Where Are You Going?
On the morning of August 24th A.D.79, the top of Mount Vesuvius, in Southern Italy, split apart with a thunderous explosion. Smoke mushroomed into the sky darkening the sun. A rain of volcanic cinders and ashes began to sift down amid terrific crashes and terrifying flashes of light.
Herculaneum and Pompeii
Violence descended on the two nearby cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii. In Herculaneum an avalanche of mud – a mixture of volcanic ash, rain and lava – engulfed the city. In Pompeii the terror came from volcanic ash and cinders, coupled with clouds of suffocating sulphur fumes. Destruction of all life was complete and sudden and the cities remained buried, under volcanic rubble, for almost seventeen centuries.
In the middle of the 18th century a picture of their terrible end was fully realised when the spade of the archaeologist uncovered them. Pompeii was quite different to a city which has died a natural death by withering away or even by being buried in mud. When the city was struck it was mid-morning, the inhabitants were about their everyday business, and destruction caught them, so to speak, “in the act.”
The baker in his cookhouse, mourners at the last rites of the deceased, whole families gathered in their houses – all died together.
It is frightening to read about the end of these cities. In such a mood there are lessons to be learnt.
Destruction came to them suddenly, and life’s book was closed for all. Material prosperity was valueless − slave and noble perished together. What are the “absolute” values at such a time as this? One view is expressed in “Let us eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die,” but, surely this is not the correct philosophy. For what happens after “tomorrow”? The Bible speaks of life after death only for some, and surely that’s something to be concerned about.
Where are you going? What is your objective so that the
Day of Christ’s return does not catch you unawares?
Just before he died on the cross, Jesus had these words of warning for his disciples:
"Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34–36).
The direction in which we are going depends upon important factors of mind and intent. Jesus spoke of some of his contemporaries as “whited sepulchres” which outwardly were clean and white but inside were full of dead men’s bones. Most of their fellow men would have considered them very religious people, but Jesus could say that to God they were corrupt. “All is open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,” and to Him the objective of our lives is important. He has told us so.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declares:
"Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23–24).
Jesus, by what he did in his own life, expresses the attitude to be adopted by his followers. He understood God and knew Him in the fullest way. He showed single-minded belief and obedience to God’s law. For Jesus’ disciples the objective of our lives is vitally important: it is to develop a character like his, so that God may use us in His future service.
To take a simple lesson from life, every motorist knows that if the alternator of his car is in disrepair, quite soon the battery will become “flat” and useless for starting the car or providing power for the lights. Unless the fault in this alternator is rectified he faces the prospect of a totally immobilised car. The believer in Christ must likewise look to his alternator.
The dynamic force of the Christian life is found only through knowing the Word of God. Here we are given directions for right living which will power our lives, and shed light on the path of the believer.
A transformation of our thinking is essential before we can walk the Christian way. Human society and human thinking generates only darkness. We must come from darkness into light, a process which demands leaving our old life and accepting God’s Way. The Apostle Paul, after stating that the Christian has renounced the ways of shame and darkness, says:
"It is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
It is clear from reading the words of Jesus and the apostles that the evidence of a believer’s faith lies in pure behaviour, which means pure thinking as well as outward goodness. The objective of the Christian life is to become perfect, as Jesus Christ is perfect. A full transformation is only effected at the Resurrection when Jesus raises his servants to be judged according to their deeds.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to himself "(Philippians 3:20–21).
Our objective should be that we are acceptable disciples at the coming of Jesus Christ. He will come back to the earth with the same kind of suddenness that brought swift destruction to the inhabitants of Pompeii.
At his coming each life will then be complete – as it is at that moment.
"He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to everyone according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:11–14).
This Scripture makes it evident that the keeping of Christ’s commandments is essential before the believer can partake of life everlasting. Beyond the future change of nature is the vista of perfect service to God in His Kingdom on earth. The future work of believers is, in scriptural language, to be “kings and priests to our God and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
In Bunyan’s “Pilgrims Progress”, Christian and Hopeful were walking towards Mount Zion when, to their surprise, they saw another person coming from that direction. His name was Atheist and he asked them where they were going. Christian answered him “We are going to the Mt. Zion”. Then, we read, Atheist laughed and laughed.
When they asked him why, he told them they were very ignorant persons to make so tedious a journey when they would get nothing out of it, because he said “There is no such place as you dream of in all this world”. He said he had been looking for twenty years and hadn’t found it. We sometimes meet people like this who are always sceptical. They say they are “searchers”, but haven’t whole-heartedly sought God’s Will and His Way. They laugh at those who believe in the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Yet it is far better to have a true faith in God and His Son, expressed by Jesus in these words:
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7–8).
Where are you going? Are you on the King’s Highway journeying to the Kingdom of God?
By Ken Quixley