Sunday, July 27, 2014

Are You Girded?

“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; “and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.  Luke 12:35-37  NKJV

I have said before, ask one hundred believers if it is important to follow God’s commandments and one hundred will probably say yes.  Yet ask those same one hundred if they are watching for Christ’s return and believe His return is imminent and  I’m willing to wager you would be fortunate to find ten who are following God’s commandment to watch.  Too pessimistic?  Unfortunately that conclusion is a result of what I have observed over the years as I have taught on the subject of Christ’s return and the importance of watching while living our lives with the expectation of His coming for the Church.

In this passage from Luke, Jesus explains what we are expected to do, and the benefit we will receive if we choose to do so.  His desire for us can be summed up in just four words; working, waiting, watching, rewarded.  Today I want to briefly look at these expectations in order to better understand what our Lord wants from us.

Working; “Let your waist be girded”.  Most of us have seen pictures or images of the way people dressed in Jesus’ time, and in truth, some in the Middle East still do.  Generally speaking, you wore an undergarment covered by an outer garment of long, usually ankle length flowing material.  If one was to engage in physical labor, the common practice was to “gird” your outer garment around your waist to facilitate the ease of movement while working.  When Jesus tells us to “gird”, there are two results which become apparent.  One, we are prepared to do His work, and second, anyone who sees us will know we are working because we are dressed for it.  Our work is summed up nicely in this passage from Peter, who also uses the word “gird”.

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16  NKJV

Waiting; “ and your lamps burning”.  If we are instructed to wait with our lamps burning, it follows that it is possible to wait without our lamp burning.  Obviously it does no good at all to be waiting with a lamp that is not lit because you can’t see who is coming, and they certainly can’t see you.  First of all, when our spiritual lamp is lit, not only will we be looking for our Lord to appear, we will recognize the events which signify He is near.  Secondly, because our lamp is lit, others will see the light and we will have an opportunity to glorify God by sharing the reason we are watching and waiting.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16  NKJV

Watching; “be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately”.
I have always been somewhat amused by discussions concerning the question of will we know when the rapture will occur?  My response has always been that why would Jesus spend so much time, and give so many illustrations concerning watching, if He did not intend to allow us to see and recognize the time of His appearing?  Understand I am not saying it is possible to predict the day it will happen, but rather if we are watching and waiting for His return, just like these men waiting for their master to come, we will see Him coming for us.  Have you never been watching for a friend or relative to come for a visit?  Do you not see them arrive and open the door and go out to greet them?  That is what Jesus is telling us here, and I firmly believe that any believer who is faithfully watching for our Master to come, will see Him as He appears and not be at all surprised when He does.

“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!”  Mark 13:33-37  NKJV

Rewarded; “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.”  Is this not the ultimate role reversal?  Instead of the servants serving the master, as a reward for watching diligently for His return, the Master assumes the role of the servant and rewards His servants by serving them at the feast.  Can you picture in your mind the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior, sitting us down in Heaven at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and then girding up His royal robes and serving us our first meal in Heaven?  I can see many of us feeling exactly as Peter did when Jesus went to wash his feet and protesting that He should not do it.  Yet this is exactly the reward Jesus has promised we will receive if we follow His commandment to watch for His return.  There is, however, an alternate reward for those who do not.

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.            2 Peter 3:3-7  NKJV

As believers, servants of God the Father, we have been commanded to watch for His appearing.  We do that by girding ourselves to work, to wait, to watch, and ultimately to receive our reward.  I don’t know about you, but I choose to watch.

Keep watching.