The Night Is Far Spent, the Day Is at Hand – Part 2

Norbert Lieth

It has become very dark in our world, increasingly darker in every domain—morally, ethically, politically, among the nations and in Israel: religiously, economically, and concerning climate hysteria, in which creation has been elevated to a god (Rom 1:23, 25). 

Economic collapse could lie ahead. Technologically, we’re marching rapidly toward total control. The sea of peoples is restless, and the waves are breaking on all continents.

Our humanity is downright deranged; it’s unable to distinguish between light and darkness; it’s groping in the dark; it has no orientation; everything operates as if in blind chaos, confused and against itself; norms are overthrown; people stumble because there is no longer any foothold or guideline; people are clueless and hopeless. And this doesn’t stop at the church door. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said in his day, “The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Spirit, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”

Theologian Bodo Becker uses Bible verses to show how deeply we’ve advanced into the night. Apostasy as a sign of the imminent end: renunciation of God and His power (2 Tim 3:4-5). Renunciation of the divine Sonship of Jesus (1 John 2:18; 4:3). Renunciation of Jesus’ claim to power (2 Pet 2:1). Renunciation of Jesus’ return (2 Pet 3:3-4). Renunciation of the faith (1 Tim 4:1-2; Jude 3). Renunciation of the Bible and sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:3-4). Renunciation of a holy lifestyle (2 Tim 3:1-7). Renunciation of true godliness (2 Tim 4:3-4). Renunciation of Christian morality (2 Tim 3:1-8, 13; Jude 18). Renunciation of true Christian unity (2 Pet 2:1; Jude 19). Renunciation of the fear of God (2 Pet 2:10-12). Renunciation of humility and dependence on God (Rev 3:17). Renunciation of authority (2 Tim 3:4).

A turning toward deceptive spirits and demons (1 Tim 4:1). A tendency toward unbiblical commandments (1 Tim 4:3). Turning to an immoral lifestyle (2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Pet 2:2, 13-14; Jude 4, 18). A turning toward fables and myths (2 Tim 4:4). Turning to numerous teachers not appointed by God (2 Tim 4:3). A tendency toward wealth and arrogance (Rev 3:17). A tendency toward irreverence and mockery (2 Tim 3:2; 2 Pet 2:10-12; 3:3; Jude 18).

It seems that we’re already falling into the substantial errors Paul mentions in 2 Thessalonians 2:11. That’s why we should focus on the basics, namely as those who “[know] the time, that now it is high time 1) to awake out of sleep. For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed… 2) Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and 3) let us put on the armor of light. 4) Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 5) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 6) make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:11-14).

What should we do? Wake up, and come to life. The Amplified Bible translates this as, “Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour…” We should be awakened to action. On a trip to Egypt, I discovered the following saying along the Nile: “You can’t get to the other side of a river by just standing and wistfully looking over.”

Awaken to prayer. Awaken to the step you should have been taking a long time ago. Don’t sleep away the chance of your life!

For what else, according to Paul, should we be awake? Submission to governing authorities, and not wasting strength on political things we can’t change anyway (vv. 1-7). Someone who is awake keeps the small things small and lets the big things be big. We need to put all of our energy behind governmental change through Jesus’ return. Most of this world has been positively changed by the gospel. So, we shouldn’t be identified by sin, but by God’s love (vv. 8-10).

The Christian should awaken to the great theme of Jesus’ return. I once read that the Lord’s return is mentioned 1,527 times in the 992 chapters of the Old Testament, and announced 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament. It was so uniquely important for God’s Holy Spirit to supply this to the writers of the Bible. But the danger for all of us is to lose sight of just that; to become tired, to dream of other things, and to stop being vigilant. Someone wrote about this Bible passage: “It is peculiar and shameful that the Apostle Paul has to call on believers to arise from sleep, to look at the biblical prophetic clock, to recognize the current time period, to throw off the works of darkness, and to put on the weapons of light. Shouldn’t such warnings be redundant?”

In the part of Germany I grew up in, maypoles were a tradition. Each village had its maypole up for a certain period of time, and villages would try to steal them from each other. The village with the most poles at the end would win. Watch was kept day and night; people divided the hours in each day among themselves. Some went to steal the pole from another village, while others ensured that their own wasn’t stolen.

One time, I was to keep watch. I felt wide awake. Then I grew a little sleepy. I thought that closing my eyes a little wouldn’t hurt, since the slightest sound would wake me right up. Besides, it wasn’t easy to silently steal a large, heavy tree trunk that had been deeply buried. Suddenly, a teammate nudged me and startled me. He asked me where the pole was. I didn’t have the slightest idea, and I was so convinced that I had been watching! It was extremely embarrassing to face all our other friends.

What does a watchman need to do? He must take his assignment, his mission, seriously. He should honor his employer and be loyal to him. He must be proficient in the use of his eyes, ears, and weapons. To apply this to ourselves, this means he must know the Bible. He should be in constant radio contact with his superior, and remain in communication. We reflect this in prayer and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. A watchman must also be able to react quickly and appropriately. He must not become distracted.

Why has missionary zeal been lost, personally and in the church? Or the desire to glorify Jesus with our whole lives and everything we have? Why have our hearts become filled with things that are worthless and ephemeral, while the things that are spiritually valuable are relegated to the furthest corner? We’re no longer awake! We’re no longer Spirit-filled. The Spirit of God awakens, brings light, sets priorities, exalts and glorifies Jesus, is jealous for God’s cause, and convicts. Catholic radio preacher Peter Lippert said in his day, “The world isn’t ignited with burning candles, but with burning hearts.” Someone else said, “Only those who are awake can wake others.”

