The immediacy of prophetic events shows the need to live each moment in Christlike readiness. In view of the sure promises of Christ’s return, as believers, we are to do more than merely be ready; we are to be expectant.
Vance Havner once suggested that in our day of “anarchy, apostasy and apathy,” expectant living means: “We need to take down our ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs … snap out of our stupor and awake from our apathy.” God’s Word calls us to awake out of our sleep, and to walk in righteousness, in the light that Christ gives us (Romans 13:11; 1 Corinthians 15:34; Ephesians 5:14).
Prophecy can provide that wake-up call. When we have heard and understood the truth of Christ’s promised return, we cannot just keep living our lives in the same old way. Future events have present implications that we cannot ignore.
From the New Testament epistles, I have gleaned 10 ways in which we should be different as a result of our prophetic knowledge:
- Refrain from judging others (1 Corinthians 4:5).
- Remember the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- Respond to life spiritually (Colossians 3:1-4).
- Relate to one another in love (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).
- Restore the bereaved (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
- Recommit ourselves to the ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-2).
- Refuse to neglect the church (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Remain steadfast (James 5:7-8).
- Renounce sin in our lives (1 John 2:28-29).
- Reach the lost (Jude 21-23).
One of the finest stories I’ve heard about men longing for their leader’s return is that of explorer and adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton. In January 1915, his ship became entrapped in an ice pack and was ultimately destroyed, leaving the men to set up camp on an ice floe. In April 1916, their thinning ice floe threatened to break apart, forcing the men to seek refuge on nearby Elephant Island. Knowing that a rescue from such a desolate island was unlikely, Shackleton and five others left to cross 800 miles of open sea in a 22.5-foot lifeboat with more of a hope than a promise of a return with rescuers.
Finally, on Aug. 30, Shackleton returned to rescue his stranded crew. Barely four days of rations remained in the camp. He later learned from the men that his second-in-command, Frank Wild, would roll up his sleeping bag each day with the remark, “Get your things ready, boys, the boss may come today.” Wild’s “cheerful anticipation proved infectious,” and all were prepared when the evacuation day came.
This stranded crew desperately hoped that their leader would come back to them, and they longed for his return. But as diligent and dedicated as Shackleton was, he was, after all, a mere man–battling elements he could not control. They knew he might not make it back. Unlike this desperate crew, we have more than a mere longing or a desperate hope, for our Lord is the Creator and Master of all, and His promise is as sure as His very existence.
The prophets, the angels and the Apostle John all echo the words of promise from Jesus Himself that He will return. God’s Word further amplifies that promise by giving us clues in prophecy to help us identify the signs that His return is close at hand. The signs that tell us the Second Coming of the Lord is drawing near should motivate us as never before to live in readiness.
As we anticipate His return, we are not to foolishly set dates and leave our jobs and homes to wait for Him on some mountain. We are to remain busy doing the work set before us, living in love and serving in ministry, even when the days grow dark and the nights long. Be encouraged! Be anticipating! We are secure; we belong to Christ. And as the old gospel song says, “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!”