by Cody Francis
Have you ever stopped to consider that at some point in time you will have reached your last night on planet earth? This time will come for each and every person alive today. One day you will wake up for the last time. You might eat breakfast and walk out your front door, never more to do so again. You will work your last day. Drive your car for the last time. You will say the last words to your family. To everyone this will not happen at the same time, but to everyone it will happen. For absolutely everyone who is alive, as with everyone who has ever been alive, there will be a last night on earth. None know when that will be, but like it or not, your last night on earth is coming. For the last generation living on planet earth, the last night will come all at once, as a sudden, overwhelming surprise to the inhabitants of earth. Your last night on earth is coming sooner than many think? Are you prepared for your last night? Do you know what your last night will be like? Several illustrations that deserve our careful study of what that last night will be like, are found in the Bible.
Belshazzar’s Last Night
There are many examples of different individual’s last nights on planet earth, but perhaps the most graphic of the many last nights, is Belshazzar’s. Belshazzar grew up on Nebuchadnezzar’s knee. Nebuchadnezzar was Belshazzar’s grandfather, and like any doting grandfather he probably loved to tell his grandson the many unique experiences that he had gone through. There were the many war stories, the brave and courageous deeds that Nebuchadnezzar had accomplished along with his valiant army. There were the many great works that he had done for the building of the great city of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar had definitely built the city of Babylon to a height that it had never known before, and that it has never attained since. Not only were the stories of courage and magnificence told, but also the many strange occurrences that had taken place during Nebuchadnezzar’s long and prosperous reign. There was nothing more unusual than the events that surrounded some of the Hebrew captives that he had brought back from his raid on Jerusalem. They were different from all of the other captives. He had taken hundreds and thousands of the pride of the Hebrew nation back to the mighty fortress of Babylon, but there was something different about these few. He knew something was totally different as soon as they arrived. They refused to eat the food that he had graciously provided for them. He had given them everything that they could want. He brought them back to the capital city of the greatest empire of that time, and then put them through an intensive training program. He planned on making them, along with the other captives, the counselors and ministers of his government. He was paying all of the expenses of the greatest teachers in the world just so he could have the best cabinet possible. The captives should be forever grateful to him for the high honor that he had bestowed upon them, but not so with these strange Hebrew captives. When they came to the dinner table, they refused to eat the repast that he had so graciously provided. The king had the best nutritionists in the world, yet these four young men seemed to think that they knew more than the most learned men in the field of nutrition. Amazingly enough, they were right! It was more than could be accounted for by the learned men of the day, but it was still true. The dean of the school had given them permission to eat only vegetables and water. Imagine! How could anyone develop mentally and physically by only eating vegetables! But they did, and at the end of that short trial period, “their countenance appeared better and fatter in flesh that all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies.” Daniel 1:15. Here were a few young men who would rather die than eat of the delicious delicacies with which the king had spread his table. There were the finest and rarest meats from around the world on that table. There were the rich cakes and sweets that the best chefs in Babylon had baked. There were the exotic and intoxicating wines that all of Babylon lusted after. And here were a few men who refused to join in the feast! It was surprising that anyone would not want to gorge themselves with the fancy foods and drinks that tempted the palette, but here were men who were willing to die rather than eat the delicious food. Odd indeed; but since they had proved themselves in just a few days to be more healthy than the others, they were allowed to continue with their singular diet. Then, wonder of all wonders, at the end of the training they were far superior to all of their other colleagues. “Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:19, 20.
