The Bible contains so many comforting words of assurance that everything will be all right in the end. It contains a number of frightening words as well, but our preference is to avoid those, thinking that they must apply to someone else. Consider, for example, this familiar passage by the Apostle Paul:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 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 and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6 NKJV)
We like to think of ourselves as those who will not be caught off guard. After all, what would it mean if we are among those caught unaware when sudden destruction comes?
But what if the apostle’s words are intended to warn those among God’s people who are not paying attention? Paul seems satisfied that his correspondents in Thessalonica are sufficiently alert, but can he say the same about their brethren elsewhere – or perhaps us today, two thousand years removed from his personal instruction? His friends in Thessalonica probably understood that his words about those who say, “Peace and safety!” referred to prophecies Jeremiah and Ezekiel had spoken about the people of God who paid no attention to the signs of the times and refused to repent when YHVH sent them warning (see Jeremiah 6:9-15, 8:8-12, and Ezekiel 13:15-16).
Surely the apostle was also aware of Messiah Yeshua’s parable about the Ten Virgins – all of whom went to sleep while waiting on their Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). The difference between the wise and the foolish was not their degree of vigilance, but their degree of preparation. That, too, is something we should heed.
Consider what happened on December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777 in the Hebrew calendar). That was the day United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 declared illegal anything Israeli that exists beyond the 1967 borders of Israel. That means not just the communities that have grown up on unoccupied and unowned land in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), but neighborhoods in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where friends of mine live. It means as well the Temple Mount and the Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest sites in Judaism and the places God Himself has established as His own.