning - lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
The context of this passage is Jesus’ teaching on the Last Days. The Lord has just painted a bleak scenario
of what is going to happen and He ends His prophetic teaching by commanding all of us to watch. This message is not for a selected few. It is for all of us, and everyone is called to watch.
The Lord begins by saying the day of His return is a secret. No one knows the day, not even the Son. Only the Father when He is returning. Then the Lord says, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming”. Now all that is designed to catch us by surprise. It is a test to see who will be awake and who will be asleep, who will be watching and who will not.
And then Jesus refers to Himself as the man who goes to a far country and He leaves instruction to three sets of people.
1. To His servants, He entrusts His authority.
I am a servant of the Lord. I have authority because I have been entrusted a responsibility and with that responsibility comes the authority. I do not wield the rod of authority for fun. I have authority over all that God has entrusted to me and that includes this House. What I am responsible for, I have authority over, and God will back me up because I am His representative. On the Day of Judgment, I will have to answer to Him for you.
2. To each member of His body, He gives a specific work to do.
It is the job of leadership to ensure every rank and file member of the church has a function and is doing something. It is like a human body. Every part of the body has a function or it shouldn’t be in the body. Likewise, every member of the church has a function and everyone must know what his or her work is. There shouldn’t be any person in this church who isn’t serving. A non-serving Christian is an oxymoron.
3. There's a third person mentioned in this verse: the Doorkeeper.
The King James Bible refers to the doorkeeper as a porter. The Greek word is “thuroros”, where we get the word for “watcher” and interestingly, it is in the feminine gender. I have a suspicion that the best and most faithful watchmen are watchwomen.
Now the primary job of the doorkeeper is to “watch”. There is another reference to this word in John 18:17 where the servant girl who kept the door at Jesus’s trial said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples?” She was the keeper of the door, or a “watcher”.
What is the one quality needed in a watchman? He or she has to be awake whilst everyone else is asleep. It is the job of a watchman.
A watchman has to be awake for two primary reasons in scripture:
1. Because we have an enemy
When a city is asleep, the watchmen must be awake, watching for every move the enemy makes because the lives of the people in the city are in their hands. It is their job to warn those who are asleep of any impending danger. A spirit of slumber has been unleashed by the enemy against the church and it is this spirit that lulls us to “sleep” and whilst we are asleep, that’s when we are most vulnerable. When we are asleep, that’s when the enemy comes and sow tares. He is most active when we are asleep.
We cannot assume we can be part-time Christians and overcome a full-time devil. He is stronger, smarter, wiser and he has been around for a much longer time. As such, the watchman has to keep awake while others are sleeping.
You have all probably heard of the phrase “Not on our watch”. This phrase is used by officers on ships and when it is their turn to mend the post, they cannot afford to fall asleep. They have to be alert because the lives of all the people on the ship depend on them. This term was popularised by President George Bush when referring to the genocide in Rwanda. He said that as long as he was president, that “on his watch”, something like this would never ever happen again. If God has called you to be a watchman, then “on your watch”, the enemy must not have a foothold in your generation.
We must not fall asleep in this crucial hour for the sake of an emerging generation.
We have an enemy who is constantly probing our defences and our walls to see if there is a breach, a kink in our armour, to find a vulnerable spot in our lives. In 1964, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel wrote a haunting song called “The Sound of Silence” that captured the hearts of a generation. In the song, they talked about a vision slowly creeping in and leaving its seeds while people were sleeping. Here’s how the song goes: “and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sound of silence”. And this was exactly what the enemy did. Satan lulled a whole generation to sleep and while they slept, he came and planted seeds of rebellion in their minds. Sixty years later, we are still reaping the fruit of their slumber.
We must not fall asleep in this crucial hour for the sake of an emerging generation. We must not allow the enemy to sow tares in our children’s minds because we were derelict and fell asleep. The world is asleep but woe to humanity if the church is asleep too.