The odd and unexplainable circumstances did not stop with the unusual diet of these Hebrews, but each event became stranger and stranger. There was the remarkable dream that Nebuchadnezzar had. No doubt each time he heard the story of the dream, it puzzled little Belshazzar’s mind. The impression that had been left upon Grandfather Nebuchadnezzar was never afterward erased. It is not an everyday experience when the God of heaven sends you a dream and then blocks the remembrance of it from your mind. The importance and significance of the dream still weighed heavily upon the mind of Nebuchadnezzar, but in the morning, for some strange reason, he could not recall the dream. He knew that it had great importance, but he could not recall the details. He called his trusty counselors together and demanded that they divine for him both the dream and the interpretation. He was certain that if they could interpret dreams and omens, surely they would be able to tell the dream as well. He was wrong. Their response revealed their complete incapability. “The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, ‘There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magicians, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requires, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.” Daniel 2:10, 11. This answer was not acceptable to the king and his hasty decree went forward that all of his wise men should be killed. “For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel 2:12. Then those unusual Hebrews came to the forefront again. This time in an even more marked way than previously. “So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation.” Daniel 2:16. Daniel went directly to the king and asked for a night that he might fast and pray to the God of heaven to reveal the dream. Sure enough, in the morning Daniel confidently stepped up to the king with an answer, “The secret which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.” Daniel 2:27, 28. Then Daniel proceeded to relate the exact dream that Nebuchadnezzar had been given the previous night. As Daniel was explaining, the entire dream came back to Nebuchadnezzar and he knew that truly this God of heaven, whom Daniel talked about, had both given the dream and revealed it to his servant, Daniel. Not only did Daniel reveal the details of the dream that no one but the God of heaven could reveal, but he also gave the interpretation of this remarkable dream. How Nebuchadnezzar must have delighted in telling this unusual story to his wondering grandson, Belshazzar.
Then there was the great statue that Nebuchadnezzar had erected and commanded all peoples to bow down and worship. Perhaps one of the most dazzling and beautiful idols that had ever been made, stood there on the plain of Dura. No doubt, Nebuchadnezzar was proud of the dazzling, ninety-foot tall image that stood sparkling in the sunlight. Then he gave the command that all were to worship this great image. Once again the Hebrews stood in the limelight. When the masses of people on that large field prostrated themselves to the ground in worship of this beautiful image, there was three left standing. Who were they? None other than those stubborn Hebrews. The king was in a generous mood so he gave them a second chance, but they did not even take it. “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17, 18. Firm as a rock they stood to principle, just as they had done with their diet, but this was too much for the king. He could not allow them to get away with this. His entire kingdom would be in jeopardy if he allowed this insubordination. He would make a public example of them, little knowing that they would be a public example to him. Into the furnace they were thrown. No more would he have to worry about those pesky Hebrews; they were gone now. But wait! They were not gone. They were walking around in the fire as if it were a stroll in the park! This was truly stranger than was anything anyone on that plain had seen before. Never had men been cast into a kiln, which had been heated to a white-hot heat, with no affect. Even if Nebuchadnezzar did not believe in the God that they followed, there was no denying it now–they served a powerful God! Nebuchadnezzar was sure to relate how it affected his heart, and how he almost chose to follow the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, but alas, he turned away again. But God was not done with Nebuchadnezzar.
The most unusual thing of all was the judgment that rested upon Nebuchadnezzar himself. His grandfather might not only have told Belshazzar about this, but Belshazzar may even have witnessed it himself. God sent Nebuchadnezzar yet another dream in an attempt to wake him up to his spiritual condition, but Nebuchadnezzar still had not learned his lesson. Once again he called in his wise men, but they, of course, were completely unable to give an accurate interpretation of the dream. Finally Daniel came in. When the king related the dream to Daniel, he “was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him.” Daniel 4:19. This dream did not present the empires of the world through history. This dream did not flatter the king’s ambition and pride. This dream was a stern rebuke, and threatened judgment if the king did not repent. But Nebuchadnezzar did not repent. “All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon, and he spoke, saying, ‘Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?'” Daniel 4:28-30. Nebuchadnezzar prided himself in what he had done and gave none of the credit to God. As a result God took away his reason. “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.’ That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like the oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.” Daniel 4:31-33. Nebuchadnezzar refused to repent despite the merciful warning that God had given to him, and the awful calamity threatened, fell upon him. He went insane and was driven from beautiful Babylon that he had built. He was given grass to eat and he wandered through the wilderness as a mad man. What a fate for the most powerful monarch in the world. But God had a plan. Nebuchadnezzar, instead of being angry or embarrassed over the humiliating state of affairs, praised God for His goodness. Nebuchadnezzar could truly say, “all things work together for good.” Romans 8:28. It was through this most humbling experience that God was able to reach down to him and save him. Nebuchadnezzar had a true conversion experience. No longer did he throw his subjects into the furnace for obeying the God of heaven, but he praised and extolled the God of heaven. “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice.” Daniel 4:37. Through this most humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar learned to love and obey the God of heaven. As he told his grandson, Belshazzar, the terrible experience that he had gone through, we can be sure that he added warnings and cautions so that young Belshazzar would not follow the same dreadful path. Nebuchadnezzar had a true conversion experience, and as with everyone, who has had a true experience with the Lord, he longed for his friends and family to have this same experience so that they also might “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalms 34:8. It is certain that Nebuchadnezzar told of this experience with tears and pleadings that his precious family would listen and take heed, but Belshazzar did not.
