Posted by: rcottrill | April 25, 2016

Life at Best Is Very Brief

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Words: author unknown
Music: William James Kirkpatrick (b. Feb. 27, 1838; d. Sept. 20, 1921)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: Seven years before the publication of this song in 1892, Mr. Kirkpatrick used the same tune for Fanny Crosby’s gospel song, Meet Me There. The two songs together make an interesting pair. One warns of the limited time for the sinner to avail himself of God’s grace. The other speaks of the delights of heaven for all who have trusted in the Saviour.

Time’s up! The phrase has been around for at least seven centuries. It indicates that some deadline has been reached, that the allotted time for something has run out. One place the phrase used is at the writing of examinations. I’ve heard it many times in school, and spoken the words in college exams I have set. Stop writing, that’s all the time you get.

Limited time is a factor in many scientific experiments as well. As instruments get more sophisticated, they can measure shorter and shorter periods, calling for new names to identify what is meant. An attosecond is one quintillionth of a second. In British measurement a quintillion is a one followed by thirty zeros. And the shortest time recently measured is twelve attoseconds, the time it takes for light to travel the length of two hydrogen atoms.

It may be surprising to discover how much the Bible has to say about time. From Genesis to Revelation, in the majority of Bible books, something is said about it. In a much quoted passage in Ecclesiastes (Ecc. 3:1-8), King Solomon reminds us, “To everything there is a season…a time to be born, a time to die.”

Psalm 90 seems to set a limit on this mortal life: “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labour and sorrow” (vs. 10). That may be intended as a limit we can apply generally. However, the psalm was written by Moses, during the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness. For him and the people of that day, it may have had a more specific application.

Because of unbelief, the men of that generation were condemned to die in the wilderness (Num. 26:64-65), and life spans were shortened because of the judgment of God. Men became soldiers at the age of twenty (Num. 1:3). The youngest among them would be dead at or before the age of sixty. For older ones, the age of seventy or eighty was the limit.

Whatever time God gives us, we’re to seek to “gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12), to redeem the time, recognizing that the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). And we need to realize that God has given us this time to prepare for eternity. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). Though our time on earth may be short, there is an eternity beyond for which to prepare (Jn. 3:16).

One man who utterly ignored that is a character in a story Jesus told (Lk. 12:16-21). When he had an abundant crop, he decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones, saying to himself, “You have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (vs. 19). But God labeled him a fool, saying, “This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (vs. 20).

The urgent need to be ready for our eternal destiny is behind an anonymous gospel song. It reminds us to get right with God, while He graciously gives us time. Our eternal destiny is at stake. Many times, over the years, I can recall my own mother quoting the first two lines. They sound an ominous and sobering word of warning.

CH-1) Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf,
Be in time.
Fleeting days are telling fast
That the die will soon be cast,
And the fatal line be passed,
Be in time.

Be in time, be in time,
While the voice of Jesus calls you, be in time.
If in sin you longer wait,
You may find no open gate,
And your cry be just too late, be in time.

CH-4) Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice,
Be in time.
Come from darkness into light,
Come, let Jesus make you right,
Come, and start for heav’n tonight,
Be in time.

Questions:
1) What do you do when you know there is a limited time to take advantage of a great opportunity?

2) What are the reasons time is limited to respond to the gospel?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


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