While You Sleep

I just returned home from an eight-day trip to Khon Kaen, Thailand. I had the privilege of engaging with national leaders from Brazil, Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand, Thailand, and the USA. This trip reminded me of a book I read years ago called “The Christ of the Covenants” by O. Palmer Robertson (highly recommend it!). In discussing God’s Covenant with Noah, Robertson makes the observation that the promise made to Noah and his family, along with the sign that would seal it (the rainbow), meant that all the earth would be restored and redeemed one day. Robertson says, “This universal character of the covenant with Noah provides the foundation for the world-wide proclamation of the gospel in the present age.” (p. 122) Why would the promise to Noah make this grand assumption?

Psalm 19:2-6 says this:

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. 
In them he has set a tent for the sun, 
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, 
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

What struck me about all this is that the daily/monthly/yearly cycle of the sun rising over Lexington, while the moon rises over Khon Kaen, Thailand, demonstrates that God is deeply concerned that this gospel of peace be spread throughout the whole world at all times. He has made it so that the days, months, years, season, etc. all are in place to bear witness to His blessings promised to Noah.

This gave me new confidence and understanding to Psalm 127:1-2:

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

When I am sleeping and “Resting in God” His gospel is still spreading to all the earth. I am so thankful for those brothers and sisters all over the world that labor even when I am asleep. But when I awake, it is my “turn” to join with the rest of God’s people and creation in bearing witness to His redeeming love in all areas of my life! What an amazing calling and purpose we have as God’s ambassadors!

The best part? Revelation 21:23-24:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it…

Why the extinguishing of the sun and moon? There is no need for the sun to set and the moon to rise – God is the “light of the world” and His lamp is the Lamb – on that day “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). The sun will rest, the moon will rest and WE WILL REST...

Until then we have the privilege to labor while the sun is up and rest when the moon rises and sing with all creation:

Jesus shall reign wherever the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more

The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.

So, as sure as the sun will rise in the morning and the moon in the evening, God has promised that this gospel will spread to all creation. I am so thankful to labor here in Lexington, KY as my friends labor in Sandusky, OH; Atlanta, GA; Khon Kaen, Thailand; Cordova, Peru; Riga, Latvia; and all over the world!

May the Lamb receive the prize for which He died … “an inheritance of nations”! 

Will Witherington