Belshazzar had heard the stories of God’s miraculous workings over and over again, until it had seemed like an idle tale, but he went his own way. He determined that he would have fun and enjoy life for a while. Perhaps he intended to get right with God later, but the world seemed to offer so much. His heart had no doubt been convicted as his grandfather pled for him to follow the God of heaven before it was too late. Belshazzar might even have said that he would. Belshazzar had the knowledge. Belshazzar had the personal acquaintance with God’s miracle working power. Belshazzar knew what he needed to do, but he did it not, and unbeknownst to him, his last night on earth was soon to overtake him unprepared. The Bible gives a full description of Belshazzar’s last night on earth, not as an amusing story to tickle our fancy, but as a lesson, a solemn warning that all should heed lest their last night on earth end the same way.
It began as one of the gayest rounds of merriment with which Belshazzar had ever dazzled himself. Belshazzar was fond of feasts and licentiousness and frequently gave himself over to such debasing merriment, but this was a special night. This was a special festival, and nothing was to be held back. As the Bible records, “Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.” Daniel 5:1. The Persian army had surrounded the city of Babylon and were planning to attack, but what did that matter to Belshazzar. Let the Persians die under the hot sun while he feasted inside. He cared neither for the Persians nor for the God of heaven. He would throw contempt upon both by recklessly disregarding their presence. He had food for years, walls higher than the Persians could mount, and the great river Euphrates supplying the city with water. What need he to fear? He would throw a great feast in defiance of the God of heaven whom his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had served. He knew about the dream that an inferior kingdom would conquer Babylon, but he cast the convicting voice of conscience from his heart and gave himself fully over to feasting and revelry. He went even further in his blasphemy by bringing in the sacred vessels from the temple of Jerusalem. “While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his ancestor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. The drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.” Daniel 5:2-4. Belshazzar showed the ultimate contempt for the God of heaven by profaning his sacred things. He recklessly brought the sacred vessels and polluted them with wine and gaiety, and did not know that this was to be his last night. How many today are following the same course as Belshazzar. They profane God’s holy things–His holy Sabbath day, His holy time, His holy money. What a fearful fate will meet all who, like Belshazzar, despise what God has set apart as holy. But Belshazzar did not care! The more wine the better. The more dainties the better. The more entrancing music, the better. The more wives and concubines, the better. He had made his decision to live for the world, and the world he would live for. Moses chose the opposite. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:25. Moses chose to leave the court life of excitement and vain pleasures. He chose to take his stand with God’s people even if he had to endure trials and obstacles, but not so with Belshazzar. Belshazzar went the opposite way. He threw his lot in with the passing pleasure of sin. How many today follow the same pernicious course. The things of this world have such a hold upon them that not even Samson can shake them loose; and unknowingly they are headed at breakneck speed for their last night on earth.
Belshazzar’s last night did not end as he had thought, though. His laughing was turned into mourning in a matter of seconds. “In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp stand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips loosened and his knees knocked against each other.” Daniel 5:5, 6. In the midst of the mirth, a bloodless hand appeared next to the wall. It began to write in letters that all could trace, but none could read. Although, the words were unknown to all in the room, an awful silence fell upon that once boisterous crowd. None knew what was written, but all sensed that it spelled their doom. They knew what they had done. They knew the events that were common knowledge to all in the realm of Daniel’s God. They remembered the insanity that struck Nebuchadnezzar, and all were sure that the mysterious words on the wall were not a message of peace and safety.
