Mark 13 | The Time Is Now

by | Apr 18, 2017

” …what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13.37)

As a young man in my early 20’s, I recall daydreaming about what I’d be doing in my 40’s and 50’s and thinking about what life would be like in the 21st century. I could only picture being in ministry in what I felt would be the most momentous time in history and playing my little part in God’s plan. What I couldn’t picture then was how drastic the world would change in 30 years. I suppose, if you’ve not had your head in the sand, you have seen the world get worse, not better. In these times, we may wonder how much worse things could get and how far we really are to the end of human history. This is not pessimistic thinking. If we follow the Scriptures, we should not be surprised at what we see happening around us. The bible tells us that we should “understand this, that in the last days there will be very difficult times” (2 Tim. 3.1). The “last days” refer to the full period of time between the coming of the Lord the first time and his second coming. The last days therefore, actually refer to events that occur throughout this period, many of the stressful conditions being similar in nature. These times of stress and distress will come again and again, and each time, it will look to us like we are now REALLY getting close to the return of Christ. The fact is, we are riding on the edge of eternity even now and Jesus can come at any moment.

In Mark 13, we have Jesus and disciples discussing just such matters. As you read, you might want to read the parallels in the other gospel accounts to round out the picture. For example, in Matthew 24 Jesus compares the day of his coming to the days of Noah, when most people were so caught up in the affairs of everyday life that they had failed to be ready when the flood came and swept them away. Only Noah and his family had prepared for the flood, and were therefore saved (see Mt. 24.37-39, 44).

Back in 1988, I received a little booklet in the mail that made me laugh out loud. The work was written by a man named Ed Whisenant. Whisenant, a former NASA rocket engineer turned prophecy teacher, ultimately became famous through this booklet he called: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Come in 1988. In it, Whisenant predicted that Jesus would return to rapture His church sometime during the Jewish holiday of Rosh-Hashanah in 1988, which was from sunset, September 11, to sunset, September 13. Before those dates, The World Bible Society, which published the booklet, printed 3.2 million copies and distributed 200,000 of them to pastors throughout the United States. Needless to say, I didn’t pack any bags. But amazingly, a lot of people who claimed to follow Christ really did!

Wild-haired movements are indeed an utter waste of time because they remove our focus from simply living faithfully for Christ in hard times. There IS one admirable thing from stories like these, however. Apocalyptic groupies like this at least know Jesus is coming and so seek to be ready, even though they spend their time focused on the wrong thing – date setting. So, you still want to know the answer to the question those early disciples asked, “when WILL all these things be accomplished?” (13.4).

The fact is, no one knows except our Heavenly Father. Even Jesus himself does not know (13.32). Jesus makes clear (several times in this chapter) that the important thing is not trying to figure out when the end will come, but rather to make certain we’re ready when it does come. It’s really not about what time it is, but what we are doing with the time. Those who are spiritually asleep at his return will be shocked to find they have been shut out of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ measure of our readiness for the kingdom is not what we’ve done, but what we are doing right now to serve him. His words are an unmistakable call to all who claim to follow him to ‘be about the Father’s business’ (cf. Lk 2.49).

One of my favorite songs is told from the perspective of a man who lived through the experience of Hurricane Katrina – a metaphor for him, of living through times of chaos and upheaval. The lines reveal his question about how to live out his life going forward.

I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
It always just says “Now”
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And If I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

And it rained, It was nothing really new
And it blew, we’ve seen all that before
And it poured, the Earth began to strain
Pontchartrain leaking through the door, tides at war

If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
It will make you strong
Don’t try to explain it, just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

And it rained, It was nothing really new
And it blew, seen all that before
And it poured, the Earth began to strain
Pontchartrain buried the 9th Ward to the 2nd floor

According to my watch the time is “Now”
Past is dead and gone
Don’t try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

Don’t try to shake it just bow your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

For all of the chaos we see in the world and often in our own individual lives, we cannot afford to be asleep in the hurricane of these “last days”. Jesus is coming and we must be moving, faithfully living for him no matter what goes on around us.

Do YOU know what time it is?