Watching reveals character and makes it. It means wakefulness, an ideal, a purpose, and a hopeful expectancy. Some people only look. Their eyelids are not shut. Something passes before the eye. They look, but they rarely see.
It takes a soul to see. It needs a spirit awake to see out through the eye, and see into persons and events passing by, and see forward to what is coming to-morrow. Some sleep. The body is awake in daytime. They walk and talk and eat, buy and sell, count money and hoard it. But their eyes are never lifted to the outer horizon. They are settled in an even, contented round. Their spirits sleep.
A wakefulness of spirit to the time and its need, an ideal clear and high of what should be, a purpose strong and masterful that holds the life up toward the ideal, an expectancy eager, brave, steady; an eye fixed intently on some One unseen,—this is what watching means. It reveals character. It makes character. It reaches out strong spirit hands, and brings nearer and sooner the thing watched for.
Watching has always been a characteristic of the men God has used. He used them because He could. They were of use. Their spirit made them serviceable. Their watching opened the way for fellowship of spirit and partnership in action. It put them in tune with Him who never slumbers nor sleeps, and who watches over His pledged word, to bring it to pass at the earliest possible hour.
The watcher sings. His favourite song is "I will lift up mine eyes." He sees what is coming. He sees Him who sits beyond the horizon of our common outlook. And seeing Him grows this sort of expectancy, and the expectancy becomes the controlling thing.
It was this sort of expectancy that made Abraham a pilgrim at seventy-five, and that grew deep the pilgrim trait of patient endurance through the weary twilight years till the promised heir came, and even beyond that, wove the finest texture into his character when the severest test came.
It was this expectancy that drew Moses away from the court life of Egypt, and the possible prospect of wearing imperial purple, to become the leader of a straggling crowd of slaves. And it held him steady on through long years, wilderness travel, criticism, and non-appreciation, on and on, till Nebo's top was climbed. He endured as seeing Him who was invisible to the unseeing eyes of the crowds at His side.
Such expectancy has steadied every leader for God, in these old pages from first to last, young Joseph in the dungeon, Joshua in the glare of the limelight, into which he was suddenly thrust, and ruddy-faced singing David fleeing and hiding for his life from the javelin of Saul. It was the clear-seeing eye of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the homeland, and of Ezekiel and Daniel among the weeping exiles, that kept the heart of the nation warm with the vision of what was surely coming. The thrill of expectancy runs through the pages of this old Hebrew classic. Its light is never out of the eye, nor its alluring out of earshot.
When Jesus walked among men expectation ran high. When He was killed the gloom of the three days was the gloom of a bright light suddenly put out. The darkness was intensified by the light that had been shining. Then there came a new sort of expectancy, higher, finer, of the inner spirit. This Jesus was coming back, in all the glory of the old prophetic vision, made realer by the personal touch these men knew, and this new expectancy puts all the paper of the New Testament a-tremble with delight. It is the light that lighteth every page and epistle, every contested path of witness, and every hour of suffering because of faith.
The Church of these New Testament pages is a watching Church. The expectancy of the Lord Jesus' return is the north star of their sky. It never swerves. All the rest revolves around it. They see everything else in relation to this. Their going into all the world and preaching to every creature was not simply for men's conversion: that surely: but beyond that, it was to bring the Christ back for the next step in His world programme. He would come and set up His kingdom, and then through the kingdom would come a yet wider, farther-reaching world evangelizing. [Note: Act_3:20-21; Act_15:14-18.] This expectancy controlled their life and activity. Through their faithful world witnessing He would come.
And as the knot is put on the end of the thread of revelation the very knotted thread seems aglow with the glory of what is coming. The Bible from end to end is a-thrill with expectancy, a hopeful watching for something, aye, for some One.