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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 41 : Await My Return | Day 281

Watch for Christ's Return!

Every time I saw this young man standing by the railroad tracks I was amazed. Day after day, in the heat of summer and in the bitter cold of winter, he just stood there waiting and looking into the distance for every approaching train. After my third year of watching him I asked someone what motivated this young man to be so faithful.

I was told that during World War II his older brother had been drafted and had left on a train from that train station. He had told his younger brother that one day he would come back. Therefore, each day this young man would come and wait in anticipation of his brother's return.

His daily vigils were a testimony to the community of a loving older brother who did not reject a younger brother with mental disabilities. The kindness and compassion that his older brother had shown him was never forgotten. His watching also spoke of the deep love that he had for his older brother and his lifelong loyalty that refused to believe the report that his brother had been killed in battle. This young man's faithfulness caused me to compare his watching for his brother's return to my watching for the Lord's return. Christ commanded us:

Command Forty-One: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. ... Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44).

The word watch in this command is in the present imperative tense, which denotes continuous or repeated action. It is translated from the Greek word gregoreuo, which means "to keep awake, i.e. watch (lit. or fig.)." It is also translated as be vigilant.

An example of watchfulness is demonstrated in the life of Simeon, who watched faithfully for Christ's first coming. Scripture states that he was a just and devout man “and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus ... then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said ... Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:26-32).

Watching causes us to purify our lives even as Christ is pure. (See I John 3:2-3.) It also causes us to be filled and led by the Spirit of God. Failure to watch for Christ's return is associated with the loss of something that we should have been guarding and protecting. This significant association is given in many passages, including Revelation 3:3:

“... If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."

Watching for the Lord's return should have a profound impact on everything we think, say, and do. Years ago, I remember hearing several Christian friends say that they decided not to attend movies because they would not want the Lord to return and find them in a movie theater. What would we change about our lives if we truly lived in daily anticipation of Christ's return?

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42-44).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard