AT SUNSET the gates of the city would close. Anxiously, the hurrying traveler noted the lowering sun. The distance he had to travel was greater than he had realized, and he had been delayed longer than he had planned for.
But he had to get to the city before the gates were barred. To remain outside the walls during the night was unthinkable. Vicious animals roamed in the darkness. And even more vicious men-robbers and murderers. Besides, the traveler was carrying with him all the money he owned, the savings of a lifetime. He had to get to the city before the gates closed. He dared not stop. There was too much at stake.
The reader can perhaps identify with the situation in which many an ancient traveler found himself. For, in some manner, and at some time, he too has toiled to reach his gates-about-to-close.
The gates we have been writing about in this volume are the gates of salvation and eternity. And, as Seventh-day Adventists, we know that soon, with a terrible finality, they will close silently, unrecognized, upon the world and the church.
There is a solemn, eloquent passage in The Desire of Ages to which we frequently turn when we wish to emphasize the heedlessness of the world as probation closes:
The crisis is stealing gradually upon us. The sun shines in the heavens, passing over its usual round, and the heavens still declare the glory of God. Men are still eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying, and giving in marriage. Merchants are still buying and selling. Men are jostling one against another, contending for the highest place .... Yet probation's hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided. Satan sees that his time is short. He has set all his agencies at work that men may be deceived, deluded, occupied and entranced, until the day of probation shall be ended, and the door of mercy forever shut. -Page 636.
Perhaps we are inclined to apply these words to the worldling, or to professed Christians in other churches where religion is but a formality. But they could be applied just as truly to some Seventh-day Adventists. Business and pleasure and the routine of life may sadly absorb some of us--many of us--so that we too may be caught outside the gates when it is too late. 91
The Guideposts Are Up
But none need be. The guideposts are up and clearly marked. We have the maps--the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy writings. We can tell by these that the road of history is ending. We know that the day is drawing to a close, that there is not much time left.
There are some who think they are on the right road, who are not. Occasionally, they are beset by doubts as to the route they are taking, but they shake them off and press on.
Each of us, with the last rays of the sun of earth's day falling upon us, must know whether he is really on the road to heaven. It is not enough to think we are, to hope we are. We must know! We must be on the right road. And we must not linger a moment. For the sun has touched the western horizon. Perhaps already the appointed angel is winging his way to the gates to swing them forever shut. Perhaps, even now, Jesus instructs the angel to hold the gates a moment longer. Visualize Him watching, hopefully, for those He longs to see enter who have not entered. Lovingly, He stretches out His arms in yearning invitation. Urgently He calls, "Come, come, for all things are ready!"
Let us haste-ere the gates close.