"For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1st Thessalonians 5:7-11)How does one prepare for the end of all things? Some prepare by denying or ignoring its reality, others by fatefully accepting its inevitability, "Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine: 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.'" (Isaiah 22:13) However, God wants us to approach the end of all time with our eyes wide open and a heart that has been prepared and made ready for that day. So how does one prepare for that day? Here are some thoughts.
Jesus gave us this command regarding the end of the age, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:13 NKJV) The opposite of sleeping is not being awake but rather being awake and watching. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, speaks of us either being awake or asleep. The Greek word used here for "awake" is the same word Jesus used for "watching". It is not enough for us to wake from our slumber, but we must also become vigilant and watch for His coming.
Watching is almost always associated with prayer. When Jesus returned to check on the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, He found them sleeping and said, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?" (Matthew 26:40) Jesus' watch was consumed in prayer. Similarly, Jesus commanded us to, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41 NKJV) Watching is what we do during and after we pray; it is an active listening to the Holy Spirit so that we might receive His wisdom, guidance, warnings, and instruction. God wants to communicate with us, to show us what is approaching, so that we might not be caught off guard and prepared for whatever comes our way. However, this takes watching on our part; listening to God and watching for His revelation.
We also prepare for His coming by preparing our lives. John writes to instruct us that we might not be ashamed of ourselves at His coming. "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." (1 John 2:28-29) Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of faith and love, which he also calls "the breastplate of righteousness." (Ephesians 6:14) God has delivered us us from the wrath to come and has called us to eternal life. Now is the time for us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1) and to learn to live lives of holiness and righteousness that in that day we might stand before Him without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing." (Ephesians 5:27)
lastly, we must garrison our hearts with hope, and not just our hearts, but also to encourage one another in the hope of our calling. Life is not always easy, but we have been promised that "the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Matthew 24:13) We all need encouragement from time to time and we must learn to encourage ourselves and others in the hope that is ours in Christ. We may not know what tomorrow may bring, but we do know the end of all things, that one day Jesus will return to take us all away to live with Him for ever; to inherit a "new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13) These are great promises indeed and ones that can sustain and strengthen us in our daily walks as we watch for His coming again.