by Jeannette Haley
As another year rolls around, reflecting upon the events of the previous year seems like the natural thing to do. Some situations tally up with a measure of satisfaction, while others bear the stamp of “too late” indelibly impressed upon them.
Some of the “too late” stuff can relate to last year’s “resolutions” or goals. You know, things like studying the Bible more, praying more, witnessing more, exercising more, and eating less. Then, there are the more serious “too late” issues that can haunt us for a lifetime, unless we repent, or, as the case may be, cast all of our regrets, concerns and cares upon the Lord.
Adam and Eve certainly found out too late that God meant what He said about not eating of the forbidden fruit. Nothing they could ever say or do could reverse the awful consequences for their disobedience. She was deceived, he was disobedient. You know the rest of the story.
From those two premises — deception and disobedience — spring the majority of our “too late” regrets. Consider the antediluvian inhabitants’ disobedience to God’s moral laws, written in their consciences that resulted in the great Flood that destroyed all life except that which was shut up within Noah’s ark. As the raging waters closed over the peoples’ heads, in their final moments, all knew that it was too late. It was too late to repent; too late to embrace the truth; too late to be saved.
Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous souls could be found. Sadly, ten couldn’t be found. We all know the terrible fate of the inhabitants of these cities, and of Lot’s wife who disobeyed, looked back, and turned into a pillar of salt. Once the judgment of God comes down, it’s too late. According to the first chapter of Romans, America is on the brink of experiencing a similar fate, regardless of who becomes the next president. The bottom line is, God has a limit to how much sin and debauchery He will tolerate from any individual, city, tribe, or nation, and America is no exception. Furthermore, we are not God’s chosen people. We are not the “apple of His eye.” Israel is.
“But,” someone may argue, “We are Christians.” The answer to this is found in 2 Peter 4:17, 18: “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? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” The entire professing church would have to truly repent and be converted for God to forestall His judgment. In addition, America would have to wholly line up with God’s plan for Israel. Is it too late?
Let’s remember the story given in Exodus where we read the incredible account of how the king of Egypt suffered through ten mighty manifestations of God’s power, yet his heart continued to harden in spite of giving occasional lip-service to the God of Israel. In the end, his deceptive heart resulted in the self-delusion that propelled him to pursue the fleeing Israelites into the midst of the Red Sea. As with the antediluvians, it was too late for Pharaoh and his armies to turn back as the waters flowed over them, taking them down into a watery grave.
Too late the unbelieving, disobedient, murmuring Children of Israel promised obedience to God. Because of it, they were destined to wander in the wilderness until all died except Joshua, Caleb and those who were under the age of twenty. (Numbers 14).
King Saul realized too late that his continual disobedience and delusion caused the presence of God to depart from him, costing him both his life and that of his son.
Once disobedient, idolatrous Israel had been taken captive to Babylon, it was too late for them to recover all that was lost. What agony it must have been to recall, too late, the words of warning from their prophets. For 70 long years, they remained away from their homeland, from Jerusalem, from their way of life and worship.
The Old Testament, given to us for our example, is rich with “too late” stories, proverbs and admonitions. One would think that with such a wealth of wisdom and instruction our personal lives, families, churches, and nation would be free from those regrettable “too late” situations. Yet, it is obvious that the same mistakes are being repeated on every level.
Now, I realize that there are those today who wave the Old Testament aside as non-relevant. “We are New Testament Christians,” they argue. But, just what does that mean? Are we to assume that somehow God Almighty changed because Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected? If so, just how has He changed? The answer is, it is impossible for God to change. He is immutable or unchangeable. God is still holy. God’s wrath still abides upon the wicked. (See Romans 1:18, 2:8; Ephesians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; John 3:36.)
By throwing out the Old Testament, and redefining the New, today we see a new Jesus emerging who is unrecognizable by New Testament standards. This new Jesus fits in nicely with the politically correct foolishness of our day. He also fits in nicely with the mug wumps — you know, people sitting on the fence with their mug on one side and their wump on the other. If you didn’t get that, I’m talking about people with one foot in the world, and the other in religion. They call themselves the “emerging church.” The Bible calls it the apostate church.
This grotesque, religious, politically correct, worldly, ecumenical hybrid may claim to be “Christian” but the spirit behind it is antichrist. Working through unbiblical, humanistic, and New Age philosophies, this movement is drowning the world today in a flood of spiritual darkness and death. Paul warned, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. [Emphasis added.] It will be too late for multitudes of deceived souls who do not recover themselves out of the snare of the devil. (See2 Timothy 2:25, 26.)
What did the Jesus of the Bible (not the modern version of “Jesus”) teach about the subject of “too late”? According to the parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13) and in His discourse found in John 15, we learn that if we fail to bear fruit (evidence of Christ in our life) we will be “cast into the fire, and burned.” In Matthew 13 we read that when the harvest is reaped, the tares (phony “Christians”) will be gathered and burned. According to the parable of the great supper (Luke 14), all those who have excuses why they could not come at the Lord’s invitation will be excluded, or left out.
In Matthew 22, we read the sobering account of the man who came to the wedding of the king’s son in his own wedding garment (his own righteousness) and how he was cast into outer darkness. The rich fool in Luke 12was given the opportunity to follow Jesus and gain eternal life, but his heart was with his treasure, loving his money more than he loved Jesus, thus he walked away in his lost state. In Luke 16, Jesus paints a graphic picture for us of the reality of hell and the horror one faces when it is “too late.” Again, in Matthew 25, Jesus made it plain that there is an “everlasting punishment” for many where it is “too late” to repent and be saved.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), the unprofitable (unbelieving and disobedient) servant was cast into outer darkness. Likewise, in this same chapter, Jesus gave us the parable of the ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. The wise entered in to be with their Lord, but the door was shut, never to be opened again, to the foolish. In Luke 17, we read of the sudden coming of the Lord, and how it will be too late for those who are not prepared.
Many people, two of whom we personally knew, and some that friends knew and loved, have passed out of this world quite recently. Of them all, we are only assured that three of them are in glory with the Lord they loved and served. Others we cannot say. We know one, who, in all probability, is eternally lost. For those who do not belong to Christ, and who suddenly find themselves snatched out of this world, it is truly too late. It is too late to believe, too late to repent, too late to receive Christ and His forgiveness, too late to be born again.
What about you? If you died today, would you be rejoicing in the presence of the Lord, or would it be too late?