The Fourth Watch

Mark 6:45-51
 45 “Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away. 46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray. 
47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. 48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. 49 And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I (literally “I AM”); do not be afraid.”

51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and THE WIND CEASED. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.”

(Jesus comes walking on the water at the fourth watch)
The fourth watch.  That’s the darkest part of the night, just before dawn.  It’s always darkest then.  Imagine being in that total darkness fighting for your life in the middle of a raging storm when suddenly, you see someone walking toward you ON THE WATER!  Frightened?  You bet they were frightened. They were scared out of their wits!
Let’s step back up for a moment study the backdrop of this story by looking at the events that transpired previously.  You noticed, I’m sure, the phrases in bold letters.  Later on, we’ll discuss what they mean, how they figure into the story and see what they tell us about the 21st century.
The Backdrop.
This event took place sometime after the beheading of John the Baptist, who had been thrown prison by King Herod.  It’s amazing, actually; even though the King feared and reverenced John, believing him to be a true prophet of God, he had him executed in deference to his wife.  You see, he had married Herodius, his brother Phillip’s wife.  John told the king that it was not lawful for him to marry her, so she had it in for him…..BIG TIME.  When the first opportunity presented itself, she went for it and asked for his head on a platter:  Literally!

Upon hearing of his death, Jesus and His disciples retired to a quiet place to rest for a while.  They had been so busy, they hadn’t even had time to eat.  But when they tried to get to that quiet place, the multitudes saw Him leaving and arrived before they got there.

(Jesus feeds the 5,000)
Instead of thinking of Himself, though, our dear, sweet Jesus saw the tired, hungry crowds of people and had compassion on them.  What a God!!!
Next we see Him feeding this massive multitude which numbered about 5,000 men.  There was far north of that number, of course, as only the men were numbered.
Our story begins immediately afterward.
Prophetic Significance.
Now that you know the background, let’s see how our story figures in to the timing of the fourth watch.  The Holy Spirit is once again drawing beautiful pictures for us.  If He went to the trouble of including this account in the Bible, it’s because there is something important in these passages for us to study understand.  He wants to bless us.
Let’s take this story apart piece by piece.
(Jesus sends discples ahead without Him.)
The Wrong Way.
Mark 6:45-48  “Immediately He (Jesus) made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He SENT THE MULTITUDE AWAY. And when He had sent them away, He (alone) departed to the mountain to pray. 
Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land. Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.”
In John’s gospel it says that the disciples were headed toward CAPERNAUM, but Jesus, as you can see, had instructed them them to go to BETHSAIDA.   But they didn’t do as He told them.  They went the wrong way, not the way Jesus told them to go.
Secrets In The Hebrew Language.
John 6:  16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.
Why were they going somewhere other than where they were sent?  The answer is found in the meanings of the Hebrew names of these places. “Bethsaida,” means “house of fishers,” It signifies missions.  Capernaum, however, means “the place of comfort.” 


(Map of Jesus’ Galilean Ministry.)
Sounds about right, doesn’t it? In the natural, we tend to gravitate toward the place of comfort instead of where Jesus is telling us to go.  You see, it takes the Holy Spirit guiding us from within to do the right thing.  
Jesus Tarried.
It also says “He MADE THEM GET INTO THE BOAT” and go on ahead of Him without Him.” 
Why did He do that?  Here they are without Jesus in the middle of a raging sea, struggling and rowing with all their might in a losing battle…..in total darkness…..against this fierce storm.  Pretty desperate situation.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Jesus tarried.  He didn’t come to them immediately, even though their troubles began in the evening, about the first or second watch.  He was watching from the shore.  They were struggling and strainingagainst the wind and waves until they almost couldn’t struggle any more.  Still, Jesus waited to come to them until the fourth watch.  Very strange.  Why did He wait?  Let’s continue reading…..

Jesus Walked On The Sea.

“Then He {Jesus} saw them straining at rowing,FOR THE WIND WAS AGAINST THEM. 
“Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.”

What?!  They’re in deep trouble and He would have passed them by?  Huh?  Why?  Yep, that’s what it says.  But wasn’t He out there walking toward them in order to help them?  What’s going on here?

According to the account in John 6, “…when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I (literally, “I AM);  do not be afraid.”

Three or four miles out would put them right about the middle of the sea.  (See map above).  Let’s continue reading:
The Disciples Were Afraid.
Mark 6:48-52
“And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled.
But immediately He talked with them and said to them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; (Literally, “I AM”) do not be afraid.”  Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their HEART WAS HARDENED.”

That’s why they were so afraid.  They thought they were seeing a ghost.  They didn’t Jesus recognize that it was Jesus until He called out to them.  He stepped into the boat ONLY because they invited Him in, once they saw it really was Him.  The way the story is written, you can see that if they didn’t recognize Him, HE WOULD HAVE PASSED BY THE BOAT.


(Jesus calms the storm)
Jesus Is A Gentleman.
WHY???  The answer to that question is found in what caused Him to get INTO the boat in the first place.  The account in John below is a bit more enlightening.
 John 6:19-21
 19 “when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21THEN THEY WILLINGLY RECEIVED HIM INTO THE BOAT, AND IMMEDIATELY THE BOAT WAS AT THE LAND WHERE THEY WERE GOING.” 
It almost sounds like they were not going to invite Him in, doesn’t it?  Well, at first it was because they thought it was a ghost.  Jesus is a Gentleman and will only come in where He is invited.  As soon as Jesus spoke to them and told them not to be afraid, they recognized Him, their fears subsided, and THEN “they willingly received Him into the boat…..and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”
Peace And Safety.
BAM! A MIRACLE!  They were instantly transported to their destination from the middle of the sea!  No more wind, no more waves, no more fear, no more of their striving or straining (self-righteousness).  Only peace and safety.
Peace and safety had been absent while they were trying to go to the place of comfort:  Capernaum, by their own efforts, i.e. self-righteous works, striving and straining against the contrary winds.  That’s why Jesus waited to come to them until about the fourth watch, which is somewhere between 3 & 6 am.
It’s just like when a person is drowning.  You can’t just jump right in and save them if they are still using their strength to try and save themselves.  You must wait until they have no more strength left and begin to sink.  Otherwise, the person will grab onto the rescuer and you’ll both drown.  
 
