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Watch ye therefore….” but WHAT are we to watch?
For many years, many have been taught – as many scriptures were quoted to support this notion – that we are to “watch” so that we’re not caught off guard by the coming of our King. Our King and Lord says to watch, as he is coming as a thief in the night – unexpectedly. So many have assumed this meant we must watch the news by the hour – especially events in the Middle East – and to know what’s going on “out there”, and be up on all the ins and outs of world politics. Certainly Yeshua (Jesus) himself said “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies…” – and other events – that those in Jerusalem will have to flee without hesitation (Luke 21:20-24). So yes, there is some degree of watching the news that is included in the “watch ye therefore” commands.
But is watching the news -- world events -- the main meaning behind the many verses reminding us to “watch”? Let me ask you this: even if we spent every waking minute watching the news, do any of us really believe that we’re discovering what’s really happening behind closed doors, or – is the news in fact being manipulated much of the time so we hear what “newsmakers” want us to hear?
Some of you believe you’re “watching” and staying abreast of world events by watching Fox News, or OneAmerica Network, CNN, or Drudge, or listening to Rush Limbaugh, or Jones or listening to endless radio talk shows. I contend that is NOT the main intent of the admonition to “watch”.
I submit to you that many dark and deep discussions are going on that never get reported! So even if you and I were to spend our lives “watching the news”, we will miss the most important and most secretive BIG news going on.
So what did Yeshua (Jesus) mean when he told us to WATCH?
There are several Greek words used that are all translated into our one English word “watch”. For example, sometimes the word refers to one of the four Roman “watches”– or time periods – in the night (Jews had 3 “watches” in a night) – Mark 13:35. Other times it meant to stay awake. The Greek word agrupneo, according to Vine’s, referred to someone wide awake and focused intently on something – as in Mark 13:33—“take heed, watch (agrupneo) and pray…” Be focused intently on the imminence of our Lord’s return. In Ephesians 6:18 the same word is actually translated “stay alert” in some versions. The KJV says “watching therefore with all perseverance”.
Ephesians 6:18 NKJV
“With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and stay alert (agrupneo) in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
So we’re seeing the focus of that Greek word is telling us not to get distracted – but to keep a focus on active prayer and praying, “stay alert in this with all perseverance…”
So how are we doing so far? Surely we can admit we can pray more in a focused way.
There’s so much more about Greek words translated “watch”. Click on Continue Reading to the right to learn about the MAIN word used and what it teaches us.
First let’s look at one Greek word, though not used that much is interesting. It’s “nepho”, translated again as “be watchful” – in 2 Timothy 4:5 – but the Greek word literally means “abstain from wine”. We know it’s OK to drink some wine. Christ did at the Passover. His first miracle, in fact, was turning water into the best wine ever (John 2). So some translations tell us to “be sober” or “keep your thinking clear”, or “be sober” in your thinking, as that’s the true implication. But again, in most of our English Bibles, we simply read the word “watchful”.
NKJV of 2 Tim 4:5 – “but you be watchful in all things…”
Holman: “But as for you, keep a clear head about everything…”
NIV: “But you, keep your head in all situations…”
ESV: “But as for you, always be sober minded….”So sometimes when we read “watch” in English, the original Greek is saying to remain serious, sober-minded as a way of life. Don’t be getting too silly, crass or be someone who’s kidding all the time. I preach to myself too. Having some laughter, joy, mirth and kidding is fine – but we should not become known as a person who is never serious. You might like to review my blog about why Lot’s children “thought he was joking”! Type in “joking” in the Search bar on the upper left corner of the home page – and that will take you to the Aug 2013 blog on this.
These are all different Greek words being translated usually into English simply as “watch”, or sometimes – in other translations – as “stay alert” or “be vigilant”.
Then there’s the Greek word “gregoreuo” that is probably most frequently used. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, this word primarily means to keep awake, to be alert, be vigilant, and to be spiritually awake. Let’s see a few examples of this one, so we can be more sure of what we are to be watching.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-8
“You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch (gregoreuo) and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”
Do you see how Paul ties in this subject of watching with having a more serious mind about how we approach life – and not always seeking the next funny thing we can post on Facebook?
Here’s a small part of what the Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament says about this word: NT:1127 “The general attitude of alertness on the part of the Christian believer, in view of actual or imminent tests of his spiritual life, is inculcated through the verb gregoréœ (Strong’s # 1127). (Matthew 24:42,43; 25:13; 26:38,40,41; Mark 13:35; 14:34,37,38; Luke 12:37,39). This involves the duty of vigilance combined with prayer in regard either to a certain day or hour when the Son of man shall arrive, or to some actual crisis or trial (especially the agony of Gethsemane), or as a preparation for some impending temptation.”
