Last Monday, the 16th of September, 2013 began as a day just like many days before it. The normal occasions and events of life were going on with men and women going to work, kids going to school and the taking care of the routine, everyday chores. I'm sure that no one was expecting their lives to be suddenly over or drastically changed in the first few hours of that day. But, they were!
I doubt that any of my readers are unaware of the terrible and tragic event that took place that morning at the Naval facility in Washington DC. An event wherein a deranged gunman shot to death 12 innocent souls and wounded many others. And, we've all heard the pundits and "experts" talk about it ever since its onset, offering their opinions as to the cause of it. Don't be alarmed here, I'm not going to opine greatly to the myriad opinions already expressed in the news media.
What I do intend to do here is use this incident as an illustration to a spiritual lesson. I think that it will serve to show us a picture of a very important teaching and warning given by Jesus Christ. A lesson that something like this tragic event brings home to us in a very graphic way.
However, I will say this much about what happened Monday in DC. I've noted that, since the event began unfolding, the "experts," with much hand-wringing and convoluted thinking (as they usually do) have been putting forth various reasons as to why this event occurred. Trying to offer their opinion as to the cause of the event. Their reasons ran the gamut from "violent computer games" to "lack of mental treatment of the shooter" to the always handy argument, "the availability of firearms."
It's almost as if they're trying to find a way to relieve the perpetrator of being responsible for what occurred. A way of shifting the responsibility from the one doing the killing to someone or something else, such as the mental treatment availabilities, to the lack of security, to the availability of firearms.
All of this just relieves those committing these atrocities of any personal responsibility for their actions. It has to be somebody or something's (usually societies) fault. Why can't it simply be that there are evil people amongst us in this world and they are accountable for their actions? And that's my only opinion on this incident that I'll express here.
Okay, now that I've pontificated somewhat on our illustrative event, let's get on with my reason for citing Monday's event and why I feel it will serve to show us a spiritual lesson. I see it as painting us a graphic picture of something Christ warned us about in the 24th chapter of Matthew. Please open your Bibles to that chapter and follow along with me as we study verses 37-44.
When you read that passage you'll easily see that He's talking about life going on pretty much as usual. About the daily goings-on in peoples lives. They'll be eating and drinking, marriages will be taking place, women will be preparing food and men in their workplace. IE: The normal activities of life, in general, going on. No one is suspecting the end of it to come suddenly upon them.
On Monday last, people were going about their everyday, normal activities such as men and women seeing their spouses off to work, I'm sure, with never a thought that this would be the last time they'd see them alive. That some tragic and untoward event would take them away. BUT IT DID!
These sorts of events have always happened and always will happen so long as this world exists. They occur because we live in a world beset with danger and evil. We never know when we walk out the door of our house whether we'll walk back in. Just like those twelve people whose souls went home to God last Monday.
Yes, in that 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is talking about His 2nd coming to earth at the end of time. But, here's the main point of this lesson and the important thing to understand here - our "end of time," our "day of judgment" comes at the moment we draw our final breath.
Whatever status our soul is in at that time determines where that soul will reside for eternity. Whatever condition it's in, saved or unsaved, it will remain in that condition. Simply because there will be no more time available to change anything.
You see, time only exists on this earth. It does not exist in the hereafter. That's why we're admonished to "take heed of the time we have, because we don't know when it will end." (Mark 13:33) Paul, in Rom. 13:11 tells us, pretty bluntly I might add, that it's "high time we woke up because salvation is near." He also said something about "time" in his letter to the Ephesians (5:16) that is so appropriate to our thoughts and the illustration today: that we should be "redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
I particularly like the words spoken by James as they apply to our lesson today. In 4:14 he wrote in regards to time: "We don't know what will happen tomorrow because our life is like a vapor, it's here for a short time and then it's gone." (Paraphrased by me) We know that for a fact, don't we? Last Monday vividly proves James' words.
And because of that fact, I'm going to close by citing two more verses to you. The first one is the last verse (44) of our passage in Matt. 24 that sums up Christ's warning there: "Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (ESV) And finally, because we have no guarantee of another hour of life:
"Behold, NOW is the accepted (favorable) time; behold, NOW is the
day of salvation." 2Cor. 6:2