As Belshazzar thought back upon his life and the thousands of times that the Lord had convicted his heart of which way to go, and he refused, his knees began to knock with fright. The expression of empty excitement vanished from his face and one of guilty terror took its place. He knew that he was guilty of the most heinous crimes against his Maker and he was without a shield. He feared that the fate of his grandfather, who he knew so well, would likewise be his; but a worse fate than Nebuchadnezzar’s hung over his head. The wise men were called, but as they had failed two times before, again they were unable to produce. Then Daniel, now a very old man, was called in. Sure enough, Daniel could read the fateful words clear as day, but he began by reminding Belshazzar of the wicked, forgetful course that he had followed. Then Daniel zeroed in and pointed out the crux of the matter. “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.” Daniel 5:22. Belshazzar knew what he needed to do, but he did it not. He had heard of Daniel, knew his life and words, but he did not follow them. As a result of this awful neglect, he came to his last night on earth unprepared. The mournful denunciation and message was faithfully given. Belshazzar knew it to be true, and “that very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.” Daniel 5:30. It was Belshazzar’s last night on planet earth. So ended, in frivolous mirth, the life that might have been a mighty power for good in the world.
How is it with you, friend? Are you on the same course that Belshazzar took? There are thousands, even millions, who know what they need to do, but do it not. Like Belshazzar, they rush on through life, unsuccessfully trying to drown the voice of conviction and duty in the vain and empty pleasures of this world. It is still there! Conviction still seizes the soul now and then, but it is brushed aside. There are so many excuses in our world, but you can be lost with a good excuse. The Word of God warns us about making excuses, “so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20. Every person is going to be without excuse. Every tongue will be stopped and every head hung low. There are more excuses now than a man can number. Every time that I think I have heard every excuse imaginable, then it is that I hear another one. It is not that people do not know what they need to do; it is that they, for one reason or another, do not want to do it. There is a cross involved in following our Lord all the way, but the cross only makes the crown more enjoyable. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36. Millions today are making the worst investment decision of all time. They are purchasing stock in this old, warn out world, instead of placing their hearts and means in the Bank of Heaven. Are you making that mistake? The Lord will not judge you for what you honestly do not know, but for what you knew, and did not do. Are you doing as Belshazzar did? Is the handwriting on the wall staring you straight in the face? Are you rushing to your last night on earth unprepared?
There is only one thing to do in order to be ready for that great day–do what you know you need to do. The Lord is not asking you do to that which you do not know, but that which you do know. “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” II Corinthians 8:12. You are judged for the light that God has been pleased to give you and the use that you have made of that light. Are there new things that you have learned from God’s Word? Are you doing them? Perhaps you see the need to keep all of God’s Law. Maybe there are habits and practices that you desire to overcome. It could be that you know you need to be baptized, but have not made the decision yet. Whatever it is that the Lord is convicting you to do–do it! The Lord is looking for those who are willing to obey Him no matter what the cost or sacrifice. Are you willing to do what the Lord asks of you? God leads and guides us, as we are able to follow. He never asks us to do that which we cannot do. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. If the Lord asks you to give up your job in order to follow Him, then He will give you the grace to endure. If it becomes necessary to leave friends and family behind, the Lord will amply supply the lack. Whatever the Lord asks of us, He also says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” II Corinthians 12:9. Friend, your last night on earth is coming, too. None know when it will be. It could be tomorrow. It could be tonight. Which path are you on? Will you join the lot of Belshazzar? Or will you do what you know you need to do?
Sodom’s Last Night
“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” Luke 17:28-33. The last generation will all come to their last night on earth together. As a sudden, overwhelming surprise, it will break upon this world. Men and women will be engaged in their common ordinary pursuits. They will be buying and selling, building and tearing down. Planning for many more years to live out their dreams, but suddenly all their hopes, dreams and plans came to and end. It is their last night on earth.
