Q. Our Lord told us to be on the alert but then said we do not know the day nor the hour. So how then can we be ready for His coming?
A. Yes, our Lord’s command is in all three Synoptic gospels:
• Mt 24:42-44 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
• Mt 25:13 Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
• Mk 13:33-35, 37 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— … What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”
• Lk 12:35, 37, 40 Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. … Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. … You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.”
Note the following:
• We do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord is coming.
• He will come at a time when we do not expect He will.
• While He is away He is assigning to each one his task.
• We are to be on the alert or ready by fulfilling our assigned task.
• Those who are ready will be rewarded.
Since we are to be ready when we don’t know when, in fact we are to be ready all the time i.e. ever ready. But what are the assigned tasks? Each person’s calling is different. However, there are common tasks assigned to all. These are given in other NT passages in which the phrases “be on the alert” or “be ready” appear:
• Lk 21:36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
• Eph 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
The first task is to pray, without which we do not have strength to stand and persevere.
(To be continued)