What is truly meant when we say we should be preparing for the Signposts to come? What is at the heart of preparation?
God has used circumstances in my own life, with emails from readers and a couple comments on this blog which have all come together at about the same time to teach on this topic.
I believe it is a two-part answer.
First, Preparation for Living
First, at the core, preparation for the end times is not really any different than preparation for just life. Let us keep our eyes on the overall goal: when we accepted Jesus Christ into our lives and decided to follow Him, the goal is to reach the end of our lives in these weak and aging bodies, whether we die first or the Lord finally appears, having overcome the world, having let nothing get in the way of our attaining the crown of life.
In regards to being prepared for Christ’s coming, the apostle John wrote,
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28 (NIV 1984) [my emphasis]
That’s it. Not only should we be in Him, but we should continue to do so.
What does this entail? Continuing in Him is to lead a lifestyle of obeying Christ’s commands. Do we sin again? Yes, we do, but we keep a soft heart and a spirit of repentance. What commands are to be obeyed? Again, John wrote,
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
1 John 3:23-24 (NIV 1984) [emphasis mine]
Our job is to believe in Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. That part is easy, right? Yes and no. It’s more than just head knowledge, it is acting on it. We are to love one another. That’s the harder part. And by believing and loving we know we are in Him. Continue to do so, even in the awfulness to come.
Second, Preparation for the End Time
1 John is Scripture that has provided guidance to Christians for centuries. This is the same Scripture that will provide guidance through the end times. Yet, God has included additional guidance for living at the end times as well – things to watch out for. We are to continue in Him whether we live in normal times or end times.
Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us,
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV, 1984) [emphasis mine]
So as the passage in Hebrew says, let us continue in Him, let us encourage one another, and especially as we see the signs telling us Christ is approaching. The Signposts can tell us the end is approaching.
Third, Knowing the Signpost Message
The Signpost message, borne of Bible prophecy, is meant to encourage and strengthen us during the times the Signposts are actually occurring. Therefore we must know the Signposts, and the message must be widespread throughout the church.
If your lot is to live through the Signposts to come, as it likely is for most of us, then we need to pay attention to God’s Word. In regards to end time events Jesus said,
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. (Matt. 24:42, NIV, 1984)
What do we watch? Jesus said when you see the leaves on the fig tree become tender you know summer is near. Likewise, the Signposts are like seasons – when you see Iran, and then Turkey and then the man emerging to be Antichrist, all do their things, you will see the turning of the seasons. In turn, you can encourage those around you in the midst of the awfulness, because you are watching, and because you know the Signposts. This is how we know how close Christ is by season. It is Christ’s return that is the blessed hope, it is the reason for being comforted. And so per Hebrews 10 above we are to encuorage one another, and spreading the message of the Signposts to all our brothers and sisters will be part of encouraging one another.
It is the Spirit of Christ living in us that will help us continue in Him, through the awfulness. Yet the Signpost message is in his Word to also assist us. That’s why it is in his Word. And how do we know there will be awfulness? Jesus said in Matthew 24:6 to not scream in terror (the real Greek word behind “being alarmed”). Therefore, that is what we will all feel like doing in our flesh.
The Heart of Preparation
So that is the core of preparation. Continue in Him! Keep watch and know and spread the Signposts so we can encourage our brothers and sisters.
Anything beyond that is whatever God is specifically calling you to do. The awfulness to come will appear in a thousand variations of physical manifestations. Are we to garden? Buy gold? Move to another state? Move to a farm? Learn a trade like weaving or gunsmithing? The answers are endless.
If you don’t feel called to anything specific, that might be it – you are to encourage and spread the message to the church as you encounter your fellow saints. You are simply to keep living your life in Christ.
If you feel you are to be a Joseph somehow, making physical preparations, all I can say is do not procrastinate.
Time is short.