And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. Luke 22:31-32
Those were the cautionary words spoken to Simon Peter on the eve of the most terrible day of his life. Jesus was preparing His disciples for a series of events that they could hardly fathom as being true.
They had followed their Lord through many traumatic days over the course of their discipleship. They were there when He stood up against the revered religious leaders and condemned their hypocritical lifestyles. They were there in tempest on the sea that was calmed by His command. They watched as He interacted with the scourges of society as He showed love to the loveless and gave hope to the hopeless.
He was their Master and they each anticipated that one day He would proclaim himself to be the Messiah and the long-awaited kingdom would be established. The expected glory mixed with traditions of their generation clouded their minds. They could not comprehend the words of Jesus as He described His impending death. Peter verbalized what they all must have believed – that they would never leave Him or forsake Him. But Peter was wrong. Peter’s reliance on himself, leading to his great fall during the time of extreme pressure, is a cautionary lesson for us.
We don’t understand fully what the Battle of Armageddon is all about. What we do understand is that there has been nothing like it, and it is closer than when we first believed. It will not be a battle we can fight with man-made armaments of war. It is a spiritual battle with life or death consequences.
The question that comes home to us is quite simple. Are we preparing for our day of test?
If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? Jerimiah 12:5
The best indicator of our conduct in a future event is how we are living today. Where is our sense of loyalty and love directed? Who or what has our best affections? What is it that we are most passionate about? What is it that drives our behavior and regulates our words? If Jesus and the service of God do not top that list, we too like Peter will be in for a rude surprise.
Being one with Jesus is key to our discipleship today and the best preparation for the storms of tomorrow. And Jesus could not have been clearer about what it takes to be one with Him and the Father.
Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:33
Forsaking all is hard for us to comprehend and even harder for us to practice. Forsaking includes our ways of thinking, our prejudices, and biases. It means that our natural tendencies are subordinate to the will of God. It means that our focus in life is not for our greatness but instead for His glory.
How do we get there? It is a process of love. This love is not of a type that we can self-generate. It is a love that we must respond to.
The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3
Our greatest preparation for that time of trouble such as never has been is a relationship of obedience built on loving and fearing God. It’s the relationship exemplified by the three Hebrew boys cast into the fiery furnace. It’s the example of Daniel as he is put into a lion’s den. It is the example of Joseph when during his great test he exclaimed, “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9
The time of preparation is now. The time of surrendering everything is now. The time to walk by faith trusting in a Savior’s love is now. Jesus is praying for us that our faith fail not.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does being prepared for the time of trouble mean to you?
- What does having a relationship with God mean?
- Is having a relationship with God the most important thing for a Christian? Explain your answer.
- What does it mean to come out of Babylon?
- Is it true that the church can be most successful when it appears more like those it is seeking to win?
- What does loving God with all of your heart mean?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The best preparation for the Battle of Armageddon is to know the signs of its arrival. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on Babylon and Armageddon with the words of Jesus. Let’s not focus on the watching while ignoring the keeping.
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Revelation 16:15
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons