By Bob Gessner
Besides this you know what a critical hour this is, how it is high time now for you to wake up out of your sleep-rouse to reality. For salvation (final deliverance) is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone and the day is almost here. Let us then drop (fling away) the works and deeds of darkness and put on the (full) art-nor of light. (Rom. 13:11,12, Amplified Version).
The church today in our society has become very comfortable in the world. We are no longer tent- dwellers. We have built ourselves houses and we have settled down for a long stay in this world. There is “the awful tendency to sink down (as did the ten virgins in Matt. 25:5) into slumber and sleep – into a state of spiritual insensibility in which no Christian duties are effectively done. Believers are to know the season. Our Lord sternly arraigned the Jews of His day for their ignorance concerning the time … They did not apply themselves to know the time they were in, although they could have known it, both from the prophetic Word which was being fulfilled before their eyes in Christ; and also if they had set themselves to judge truly of the moral conditions about them and the necessities of action involved therein. If the Jews even then were called hypocrites by our Lord, how much more this should arouse us who have so much greater light and knowledge, in view of Christ’s death and resurrection, and the presence of the Holy Spirit; and the certainty of our Lord’s coming, and our uncertainty as to the day and hour!” (William Newell)
There are three areas that would suggest the causes for our sleepy condition. These are illustrated in the Old Testament. Let us review them so that we might be awakened to our condition.
I. The daily routines of our busy life have dulled our sense of the ‘ reality of the impending judgment that is coming upon this world.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (Lk. 17:26,27)
For God spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly …. Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:4-6)
While Noah constructed the ark, he demonstrated his belief that this world was under the coming judgment of God. His hammers and saws were not used to build better places for his temporary dwelling, but he used his time to prepare for a coming judgment. “When the Lord comes the second time He will not find the whole world waiting to receive Him, but sin will be rampant as in the days of Noah. Observe that the antediluvians were interested in the ordinary things that occupy the minds of men and women. They did not believe the message of Noah, but lived in utter indifference to God until the day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them. So we gather from this passage that the world will go on as it is going now. Men will be occupied with the various affairs of life but indifferent to the claims of Jesus until that hour when He returns.” (Harry Ironside)
II. We are so busy in the pursuit of modern conveniences and comforts that we have forgotten that all these things will one day be destroyed.
For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it. So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city! But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking. (Gen. 19:13,14) As it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. (Lk. 17:28,29) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Pet. 3: 10)
The world refuses to believe it, the church prefers to forget it, but this world and everything in it will be utterly destroyed. All of our works that were done to make this world a better place in which to live, will be wiped out. They have no eternal value whatever. “All that about which the children of this world are so intensely anxious – after which they are so eagerly grasping – for which they are so fiercely contending – all – all will be burned up. And who can tell how soon? Where are the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha – those cities which were once all life and stir and bustle? Where are they now? All gone! swept away by the judgment of God! consumed by His fire and brimstone! Well, His judgments now hang over this guilty world. The day is at hand; and while judgments impend, the sweet story of grace is being told out to many an ear. God grant that the reader of these lines may know what it is (with a conscience purged from sin, his heart’s affections purged from the defiling influence of the world), to wait for the Son from heaven.” (C. H. Mackintosh)
III. We have developed an attitude of settling down, permanency, feeling at home; we have forgotten that we do not really belong here nor are we really wanted here.
So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Mannasseh were also brought up on Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said to his brethren, I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. (Gen. 50:22-24)
And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph …. Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. (Ex. 1:6-8,11)
The children of Israel became very comfortable in Egypt. Perhaps they began to think they would be there permanently. They lived under a beneficent government and began to prosper greatly. They had to be reminded that God had other purposes for them. “We are reaching the very end of the times of Joseph. However, before we witness his death, we have a fine instance of faith’s acquaintance with the course of the world’s history. The children of Israel were at that time very happy in the land of Egypt. They were in the full favor of the king; they were in possession of the richest district in the country, and they saw one of themselves the second person in the kingdom. Not a single symptom of danger or of change appeared in all their condition. But in the midst of all this, Joseph speaks of God visiting them; words which bespeak days of sorrow to be at hand, such days as that God would then be their only friend and helper. Strange this was, very strange! Who could believe it? Was Joseph dreaming? No, Joseph was not dreaming. God’s word was his wisdom. The divine oracle in Gen. 15:13-16 had forewarned that Egypt would afflict Israel, but that God would befriend them, and bring them back to Canaan-and this word from God was everything to Joseph, was everything to faith-appearances were not d thus by faith Joseph saw Israel’s affliction in the day of Israel’s brightest promise and prosperity – he saw Egypt’s enmity in this day of Egypt’s friendship – he saw brick-kilns and taskmasters in the fair fields and sunny harvest of Goshen. Is it not to be thus with faith still? Have we not warrant, by faith in the word of God, to know the course which this world, with all its growing refinement and varied progress, is taking every hour? Have we not reason to know that it is on its way to judgment. Indeed we have!” (J. G. Bellett)