Today’s reading: Deuteronomy 14-16; Mark 13:14-37
9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. Deuteronomy 15:9
26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Mark 13:26-27
One of the functions of God’s word is to warn His people to be watchful and on guard. This need for watchfulness takes different shapes at different times.
In Ancient Israel, God instructed His people in how they were to manage their economy so that there would be no poverty among them. When a need arose, there were provisions for addressing it. If the people would obey strictly God’s law, there would never be an unmet need or a hungry family. But the Lord knew their hearts and warned them against trying to evade their responsibilities. If the year of release were near, a loan would be almost an outright gift.∗ He warned them not to take into account the coming year of release, as they were considering the needs of their poor brother. One might be tempted to ignore the appeal of the needy, but the Lord would hear his cry and bring judgment on the neglectful, unresponsive brother.
In Jesus’ teaching about the coming time of tribulation, He also warned people to be watchful, but for a different reason. The time of the coming of the Son of Man in power and glory was sure but it was not revealed. In other words, the exact time of His coming was unknown. In contrast to the year of release or the year of Jubilee that came around every seven years or every 49 years, the date of the coming of the Lord was and is unknown. It is much easier to be sleepy and unwatchful, thinking it will not be soon.
Believers should live each day as if the Lord could come. We ought not to think that today does not matter because final judgment seems to be delayed. Neither ought we to neglect our duties in this world because we are convinced the Lord will be here within hours. We are called to live watchfully, being faithful and obedient.
Do the things God has called you to do today. He knows your heart and watches your hand.
∗ See note in the Reformation Study Bible, page 275