A change of clothes is needed: “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12). Once the alarm clock has rung, you get changed. Sleepwear is removed, and day clothes are put on.

Fritz Binde once said, “Christians don’t wear masks.” Christians must be real. There can’t be any untruthfulness, hypocrisy, ambiguity, or shadowy existence. The works of darkness should be discarded, and the weapons of light put on. The works of darkness are works that concern the world, which is controlled by the prince of darkness: every kind of sin, selfishness, cheating, greed, abuse, hatred, lies, war, secrecy, deception, etc.

Detest evil, and hold fast to good (Rom 12:9b). Keep away from every kind of evil (1 Thess 5:22). Become righteously sober and do not sin (1 Cor 15:34). “Walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8b).

The weapons of light are the essence of Jesus Christ: being clothed in the Word of God, in love, in faith, in anticipation of the Lord’s return, employing the gifts of grace, being of the same mind and direction toward the goal. We can only be true light if we fight the works of darkness in our lives. And that’s only possible with the weapons of light. The Holy Spirit deliberately chose this expression. The works of darkness can only be truly defeated with the weapons of light. We are in a battle.

The weapon of love defeats the works of hate. Some time ago, I read the biography of Richard Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina (Tortured for Christ, by The Voice of the Martyrs). It made a lasting impression on me. The couple chose to love in an environment of hate; the hardest people were struck by this weapon, turning them into staunch believers.

The weapon of the Holy Spirit—the Word of God—defeats the work of lies, smashes doubt and hopelessness (see the armor of God in Ephesians 6). When the communists entered the Wurmbrands’ house, they were looking for an excuse to arrest them. So they asked Sabina about hidden weapons. She answered, “This is the only weapon we have in the house,” and she showed them her Bible. After having resisted communist propaganda for years in prison, Richard Wurmbrand wrote: “There is only one method of resistance to brainwashing. This is ‘heartwashing.’ If the heart is cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ, and if the heart loves Him, one can resist all tortures. Our head always obeys our heart, and when Jesus Christ cleanses our heart, the head will inevitably follow. ‘Of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh’ (Luke 6:45).” Wurmbrand said of the communists: “I learned from them. As they allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I would leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.”

We should follow the day’s instructions: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:13-14).

After waking up and getting changed, you leave the house: “Walk honestly, as in the day.” I read that it can also be translated this way: “Go like those who walk in the day.” The Greek word euschemon means “gracefully” or “of good standing.” Walk as those who walk in the ways of Christ with good standing. A citizen of heaven lives in the day, in the sunlight. Everything is visible there; he has a good and pure testimony. There is nothing hidden, secret, that should be concealed. Paul lists six negative things that are mentioned in pairs:

“Not in rioting (orgies) and drunkenness.” These are signs of lacking self-control and discipline. Everything you see is blurred. A clear view, and a firm and certain step toward the goal are lacking.

“Not in chambering (sexual immorality) and wantonness (sensuality).” It’s stressful to see that adultery and divorce are increasing among Christians. This is often because a line has been crossed into the world, into darkness, and we are dwelling in the shadow area. From there, it’s easy to take the next step into something worse.

“Not in strife and envying.” James describes quarreling and jealousy as wisdom from below—from the devil (James 3:14-17). Someone once noted that jealousy is the jaundice of the soul. A friend of mine wrote: “A church’s atmosphere is profoundly defined by what each individual thinks and says about the others. Even if we don’t utter a single word from our lips, our negative attitudes toward others are a low blow to a wound that, if there is no cleansing, can disrupt and destroy an entire church. Conversely, benevolent thoughts and speech about each other is a divine radiance, which in turn invigorates the whole church. We have a lot of energy in our hands that can be used for life or for apathy in a church […] We can’t see into another’s heart; only the Lord can do that. He will reveal the hidden motivations and decisions of the heart; why various things happened, and then each will receive his praise from God.”

And so we’re called to put on the Lord Jesus. Yes, but Christ already lives in us! So, what does the Apostle Paul mean? We should put on the nature and the mind of our Lord. God’s goal is for us to be of the same mind that Christ Jesus was (Phil 2:5). We should claim by faith what He has accomplished for us. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25). This leaves nothing to be desired. We should be putting on the promises that God offers us in Christ. As someone once said, “Jesus fulfilled the condition for God to love you unconditionally.”

“Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” This could also be translated as, “Don’t do anything else that arouses your desires!” The fleshly mind is the enemy of everything spiritual. We’re in the midst of the struggle between spirit and flesh (Gal 5:17). Therefore, it’s important to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).

“For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed…The day is at hand.” So at the end of the day, it’s all about the living hope of our future salvation. We’re assured of this by a divine guarantee.

Jesus is coming! He is bringing us into His kingdom. We share in His kingdom. We are children of God, and joint heirs with Christ, His body. A life with God the Father and His Son, in incredible and indescribable beauty and perfection, is awaiting us! Every earthly quality, no matter how beautiful, fades into insignificance. That’s a strong motivation to do justice to these things in our lives. Because of His love for us and because of our love for Him, we want to accept the hope He offers. We need to awaken to this—now! Yes, don’t just stand on the riverbank...

News From Israel - 12/2021

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