It’s time again for another Sermon Wednesday, and we’re still continuing our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.” The song we’ll be looking at today is one that isn’t as familiar with most Christians. It’s called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast” or “O, Come Angel Band” depending on which songbook you might use.
The apostle Paul stated that he was torn. He wanted to die so he could go to be with the Lord, which is far better; but at the same time, he knew that he was still needed to fulfill his mission here on earth.
It seems like many Christians today aren’t really all that torn. By that, I mean that they’re really tied to this earth and just plain want to stay. When you talk to them, they say, “I’m ready to go to heaven, I just hope it isn’t any time soon.” Or “I’ve got a lot of work to do. But if God decides it’s my time to go, then I guess that’s okay too.”
Do you see a difference between the two attitudes? One longs for heaven, but realizes that he might have to stay here on earth longer to keep working for the Lord. The other longs to stay, but reluctantly agrees to go to heaven if it’s his time.
There’s a song in our songbooks called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast,” and in it, the idea is I’m ready to go home. I want to go home. I know where my home is. It was written by an older man whose days were coming to an end, but I think this is an attitude that we all can and should have all the time.
Jesus said he had to work during the day (while he’s still alive), because the night is coming in which no man can work (death)—John 9:4.
“Work for the night is coming.
Work through the morning hours.
Work while the dew is sparkling.
Work ‘mid springing flowers.
Work when the day grows brighter.
Work in the glowing sun.
Work, for the night is coming
when man’s work is done.”
We must work with the realization that this may indeed be our last day. Our final sunset may be just on the horizon.
We must be like the apostle Paul who was able to say “I have finished my course” (II Tim. 4:7), but you know he was still working when he wrote those words. “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run.
Look back in your life and contemplate all the difficulties that you’ve made it through. Look at all the trials that God has seen you through—ones that you didn’t know how you were going to endure. Yet God’s helped you through each and every one of them. You made it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Sure, there may still be some difficult times ahead, but realize that God’s with you. God will help you through them all. And when you realize that, these “strong trials” lose some of their bite. When you’re truly relying on God, you’ll be like our friend and sister Linda Foshee, who calls the trials of life “life’s little speed bumps.”
My strongest trials now are past, My triumph is begun.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8).
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:16-17).
King David said of his son who had passed away, “I shall go to him” (II Sam 12:23).
One of the great promises in these passages is that we will be reunited with friends and loved ones who died faithful to God. That’s why the song says:
I know I’m near the holy ranks of friends and kindred dear.
The Promised Land is within eyesight. The Israelites are gathered on the banks of the Jordan River looking over into the land that God has promised to give them. They see it. They ache for it—it’s home. But between them and their new home is the Jordan River. And they cannot cross it until God decides it’s time. But they know it’s coming.
In the same way, we need to be looking beyond, seeing heaven, longing for our new home, and being ready when God opens the way for us to be there.
I brush the dews on Jordan’s banks, the crossing must be near.
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW you have eternal life. And that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).
“Then the King shall say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).
“Enter into the joy of thy Master” (Matt. 25:23).
“We read of a place that’s called heaven,
It’s made for the pure and the free.
This truth in God’s word we are given.
How beautiful heaven must be.”
I’ve almost gained my heavenly home, My spirit loudly sings.
“And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:20-22).
There was a song many years ago about the beauty of the death of God’s faithful. It went:
“Gathering flowers for the Master’s bouquet,
Beautiful flowers that will never decay.
Gathered by angels and carried away,
Forever to bloom in the Master’s bouquet.”
And our song today says it this way:
Thy holy ones, behold they come, I hear the noise of wings.
O come angel band,
Come and around me stand.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
Is that your attitude? Are you ready to go right now? Are you ready for that day to come? If you’re not ready—truly ready—then you won’t make it.
But what a wonderful thought—that God loves His faithful people so much that He send His angels to bring them to their eternal home. God takes care of us in this life. He takes care of us in the next. And He takes care of us as we’re going from one to the other.
Don’t you want that wonderful blessing? God has offered it to you through the death of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Come to Him, believing in His Son and His resurrection from the dead. Leave your sins behind as you confess His wonderful name and are baptized into glorious forgiveness.
-Bradley S. Cobb