“So watch out. I’ve given you fair warning”.
Mk 13:23 EHP
Sometimes wise and perceptive people do look ahead and foresee the likely trends in world events. The present much-publicised doom-and-gloom forecasts of the effects of pollution and climate change are a case in point. In the Bible the prophet Isaiah tried to point his fellow-countrymen to the rise of the new Persian king Cyrus who would, so he predicted, overcome the Babylonians and release the Israelites to return to Jerusalem.
Mostly the prophets of the Old testament sounded warnings. God was doing this, that, or the other in order to punish his children for their sinfulness and disloyalty to Jehovah-God. And the march of one army or another was never far away. The prophets had to “connect the dots” between present events, future possibilities and God. They were able to do this by living close to God and discern- ing his ways.
In telling his disciples to “watch out”, Jesus was following in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets. And with the Romans being strong militarily and the Jews restive under the foreign occupation, anything might explode at any time. Jesus was saying, “Don’t think that the coming of the Holy Spirit is going to usher in a time of religious happiness and ecstasy. There is trouble ahead”.
Christians today need to heed the warnings of Jesus here – however grounded they were then in contemporary movements. The rise of new powerful and rich nations combined with the grinding poverty of millions is a “heady brew” and could be a recipe for conflict and disaster. It is a time to be vigilant, caring, wise and cautious. It also calls the Christian church to be in the forefront of compassion towards the poor and vulnerable.
Lord, help your people to be watchful rather than complacent.