When you work, GOD RESTS.  When you rest, GOD WORKS!
Typologies.
The “boat” in this story typifies the church, but what is this wind?  It’s described here in Ephesians 4:14
 14 “…we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, by the TRICKERY OF MEN, in the CUNNING CRAFTINESS OF DECEITFUL PLOTTING…”
Sounds like our times, huh?  Doesn’t it seem like there are great, almost insurmountable “winds” coming against the church and against Israel in these last days as if to swamp and capsize the “boat?”

Focused On Doctrines.
It’s a depiction of the many “Winds of doctrines,” flying around today.  Even among fellow precious believers you see opposing beliefs and opinions, doctrines going all around causing a curios kind of infighting. One believes this, someone else believes that, angry darts are flying between the “children.”  Just take a look around you on Social Media.  Oh, yeah:  It is very “windy” out there.
The reason for the wind is our focus is on “doctrines.”  All we need to do is turn around and point TO Jesus instead of AT each other.  Remember, they will know us by our LOVE, not our doctrine.
The Holy Of Holies.
For those who reside in the Holy of Holies, however, it’s a completely different story.  Here the “sea” is crystal.  There is peace and calm.  No wind. (See Revelation 4:6)
Outside the church it’s a bit more blatant, easier to see the “wind.”  There are many evil doctrines and things happening in many different places.  There is greater opposition to the gospel than ever before.  It is indeed very “windy.”
Combine the fighting from within and the fighting without and you have a church striving and straining to row against the wind and waves, struggling by her own efforts to stay afloat.
Return From Babylon.
But thanks be to God!  In this present day, we are beginning to see the church come out of Babylon:  out of “Confusion,” and recognizing her Savior walking toward her on TOP of the waters, above the storm.
No, He’s not a ghost.  No, He’s not too good to be true. He really is that good! He really does love you that much! Your sins of your ENTIRE LIFE really are forgiven!
“How can that be,” you ask?  Because God doesn’t live in your time zone.  He has no time zone!  For Him, there is only “NOW; Present Tense.”  There is no past or future with God.  So when He says, “All your sins are put away,” all means, “ALL.”
The Church at large is slowly beginning to recognize her Savior for Who He is.  Many are inviting Him back into the “boat,” realizing they have been striving against the wind by their own efforts.
Rapture!
Soon, she will be instatnly transported to her ultimate and forever destination (raptured) and be safe in His company…..FOREVER!

Though it’s still very “windy” out there, this is beginning to happen, just like in this story says!

The Fourth Watch.
What is the significance of the Fourth Watch?  What is the Holy Spirit trying to show us?  It’s a timeline of events in the 21st century!

John the Baptist was the final Old Testament prophet.  He typifies “the Law.”  His preaching ushered in the age of Grace brought to us IN PERSON by Jesus Himself.  The law was quite literally “beheaded!”  Jesus paid the price for the New Covenant with His life.
2,000 years ago, He physically walked with His people here on earth, performing countless miracles of healing and provision.  That’s right, folks:  Health and Wealth.  But then He was rejected by his people, as typified by Him sending the people away after the feeding of the 5,000.
Next, HE MADE HIS DISCIPLES get into the boat and go across the sea WITHOUT HIM, though He was watching intently from the shore.  He never took His eyes off them.
This typifies Jesus when he He ascended back to heaven, typified by Him staying on the shore alone.  He sent the Church on ahead without Him, depicted by the disciples in the boat, crossing the waters of the “sea” (the nations), out into the world to spread the gospel to the whole world.
As time passed, the world became spiritually darker and darker.  During the darkest time of the night, the Fourth Watch, the Church in large part is floundering.  She has nearly lost her way, giving way to a “gospel” that focuses on her own righteousness by works instead of on Jesus and what He has DONE?
Jesus is outside much of His own Church right now, knocking on the door.  The evidence of that is this:  Most sermons you hear today hardly even mention His Name except in some harsh, judgmental way.  Nevertheless, He is knocking; asking to be allowed back into His Church.
(For more on this topic, follow the link below:
(“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”)
Jesus To The Rescue!

The “Boat,” i.e. the Church, was nearly swamped, but Jesus came to her rescue!

At first, the Church thought the real gospel was heresy, false doctrine:  A specter:  You know, a ghost.  Many said, “God isn’t really happy with His Church.  She must perform in order to be accepted by Him.  He is angry with her.  Why else would she be suffering so much at the hands of people of the world?  It’s God’s judgment!,” her pastors say.

But she is even now beginning to realize that it isn’t a ghost.  It’s Jesus, the genuine article.  As He is finally fully welcomed back into the “boat,” immediately the winds will cease, the storm will abate and she will awed and amazed and be instantly be transported to her destination:  RAPTURED!
Well, Church, this story is almost at it’s end.  The Church at large is beginning to invite Jesus back into the boat.  We are nearing the end of the Fourth Watch.

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