A Journal for Bible Teachers

The Need for Vigilance

The Need for Vigilance

The Bible is filled with examples where instruction is given to be awake and on guard. Jesus spoke of the need to be “watchful” in the letter to the church at Sardis (Revelation 3:3). Peter spoke several times on being watchful and vigilant (1 Peter 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8). The Apostle Paul in writing his last letter exhorted to “watch in all things…” (2 Timothy 4:5). There is a need today for the church to be alert and awake to the events taking place around her. The enemy is clever and goes to great lengths in seeking to lull the body of Christ into complacency and indifference. What are the warning signs and how should we prepare for the battles to come? Let us consider some familiar Biblical examples which will help to shed light on this subject. These examples may help to indicate where we are while providing insights in how we can be a sober and vigilant people.
1) Gideon’s army was an effective and formidable force. God took a group of 32,000 men (Judges 7:3), and winnowed them down to a number of 300. What characterised this group of elite soldiers? It was the way they bent down to drink water (Judges 7:6). The 300 were chosen due to their watchful eye while drinking the water. It was the quality of vigilance that distinguished them from the others. The other soldiers were either fearful to engage in battle or to self-absorbed in tending to their own needs without regard to the lurking danger.
2) Nehemiah was an industrious and effective leader at the time of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Throughout the narrative you see the many attempts of the enemy in trying to subdue and thwart the work of the restorers. Nehemiah, as a leader, was discerning and always alert to the adversary’s tactics. Nehemiah had workers that were either involved in the construction of the walls or tasked to have weapons ready for any enemy assault (Nehemiah 4:16). In spite of intense opposition, the work was accomplished in very quick time. Nehemiah’s example helps to give understanding to true spiritual warfare. His vigilance kept the enemy at bay.
3) The familiar parable of the 10 virgins has many instructive keys for us on this subject of vigilance. It is important to note that each of them desired the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1).What then distinguished the wise from the foolish virgins? The wise paid a price and were prepared as opposed to the foolish (Matthew 25:9). Truth is costly and not everyone is willing to pay its price. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” It appears that the wise virgins made good use of their time, especially while the bridegroom was tarrying.
There is an additional key in this parable we should consider. Each of the virgins had a period of sleep and slumber (Matthew 25:5). Clearly, there are seasons when little seems to be happening. These are critical times for a believer. It is in such times when we must persevere and seek the face of God for perspective. It should also be noted that the enemy works hard during these times as well. Matthew 13:25: “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”
What is especially dangerous is the opportunity for false doctrine to come forth at these times. If a person is not properly rooted, there is the potential that one can be carried away with other voices that are contrary to that of God. In fact, it can be said this was one of the Apostle Paul’s greatest concerns as seen in his writings before he died.  
Vigilance and being watchful are qualities that are highly esteemed of God. Let me close by sharing the following story which helps to bring this important subject to light. Several years ago I had an experience at a dentist’s office when I was treated for an abscess tooth. I had a strong injection of Novocain to numb the pain. Immediately after the procedure my wife and I went to a restaurant. My wife laughed as she saw hot steaming coffee streaming down my face. My mouth was so numbed that I could not feel the heat of the beverage, nor feel its fluid making a mess. This humorous account is actually a warning concerning the dangers of an anesthetised church. It is easy in today’s world to become desensitised to the realities of what is taking place around us. That is why Jesus makes several statements about being watchful and vigilant. We do not want to be like those who missed the time of the Lord’s visitation (Luke 19:41-44). Great heed must be given to the warnings of those cited above. It is time to awake and put on His strength and be alerted to the ever changing events of our day. God is looking for the Gideons, the Nehemiahs, and wise virgins of our days to awake and put on His strength so that Zion might arise.


About the Author

Rev. Timothy O’Connell is an ordained minister of Zion Fellowship International, based in Waverly New York. He has served as a missionary in India for several years and has an extensive understanding and knowledge of the mission field. He is an excellent teacher of the Word. and is currently the Principal of Tung Ling Bible School (Singapore), and is also the Dean of the School of Leadership. He and his wife, Joanne, are currently based in Singapore.