Matthew 24:42-44 gregoreuo
“Watch (gregoreuo) therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Here the Master likens our job to that of a night watchman, staying alert, on guard and wide awake as he ensures no thief will come unnoticed! Certainly this passage does seem to imply we are to be fully aware of what’s going on around us. But do we to this primarily by watching the news? Don’t get me wrong! We should know what’s happening. I watch the news a lot, probably more than I need to! But is that the main focus here? I think not. The focus here is not letting ourselves be unprepared or caught off guard by our Master’s return. We should be ready, actively doing his work, in close contact with him – and not asleep, not naked, not distracted, not doing the work to which we’ve been called!
Matthew 26:38-41 gregoreuo
38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch (gregoreuo) with Me."
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
So in the passage centered around Gethsemane, the focus of watching in this context is connected to being vigilant in prayer, lest we be tested and tempted and fail, due to the weakness of our flesh. Yeshua knew the Adversary would be using all the weapons in his arsenal to make Yeshua and all the disciples fail that night if he could. Yeshua knew Peter’s denial was about to happen, and so he was coaching them all to spend the time in prayer so they could conquer the temptations to deny him or flee from him.
What did Yeshua do in his greatest trial? Did he mope, worry, fret or just “go to bed” and sleep – or did he PRAY so intently some blood vessels broke open and he sweat drops of blood? Hebrews 5:7 says his prayer was with vehement cries. That’s what Peter should have been doing too! Praying for HIM, and for himself! But instead, Peter did what we all would have done after a night of sorrow and drinking wine: he slept. It was after midnight after all. We’re coming to the worst times the world has ever seen sometime within the coming decade or whenever it happens, whether a few years or 15 or more years… we must stay vigilant and pray.
In this next passage, Paul is advising the Ephesian elders to heed and to watch. Notice what they were to be watching.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch (gregoreuo), and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
In Acts 20, Paul uses the same word “watch” while admonishing the elders – NOT to refer to knowing what’s happening in the news, but to be on guard again against spiritual wolves that would come in. He’s telling them to remember their calling to shepherd the flock and to watch out for heretics and their heresies – and to “take heed to yourselves”! Shepherds must remain strong first or they won’t be in a position to help the flock. Again, I realize where I have also failed here in the past and so I preach to myself so I don’t fail in the same way again.
So it appears that “watching” is focused largely – in context – on watching our SPIRITUAL CONDITION, that we stay close to our Master, that we persevere in prayer, that we cut out a lot of the time wasters of life. In our day and age, it is so easy to get distracted from focusing on the One Thing, the Main thing. Watch for a coming blog on the Weapons of Mass Distraction.
WHEN WE PRAY – where and on whom are we watching as we pray? Obviously we’re focused on our Father and on Yeshua, in whose name we can come boldly to the throne of grace to we can obtain help in time of need!
So when I teach that we are to watch, here is the primary focus: it’s not on the news. It’s not on conspiracy theories, or CERN, or the FEMA camps that we’re told are being built, or on chem trails in the clouds, or on the Illuminati or the Trilateral Commission. Nor is it to be focused on the Jesuits or Masons or modern-day Knights Templar. I’m aware of these things, sure. But it’s not to be our main focus.
NO! The focus of scripture is to seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness. To put on Christ, who is the helmet of our salvation. To seek HIM with all your might. To focus on HIM, gaze on HIM, keep watching HIM, LOOK to HIM.
So most of all, if we’re watching, we’ll be WATCHING OUR LEADER – Yeshua the Messiah – and following his every word, tuned in to his every nuance. If we do, we’ll be hearing his thoughts, his urges, his words. (Hear my sermon on “Experiencing the Almighty”). 2 Corinthians 3:18 says we are to be steadfastly beholding the glory of the Lord, and in doing so, we’re being transformed from glory to glory.
“…looking to (watching) Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” In context, he said we would be laying aside the sins that so easily ensnare us, how? By focusing on our Leader and Savior.
Our gaze must be firmly locked in on him and not on temptations, distractions, pursuits of pleasure, or on worries, sins, angers and everything else Satan would like us to be watching. Nor is it to be so involved with the latest “news” of something you’ve discovered. Neither is it to be so wrapped up in your or my pet doctrinal correctness that everyone else has wrong. These are all ultimately distractions that keep us from watching our Master and being in tune with HIM.
If we’re focused on HIM and doing His work, we won’t be caught off guard whenever he returns. We’re looking UP for our Redemption is near (Luke 21:28)
So continue in prayer, focused on HIM and do so with thanksgiving (Col 4:2). Let’s be watching our spiritual condition and that we’re not slipping into new sins or sinful habits or let’s watch that we’ve started leaving on the filthy garments of sin or self-righteousness.
THAT’S the focus of “watching” -– far more so than watching the news, most of which we’re not getting anyway! Are you spiritually naked, or have you put on Christ and HIS covering, HIS righteousness? Don’t be caught off guard when he comes unpredictably like a thief.
Revelation 16:15 KJV
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
"But take heed (watch) to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man."