Again it is December, and while this is also the month wherein the Church commemorates the blessed birth of her Savior, it is likewise the month that tells us that another year has come and gone—almost.
Only a few more weeks, a few more days, and the clocks and chimes all over the world, and shrieking sirens, too, will announce to earth’s inhabitants that they are crossing the threshold of another year. What a solemn occasion it is! What a wealth of material it offers for a moment of quiet contemplation! How proper it is that we avail ourselves of this opportunity and pause a moment—pause to reflect—pause to ask ourselves some pertinent questions.
With this inexorable stream of time we all are borne along, young and old, rich and poor, parents and children. We think of the words of the psalmist: “Time, like an ever rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten as a dream, Dies at the opening day.”
Yet, what a difference between the Church and the world in the way wherein these sons of time bid the old farewell and welcome the new. Never does the infinite difference between the life of the world and that of the Christian reveal itself more strikingly than on this occasion.
For the children of this world, New Year’s Eve is the opportunity for unparalleled hilarity and revelry. How strange! How completely out of line with reality! Throughout the year there is no single moment when they yield themselves so entirely to the things below, indulge in such unbridled carnality and shameless silliness in overcrowded taverns and night-clubs and ballrooms, and reveal so clearly their consummate folly and blindness of heart. On New Year’s Eve there are no restrictions and all dignity is thrown to the winds. What fools they make of themselves in their drunken hilarity and with their silly costumes and tooting horns!
How come? Is it ignorance on their part? Don’t they know? Of course they do! They know well enough that man, at best, is only a breath, a fleeting breath. They see that all below is transient, that the years are speeding by with incredible swiftness and that it is only a matter of days and also this generation, themselves included, will have lived its life. Yes, they know, but they want to forget. They hate the very thought of the end, of death, of eternity. They will drink and play and dance and sing these horrid thoughts from their minds. They tell themselves that a new year means a new lease on life. The fools! They forget, or try to forget, that time marches on, nevertheless, and that presently a year is coming which will be succeeded by no other, a day, an hour, a moment, which will be their last.
How different with the Christian!
To him New Year’s Eve is a precious occasion, precisely because it speaks so clearly of the reality of life. Reverently he pauses a moment to catch his breath, to reflect on the year that has again gone by, to direct his attention to the end, not merely of this single year, but of all of life and all the ages, and to be reminded in one way or another of the words of Scripture: “Jesus is coming! Quickly! And His reward is with Him. Also: “Children, it is the last hour!”
Another year of our fast moving, transient life has again sped by—almost. Now that it is past, how brief it was. Those hours, days, weeks, months, seasons—how they flew by! How well we understand these familiar lines:
“Hours and days and years and ages,
Swift as moving shadows flee.”
It made no difference where we were, or what we did—it mattered not what our experiences were, whether we laughed or wept—always time sped on its flight to eternity. And always at the same steady pace. There were times, especially of pain and sorrow, when we would like to have hurried it along: there were other times, of happiness and laughter, when we would like to have held it back. The one was just as impossible as the other. Looking back, we must acknowledge: it was as a dream when one awaketh.
Yet, how great is the significance of it all. It is not so, that we have lived this year, for better or for worse, and are now finished with it. All that transpired it of lasting importance. Life is serious. The Lord gave us our place in this world, in His church, in our homes. He gave us our gifts and talents, our money and possessions, our wives and husbands, our parents and children, our time and opportunities. We are responsible for them. What did we do with them?
It was our calling to use them in the service of our God. Did we? The tremendous fact is that not one of those moments was lived in vain. In a sense, yes, the past is gone, irrevocably. In another and deeper sense, nothing is past. We carry everything along with us into eternity.
New Year’s Eve also reminds us, Christian friends, that the end of all things is drawing near. It is the last hour, the last period, the last dispensation, of all history. Do not forget it! Presently the antichrist is coming, that man of sin, that mighty world empire wherein all earthly things will reach their highest development, but wherein the people of God will have no place. Even now the world is preparing itself for that day with all possible haste. Don’t you see it, my friends? How different things are today than they were a few decades age. How rapidly all of life is developing. Everything stands in the sign of amalgamation, and of apostasy, too. These are the signs of the times. More and more all present things are pointing in the direction of the antichrist, whose name is 666—whereby we know that it is the last hour.
With a view to all this, what shall we say? Ah, there is so much that could and should be said.
Looking back, let us give thanks for all the Lord has done for us and humbly beg His forgiveness.
And looking ahead, what must we say?
Let us heed the signs of the times. The days wherein we are living are especially serious. The end is drawing nearer. Let us take this to heart. Know your times in the light of the Word of God.
I pray you, be spiritually minded. Think, speak and walk spiritually. Don’t be blinded by the glamour of this world. Don’t clamor for the things of this world as do those who love and worship the beast and its image. Learn to look for your Savoir. Love not the world, neither the things of the world. Time is too short, life too serious. Remember: “If anyone lives the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Watch and pray that ye fall not into temptation.
Set your hopes and affections on the better life that is yours by faith in Jesus Christ.
“Hold that fast which ye have, that no man take your crown.”
And presently, when crossing the threshold of a new year, don’t forget the lesson of New Year’s Eve, but let the Word of your God fill your souls: “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”