Paul has heard God speaking something which I believe He is repeating in our day. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." At a surface glance this call appears to be addressed to one particular person or group. Looking more closely we can observe that there are actually two calls of God spoken to two classes of people.
The first call is uttered to those who are sleeping. "Awake thou that sleepest," God says. A sleeping person is not to be confused with a dead person. There is a radical difference. Although a sleeping person may appear dead from a distance, there is occasional movement and the sound of breathing. A dead person may lie in the same position as a sleeping person, but a corpse will exhibit no sign of life whatsoever.
"Comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13), we can
understand that the sleeper symbolizes a believer who is spiritually quickened and has the life of God in his spirit. He has been born of God. The problem is this: the living person has fallen asleep and desperately needs to be awakened.
The Father's first call is to such a one as this - the sleeping saint. "Awake
you who sleep ... and Christ shall give you light. "
The believer already dwells in the kingdom of light (see 1 Peter 2:9;
You may ask, "How is it, then, that Christ shall give him light?" The answer can be seen in that a person who is in a well-lit room can find himself in darkness simply by closing his eyes. This explains why so many Christians are in darkness; because no one sleeps with his eyes open.
When the believer awakens, opening his eyes, the light surrounding him
enters his spirit afresh. Christ gives the awakened sleeper the light of
revelation. "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out
of thy law.... The entrance of thy words giveth light.. . " (Psalm 119:18,
130). Revelation knowledge of the Word dawns upon the understanding,
giving him a new awareness. The things of God take on a new meaning.
The second call of God is addressed to those who are dead. "Arise from the
dead." The unbeliever is positionally located in the kingdom of darkness. He
is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). When he calls upon the
Lord he is brought "out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
A spiritual resurrection as real as Lazarus' rising from the dead occurs in a
miraculous moment of time!
With the darkness of the tomb behind him, imagine how Lazarus felt - blinking his eyes in the bright sunshine! Christ gives the newborn in the kingdom of God the light of salvation. The divine call to the world is to arise out of death (a spiritual resurrection).
Although a believer is spiritually alive unto God (see Romans 6:11) he may be lulled into sleep by weariness, monotony, or carnality. In his inactive state he is no more useful to the Lord than a dead sinner, for both of them lie in aprone, still position. It is only as the saint awakens and starts about the Father's business that he finds purposefulness in serving God. A SLEEPING CHRISTIAN IS NO MORE EFFECTIVE IN ADVANCING THE KINGDOM OF GOD THAN A DEAD SINNER. It is imperative that he awaken!
Foremost in the Father's heart is the awakening of the Church. This call even
precedes His call to the world in darkness. At first this statement may seem
false; after all, isn't the world's salvation His dearest objective? It is clearly
obvious that reconciling men unto Himself is the purpose for which the Son
was sent. It must be seen, however, that if the world is to be reconciled there must be an instrument through which the world will hear the Gospel. This instrumentality is the body of Christ living on earth. The only time the world hears the Word is when the Church speaks.
A sleeping Church is a silent Church. Only as the members of Christ's body awake will the lost hear the Word of God. When the Church arrives at the place God would have us we'll reach out to the world!
It is interesting to note that Jesus did not pray directly for the world in John
17:9. He expressly directed His intercession for those who follow Him. " . . . I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me...... This
pattern of prayer has not changed. Christ "made intercession for the transgressors" on the cross (see Isaiah 53:12). Since He arose from the dead and sat down at the right hand of God, our Lord Jesus has been interceding for the Church the past nineteen centuries (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).
Christ realized that as the Church opens her eyes she will beam forth the light of the Gospel to those in the shadow of death. It is for this reason that God first calls "Awake" before "Arise." The believer does not need to be
resurrected, since he is alive; he needs to be awakened. The sinner, on the
other hand, must be spiritually resurrected before he can know newness of life. IT IS HIGH TIME TO AWAKE!!!
"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Romans 13:11).
Paul could tell time. Very few today have an understanding pertaining to the
divine timetable for those upon whom the end of the age has come. Peter also instructs, "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).
The apostle Paul said to the believers at Rome, "It is high time to awake." Often after oversleeping I have looked at the clock to see the hour for work well upon me. A quick glance caused me to know what time it was: HIGH TIME to awake. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual (1 Corinthians
Those who can hear what the Spirit is saying realize the hour is far
spent. Jesus said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4). Paul identified the Christian community living upon earth as being "of the day" (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Jesus further taught, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" (John 11:9), suggesting a limited time in which one can do the works of God.
Christ transferred His co-mission to us when He said, " . . . as my Father
hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). How wonderful it would
be if we were as diligent in the great harvest as was our Example.
Do you realize what time it is? Sleeping during the harvesting hours is a
characteristic of the slothful servant. Solomon said, " . . . but he that
sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame" (Proverbs 10:5). Yet while
the harvest is white and ready for the laborers (see John 4:35) the Church
snores on, apparently unaware of the great task at hand.
When Christ said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few" (Matthew 9:37), He was not implying that the Christians are few; only the laborers are few. A laborer is a Christian who is awake. Unlike others, he is not sleeping on the job. Yes, it is high time we awoke out of our sleep…
May The Lord open our eyes to the wonderful opportunities all around us every day to reach out to a dying world, their survival depends on it!