Syrian clouds

In times like these, many Christians think about the great war described in Revelation which brings the current world order to an end.

The latest Middle Eastern crisis in Syria threatens to expand to Lebanon and draw in Iran, Russia, the U.S., Israel and various Arab countries. Is this the prelude to the apocalypse?

I think not. In my view, more pieces need to be fitted into the puzzle before that time arrives. Yet the possibility should not be brushed off.

Like many believers, I have tended to take a ho-hum approach to the events in Biblical prophecy describing the final days. They seem hard to understand and eminent scholars take different stands.

I believe that is a mistake.

Jesus made clear that we will not be able to predict the exact time of Jesus’ triumphant return. But he did tell us to be prepared.

In Mark 13:34-37, Jesus says we are like gatekeepers watching for our master’s return from a trip.

“Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning,” Jesus remarks. “I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”

Why does Jesus put such emphasis on being alert and watchful for his return? What does it matter whether we are ready or not?

I think one reason is that it shows how much we want to see him in all his glory. A lover is anxious to see his beloved – he can’t wait to see her. The same should be true of our relationship to Jesus.

If you are courting your beloved, you want to appear your best. You certainly don’t want to forget your date.

In Matthew 25, Jesus’ uses the illustration of 10 bridesmaids who are waiting for the bridegroom to come to the wedding. He is delayed and they fall asleep.

When the bridegroom arrives, five bridesmaids have enough oil to light their lamps for the festivities – the other five do not. They have to turn aside and look for oil and are too late for the feast as the doors are closed.

This suggests negligence on the part of the five bridesmaids who did not have enough oil. They did not pay enough attention to their task which was to celebrate the wedding.

I admit that, mentally, I tell myself there is time to give myself completely to Christ. I can put off the things I know need to be done to prepare myself for Jesus.

The apostle Paul had a different attitude. He longed to be with Jesus face-to-face. He talked about the joy of seeing his Lord.

In Philippians 1, he says: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He lived for Christ and yet he most wanted to be in Jesus’ presence in heaven.

That should be my guidepost to life, too.

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