KEY THOT: The word “near” is used 4 times in this discourse of Jesus: “its desolation is near” (v.20), “your redemption is near” (v.28), “summer is near” (v.30), and “the kingdom of God is near” (v.31). However, the nearness of his coming is contingent on the appearance of signs in the heavens and distress of nations on earth because of “the roaring of the sea and the waves”. Scientists have warned that climatic condition could change quite drastically due to global warming: sea level will rise and overwhelm coastal cities (Singapore included). Chaotic weather patterns will hit the planet next year due to unusually severe El Nino: there will be devastating floods in some places and relentless droughts and famines in other places.
On top of that, we have man-made disasters like pestilences (“anti-biotic apocalypse”—BBC) due to drug-resistant superbugs that have just been discovered in China. These superbugs are found to be resistant to the most powerful last resort antibiotic in the medical arsenal. Basically, we have arrived at a point in medical history when doctors will have no effective antibiotic to fight against infectious diseases caused by these superbugs. Together with the rise of global terrorism, we have all the components of the end-time perfect storm in the making. While all these may create a sense of fear and foreboding among nations, Jesus tells us to “straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (v.28).
However, Jesus also warns believers against being “weighed down by “dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life” (v.34) because the day will “come upon you suddenly like a trap” for it will come upon “all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.” No places will be spared. The only safe place is in the Lord: “stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (v.34-36).
Jesus calls us to be filled with faith and hope when all these events start taking place. We are not to live self-indulgent lifestyle and become too busy and engrossed in accumulating assets in this world. Instead, we are to look up, stay awake and pray for strength to endure to the end. If we have too much stake in this world’s prosperity, the day of the Lord will come like a trap—like the mouse that is too focused on getting the food in the mouse-trap, not looking up when the hammer suddenly appears to pin its head down to the base.
We have to watch and pray even as we go about our life’s activities. Most importantly, we have to put first things first: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Am I laying up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven? We don’t have much time left to weigh the option.
Father, even as the birth-pains are increasing in frequency and intensity, we know that the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth is near. Help us to live as people longing for Your coming through our faith and repentance. Amen.