Eyes Upward, Fixed on Jesus

After listing some of the great heroes of faith from the Old Testament in Hebrews 11, the author of this grand New Testament epistle begins the twelfth chapter with these words:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Earlier in his epistle, he tells us to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” by “assembling together,” and especially “as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10.24-25). What day was that? The ‘Day of the Lord,’ when Jesus returns to judge the earth and set up His throne (see Rev. 19.11-20.6). In effect, as we see the end approaching, he exhorts us to keep gathering together, and fix our eyes on Jesus, who is coming again.

I don’t know when Jesus “will descend from heaven with a shout…(and we) will be caught up…to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4.16-17). This event signals the beginning of the end. I do know this: That day is getting closer, and as I consider what is happening in our world, it may be very near. Consider:

After a few years during which peace seemed to be ‘breaking out’ in the world, and forces of wickedness were restrained, we’re suddenly on the precipice of global war. Russia is about to invade Ukraine, and is moving into Kazakhstan amid nationwide protests. China is threatening Taiwan. Iran is building nuclear weapons and announcing its intention to annihilate Israel. North Korea is testing hypersonic missiles. The Taliban is ruling Afghanistan. The entire Middle East – Lebanon, UAE, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, are primed to explode in open conflict.

We are also witnessing social upheaval on a global scale. A microscopic virus has killed millions, and billions have succumbed to leaders who want to dictate how they live their lives. Notions like ‘climate change’ and ‘critical race theory’ have created rancor and division. Gender fluidity and destructive sexual practices are not just tolerated, but promoted. Cultural elites ‘cancel’ those who confront such ideas.

Finally, there is widespread confusion and weakness in the church. Christian institutions have traded the gospel of Jesus Christ for social theories. Emotional experience has eclipsed biblical truth; ‘virtue signaling’ with progressive morality has replaced the gospel. The speed with which this has altered Christianity is breathtaking. Jesus once asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18.8b)  We must be prepared to stand strong for Christ in these last days.

Biblical prophecies in Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 9-12, Matthew 24-25, and Revelation 6-19 foretell these things. As we look with expectation to the end, the question is, ‘What should we do?’ The book of Hebrews reminds us to keep gathering together, encourage one another, and fix our eyes on Jesus. Many Christians in the world today cannot meet openly as we do each week, to worship and fellowship together, and learn from God’s Word. Don’t take it for granted, and don’t forsake it. And as ‘the day’ approaches, keep your eyes upward, fixed on Jesus.