The Terror of the Night
Most people do not take life seriously enough. This is the conclusion of a person famous for his wisdom, king Solomon, after he searched exhaustively (Ecc. 1:13) for life’s meaning with the extraordinary wisdom given to him (James 1:5, 2 Ch. 1:11-12) by the Author of all wisdom (Col. 2:3).
And why do so many not consider the final fate of their pitifully short lives (Ps. 89:47) here on this earth when compared to the never-ending rest of their existence in eternity when this earthly life has ended? Solomon saw this as well.
“It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart” (Ecc. 7:2 NET).
The reason many in this world do not consider seriously enough the eternal destiny of their own soul is that they are too entranced with this world’s pleasures to stop and think about anything else, even their own soul’s purpose and destiny. They do not take to heart the warning of Scripture to quit feasting on this world’s pleasures long enough to set straight their life’s goals and purposes. Nor is Solomon the only one to warn of this paramount need in one’s life. Jesus himself said much the same thing:
“Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life–the food which the Son of Man will give to you. For God the Father has put his seal of approval on him” (Jn. 6:27 NIV).
Jesus said these words right after he had provided bread for a multitude of people (Jn. 6:26), thus showing that there is nothing wrong with our seeking certain necessities of life in this world. But even seeking needful things for this life on earth is not the highest need we have.
“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Dt. 8:3 NIV).
Our seeking of the bread of this life–those things we need to live–is only a prerequisite first step to doing something else: seeking God and fulfilling his purpose for our lives. Daily physical bread is meant to give us strength to do other things, especially this highest thing of all, seeking God; seeking daily bread is not an end in itself. But that is what many in this world have turned it into; for many, this world and what it has to offer is all there is to them–so much so that working during the day is not enough to provide all that they want from this world; they continue to work through the night as well, in a quest to satisfy their longing for more of the world’s goods. This is contrary to the restricted but healthy way (Ps. 127:2) which God has provided to accommodate both man and beast.
“You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening” (Ps. 104:20-23 NIV).
That is how Scripture describes the common lot of man, simply working daily to provide for the things needed to live. He works during the day, when there is the light needed for this, while the beasts often find their needed daily food at night, like the lion prowling around in the darkness. This is the way of nature, the natural way God created the order of things: men work in the day for their daily bread, animals and beasts at night.
But man has turned this natural order around, becoming like animals in ferocity to obtain far beyond that which is needed to survive. Instead, the inordinate craving for more and more, far beyond that needed for a simple, God-directed life, has turned man into animal-like behavior, committing crimes of violence and greed in order to have what he cannot obtain through honest labor.
“In the dark, men break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. For all of them, deep darkness is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness” (Job 24:16-17 NIV).
Those who seek to gain the world’s goods by dishonest means, or who hurt others for selfish reasons or in any other way defy God’s laws, have perverted God’s natural order; they have become like the beasts who roam at night; they have become less than the human beings God created them to be. For God made a distinction between man and beast, and that distinction most shows itself in the moral code which God gave to man to obey, something he did not do for the animals, although they must obey their own natural order. Therefore, those human beings who thus despise God’s created order must suffer the consequences of this rebellion.
“Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them” (Jude 1:10 NIV).
“These men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish” (2 Pet. 2:12 NIV).
Beasts that perish, disappearing at death into never-ending-darkness–that is the terrifying ending of human beings who think so little of the noble calling for which God created them as human beings, not animals. They must suffer the terror of the night, the darkness they have chosen. They were so little aware of the darkness of their lives while alive on earth; that darkness follows them to their grave.
“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble” (Prov. 4:19 NIV).
“If they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge” (Job 36:12 NIV).
Is that not a great tragedy, to live all of one’s life and never come to knowledge of the truth, what life is all about and how to live it? But it doesn’t have to be that way. God has provided the one way (Jn. 14:6) through which we can know what we need to know to escape the darkness of this world and the even deeper darkness of the nether world. That way is Jesus Christ.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (Jn. 12:46 NIV).
