Daniel Defoe makes an interesting observation through the eyes of Robinson Crusoe when he describes the "Savages" that had come to the island. These intruders, he finds, had encroached upon his turf for the past 20+ years, but he had no notion of their existence. Upon realizing how often he had not recognized them, he remarks that the mind is only afraid when it recognizes the dangers that lay ahead. Though a danger exists, it is not until we recognize danger that we become fully aware of its potential hazards for our life. It is no wonder then that Christ warns us in Matthew 24:42, "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Christ makes it very clear that we do not know when He will return again for judgment, but we must always be watching. The question is not will He come. The question is, will we be watching!
The word watching is used rather interestingly here. We would use the word to say we were watching a movie or watching the clock. These statements make the word passive in nature. It does not take much to watch a movie. Some can do such menial tasks and never fully grasp what is happening. Consider all the children in schools who watch their teachers and never learn a thing, not because the teacher wasn't teaching, but because they were not actively engaging in the learning process. When God tells us to Watch, it is not telling us to be inactively observing, but rather being actively engaged and attentive to God's word, our lives, and preparing for judgment.
The watchful man is alert to dangers around him. Christ told Peter, James, and John to, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation." (Matthew 26:41) Christ knew the trials that would be coming upon them very shortly, and he wanted them to literally be against sleep, or guarded against sleep. In other words, they were to be acutely aware of the dangers about them. Paul tells the Roman brethren in Romans 13:11, "that now it is high time to awake out of sleep." Sleep: a state of being with little or no conscious thought or voluntary movement. It indicates that we have no conscious thought of our needs, we are unprepared for the day, we are blind to the truths about us, and we are relaxed and unconcerned about the future. Paul is telling us exactly what Christ told his disciples, "WATCH," because dangers lie at the door.
Consider the parable Christ gives us just after he tells us to "Watch" in Matthew 24:42. In Matthew 25:1-13 Christ speaks to us concerning ten virgins who were to meet the bridegroom upon his arrival to the wedding feast. Notice that verse 6 makes is very clear that they did not know when the bridegroom was to come. All of the virgins fall asleep while the bridegroom is delayed. (Note: Christ is not making a comparison here to the sleep mentioned by Paul in Romans 13 (see above) and elsewhere. This would have been a literal sleep much like the sleep you will have tonight.) When the commenced their slumber they would not have known if the bridegroom would come before or after they arose. Therefore, it would have been absolutely necessary to be completely prepared for his arrival. Everything had to be in order before they slumbered. Christ concludes the example be telling us that half of them were not prepared. They had not been watching, and they were not ready.
To truly watch our eyes must be alert to dangers. We must prepare our souls so that they are ready when the messenger announces, "Behold, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet Him." (Matthew 25:6) Again, Christ says in Matthew 25:13, to conclude the lesson of the parable, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."
It is certain that the day of judgment will come. Are you watching? Are you ready to meet the bridegroom? He has appointed you to salvation, and desires that you will be ready.
I Thessalonians 5:6-10
Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 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. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.