So when Jesus comes the second time, it will be a sudden surprise to the inhabitants of the world. “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” I Thessalonians 5:2, 3. When Jesus comes back it is going to be an overwhelming surprise for the billions of inhabitants of our little world. It, of course, is not to be a surprise to the faithful, for in verse 4 we are told, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” Our last night on earth is not to be a surprise to the faithful, but tragically, many who think that they are prepared for their last night on earth are going to be surprised as was Sodom and Gomorrah, and find out, too late, that they have been duped. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:22, 23. Just like Sodom, many are going to come right up to their last night on earth and find out, too late, that they are lost. Then the mournful words will be uttered, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” Jeremiah 8:20. There will be no second chances then, for “now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2. Probation’s door will close suddenly, unexpectedly, and those who have not made the choice to follow the Lord all the way, will have sealed their doom by completely rejecting Him.
Sodom’s last night does not just show us that our last night on earth will be sudden and unexpected, but it shows the perilous danger of getting caught up in the things of this world. Millions are so busy with the things of the world that they have no thoughts for the things of eternity. They do not do the “wicked” things of the world, as Belshazzar did, but they are consumed by the cares of this life. They ate. They drank. They bought. They sold. They planted. They built. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. Obviously, if a person does not eat, he will die of starvation. If a person does not drink he will dehydrate. The Lord is not saying that it is wrong to do all of these things, but we can become so absorbed with these things that we forget about doing what the Lord asks us to do. “But 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.
One of the many faults of the dwellers in Sodom and Gomorrah was that they were weighed down by the cares of this life. Are you weighed down by the cares of this life? How long has it been since you spent some quality time with just you and the Lord? Have you been praying and reading your Bible every day? Or are there so many tasks to do in a day that you rush from here to there, and by the end of the day you are so exhausted all that you can do is fall into bed? Remember that your last night is coming. Do you want to meet your Maker without having spent time with Him that day? Do you want the shadows of your last night to fall without praying to Him? The times in which we live tell that your last night is coming sooner that you think. It is almost here. Are you ready? Have you made your decision to follow Jesus no matter what the cost? Have you decided to follow and obey all that you know to be true? Brother, Sister, time is fleeting away. The longer you wait, the less time you have. Will you make the decision right now, before it is forever too late? Before your last night comes and goes without you being ready?
“Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32. It is a power packed three-word verse. Remember Lot’s wife. Lot’s wife came to her last night. She was warned that it was coming. She started to move out by faith, but then turned back and there she stood. She could go no more. With that one fatal longing look back, she sealed her destiny. Her last night came, and she stood still as a pillar of salt. Remember this. Remember her. Why? It will be the experience of millions. There are millions, and even billions, of people who profess Christianity. They claim to be Christians. They come out of the world to a certain extent, but they only come halfway. This was the tragic mistake of Lot’s wife. She heard the message to come out, and she hurried out, but that was not enough. She did not come all of the way out. Her heart was still back in Sodom, and her last night found her halfway between destruction and safety, and there she stayed. Do you remember Lot’s wife? Have you taken notice of what happened to her? Have you applied the lesson to your life? The Lord will accept no divided service. We are either completely for Him or totally against Him. “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Matthew 12:30. There is no neutrality. You are either totally on one side or the other. All who attempt to go halfway between, will end up as Lot’s wife–lost in the middle. There are many people whom I have met who seem to think that God is not that particular, and that it is all right if we mix a little of the world with the church. There could be nothing further from the truth. If one foot is in the world and one foot is in the church, you will be divided in two. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62. If you think that you can go to church, study your Bible, and pray, but not keep all of God’s Law and His Word, you are sadly mistaken, just as Lot’s wife was sadly mistaken. She thought because she had come most of the way out of Sodom that everything was fine, but she is lost because she did not come all of the way out of Sodom.
So today, God is calling His people to come ALL of the way out of Babylon. If a person remains in Babylon, or does not come all of the way out of Babylon, he will be lost just as Lot’s wife was. “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” Revelation 18:4. Have you come all the way out of the Babylon? (Churches that continue to break one or more of the commandments of God’s Law.) God’s people in the last days are those who keep all of God’s Law no matter what the rest of the world does. They are described as, “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. They are the ones who have right to the tree of life. “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 22:14. They are the ones with whom the devil is enraged. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Are you willing to keep all of God’s Law no matter what the consequences may be? If not, Remember Lot’s wife. She went halfway, but not all the way, and as a result she is lost. Her last night found her halfway between the Lord and the world, with all its disobedience. Where will your last night find you? It will find billions at this halfway mark. Reader where are you? Please make the decision now to be fully on the Lord’s side, no matter what He asks of you.
