The final eruption of Mount St. Helens in May of 1980 was not a sudden event. For two months prior to the massive blast—the most deadly and destructive in American history—earthquakes and volcanic activity signaled a major event was underway. Authorities had plenty of time to sound the alarm and warn those living nearby of the looming danger. Yet despite the seriousness of the threat, some people chose to disregard the warnings.
Probably the best known of those who refused to evacuate was Harry Randall Truman. The eighty-three-year-old man was the owner and caretaker at the Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake. He had survived the sinking of his troop ship by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland during World War I, and he was not about to leave just because scientists thought there was danger.
“I don’t have any idea whether it will blow,” Truman told reporters. “But I don’t believe it to the point that I’m going to pack up.” On May 18, 1980, Truman and his lodge were buried beneath 150 feet of mud and debris from the volcanic eruption. His body was never found. (Source: Volcano Cowboys, Dick Thompson)
We shake our heads and wonder why someone would be so foolish as to disregard a life-threatening warning. Yet, we see young people jumping off bridges just for fun with warning signs, “No diving.” A hurricane approaches the coast, and warnings are issued to evacuate. But there are always people who refuse and say,”I’m going to ride it out.” Some survive. But sadly others lose their lives.
Today’s Bible reading is Matt 24. It contains Jesus’ warnings pointing to the destruction of Jerusalem and of His second coming. In verses 42-44 he issues this warning.
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
The word “watch” means “to keep awake. To give strict attention to. Be cautious” It is used 22 times in the New Testament, often by Jesus, and speaks to a need to be spiritually attentive. It is translated in various passages as “watchful,” “alert,” vigilant.” “On guard.” “Awake.”
Not only are we warned about being ready for the second coming of Christ, but to resist temptation, be aware of false teachers and be on guard against the schemes of Satan.
The apostle Peter put it this way: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8).
The Bible says we’re in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil. Paul uses military metaphors urging Christians to stand strong against Satan’s schemes. He calls us to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:10). The belt of Truth. The breastplate of righteousness. The helmet of salvation. The sword of the Spirit. The shield of faith. (Eph 6:14-17) He concludes this warning by commending constant prayer and then urges, “be on the alert with all perseverance…”
After warning about the darkness of sin and the certain second coming of Jesus, the Bible exhorts Christians, “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess 5:6).
We must be awake to the devious devices of the Devil to trip and trap us. Unwholesome entertainment. Lurid literature. Internet pornography. Trashy TV shows. Raunchy music. And anything else that appeals to lustful thoughts, lewd feelings, and lascivious actions.
The Bible often warns us about our choice of friends and evil companions. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Ps 1:1)
The admonition of Jesus has never been more appropriate than it is today. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). Or as Paul exhorted “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong” ( 1 Cor 16:13)
Christ is coming again. Stay focused. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Be filled with God’s Word. Pray fervently. Fellowship with people of faith.
And “remember Lot’s wife.” (Lk 17:32).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman