Howard Coles, Coleford, England
Recent incidents draw attention to of the brevity of life and serve to remind us that life can suddenly end, even for those comparatively young and at the top of society. How we need, therefore, to assess our spiritual lives and service for HIM.
The brevity of life
Barziliai of old said unto the king, 'How long have I to live?', 2 Sam. 19. 34. This was a good question. Barzillai was an old man at the time, but the question is equally relevant to us all. Recent reminders of the brevity of life serve to remind us that life can suddenly end, even for those comparatively young and at the top of society. How we need, therefore, to assess our spiritual lives and service for HIM. In any case it won't be long, even if we are granted further time here, before we meet the Lord. In a 70 year life there are only 3,640 weekends - not that many! Taking into account the years we lived before we knew Christ, and that part of our Christian lives which has already passed, time to give loving service to Him is indeed short. In a slightly different context James reminds his readers of this - 'What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.' Jas. 4. 14. Our time is limited, and we can't count on seeing tomorrow, let alone years ahead. Death is certain - unless of course the Lord returns before He calls us home; 'For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person', 2 Sam. 14. 14. May God exercise us all, in view of the shortness of time, to go all out in our service. Is there a department of our life which we are holding back from Him?
The need to be spiritual
'And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you', Luke 9. 41. In spite of all His teaching, up to that point the disciples had little appreciation of who He really was. Because of their failure to grasp spiritual things they had fallen far short in their service. They had failed to defeat the enemy in his power and meet the needs of the demon-possessed boy, thereby bringing glory to Christ. They had not really listened when He had taught them, so He reproached them. Proverbially, in their case His words had 'gone in one ear and out of the other'! Rather like the believer who gives cursory attention to God's word even though he finds time to read it, failing to meditate upon the portion read with listening ear and open heart's. There is a great need today to go all out in true devotion to the Lord. Our heart's resolve should be to move away from living on a low spiritual plain. What about love for Christ? His word? and His service? Are we really and truly putting Him first in our lives. When was the last time we spent even an hour in prayer or Bible study? Just how are we spending our time?
When was it last that we found ourselves tired in the Lord's service, even as Paul, who laboured to the point of exhaustion, and who could honestly say before the Lord, 'But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me, 1 Cor. 15. 10. Consider those, the Christians at Rome, whom Paul in ending his epistle mentions as those who were working hard for the Lord; 'Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour (literally to the point of growing tired) in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord', Rom. 16. 12. Is it the case that we are taken up through the week with worldly pursuits, so much so, that when the Lord's day comes we are unable to worship Him as we ought? What is it that takes priority in our lives? Comparatively, our love for the Lord should be far above our love for any other person, or even self, 'If any man come to me, and hate not* his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple', Luke 14. 26, (*i.e. comparatively - our love for Christ being so great that in comparison our love for others, even those close to us, is seen as hatred).
The return of Christ
'And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' Rev. 6. 10. These words are spoken by the tribulation saints of a day to come who, during the final prophetic (70th) week of Daniel 9 will suffer martyrdom for their faith in Christ. How they long that the Lord might bring in perfect justice, as they know only He can. The Lord answers by giving them white robes and rest until others should also be martyred. His timing is best and certain, v11.
The saints of this present day look forward to an event that will precede the second advent, that is to say, the rapture; the 'catching up', when Christ Himself shall come for all believers; 'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed', 1 Cor. 15. 52. Then the seventieth week of Daniel's prophecy will start, the prophetic clock of God's dealings with Israel will once again begin ticking. At the end of this final week of years, the second advent of Christ will take place. 'And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS', Rev. 19. 11-16.
In view of all this we should be longing for Christ to be manifested in His glory, and to be reigning over this earth. John wrote, 'He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen', and then with his heart set upon and wholly taken up with the glorified Christ he prayed, 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus', Rev. 22. 20.
To pray this final prayer of the Bible, as the apostle John, requires complete identification with Christ in our purpose and objectives of living! Every other ambition and aim in life must be made subservient to our love and service for Him.