The Last Night
There is, perhaps, no better illustration of the last night on earth than Noah’s day. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39. Jesus tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so it will be when the He returns the second time. Well, what was it like in Noah’s day?
The wickedness had grown to such a level that God’s pure eyes could no longer look upon the evil rampant in the world. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” Genesis 6:5, 6. The thoughts of mankind were continually evil. They had no room for God; their minds were bent to wickedness. Today, man lives for around eighty years, but in those days man lived for eight hundred years! Imagine the wickedness that man could dream up with ten times the amount of time on his hands. Habits were formed and the characters were set, and then there were hundreds of years to reveal what was inside the heart, and unfortunately for most, it was evil continually. Does this sound anything like today? Is man’s heart mesmerized with wickedness through television, movies, novels, etc.? If you turn on the television today, there is hardly a show that does not show violence, adultery or some other sin. Indeed man’s heart is evil continually today, as it was then.
As the Lord looked down upon the earth, he saw man, the crowning act of His creative power, so debased that in His mercy He knew that He had to check the rapid growth of wickedness. He knew that the only way that He could save some of mankind was to put a limit on His forbearance and destroy those who refused to repent. “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.'” Genesis 6:3. The Lord gave mankind a probation of one hundred and twenty years to turn from their wicked ways. The Scripture records that His Spirit was to strive with man. How the Holy Spirit must have strove. If man did not turn around, he was headed for doom. His last night on earth was coming, and millions were unprepared. How many times men and women heard the voice of duty convicting them of the way they needed to walk, but they refused. The Lord pled and pled, but to no avail. Man was bent on evil, and he would not turn around. Do you hear the Spirit striving on your heart? Do you hear the voice of conscience convicting you of what you need to do? Today, the Lord is pleading with all flesh just as He did in Noah’s day, because once again the last night on earth is coming, and coming soon. Do you hear the still small voice saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it?” Isaiah 30:21. It is the voice of God’s Spirit striving with you. Will you listen? Will you heed that voice? Soon it will be too late. A myriad of people on this earth are refusing to follow today, just as in Noah’s day, and just like Noah’s day, the vast multitudes of planet earth will be lost.
God did not leave the world without a witness then, and He has not left the world without a witness now. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8. There was a least one man in that wicked world whose ways were perfect before the God of heaven. To Noah was given one of the most difficult tasks ever given to a man. He was to stand unmoved for one hundred and twenty long years. God had given him the commission to build a boat for all who desired to be saved, and also to proclaim the message given him by God. “And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of the eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly,” II Peter 2:5. Noah was not just to be a shipbuilder; his more difficult task was that of being a preacher of righteousness. Noah was to build a boat where all could see, and call all men to come into the boat to be saved. He had a present truth message, “Come into the ark of safety?” All who refused this present truth message would be swept away with the torrents so soon to engulf the world. Noah built and Noah preached. Year after year he swung the hammer and sounded the warning. God would have all who would come to repentance, be saved. “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord did not want any to perish in the coming judgment, but in His mercy, He knew it was the only way to save mankind. So He sent a strong message to go to every inhabitant of the world, warning them of what was coming and the way to escape. So today the Lord loves His children and does not desire that any perish, but He knows that the last night is coming and so He sends a message of warning to all. A message that, if accepted, will be a savor of life unto life, but if rejected a savor of death unto death. This stern and startling message that is to be given to all the world today is found in Revelation 14:6-12. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth–to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people–saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worship the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”
This last message of mercy is present truth for today, just as the message to come into the ark was present truth for Noah’s day. If we reject this message, we have rejected the only message that will bring salvation in the last days. Our last night on earth will be one of gloom. The Lord longs for all to be saved, but the choice is yours. That is why He has waited this long. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” II Peter 3:9. Is he waiting for you? Have you heeded this most important message? Are you in God’s ark of safety for the last days, or are you outside hoping to make it in someday? This last message is one that covers all the bases. It begins with the message that we are living in the very last days of this earth’s history, for God’s judgment has come. Since His judgment is here, it is paramount that we are living in obedience to all of the commandments and worshipping the Creator according to His will. If any will be saved they must come out of Babylon, the churches that continue to break God’s holy Law. Those who worship the beast power in any way will be lost. All who heed these messages will be saved, but those who refuse, as did the majority in Noah’s day, will find their last night filled with terror and darkness. God, in His love and mercy, gave the antediluvians a message of warning and so, today, the Lord has given us a message that our eternal destiny hinges upon. Which choice will you make? If you make no decision, you are already counted with the unbelievers, for to not make a decision at all, is to decide against. Will you heed this life and death message?
