January 20: While You Are Waiting
Genesis 32–33; Matthew 24:29–25:13; Ecclesiastes 7:22–29
Jesus’ instructions to His disciples about His return have inspired many to incorrectly predict His second coming. But if we read His parables, we find that they’re not so focused on the future. Jesus prepares His disciples for His absence, and for the end times, because He wants them to be hopeful, expecting His return. He wants them to be ready and watchful. But He wants them to do all of these things by being fully engaged in the present, readying His kingdom.
Jesus’ parable of the Wise and Wicked Servants demonstrates this attitude. While the faithful and wise servant provides for the master’s household during his absence, the wicked servant uses the time flippantly: carousing and beating his fellow servants. When the master returns, the faithful servant is promoted for his service, and the wicked servant is punished. The parable presses the disciples to use their time wisely during Jesus’ absence by doing the work they were called to do.
The same exhortation goes out to us. Will we act like lone Christians—content to live life disconnected from God’s kingdom? Instead, we should be filled with hope, expectation, and overflowing with the good news. We should be willing to build up those around us, and attract those who have no hope.
As easy as it is to forget the eternal in our everyday lives, we can just as easily forget what God’s work right now means for eternity. Being actively engaged in the present means spreading the good news, and being involved in His work—using our gifts to nurture His coming kingdom.
Are you busy and active in God’s kingdom now? If not, what is keeping you from becoming so?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- Now Jacob went forth on his journey, and the Angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of the same place Mahanaim. Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother, unto the land of Seir into the country of Edom. To whom he gave commandment, saying, Thus shall ye speak to my lord Esau: thy servant Jacob saith thus, I have been a stranger with Laban and tarried unto this time. I have beeves also and asses, and men servants, and women servants, and have sent to show my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight. So the messengers came again to Jacob, saying, We came unto thy brother Esau, and he also cometh against thee and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid, and was sore troubled, and divided the people that was with him, and the sheep, and the beeves, and the camels into two companies. For he said, If Esau come to the one company and smite it, the other company shall escape. Moreover Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, Lord, which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will do thee good. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant: for with my staff came I over this Jordan, and now have I gotten two bands. I pray thee, Deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother upon the children. And thou saidest, I will surely do to thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for the multitude. And he tarried there that same night and took of that which came to hand, a present for Esau his brother: Two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams: Thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bullocks, twenty she asses, and ten foals. So he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by themselves, and said unto his servnts, Pass before me, and put a space between drove and drove. And he commanded the foremost, saying, If my brother Esau meet thee, and ask thee, saying Whose servant art thou? And whither goest thou? and whose are these before thee? Then thou shalt say, They be thy servant Jacob’s: it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and behold, he himself also is behind us. So likewise commanded he the second and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, After this manner, ye shall speak unto Esau, when ye find him. And ye shall say moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob cometh after us. (for he thought, I will appease his wrath with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face: it may be that he will accept me.) So went the present before him: but he tarried that night with the company. And he rose up the same night, and took his two wives, and his two maids, and his eleven children, and went over the ford Jabok. And he took them, and sent them over the river, and sent over that he had. Now when Jacob was left himself alone, there wrestled a man with him unto the breaking of the day. And he saw that he could not prevail against him: therefore he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was loosed, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the morning appeareth. Who answerd, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. Then said he unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And said he, Thy name shall be called Jacob no more, but Israel: because thou hast had power with God, thou shalt also prevail with men. And Jacob demanded, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore now dost thou ask my name? and he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place, Peniel, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank in the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the sinew that shrank in the hollow of Jacob’s thigh. And as Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men: and he divided the children of Leah, and unto Rachel, and to the two maids. And he put the maids, and their children foremost, and Leah, and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. So he went before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to hsi brother. And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifte dup hsi eyes, and saw the women, and the children, and said, Who are these with thee? And he answered, They are the children whom God of his grace hath given thy servant. Then came the maids near, they and their children, and bowed themselves. Leah also with her children came near and made obeisance: and after Joseph and Rachel drew near, and did reverence. Then he said, What meanest thou by all this drove, which I met? Who answered, I have sent it, that I may find favor in the sight of my lord. And Esau said, I have enough, my brother: keep that thou hast to thyself. But Jacob answered, Nay, I pray thee, if I have found grace now in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, because thou hast accepted me. I pray thee take my blessing, that is brought thee: for God hath had mercy on me, and therefore I have all things: for he compelled him, and he took it. And he said, Let us take our journey and go, and I will go before thee. Then he answered him, My lord knoweth, that the children are tender, and the ewes and kine with young under mine hand: and if they should overdrive them one day, all the flock would die. Let now my lord go before his servant, and I will drive softly, according to the pace of the cattle, which is before me, and as the children be able to endure, until I come to my lord unto Seir. Then Esau said, I will leave then soe of my folk with thee. And as he answered, What needeth this? let me find grace in the sight of my lord. So Esau returned, and went his way that same day unto Seir. And Jacob went forward toward Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore he called the name of the place Succoth. Afterward, Jacob came safe to Shechem a city, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram, and pitched before the city. And there he bought a parcel of ground, where he pitched his tent, at the hand of the sons of Hamor Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he set up there an altar, and called it, The mighty God of Israel. Genesis 32–33
- And immediately after the tribulations of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shal be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man inheven: and then shall al the kindreds of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his Angels with a grat sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, and from the one end of the heavens unto the other. Now learn the parable of the fig tree: when her bough is yet tender, and it putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near. So likewise ye, when ye see all these things, know that the kingdom of God is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the Angels of heaven, but my father only. But as the days of Noah were, so likewise shall the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they did eat and drink, marry, and give in marriage, unto the day that Noah entered into the Ark, And knew nothing, till the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then two shall be in the fields, the one shall be received, and the ohter shall be refused. Two women shall be grinding at the mill: the one shall be received, and the other shall be refused. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your master will come. Of this be sure, that if the good man of the house knew at what watch the thief would come, he would surely watch, and not suffer his house to be dug through. Therefore be ye also ready: for in the hour that ye think not, will the Son of man come. Who then is a faithful servanr and wise, whom his master hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season Blessed is that servant, whom his master when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant shall sa in his heart, My master doth defer his coming. And begin to smite his fellows, and to eat, and to drink with the drunken, That servant’s master will come in a day, when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And will cut him off, and give him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping an dgnashing of teeth.Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five foolish. The foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom tarried long, all slumbered and slept. And at midnight was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh: go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, Gve us of your oil, for our lamps are out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so, lest there will not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready, went in with him to the wedding, and the gate was shut. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord open to us. But he answered, and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore: for ye know neither the day, nor the hour, when the son of man will come. Matthew 24:29–25:13
- Surely there is no man just in the earth that doeth good and sinneth not. Give not thine heart also to all t he words that men speak, lest thou do hear thy servant cursing thee. For oftentimes also thine heart knoweth that thou likewise hast cursed others. Al this have I proved by wisdom: I thought, I will be wise, but it went far from me. It is far off, what may it be? and it is a profound deepness, who can find it? I have compassed about, both I and mine heart to know and to inquire and to search wisdom, and reason, and to know the wickedness of folly, and the foolishness of madness. And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is as nets andsnares, and her hands as bands: he that is good before God, shall be delivered from her, but the sinner shall be taken by her. Behold, saith the Preacher, this have I found, seeking one by one to find the count: Ecclesiastes 7:22–29