It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.
-- Luke 12:38
More than 5,500 people died on November 8, 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. But one of the greatest catastrophes in recorded history happened the day after Christmas in 2004. The warning signs were there. And sadly, most of its victims either didn't recognize or heed them.
The day began pleasantly enough with families spending the morning strolling along tropical Asian beaches. Suddenly, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake--as powerful as 23,000 Hiroshima-style atomic bombs--struck near the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The resulting tsunami ("tidal wave") rose to the height of an 8-story building and struck 11 nations along the Indian Ocean. More than 200,000 people died.
Seismic equipment did detect and record the earthquake that day. However, the region had no tidal gauges or sensors to verify the triggering of a tsunami. And even if it had them, there was no way to warn everyone to flee to safety.
Out of this tragedy came stories from the few who recognized the calamity's warnings and were able to save themselves and sometimes others. The Associated Press reported that one Indian national saved 1,500 of his fellow villagers after spotting the ocean's dramatic recession from the shoreline. A student vacationing in Thailand saved herself and her family after recalling a lesson about tsunamis and their warning signs. And for reasons debated by scientists, many animals somehow sensed the disaster and fled in time to higher ground.
Disasters, whether natural or manmade, happen every day. They're often unpredictable. And there's no guarantee that we can actually save ourselves, our family or property from the resulting destruction--even if we do recognize the warning signs. But today, there are warning signs of a much greater world-changing event that could strike in 100 years. Or maybe even tonight.
God promises us through the Bible that one day, a Savior (Jesus) will return to right all the wrongs of this world, save and reward those who believe in Him, and send all others to an eternity of torment. No one knows the exact time or day of Christ's return. But many of the Bibles prophesies about the matter have already been fulfilled, such as the relatively recent one about the re-birth of the State of Israel.
Indeed, Jesus could return in five minutes or in 500 years. But either way, we still must be prepared. That's because none of us knows when our own time on Earth will be over. Check the news on the Internet, television or the paper and you're bound to find stories about people killed suddenly in accidents, during crimes or by sudden illness (like a stroke or heart attack). Like the victims of the tragic 2013 typhoon and 2004 tsunami, they had no idea that their final hour was imminent.
This brings us to the obvious question: Are you prepared to meet your Maker? Your answer has eternal consequences. "So you also must be ready," Jesus warns, "because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
Our God is a God of justice. And since we've all failed to live up to His standards, we all deserve the penalty that Jesus endured on the cross. He paid the price that we can never afford. So how can you be assured that you'll spend eternity with God rather than without Him? The Apostle Paul offers this assurance:
"If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
The signs are all around us. Are you ready?