“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:5, NASB).
As these words are written the world continues to battle the pandemic of Covid-19, a newly discovered Corona virus which, first detected probably in December, 2019, spread throughout more than 150 nations in a span of three to four months. A few countries have seen the peak of new cases pass, with fewer reported and death rates dwindling. But for most of the world the virus continues to rage. More than two million have been confirmed with Covid 19 in the U.S. alone and the number is still climbing. Equally alarming is the effect this pandemic is having upon the global economy. To say this is a critical time is perhaps an understatement.
Webster defines “critical” in this context as, “Of or forming a crisis or turning point; decisive, dangerous or risky; causing anxiety.” We speak of patients as being in critical condition; that is to say they are at a brink where recovery or collapse are each near equally possible. Nations may find diplomatic negotiations in critical balance with peace or alliance endangered. Marriages and other relationships often come to critical junctures where desperate measures may be required to salvage them.
As we do with most words, we often use this term rather loosely, using it in reference to situations which are of only minor importance. For a teenager getting a date for a special occasion may be important (to him or her) but is hardly critical. Esau’s hunger led him to a rash decision which cost him dearly (Genesis 25:27-34; Hebrews 12:16-17), but it is highly unlikely that his condition was actually critical. Our overuse of extreme words may lead us to such unwise actions as well.
But we also fail to recognize truly critical times in many cases. The early response to this virus is a good example. Most world leaders initially thought it was “just another flu,” and “no big deal.” Obviously, they were wrong. By the time its true nature and danger was recognized great damage had already been done.
In his second letter to Timothy Paul foretold future critical times (He actually said “dangerous” — 2 Timothy 3:1-9). These would be identified by increased sinfulness, rejection of God, rebellion, extreme self-centeredness, and carnality. Their foolish abandonment of spiritual things would be self-destructive.
Jesus told the people of his day of their great need to repent (Luke 13:3, 5) in order to avoid perishing. They were guilty in the sight of God, lost and without hope of salvation, in spite of their confidence in the Law and their status as descendants of Abraham.
We live in a time of spiritual denial, when sin is overlooked or termed “life-style choices,” or even beneficial. God is denied or ignored. The Bible is considered archaic and irrelevant. Its moral code was suitable (perhaps) for ancient society but our culture, according to many, has moved beyond those things and they no longer apply. The masses rejoice at liberation from sexual restraint and other moral and ethical standards.
There seems to be a conspiracy of silence regarding the consequences of such freedom. Families are destroyed. Health and happiness suffer from the effects of alcohol, drugs, and promiscuous activities. Selfishness and ruthless pursuit of one’s goals destroy relationships and impact social interaction to the detriment of communities. Our world continues to spiral downward in terms of trust, unity, and all things deserving contemplation – that is, excellence and praise-worthiness (Philippians 4:8).
Physical disease and economic collapse can and have created true crises. But as critical as these things are, they pale before the threat of sin. We all need God’s grace and mercy. Unless we live penitently and righteously, we also will perish.