When He comes, He is only going to take what belongs to Him, and if you don’t belong to Him, He won’t take you.
2. We have a Master who is returning and we do not know when.
Matthew 24:42-44,“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
The King James Bible says, “Therefore you also be ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son
of Man cometh”.
The thief here refers to Jesus. Jesus is not a thief, but several times in scripture, He said, “I’m coming like a thief.” How does a thief work? A thief never announces when he is coming. He doesn’t tell you by which entrance he is coming. All that is designed to take you by surprise and that’s exactly the way Jesus is coming back. One thing we must bear in mind – Jesus is not a thief. When He comes, He is only going to take what belongs to Him, and if you don’t belong to Him, He won’t take you.
Verse 44 says, “Therefore you also be ready.” What are we to get ready for? We are to get ready for the coming of the Lord. He is coming in an hour you do not expect, and if you think you know when He is coming, I assure you, you don’t. Two will be in the field and two will be sleeping and suddenly, one will be taken.
Many years ago in England, a preacher was preaching on the 2nd coming and he asked the audience: Do you think Jesus will come back tonight? A man replied: ‘I think not’. Everyone he asked answered the same way, ‘I think not’.
Then the preacher said, “And Jesus will come back in an hour ‘you think not’.”
If we want to wake up at a certain time in the morning, we set our alarm clock. It is not called the “Good Morning” clock. It is not called the “Hello, it’s a new day” clock. It is called the alarm clock, and God is sounding the alarm for us to be awakened in this hour. How do you know if you have been asleep? It’s when you wake up.
What we do and how we behave when the Lord seems to be delayed is the deciding factor where we will be in eternity.
Parents, you have a “watchmen role” over your families. Pastors, zone leaders, cell leaders, you have a watchman role over those under you. It is the Lord who appoints watchmen and He sets them on the walls to guard His people.
In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25, we are told that all the virgins were invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. They all went out to meet the Bridegroom. But while the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept, both the wise and foolish virgins. Then, in the parable, we are introduced to the 3rd company of people - the midnight criers. They are the voices crying at midnight, “Behold the Bridegroom is coming, go out and meet Him”. This company of believers are not asleep. They are watching and praying.
Now, five of the virgins were foolish and their foolishness was expressed by their failure to prepare extra oil in their lamps. The wise virgins on the other hand, were those who had extra oil in their lamps and made it into the wedding supper. But the foolish did not have sufficient oil and went out to buy some. When the Bridegroom came, the door was shut and the foolish virgins were left out. The key to the parable is in verse 12. The Lord said to the foolish virgins, “I do not know you”. The lack of oil in our lamps has to do with how we cultivate our relationship with the Lord, or the lack of it. The lack of desire to spend time with Him will cost us to be left out of the great supper of the Lamb and the greater eternal purposes of God.
A spirit of slumber has come upon the church and many are sleeping. This is one of the biggest problems the church must battle against. And the reason vigilance is needed is because there is going to be a delay. Divine Delay is an important concept in the Bible.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” When you read the narrative of the Last Days, you will get the distinct impression that the Lord delays His return and Peter explains to us why. It is because God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish.
He is coming back soon, and even if there is a delay, we must conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing before Him.
This is one of the overarching principles in the Word of God. It is His will that as many as possible are saved. When Jesus spoke of the Last Days (Matthew 24:48-49), he mentioned the evil servant who says in his heart, “my master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. Scripture tells us that there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth at that time. We must be very careful we don’t have that same evil attitude.
What we do and how we behave when the Lord seems to be delayed is the deciding factor where we will
be in eternity. When God delays, it is because He is longsuffering. But how we respond to the delay is vital. He is coming back soon, and even if there is a delay, we must conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing before Him. The servant who starts to mistreat his fellow workers and live carelessly will be appointed his portion with the hypocrites, which means he will not make it into heaven, even though he was a servant.
Delay is often sent to test us. It can either define us or destroy us.
So be alert, awake and sober at all times. The Lord is at hand.