Jesus came to deliver us from the terror of the night. But many refuse not only to accept that way but even to stop and consider why they are alive at all and what they are living for. Instead, they love this world and its many pleasures, turning them into idols for which they live (Isaiah 44:14-21). Such lax living can easily turn one away from God, as in the case of Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), thus ensuring a most frightening destiny.
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19 NIV).
Like Demas, Judas, who betrayed Jesus, also had his mind set on earthly things, so much so that he even stole money from the Lord and the disciples (Jn. 12:6). It is interesting to note that Scripture’s description of that betrayal begins with this note:
“As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night” (Jn. 13:30 NIV).
Judas was offered the bread of God himself at that Last Supper (Mt. 26:26)–but he preferred instead the bread of this world; he traded bread that cannot perish (Jn. 6:27) for that which does. In this, he followed the foolish shortsightedness of Esau (Gen. 25:29-34), who gave up his birthright that guaranteed him the blessings of the firstborn for a pot of porridge that was gone in a few moments. He did not stop to think and consider his fate and destiny because he let the bodily hunger of the moment control and determine what he did. He was so involved with the world that it determined all that he was and did.
Esau, Judas and Demas are brothers in blind folly, along with countless others of this world whose eyes are dazzled by the splendor of this world and thus blinded to the glory waiting for them with God in heaven (2 Cor. 4:4). They turn their backs to the light and embrace the darkness. And all for a piece of bread or pot of porridge.
Now, it may be appropriate to say again, here, that there is nothing wrong with enjoying the good things God has given us to enjoy in our lives here on earth. It is the inordinate seeking of these things that becomes a deadly trap and leads to judgment.
“Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment” (Ecc. 11:9 NIV).
“However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless” (Ecc. 11:8 NIV).
The days of darkness will be many. If ever there was an understatement. . . . However bright and pleasurable the days of one’s life on earth may be for one apart from God, they quickly fade into utter meaninglessness when one dies and enters into the blackness of being forever apart from God. Then comes the terror of the night, the long night of eternity. Now, in the terror of the night, in death and the darkness of eternity apart from God, the warning of Scripture to pay heed to the coming night reaches its full impact upon the lost soul.
However, God is merciful. Even though he has warned again and again through his Word and prophets down through the ages that this unimaginable terror awaits all who abandon him for the world or anything else, he has one last attempt to wake up (Eph. 5:14) and shake up (Heb. 12:26-27, Is. 24:19) the world to its blindness and love for the darkness of sin and wickedness. This shaking opens a portal from hell to the earth, to bring the world to the brink of hell and its darkness, thus giving the earth and its terrified inhabitants a taste of what is to come if they do not repent.
God does this as a last-ditch effort to bring sinful, rebellious humans to their senses and repentance. He gives them a taste of what is in store for them if they continue to go their sinful, selfish ways. If they thought they had troubles in their life while things were normal in this world, what must they think when they see all the normal checks to evil removed, things like governments (Rom. 13:1-5) and moral restraint of conscience (1 Tim. 4:1-2)? Now, all restraints are removed, and hell opens up and spills over onto earth, with its evil spirits attacking mankind openly. If those who rejected God before thought things were rough in this world, what must they think when the four horses of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6:2, Rev. 6:4, Rev. 6:5, Rev. 6:8) gallop forth across the earth?
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5 NIV).
“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them” (Rev. 6:1-6 NIV).
But, amazingly, even after this and many other dire disasters that afflict the earth, turning it into a hell on earth, still they do not repent (Rev. 9:20-21). Therefore, God has no choice but to abandon them to what they have chosen by their unrepentance: the terror of the night.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'” (Mt. 22:13 NIV).
There, in the darkness outside the kingdom of glorious heaven, all who rebelled against that light will share in the darkness, both human beings and spiritual beings of darkness.
“God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4 NIV).
“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (Jude 1:6 NIV).
But it does not have to be. God has provided the way to escape the terror of the night.
“You will not fear the terror of night” (Ps. 91:5 NIV).
Why not fear the terror? Because “the Father, . . . has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Col. 1:12-13 NIV).
This is the great blessing from God to all those who seek to escape the terror of the night. His name is Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. All praise and honor and glory to you for transferring us from the terror of night to the joy of your day.
“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Lk. 6:23 NIV).