In Mark 13, Jesus shares with his disciples what to expect as the world, full of sin and woe, comes to its end. The disciples ask of Jesus what would be indications that it would come to an end? In other words, what should they be looking for? How would they know? Jesus’ answer is remarkable; He did not answer the question as it was asked, instead He began with a stark warning, “See that you are not led astray…” (vs 5,6). He told them that there would be impersonators of Himself claiming to be Him but that they should not be fooled by this.
What pressed on my mind was the fact that the first thing that Jesus told the disciples to keep their eyes open to ways for the possibility of being deceived. Deception. I reflected on the fact that Eve was lured into thinking one thing when the reality of the situation was totally different from what she believed. She was deceived and thinking that she was “cool,” that all was well, (afterall, nothing happened to her) she did what deceived people do, she proceeded to share a convincing tale with her husband which included the alteration of the very thing that she was not supposed to do. What was in fact very bad, dangerous and life altering, was made to look good and pleasant. That’s deception.
Our reading this week, from the Great Controversy, deals with that very distasteful reality. With whom? With the people of God. The enemy is in the camp. The enemy has crept in among us. In an attempt to not give away the entire read, in case you have not read it, we read “Little by little, at first in stealth and silence, and then more openly as it increased in strength and gained control of the minds of men, “the mystery of iniquity” carried forward its deceptive and blasphemous work” (GC p.49). The church became deceived because she went into slumber mode like a computer. Because there were no trials, persecution had ebbed and “all was well,” rather than remaining vigilant, she got too comfortable, her defenses were down and the relentlessly cunning enemy came in.
But there were those who kept their eyes wide open and saw the slippery slope that the church was on. They were aware of the dangerous compromises and the ill-fated positions that some held. They realized that their only anchor was to stay steadfast to the truth that had kept them through all the persecution, loss and hardship. That in times of ease, it was even more necessary to keep the eyes wide open. They did not yield to prevailing sentiments, they did not get caught up in the avalanche of misinformation and disinformation that flooded their society. Their eyes stayed open. They remained resolutely aware of and obedient to Jesus’ words in Mark 13:37, “And what I say to you, I say to all: Stay awake” (ESV).
One of the benefits of staying awake, of keeping the eyes wide open is to avoid the pitfalls of being deceived. One can see, one can detect the movements of the enemy and take action to remain secure. Another benefit is to help in sounding the alarm like a soldier on the night watch. He/she alerts a sleeping company to danger. Additionally, the one who keeps the eyes wide open, not only stays sharp, but gains wisdom, knowledge and understanding, Ps 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (ESV). Herein lies the enabling power that keeps you and I alert, even after a battle-worn day. Staying decidedly close to the word of God. In fact, close is not enough, jump in! Let it swallow us up like a dive into deep water or swimming pool. Until we come up refreshed, revived, rejuvenated, replenished, restored but never relaxed and with eyes wide open, live to serve in a deceitful world.
The word of God, meditated upon, night and day will show us when our thinking is suspect, yes it will, if we let it. It will make our hearts open to beams of truth, and we will be prepared to give up long-held positions in the light of what God is saying to us. We will learn more and develop better. We will see and perceive and help others see. It will help us to be more in tune with God and with each other. It will lead to our salvation, till we can sing on the glory side of heaven, the songs of freedom, for the kingdoms of this world would have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Until then… Lord keep our eyes wide open. - Pastor Kerth