Friday, August 24, 2012

Watching, Not Just Waiting

Watching, Not Just Waiting

Weddings in the Middle East tended to be week long events and the whole community was involved.  However, sometimes the groom lived far away, and since they could not start without him, they were never sure as to when to start.  In those days the method of traveling was very different from ours. So, the groom and his party had to travel by camel or by foot, through the desert.  This meant traveling on rock and sand under the burning sun.  This also meant that the journey could be a few days long.  So, it required carrying supplies for the journey, and for the time they would stay at their intended destination.  This slowed them down.  This being the case, the reception party, the bridesmaids, would have to wait sometimes seven days.  Since, they were never sure when the groom would come, then they had to remain ready to receive the groom at any time he arrived. 

The parable of the ten virgins is an example of this.  The bridesmaids are waiting outside in case the groom arrives that night.  However, there is a difference between waiting and watching.  The father of the prodigal son was watching and he was ready to receive Him.  (This means that God is always watching and ready for us.)  Since, the virgins all fell asleep, they were not watching.  And, that night when the Groom arrived, it caught them by surprise.  Although they were waiting they were not necessarily ready.  However, some were less ready than others. 

There is a story of child traveling to see her grandmother.  The child asked her grandmother one special request, “I want you to watch for me.”  The grandmother agreed.  Every time they talked the child reminded her and the grandmother would say, “Yes, I will watch for you.”  The day that the family would arrive, the grandmother got busy getting everything ready: cleaning, preparing the guest rooms, cooking, etc.  Grandmother lost track of time, the door rang, and she ran to open it.  Everyone came in except for the granddaughter.  She stayed behind.  She looked teary eyed, and with a spoon shaped mouth.  Grandmother was concerned, “Child why are you so gloomy?  Are you not happy to be here and see me?”  The child slowly nodded.  Grandmother then asked, “so why are you crying?’  The child softly said, “I am sad and disappointed?”  “Why?” asked the Grandmother.  The child said, “You did not watch for me.”  Grandmother knew her family was coming, but she allowed herself to be concerned with other things, so that when they arrived it caught her by surprise. 

It is not that the Virgins did not know that the groom was coming, they just allowed themselves to be distracted with other concerns.  You can imagine the groom’s disappointment when he arrives after all that hardship in the journey to find his bridesmaids, not watching for him.  Imagine his disappointment when, furthermore, five of them ran away because they were not ready to receive him.  Christ is warning us so that we may not be in the same condition.

This is akin to what Christ told the Disciples in Mark 13: 33 regarding the time of the end,

Mar 13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
Mar 13:34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Mar 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Mar 13:36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
Mar 13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

For the dead in Christ we need not worry.  There reward is secure.  Paul says in Hebrews 11: 39 – 40,

Heb 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Heb 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Furthermore, he says in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, “…even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”  So, when Christ comes they shall rise and be caught with Christ, before those that live (1 Thessalonians 4: 16).  But, those that live have the greater privilege.  They will demonstrate to the world that humans can overcome Sin, in sinful flesh as Christ overcame Sin in the flesh, since He came in the likeness sinful flesh (Romans 8:3).  These will vindicate God.  And, this is what Christ is waiting for; we read from Ellen G. White,

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.  {COL 69.1}

The Groom will come when “His wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).  They will not disappoint Christ.  They will be ready and watching for Him.