Monday, May 18, 2009

Avoid Sleep!

"And take heed to yourselves,
lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting,
and drunkenness, and cares of this life,
and so that day come upon you unawares.

For as a snare shall it come on all them
that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

Watch ye therefore, and pray always,
that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things
that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."

(Luke 21:34-36)

Matthew Poole, in his 1600s Commentary[1] on these verses from the book of Luke, wrote:

I take the 34th verse to be a good exposition of the term watch, ver. 36. Avoid sin industriously, in a prospect of My coming to judgment [the Lord is saying]: for sin is compared to sleep,

  • Romans 13:11 - "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for not is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
  • Ephesians 5:14 - "Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

As he that watcheth doth sleep, in order to some end; so he who keepeth the spiritual watch must set himself designedly to avoid sin, upon a prospect of Christ's coming, and the uncertainty of [the timing of] it.

Particularly He cautioneth His disciples against luxury and worldly-mindedness. The first He expresseth under the notions of gluttony and drunkenness, which are two eminent species of it. The latter, under the notion of the "cares of this life"; not necessary and provident cares, but superfluous and distracting cares. These things He presseth them to avoid, lest they should be surprised by Christ's coming, as He tells them the most of the world would be.

He further exhorteth them to "pray always":

  • Ephesians 6:18 - "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
  • Colossians 4:2 - "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving."

He further presseth both these duties in those words, "That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass"; those that should come to pass at or before the destruction of Jerusalem [verses 8- 24], or afterward [verses 25-33]; and to stand before the Son of Man, that is, in the last judgment; for "The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous" (Psalm 1:5).

The Truth:

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness,
that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day;
we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober.

For they that sleep sleep in the night;
and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober,..."

(1 Thessalonians 5:4-8a)

1. Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. III: Matthew-Revelation (Hendrickson), p. 266. This excerpt has been slightly altered, amended and reformatted for blog use.