“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
“And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife” (Genesis 12:17).
With justifiable alarm, we are witnessing a new and dangerous disease race around the globe. As fatalities increase, we take measures to try to protect ourselves and others. There is, however, a danger far greater and more pervasive than COVID-19.
Indeed, every Christian recognizes the voice of the Lord in all of what is around us: the stress and perplexity facing the world and its leaders; the impact on the health and wellness of its inhabitants; the impact on all sectors of the world economy, whether agriculture, health care, food supplies, manufacturing, supply chains, sports, and entertainment. I hear Christians saying, and rightfully so, that sin and immorality that have been tolerated and legalized, God has been rejected by the public sector, atheism is spreading in the academic world of universities and many other institutes of learning, materialism, greed, selfishness, hatred, and the spreading of the cults of new age and spiritualism—these are the causes of what the world is facing today. Many Christians are praying and reaching out with the gospel message for souls to come to the Lord Jesus and to repent and accept Him as their personal Savior.
Though all of that is very true, I fear that we are missing the most important point, and that is the voice of God speaking to us individually as families, as local assemblies, and as a worldwide fellowship. Let us consider what the Lord is doing to get our attention so that we might consider our ways.
The collective and public weekly gathering to remember the Lord and announce His death until He comes has been suspended for the time being in almost every country in the world; so, too, is the weekly prayer meeting and Bible study in the local assemblies. Bible conferences have been cancelled and many opportunities for spiritual activity and fellowship with one another cannot be conducted.
Many have rushed to use the available technology, for which we thank the Lord, to set up ministry meetings, Bible studies, and prayer meetings. This is, of course, of great value, and many of the saints during this time of fear and uncertainty have benefited as a result.
But the question that lingers in one’s mind is: What is the Lord is saying to us? Are we feeling the pain and the loss in our own souls because we cannot be together in person to remember Him? We cannot do that online, and all this wonderful online activity should not make us complacent that we have figured out a way to get our spiritual needs met.
The hindrances that prevent our gathering to remember the Lord should cause us to sit quietly in His presence in our private settings and examine everything. It is a very unique situation, dear saints, that we all need to consider. For though we have meeting places, though we have means of transportation, though the roads are not blocked, though many of us are healthy and able, yet we cannot go to be together to meet the Son of God. Do we feel heaviness in our heart and sadness that we cannot be together on the Lord’s Day to listen to the voice of holy love collectively as assemblies as we have done for many years?
Are we blaming what is happening and what the Lord is doing on the ungodly world around us; that the Lord is punishing them because of their wicked deeds? But what if, perhaps, we are the cause of what is happening to the world around us that is preventing us for gathering together on the Lord’s Day? Was it not because of Abram’s thoughts and actions that “the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues”?
Is it our unfaithfulness, materialism, and adoption of the things and the ways of the world and its thinking in our lives, in our families, and in our assemblies? Yet we go to the meeting to be in His presence and act as though everything is good.
The envy, the looking for prominence, the fighting, the backbiting, the backstabbing, the evil speaking, the hypocrisy, the double lives, the lukewarm feeling toward the Lord and His things. Yet we go to the meeting to be in His presence and act as though everything is good.
Our personal devotion to Him, reading His Word, and spending time in His presence is not a priority in our lives, for we are busy taking care of our legitimate responsibilities and affairs; we have left our first love. Yet we go to the meeting to be in His presence and act as though everything is good.
Yet the eyes of the Lord that are “purer…than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13) are seeing all of that—and more, for nothing is hidden from Him. What must be the feeling of His heart?
Should we take responsibility like David did? He recognized that it is was his pride and his actions that brought the plague upon the land in which over 70,000 died (2 Samuel 24:15-17).
Can we hear the voice of the Lord to us in all of this?
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).
Some might say we are in New Testament times now and that this is the day of grace, and therefore that we cannot apply this to ourselves. It is true, thank God, that this is the day of grace. But “what shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).
Does our Holy Father change His nature in the day of grace? Does His loving hand in disciplining His children not apply in the day of grace; does not Hebrews 12:6-11 teach us that it does apply? Should you listen afresh to the voice of the Lord speaking and warning the churches of Sardis and Laodicea?
“These things saith he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die, for I have not found thy works complete before my God. Remember therefore…and repent” (Revelation 3:1-3).
Has the Lord, while we are sleeping spiritually speaking, taken away our privilege of gathering to remember Him for the time being? (Song of Solomon 5:2-8).
Can we humble ourselves, consider our ways, confess our sins, repent, and go back to our first love?
May the Lord have mercy on us for His Name’s sake.