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Kingdom watch

We’re all familiar with the Neighborhood Watch program. If you live in a community where this exists, it undoubtedly gives you a sense of security in knowing that that there is a group of people who are paying careful attention to what’s going on where you live. For the criminal element, I would assume the sign functions as a deterrent since it means a greater risk of being caught.

But what if you were part of the Neighborhood Watch program? What would that mean to you?  It would mean that you were taking responsibility for yourself and others around you. It would mean that you were going to be on guard for people or situations that didn’t look right. It would mean you were going to be alert and paying attention.

This is something of the background in Mark 13 where Jesus has been talking to His disciples about the destruction of Jerusalem which would occur about forty years from that time (AD 70).  The disciples had been marveling at the massive stones and magnificent buildings that were part of the temple. Jesus shocks them by telling them that as immovable as they appear, “not one stone here will be left upon another; every one will be thrown down” (v. 2).

An announcement like that is sure to prompt questions so the disciple ask when this will be and what will be the sign it’s about to happen (v. 4). Jesus tells them of some preliminary occurrences and then in v. 14 says when they see the “abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong” they should flee. This is a reference to the Roman army commandeered by Titus (see the parallel passage in Luke 21:20-21). This would take place within their generation (Mark 13:30). However, as to the exact time—no one except the Father knew that time—not even the angels or Jesus (v. 32).

This probably frustrated Jesus’ disciples as it would have us. An exact date would have been wonderful—they could mark it on their calendar and know to steer clear of Jerusalem when the time came near. In the same way, we’d like to have a calendar from God marked with all of the important events of the future. That way we could know when to expect this or that and be ready for it.

Jesus has a better idea.

Rather than giving us that information, He instead challenges us to live ready. How do we do that? Quite simply, we learn how to live watchfully.  “Be on guard! Be alert!” Jesus challenged them (and us). And He’s right. If we did have a calendar of all of the important events, it would be easy to become lackadaisical when there was “nothing” in sight. It would be easy to take a day off. But if we learn to live with an alertness for ourselves and those around us, the world becomes a much better place—just like it does with the neighborhood watch.

Let’s be part of the kingdom watch.

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