As I have thought of what Noah’s messages must have been like, I am certain that they were not like the popular sermons you hear in the churches of our land. His was a message distinct from all the other preachers. He had a message from heaven, and an intensity of desire that brought conviction to the hearers. A singular sight that certainly attracted a great deal of attention. With a hammer in one hand and the scrolls of the prophets in the other, he could give a message like thunder that brought his listeners to tears. No doubt he became the laughing stock of the world. Here was an old man spending all his wealth to build a mammoth boat on a hill. What good would a boat up there do? This poor man appeared to have gone insane, but he had a message from the Most High and he knew what he was doing. The scoffing and ridicule that he met must have been almost more than the old man could bear, but he faithfully went about his task whether his friends and colleagues would listen or not. He had a message from heaven, and nothing was going to hinder him from fulfilling his task. This message had to go to the entire world, to warn them of impending doom, and no doubt some accepted the message, but the vast majority would have no such thing. Surely, there were those in the crowds who were convicted that Noah’s message was heaven sent and decided to follow and obey. They had good intentions. They knew what they needed to do, but they thought that they would do it a little later. They had so much going on just then, they couldn’t give up their jobs and their families. When the time got a little closer, then they would heed the call. On they went, planning on heeding the message, desiring to heed the message, but never quite coming to the point of decision. “Later,” they thought, “when it gets more convenient, then I will follow.” But day followed day, and the days turned into weeks which gave way to months, and then year after year rolled on. Still with good intentions, they did not know that their last night was coming. Noah’s urgency began to increase, for he knew the time period was almost over. On they went, thousands, millions, planning on making their decision–later. Then the final signs began to take place. The dumb animals knew that there was no time to delay, but the poor deceived souls went on thinking they still had plenty of time. Finally the time came for Noah to give his last message, and oh, what a message that must have been. With every ounce of energy he had left, he gave that final warning, calling for all to make their decision before it was forever too late. He gave his final appeal. He called and called. He knew that this was the last chance. He knew that their last night on earth had nearly arrived and if they did not make their decision now, it would be forever too late, but none came forward. They had heard that call so many times that it just didn’t have the solemnity that it used to have. They had ignored the voice of conscience so long that there was no response. It barely affected them. “Later,” they still said, but it was too late. When Noah saw that there were none who would heed, he gathered together his family and entered the ark. Probably tears were in his eyes as he thought of his friends, his neighbors, his relatives who had refused the call, but Noah had done his part and he could do no more. The message had been given. He could not force them to be saved. “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.” Genesis 7:16. As Noah and his sons and their wives were in the ark, that massive door swung shut and probation had closed. Those who were inside the ark were safe, but the millions around the door were lost. They probably beat on the door with all their might, but it would not open to them. They had their chance. They made their decision. They procrastinated until it was too late. Their destiny was set. Their fate was sealed.
Probation’s door is soon to close for you and for me. Are we ready? Have we made our decision? Are we living up to all that the Lord has commanded us to do? Soon the words will rumble through the courts above, “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.” Revelation 22:11. As in Noah’s day, soon the door will be shut. Those who are standing fully on the Lord’s side will be pronounced righteous and holy still. All of the attacks of the enemy will no longer have any power over them, for they will be eternally secure, but it will not be so for those who procrastinated. Those who delayed making the decision to follow Jesus all the way will have an entirely different fate. They are unjust and filthy still. No more can they choose to follow the Lord, for they have delayed until it was too late. Which side will you be on? Your last night is coming. Probation’s door is soon to close. Is your title clear? Is your decision made? Have you decided to follow Jesus no matter what the cost? Have you decided to keep all of His commandments, regardless of what the world does? Brother, Sister, your decision will determine your destiny. There were hundreds of thousands in Noah’s day who were good people, who wanted to be saved, but who never left the valley of decision and thus were drowned in the deluge.
