They That Sleep
by C. Eldon McNabb

Sleeping is a normal and vital human function. Our physical and mental health are both dependant upon our getting enough of it. God fixed it this way, and he expects us to take care of ourselves by getting enough sleep. However, sleeping at the wrong place or at the wrong time, or sleeping too much is not good for us physically, mentally or spiritually.

In 1 Corinthians 15:46, the Apostle Paul said that, in the writing of the Bible, God had given us first "that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." That is, the natural things of which He spoke had a natural expression of some spiritual reality. For this discussion, we want to consider the spiritual implications of the slumbering and sleeping of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

One day, Jesusí apostles asked Him, "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" The parable of the ten virgins was part of Jesusí answer. He said, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept."

The kingdom of heaven consists of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus hereby prophesied that, a short while before He returns, Christianity would be stirred with a zeal for His second coming. But because they would be wrong about the immediacy of His coming, they would all tire of waiting and doze off until the time which God spiritually calls midnight. In Genesis He said, "The darkness He called night." Paul further said, "They that sleep, sleep in the night." So we know that a period of darkness will have come upon all of Christianity, concerning what God is doing, for a period of time just prior to the return of our Lord.

In fact, a zeal concerning the second coming of Jesus burned hot during much of the nineteenth century. In about 1831, a man called William Miller began to preach that Jesus would return in 1843. When the anticipated time had come and Jesus did not come, he revised his projection to the spring of 1844. In spite of the great disappointment which accompanied Jesusí non-appearing, many of his followers continued in their expectation, and moved the date of expectation to October of 1844. But Jesus still did not come. Those saints reconsidered their hopes and the reasons for their hopes, and arrived at two conclusions which were also erroneous. They changed their promotion to say that: 1) now all pre-advent prophecies have been fulfilled, and 2) that Jesus can come at any moment, but no one knows, nor can know, the time. Some few organizations sprang from that movement including the Seventh Day Adventist and Advent Christian churches.

Today, almost all Protestant Christians have accepted the conclusions of that zealous group and have fallen into darkness concerning the coming of Jesus. The year two thousand has now come and Jesus has not. The darkness still prevails, and the sleeping continues. Some pastors are even encouraging their congregations to settle in for the work of the new millennium. In Isaiah 56:10, God casts aspersion upon those Christian pastors, because they "love to slumber" when they should be looking out for the flock, and making their preparations for the appearing of their Lord.

Almost six thousand years has passed since the creation of Adam, and six thousand years is all we get. The seventh millennium belongs to Jesus, as does the seventh day and the seventh year. It is "the Lordís day."

Jesus was born 2000 years ago, in what our calendars designate as Anno Domini (The Year of our Lord). That year, however, does not coincide with the first year of the fifth millennium from Adam.

The beginning of the fifth millennium, when counting from the Creation, occurred twelve years later. At twelve years of age, Jesus apparently recognized the time change, for He went into the Temple and astonished the Priests as He reasoned together with them in the Holy Scriptures. Hence His response to His mother, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Fatherís business."

In answering the question which His disciples had posed, Jesus used another simile in Matt. 24:37-47. Jesus said that those days would be as it was in the days of Noah. In the days of Noah, God revealed to one man what he was going to do, and that man "built and ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world." (Heb. 11:7) God will do the same today, because He never changes, nor does He leave the world without a witness or a warning. Also He said in Amos 3:7, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."

Someone must make the cry at "midnight" to wake up all of the Virgins, both wise and foolish. They will then get their Bibles out, and begin to search to find out what God is really doing (trim their lamps). Some of them will then go in to the wedding of the Bride as guests and bridesmaids. They who go in to the wedding, before the door is shut, will be the fulfillment of the prophecy which was set forth in the allegory of those who went into the ark with Noah, before the door was shut. Concerning them, the Apostle Paul said, "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, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:1-10)

Those foolish Christians who have not studied the Bible enough to have "oil for light" will fail to get into that place which is spiritually called the ark. As a result they will suffer the indignation of God with the ungodly. I know that God has not appointed us unto wrath, but that doesnít mean that we can not foolishly get caught in it anyway. God didnít make hell for mankind either, but "hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure" to accommodate them. (Isa. 5:14)

"Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction." (Prov. 10:14) Again I say, Let us not sleep as do others.