The wind has sure blown in West Texas over the last few weeks! While Midland has seen its share of dust in the air, the pictures taken by those in outlying areas with the dust storms have been incredible. Many have had to drive in those conditions and it sure causes the use of more caution and a heightened sense of alert, doesn’t it? It is one thing to drive on a calm, cloudless day; quite another to drive in wind, dust, rain, or snow.
There is a Greek word (agrupneo) used four times in the New Testament that carries with it the idea of ‘being on heightened alert; to be sleepless (to keep awake); to be watchful; to be vigilant.’ Mark and Luke record Jesus using this word in the same setting. Paul, uses this word in his letter to the Ephesian Christians, and the writer of Hebrews will use it in connection to the work of elders. There are great connections to consider from each use of this word.
Keeping watch is connected to prayer
In the context of Mark 13:33 and Luke 21:36, Jesus has warned His listeners of the day when the Roman army would surround and conquer the city of Jerusalem. We know from history this event would take place in the year 70 A.D. Jesus knew what was coming and gave signs that would prove as a warning; those who heeded what He said would be able to flee to the mountains for safety. After speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, He then turned His attention to the day He will return. His imploring cry is, “Take heed, watch (our key word) and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Notice the connection that Jesus makes to keeping watch and to prayer.
In Ephesians 6:18, Paul says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful (our key word) to this end with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.” In the context of being clothed with the armor of God, Paul reminds us that one of the most (perhaps THE most) powerful weapons to fight Satan is prayer. Too many fight as if everything in this war depends on us. Satan trembles when he sees saints on their knees. Prayer is one of the best ways to remain focused, to keep watch, as we go through life!
Keeping watch is connected to the coming of Jesus
As mentioned above, Jesus warns that we must stay on watch as we anticipate His return and the Day of Judgement. May we never coast through life, but may we stay awake and keep watch as we know the Day is approaching (Hebrews 10:25). As He states plainly, no one knows that day or hour. Are you prepared? Are you watching?
Keeping watch is connected to the schemes of Satan
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand,” (Ephesians 6:11,13). The devil is seeking those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus implores His followers to stay awake, to always be watching. The Spirit, through Paul, is doing the same in Ephesians 6. The devil has many ways of lying and deceiving and has been at this from the beginning of time. Stay alert – keep on watch!
Keeping watch is connected to the souls of men
The fourth time this word is found is Hebrews 13:17. The writer states, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out (our key word) for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Elders are commanded to keep watch for the souls of the congregation they oversee. How thankful to God we must be for men who love the souls of men enough to do all they can to ensure heaven is our home!
Finally, if you examine the context of Ephesians 6:10-20 further, you will find that after imploring Christians to watch out for the schemes of the devil; Paul requests that his brethren pray for him specifically. His request is that he will have the boldness to proclaim the gospel. Paul cared deeply for the souls of men. May we keep watch for the soul that each of us possesses and may we care deeply of the souls of those around us. Are you keeping watch?
– Adam Orr