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On the Brink of an Abyss

The First World War had shaken the foundations for many. Scarred by what became known as “the war to end all wars,” countless people could no longer reconcile themselves with a time before the Great War. Written in 1919, ‘The Second Coming’ was William Butler Yeats’ ode to an era. To him, there was a great shift in the world happening.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

A nightmarish scene. And one that may very well be descriptive of today.

It’s a world of chaos, confusion, and pain. A rapidly changing world forever altered by violence and lasciviousness. Pure destruction and lawlessness have spread across the ages. Desolation that defines a generation. And all the rituals of innocence have been swallowed up by the tide. On the brink of an abyss, the best are not motivated to act when faced with this nightmarish realty; the worst are impassioned and eager.

Surreal images at best. An unsettling atmosphere suggesting we are on the brink of destruction. Many are sowing the seeds to their own demise. Falling victim to a tragedy of their own making. A miserable epitaph to a life lived. All have become prodigals. Mankind has lost its way. Promises of safety, security and human dignity are proven empty. A bleak vision of the future indeed.

Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

Whether monolithic or not, the biggest threat it seems is man himself. Left to his own devices, without a rudder to guide his way, without a light to brighten his path, man quickly crumbles at the stresses of life. His center cannot hold, for he has none. Easily swayed like fronds in the tempest, he becomes easy prey to the wiles of the Evil One. For find his center he must. Or thus be lost forever in the ever-widening gyre of destruction and sin.

It is the blindness of folly to ignore the seeds of discontent and despair which aim to destroy morality. Souls are in jeopardy of damnation. The crux of the matter is that we have lost our way. And like Demas, we are in love with this present world (2 Timothy 4.10). Failing miserably in realizing that love for the world pushes out love for the Lord.

And so man continues to flounder. Struggling helplessly in the mire of sin and decay. Forging on. Oblivious to the truth that the world is passing away with its desires (1 John 2.17a). And us along with it, so long as we remain on the current path of ruination.

On the brink of an abyss.

"Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”

Revelation 22.12

Sobering words. For these are not mere surmisings nor simple conjectures. They are divine revelation from the Sovereign King.

It was C.S. Lewis who said: “Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.” Words which echo what our Lord Himself said in the gospel of Mark:

“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.”

Mark 13.33

In periods of unrest, desperate people will look for hope anywhere they can find it. For some, the appeal of the devil will be hard to resist. Becoming victims of a dangerous, life threatening malady. A frightening future indeed. An endless series of hobgoblins where chaos reigns. The threat is indeed real, not imaginary. The Adversary truly is seeking those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8). Make no mistake about it. For to forget this would result in surrendering again to an apathy far more dangerous.

“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Mark 13.37

Take heart. For what amounts to a minority, there will be others whose search will lead them to eternity. To an everlasting peace. To life. To the Savior.

And thus Providence intervenes. In whom the Hebrew writer describes as the exact representation of the nature of God. The radiance of His glory (Heb 1.3). Who, taking the form of a servant and bearing the likeness of men, humbled Himself. Becoming obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2.7-8).

To save you. And me.

Know this: Friendship with the world is enmity to God (James 4.4). And if we try to satisfy the longing by breathing in the air of the world, we will not be able to drink the water from heaven. We would do well to heed the words of Jesus.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4.14

And thus, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we are to hold fast to His words. Of life.

We who are on the brink of an abyss.

Be saved. Today.