Your Last Night
With one gushing swipe, the last night on earth came to millions in Noah’s day, and so it will be again. As it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the coming of the Son of Man. Millions again will experience their last night on earth together, when Jesus returns to execute judgment on the disobedient. Your last night on earth is coming. Believe it or not, like it or not, it is still coming, and coming fast. It is the most solemn time in the history of our planet, for the world is soon to end, and the inhabitants know it not. You know it, what are you going to do about it? You must make a decision. It is the only logical thing to do. If you do it not, your last night might steal upon you as a mammoth surprise.
I was visiting a couple of ladies who had gone all the way through a prophecy seminar that we had held. They had heard the last message, but they hadn’t quite made a decision. They saw that it was true. They knew what the Bible said, but they had not taken the step of faith to fully follow the Lord no matter what. I longed for them to be saved and visited them again. That afternoon we visited and had a pleasant time. There were questions for which they wanted answers, and many other things were discussed. As it came time to go, I appealed to them again to give their hearts to the Lord and to follow Him no matter what. I appealed for them to be ready for their last night on earth. I knew that there were still problems that needed to be worked out, and so we set up Bible studies for the following week; but I still longed for them to make a decision that very afternoon to allow nothing to stand between them and eternity. When I returned the following week, one of the ladies had passed away. She had spent her last night on earth. When I made that appeal for them to be ready for Jesus’ Second Coming, neither I, nor they, knew that her last night was almost here. It was, perhaps, the final appeal that she heard. The last call to follow Jesus no matter what. What about you, friend? If your last night were to be tonight, would you be ready? Do not delay, for delay is from the devil. None of us know how long we have, but we do know that time is running out. Will you make your decision to follow Jesus all the way no matter what? Will you make the decision to follow His Word regardless of what He asks?
Two thousand years ago there was a man who delayed making his decision, and that delay cost him his eternal life. “Now he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.'” Acts 24:25. Felix was convicted of what he needed to do, but he procrastinated. He put it off. He thought that he still had many years to turn around. When it became a little easier, then he would follow Jesus. He had so much going on. He couldn’t give up his kingdom, his honor, his wealth, and his prestige right now. Maybe later. Maybe at a more convenient time, but that more convenient time never came. Felix is a lost man. Not because he never heard, but because he heard and waited. Because he knew what he needed to do, and did it not. He made the tragic mistake of delay. Friend, you cannot delay. Please do not put it off. The time is coming in which it will be too late, and all who want to make a decision will not be able to do so then. It will be forever too late. Their last night on earth will close, and the book of destiny will be shut, nevermore to be opened again. Where will you be? Will you make your decision now?
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘A disaster, a singular disaster; Behold, it has come! An end has come, the end has come!” Ezekiel 7:5, 6. Very soon these words will be said. They are still future right now, for probation’s seconds still linger, but that will not be forever. Imagine the terror of the millions who exclaim, “The end has come!” They knew it was coming. They knew that they needed to make a decision, but they put it off. Now they know that they are lost without an excuse. They know that they waited too long, and now there is no more time left. They are outside the ark awaiting fearful judgment and condemnation. The end is come, the end is come! The last night is here! Oh, where will you be? Will you be among those who cry in abject terror that the end is come and it is too late? Or will you be among those who have made the decision to follow their Lord no matter what the cost and now they are rewarded according to their works? (See Matthew 16:27.) There are two sides and no more. Those who praise the Lord that their last night has come and that eternity has begun, and those who slink in fear and self-condemnation for they know that “the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!” Jeremiah 8:20. Which side will you be on? It all depends upon the decision that you make now. If you wait until later, later may never come. What will your decision be? “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day who you will serve…, But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.
All emphasis the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
- The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White, 1911.
- His Mighty Love, Dr. Ralph Larson, Teach Services, 1995.
- Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1979.
- Your Last Night on Earth, Joe Crews, published by Amazing Facts.
- World-Wide Bible Lectures, Fordyce W. Detamore.
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Copyright ©1999 by Steps to Life