If you’re like me, you sometimes suffer from ‘apocalypse fatigue.’ I’ve sincerely expected the end of the age to start (resulting in the great tribulation, the Antichrist’s defeat, and the return of Jesus) many times since 1981, but obviously it hasn’t happened yet. Here’s a short list of apocalyptic signs I have followed (or am still tracking) with interest:
- 1981 – the planets of the solar system were supposed to align, triggering great earthquakes, etc. (Signs in the heavens and on earth)
- 1988 – 40 years after Israel became a nation (The olive tree parable…this generation will not pass away until the end comes)
- The Bush presidents, 9/11, and their promotion of the ‘new world order’
- 2008-2016 – Is Obama the Antichrist?
- 2013 – The last pope takes office according to the prophecy of St Malachy. Is Pope Francis the false prophet of Revelation 13?
- 2015 – four consecutive ‘blood moons’ coinciding with Jewish Passover and Tabernacles festivals. Did the 7-year tribulation covenant period start on Yom Kippur, 9/22/15?
- 2017 – Is Trump or Jared Kushner the Antichrist?
- Possible Second Coming dates: Yom Kippur of 2022, 2036, or 2055?
I’ve made life-direction decisions based on some of these, resulting in life-long consequences and lost career opportunities. After so many false leads, over decades, it’s tempting to simply stop looking for end-time clues and just join the rest of the world—asleep in their blissful ignorance.
But, as I was meditating on my apocalypse fatigue this morning, the scripture to “watch and pray” came to me. Regarding the end of this age, Jesus warned:
Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life—and that day will spring upon you suddenly like a snare. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. So, keep watch always, and pray that you may have the strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
What does it mean to keep watch? According to BibleHub.com, the original Greek word literally means “to be sleepless, intent upon a thing, Ephesians 6:18; or, to exercise constant vigilance over something (an image drawn from shepherds).”
Examples of watching:
- Shepherds keep watch over their sheep, making sure they’re safe from predators and other dangers.
- Soldiers are routinely assigned to guard duty. They keep watch over (guard) a specific place or thing during a specified period of time.
- Offensive: Hunters watch intently for their prey. They constantly search for clues and signs that will lead them to succeed in their hunt. They focus all their senses on the hunt; looking for animal tracks, listening for twigs snapping, and smelling their upwind quarry.
What should we ‘keep watch’ for?
Watch so that no one deceives you.
In all three synoptic gospels, this is the first warning Jesus gave His disciples regarding the end time.
- Matthew 24:4 See to it that no one deceives you.
- Mark 13:5 See to it that no one deceives you.
- Luke 21:8-9 See to it that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and rebellions, do not be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end is not imminent.”
Watch to be able to withstand persecution.
- Mark 13:9-13 So be on your guard. You will be handed over to the councils and beaten in the synagogues. On My account, you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them… Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
- Matthew 24:9-12 Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate one another, and many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
- Luke 21:12-19 But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. On account of My name, they will deliver you to the synagogues and prisons, and they will bring you before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to serve as witnesses. So make up your mind not to worry beforehand how to defend yourselves. For I will give you speech and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of My name. Yet not even a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance, you will gain your souls.
Learn from Peter’s failure to watch
The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter said: “I will die with you.” But Jesus warned Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before sunrise. Later, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter was sleepy and didn’t ‘watch’ with the Lord. As a result, when the trial came for Peter early the next morning, he wasn’t spiritually prepared, and so he denied the Lord to preserve himself from pain.
Like Peter, we will all have trials, during which our faith and commitment will be tested. If you haven’t strengthened yourself through watching and prayer, you’ll naturally choose the path of self-protection and, like Peter, you’ll deny the truth.
Watch to anticipate the Messiah’s return.
- Matthew 24:32-51, especially verse 42, Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.
- Mark 13:32-33 But as for that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on your guard and stay alert! For you do not know when the appointed time will come.
- Luke 21:34-36 But watch yourselves, or your hearts will be weighed down by dissipation, drunkenness, and the worries of life—and that day will spring upon you suddenly like a snare. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. So keep watch at all times, and pray that you may have the strength to escape all that is about to happen and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Why is it important for us to watch for the Lord’s return?
- Those who don’t watch will be ensnared when that day comes upon the world.
- Watching and prayer are required to build the strength required to overcome what will happen and to stand before the Son of Man.
- Rev 12:11, “They conquered him (the dragon) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so as to shy away from death.”
Like Watching, prayer has both defensive and offensive components.
- Pray that you’ll have the strength to prevail against all that is about to happen on the earth, and to stand righteous and victorious before the Son of Man. “Lead us not into trials, but deliver us from evil.”
- Pray that when you stand before Him that He will be able to say to you, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
- In general, pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.”
- Specifically, pray for the kingdom of God to be manifested in your family, community, and nation.
- The prayers of the saints fill the golden altar before God’s throne in heaven. (Rev 8:3, 8:5, 9:13, 16:7)
- Jesus said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations…” (Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46). Many believe that since God delegated authority to Adam to rule the earth, God can do nothing on the earth unless it’s in response to human prayer.
Watch and Pray
So, what does it mean to watch and pray?
- Before the Lord Jesus returns, scripture teaches there’ll be a great delusion upon everyone who doesn’t love and follow the truth. Watch and pray to follow God’s truth and not to be deceived and deluded with the masses.
- Persecution against Christians is already exploding around the world. Watch and pray that you’ll remain faithful, even at personal cost.
- Watch and pray that you’ll be strengthened to overcome the evil that’s coming to this world.
Bottom Line—like Peter, it’s understandable if we get tired. But let’s learn from his example and overcome apocalypse fatigue. We have two choices; (1) watch and pray to become an overcomer, or (2) follow the world system into delusion and judgment.