As We Wait For The Lord
By D. M. Panton
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord… Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching… (Luke 12:35-37).
The undated coming of the Lord is the guiding star for the Church’s undying preparation, a preparation never ceasing, never finished, short of the event. "Every man that hath this hope… purifieth himself, even as He is pure" (1 John 3:3).
Dr. Torrey says: "The imminent return of our Lord is the great Bible argument for a pure, unselfish, devoted, unworldly, active life of service. In much of our modern preaching we urge people to live holy and work diligently because death is swiftly coming, but that is never the Bible argument.
"The Bible argument always is, Christ is coming. Be ready when He comes. This leads inevitably to the question, ‘What constitutes readiness for the coming of Christ?’ Answer: Separation from the world’s indulgence of the flesh, from the world’s immersion in the affairs of this life, and intense, daily earnestness in prayer – is the first part of preparation for the Lord’s return."
Our Savior says: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36). God has not revealed the date of the second coming of Christ in order that we may always be watchful.
What Then Is Required?
The Girt Loins. "Let your loins be girded about" (Luke 12:35). Flowing oriental garments, if loosed, check work, and impede flight. "Thus shall ye eat it [the Passover]; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through…Egypt…and will smite…" (Ex. 12:11-12).
A pilgrim people, on the eve of the last judgments, must be instant in service, and unimpeded for flight. The world will become our coffin unless it becomes our enemy (Heb. 3:17).
"The time is shortened, that henceforth both those that have wives be as though they had none; and those that weep, as though they wept not; and those that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and those that buy, as though they possessed not; and those that use the world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this world is passing away" (1 Cor. 7:29-31). They who stand on the brink of the last flight must stand with tightened robe and shod feet (1 Pet. 1:13).
The Burning Lamp. "Let your lamps be burning" (Luke 12:35). Lamps are kept burning at night only, and all night unless we sleep. "Now it is high time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed. The night is far spent, and the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:11-12).
"The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord" (Prov. 20:27). Every disciple is a lit lamp, and right through the moral midnight Christ expects a burning flame. Of John He said, "He was the lamp," holding the Light, "that burneth, and shineth" (John 5:35) "from evening to morning before the Lord." The lamp is to burn continually (Ex. 27:20-21). Burning without shining – zeal without knowledge; shining without burning – light without love. God demands both: burning with heat to God, shining with light to men (Matt. 5:16).
The Fixed Gaze. "Be ye yourselves like unto men looking for their Lord" (Luke 12:36). Christ said: "It is expedient for you that I GO away" (John 16:7). He never said, "It is expedient that I STAY away." He commands conscious acceptance of the truth of His second coming.
A visionary is one who sees visions that have no correspondence with reality. The looking disciple beholds the march of God’s purposes from eternity to eternity, crystallizing into facts as they precipitate into time so that every prophetic word is an inevitable fact.
"Watch for ye know not the hour"; "pray, that ye may be accounted worthy"; perpetual prayer. These are the mind and heart that come from God (Matt. 24:36,44; Mark 13:33,37; Luke 21:34-36).
So, "blessed are those servants." Not blessed are all servants; but, "blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching" (Luke 12:37). Read Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 3:10. The carnal disciple forfeits the beatitude (Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 21:34; Rev. 3:3).
The deeper the midnight, the more urgent the vigil! The first watch has yesterday’s wakefulness in it; the fourth watch has tomorrow’s wakefulness in it; but, "if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants" (Luke 12:38).
(The Hebrew night was divided into three watches, but after the captivity the Jews gradually adopted the Greek and Roman division of the night into four watches. The second watch was from 9:00 to 12:00 midnight, and the third watch was from 12:00 to 3:00 a.m.)
Christ returns later than the early Church thought – not in the first watch; but earlier than the last churches will dream – not in the fourth watch; not so early as impotence desires, nor as late as carelessness assumes.
The unknown hour of the burglary compels that the householder sit up all night watching as men who have no tomorrow (Luke 12:37-40). The fruit of the vigil is such as to make the loss of a thousand worlds as dust in the balance.
"He cometh" – investigation, approval, promotion; "He maketh them sit down" – rest, glory, enthronement; "He serves them" – the King of kings girding Himself once again with a towel at the side of His watchful child (Luke 12:37). This is a verse beyond all human comment. Does Christ speak the truth? He does. Does He always speak the truth? He does. Then is this an absolute fact? It is. Then build all life upon this fact, for to build on aught else is faithlessness to Him, and folly for eternity. "Every man is worth just so much as the things about which he busies himself."
The girded loin – incessant service; the burning lamp – incessant holiness; the fixed gaze – incessant vigil; and finally:
The Prepared Life. Continual, unceasing readiness. "Be ye also ready; for in such an hour that ye think not the Son of Man cometh" (Matt. 24:44; Luke 12:40). Christ’s coming for the Church will be sudden (1 Thess. 4:13-17; 5:1-10). Sudden as an avalanche, swift as the lightning, irrevocable as death – one flash, and the watchful will be gone, and the last judgments will be here (Matt. 24:27-51).
"Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
One fact is supreme. Christ might have returned at any moment these two thousand years: He may return at any moment now. Therefore "become" – so the Greek reads – "ye also ready." Known sin undropped, known commands unobeyed, known truth unbelieved, part of the life knowingly unyielded, and we stand in jeopardy.
The last shadows are falling across the world, and therefore across your life; yet you are still not ready. But as Napoleon said on the news of a great defeat – "There is time to win a victory before the sun goes down." Your coming Judge is your present Savior.