Concerning Sleep (Rom. 13:11

Sunday, November 19, 2017

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11). Paul’s mention of a spiritual condition called “sleep,” and his call for people to wake up out of it, provides strong emphasis upon the dangers involved in it. The person who sleeps is in a state of insensibility. He does not know anything that is going on around him. A fire may sweep through the city, a revolution may be going on in the street, or a tornado may be bearing down upon him; but he knows nothing of these things; an assassin may be stalking him, a thief may be robbing him, and regardless of what may occur, he is vulnerable, and in danger because he is asleep.

Sleep is also a state of inactivity. While asleep, the sleeper is doing nothing productive. Further, it is a state of illusion. Many a soul has been lost while its possessor slept. What Paul states in our test is eternally true of them that sleep from either laziness or from sin. Let’s look at the idea of “sleep” a little further.

Some sleep like Jonah, an unrealistic sleep. Jonah was directed by God to go to Nineveh and preach. Rather than do as God commanded, Jonah disobeyed God and got on a ship going away from his required destination. A great wind and a great tempest arose; the ship was about to be broken. We are informed, “But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5b NKJV). Not even the mighty storm could arouse him. What a complete picture of a man who will not face reality. At this very moment many a sinner is sleeping the sleep of Jonah. Sin is roaring all around them; it reaches out to destroy; it tosses them to and fro; but they give no heed; they are asleep! Before it is too late, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).

Some sleep the sleep of the weary, as did Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:35-45). They were tired and worn out from the tremendous week in Jerusalem. They had observed the Passover with Jesus and the other apostles, eaten with Jesus as He instituted the Supper which we still eat today in memory of His death; they had heard two startling and mind-boggling announcements: “All ye shall be offended because of me this night” (Matt. 26:31), and “…one of you shall betray Me” (Matt.26:21). These three tired fishermen from Galilee were not accustomed to being stretched out in such an endurance contest as that which was a part of our Lord’s final week in Jerusalem. They simply could not stand the strain, and went to sleep.  

On the first day of the week we are to assemble to worship God and to commemorate the death of Christ till He comes again. We should make preparation for this day by being rested, so that we can be alert and ready to worship God. How do you spend your Saturday nights? Are you too tired to receive instruction or to render proper worship?

The spiritual counterpart of this is seen everywhere. We tire of the ceaseless struggle, become worn out with the dull routine and, being numbed by the daily monotony, we fall asleep, like these three disciples. But while they nod, Judas is making a deal with the high priest, and, in a short time, the soldiers will come and take the Lord away. Of such, one can hear the Master say, “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?” (To be continued.)

Paul M. Wllmoth