“Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer, or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8).
When something needs to be done it is most likely going to be accomplished by a self-starter, someone needing no supervision. Like the ant, their diligence to the task is not easily distracted. They continue on relentlessly until the project is completed and then move to another. This ant-like mentality recognizes the little things that are key to building big things.
“The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10).
If anything is made clear in Mark 13, it’s that Jesus isn’t concerned about offering signs and eliminating our ignorance regarding the end times. Instead, he utilizes some seventeen imperatives to teach us how to cope and respond appropriately in the last days. Each of them offer a common and resounding theme—responsibility. By word and deed our lives are to be a proclamation of gospel grace, mercy, renewal, and redemption.
“Now Saul (better known by us as Paul), still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9: 1-2).
In the course of our daily lives, it’s not unusual to encounter those who are either uninformed or indifferent to the Christian faith. What’s rare, however, is meeting those who are hostile and avowed enemies of the cross. The conversion of Paul reminds us that the most unlikely prospect can be changed by the power of the Gospel. Each of us carry in our hearts the names of those whose “lostness” burdens us. The life of Paul tells us to never give up. Keep praying!
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
When it comes to the understanding and practice of our faith, we are not left to wander aimlessly in fog of confusion. As Greenwich Mean Time is the international standard for time, as the North Star is the indisputable reference point for sailing vessels in the northern hemisphere, so are the teachings of Jesus as documented in Scripture. Jesus taught not as one who knew the Book, but as the One who wrote the Book.
“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33).
In the quest to figure out the end, those who seek to mesh the current events of the morning paper to their daily bible reading are destined to frustration. The only true sign of the end will be its suddenness; so sudden that it will provide no warning at all. The coming of the Lord will be so unmistakable that no one will be left wondering, “Is this it?” Keeping alert is nothing more than living faithfully. It’s the only way to be prepared.
“But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32).
“No one knows” means just that…no one. Not the self-claimed biblical “scholar” having discovered some secret biblical code; not the scientist that has formulated an equation based upon a never before recognized numeric sequence; not the popular television preachers with their charts and graphs depicting various dispensations of history. No one knows when the end shall arrive. Imagine the level of arrogance necessary to lay claim to a knowledge that not even Jesus-possessed. Humility, on the other hand, keeps its head down and keeps serving faithfully.
“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end” (Mark 13:7).
Regarding the return of Christ and the end of time, as it has been known by humankind, the disciples asked for a sign of when this might be. Instead, Jesus gave them this, along with a listing of other common occurrences that ARE NOT SIGNS. The landscape of history is littered with the tombstones of end-time doomsdayers and prognosticators. Our job isn’t to figure out when, but to live faithfully until then.