Summary: Keep Watch for Christ’s Coming 1) Watch against unbelief; 2) Watch against indifference
Keeping watch may be boring but it pays well. In 2010 world security service income, money earned by security guards and security systems, exceeded $174 billion (MarketLine). For comparison’s sake, $66 billion worth of diamonds were sold that same year. It seems that you can make more guarding diamonds than you can selling them. Am I suggesting you pursue a career in the security industry? Christians ought to be good at keeping watch, for this is what we should do at all times whether we own a security badge or not. We should keep watch for Christ’s coming. But how exactly do we do this? Should we stand outside looking up to the heavens for a returning and glorious Jesus? No. We keep watch for Christ’s coming by watching against unbelief, and watching against indifference.
This report I read about money spent on security services said that more and more people throughout the world will pay for security in the coming years. That’s because as developing countries become wealthier, more people will own things they feel are worth spending money to guard. There is one break-in however that no amount of security muscle or technology will be able to prevent: the return of Jesus. But why should this concern us? Jesus is our friend right? His return won’t be so much a break-in as it will be a victory parade. That’s only true if you continue to watch for his coming by guarding against unbelief. That wasn’t something the people of Noah’s day did very well. Jesus said in our text: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Why was it that only eight people in all were saved from that flood during Noah’s time? Was it because only Noah and his family knew that a flood was coming? No. The fact that Noah was building a three-story boat longer than a football field was testimony to the coming flood. But only Noah and his family really believed that a flood would come. Everyone else scoffed at Noah’s claim.
It’s going to be like that at Judgment Day says Jesus. Fire, instead of water, will engulf this world and take many by surprise – not because they didn’t know about the coming judgment, but because they refused to believe the warnings they heard from their Christian friends and family.
Of course just because we believe now that the world will one day come to an end doesn’t mean that we will continue to believe this. That’s why Jesus urges us Christians to continue to guard against unbelief. So if ever you catch yourself scoffing at the claims of the Bible, no matter what they are, repent! Ask God to give you understanding and the peace of mind to believe what he tells you in his Word - like how a little baby can believe in Jesus, or how God created the world with his powerful Word, not through the process of evolution. Any amount of skepticism on our part can lead to bigger holes in our faith until there is nothing left. Then we, like the people of Noah’s day, won’t escape destruction when Christ returns to judge and condemn unbelievers.
Jesus gives us the confidence to believe the Bible. Look at how he didn’t question the account of Noah and the flood. He didn’t say that this was just a story God made up to illustrate a truth. No. Jesus spoke about Noah in such a way that it’s clear he believed Noah existed and believed that he really did build an ark. Jesus also confessed such faith in the Old Testament account of Jonah being swallowed by a big fish for three days before being spat out on to dry ground (Matthew 12:40). If Jesus believed these things, we, who call ourselves his followers, will want to believe them too.
But perhaps the greater threat to not being prepared for Judgment Day for us is failing to watch against indifference. What’s interesting about Jesus’ comment about the people in Noah’s day is that he doesn’t point to their wickedness to say this is why they were destroyed. Rather they perished because they were unprepared. They were too busy eating and drinking and getting married to bother thinking about their eternal future and the salvation God was providing by way of the ark. Eating. Drinking. Getting married. These aren’t sinful activities in and of themselves are they? So just because you’re not outwardly engaged in any crazy party-animal like life doesn’t mean that you’re ready for Jesus’ return. Making holiday plans and pursuing education or career goals are not sinful, but they can easily become our focus so that we lose sight of what is really important: Jesus’ imminent return.