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Bible verses about Spiritual Slumber
(From Forerunner Commentary)

In the introduction, we see revealed important characteristics about the two groups that obviously describe two different types of attitudes. These traits make the two groups' approaches to the wedding celebration predictable, summarized by the contrasting behaviors of sincerity and superficiality. The two have some interesting similarities that cause them to appear the same outwardly.

Both groups were in the same place going to meet the bridegroom (verse 1). The spiritually unprepared Christian may sit right beside the spiritually prepared Christian in Sabbath services, similar to the state of the tares and wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). They both seem interested in the same things and seem to have the same character. Both may diligently give tithes and offerings and serve their brethren. It may only be in a crisis that the real differences show up, and then attendance may begin to wane, and their monetary support of the church may slow or even stop.

Both groups were carrying lamps (verse 1), so these vessels are not a sign of who had prepared. Similarly, a person carrying a Bible to church does not show that that person has prepared by study and prayer during the previous week to overcome sin and produce spiritual fruit. Neither does it show that the Holy Spirit exists within a person.

Both groups slumbered and slept (verse 5). Even the most dedicated and sincere saints may temporarily become spiritually lethargic. The fact that the Bridegroom delayed His coming is one of Jesus' many hints that His return may be much later than expected. From the perspective of the first-century church, Christ has delayed for almost 2,000 years! Nevertheless, we should not allow ourselves to become lethargic about His eventual return (Habakkuk 2:3). The word "slumbered" is actually nod, a transient act, whereas "slept" should be sleeping, a continuous act. Thus, we see the progression of lethargy. First, the virgins nodded their heads as if napping, and later, they slept continuously and deeply. Initial weariness is the first step to further spiritual decay. It is vital to catch temporary apathy early to prevent permanent disillusionment.

The ten virgins' service and reverence to God is done perfunctorily. It is more of a habit than a sincere zeal, and this is seen in Christians' routine attendance at Sabbath services. They obey God almost mindlessly, developing it into a routine over time. Their lack of emotional maturity and forethought carries them through life in lightheaded bliss, and so they remain with the church, just filling a seat or attending only occasionally.


 

Song of Solomon 3:1-5

This first dream sequence shows the Shulamite in bed, and even in her dreams she seeks the Beloved (verse 1). Her love for him is so consuming that she constantly looks for him everywhere. When she awakens in the dead of night, she goes out into the city to look for him (verse 2). She goes down every street, into every square, without finding him. She asks the policemen strolling their beats if they have seen him (verse 5), but when they give her no help, she continues her search and immediately finds him (verse 4). She is so overjoyed—and so fearful of losing him again—that she clutches him tightly and refuses to let him go until she brings him back to her mother's house where they will be married. Since her relationship with the Beloved is so wonderful, she advises the other young women to make certain they are truly ready for the experience before they commit to a relationship of their own (verse 5; see Luke 14:26-33).

What an incredible prophecy of the church of God today! Part of the church woke up from slumber with the strength and commitment to seek the Bridegroom high and low. These people were strong enough to overcome and pass by the problems they encountered out in the world. Before He had to knock on the door in judgment, these Christians have found Christ again and refuse to let Him go! They will not allow a separation to occur again!

Unfortunately, others have awakened more slowly, with much less strength and resolve.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy in Song


 

Song of Solomon 5:1-10

Verse 2 begins a dream sequence. The woman is not really sure what is happening. Is it really happening? Many of us have experienced a simlar thing while in bed and dreaming, but the dream seemed so real that we wondered whether it was reality.

What is real when one is half asleep? The mind is still fogged by a state of drowsiness; it is simply not focused. Solomon presents this "dream" like this because many times, when we are fully alert and focused on what we are doing, much of what we are or think about is restrained or contained. But when we go to sleep, the mind begins to release the things the will has kept submersed. The subconscious begins to express itself when nothing restrains it.

This young lady is finding out that her love is not as deep and true as it needs to be for a successful marriage. She lies unclothed on her bed, which is reminiscent of the Laodicean: "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17). Her feet are washed; her work for the day is over, she thinks. She will not stir herself to do what is disagreeable to her at this most inconvenient time, even though her lover is standing at the door, knocking (Revelation 3:20). She delays responding to him, unsure if she is dreaming or not.

She finally begins to respond positively in verse 5, but it is too late. This is reminscent of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). The cry of the bridegroom goes out, but some do not have enough oil, causing them to respond too late to the bridegroom's voice. It is very interesting that oil of myrrh is mentioned both here and in Matthew 25.

In verse 6, she is struck with guilt and remorse for not having responded to his offer of love. She begins calling out for him and seeking to find him in the city.

The watchmen patrol the city, which represents the world. What is happening in the city, out in the world? The Tribulation! "The watchmen that went about the city found me. They struck me, and they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me." The stolen veil is a symbol of being shamed.

The watchmen are worldly people. They see only with their eyes, and thus they cannot see the deep and earnest repentance and yearning that is now within her. They do not see her as the bride, but as a woman—a common woman of the streets, which is why they beat her. They see her as a prostitute. So, without even bothering to find out who she is, they persecute her, tearing some of her clothing from her. Remember that clothing symbolizes righteousness in the Bible.

In verse 8, she turns away from the people who are persecuting her, represented by the watchmen, to the daughters of Jerusalem, from whom she would expect to receive sympathy. She hopes that they might relate to what she is going through. She asks them in her agony to try to help her to find her love, Christ, but we know that He will be gone for the 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation.

The daughters of Jerusalem respond with a question, "What is he like? Tell us about him, we don't know who he is." She begins in verse 10 to describe him. What she is doing, of course, is making her witness before the world. The Protestant Evangelical churches would say that she is giving her testimony of her beloved, of what he is like. She describes him in the most glowing of terms. Here, because of the theme, it has to be done in physical terms, but we understand that He is not just physically attractive. She also describes what He is spiritually to these people. She is complementing the preaching of the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), through her own personal witness, while she is in tribulation.

The point of all this is that it will be this way for some, but it does not have to be this way for anyone. If she had given of herself to him when he was courting her, this would never have happened. We are being courted by Jesus Christ right now. We are being led toward a marriage—the marriage of the Lamb to the church of God.

If she had really been working on yielding to Him—developing her relationship with Him—she would have known His love for her and would have made any sacrifice for Him, no matter how inconvenient. This is what Jesus teaches in the series of parables beginning in Matthew 24 after the Olivet Prophecy.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 3)


 

Song of Solomon 5:2-8

This second dream sequence is more tragic. Again, the Shulamite sleeps, but she is still somewhat aware of her surroundings (verse 2). The Beloved knocks on the door and beckons her to let him in. She, however, complains that she has just bathed and undressed for bed (see Revelation 3:17), and she does not want to dirty herself again (verse 3). When she sees him trying to open the door himself, though it is locked from inside (verse 4), she relents and gets out of bed (verse 5). When she finally unbolts and opens the door, the Beloved is gone (verse 6)! Due to her lethargy and unwillingness, he had turned away in disappointment to feed his flock (see Song 6:2).

Distraught, she belatedly rushes out to find him. She calls his name, but he does not hear or respond. Again, she encounters the policemen, but instead of helping her in her search, they beat her, wound her, and take her veil (verse 7). Forlorn, the Shulamite pleads with the other young women to tell her Beloved, if they find him first, to return to her and heal her lovesickness (verse 8).

What an incredible prophecy of the church of God today! Part of the church awakened slowly, with little strength and resolve. Though Christ knocks at the door, they have made excuses for refusing to invite Him in (see Revelation 3:20). Our Savior struggles to force the door, but it must be opened from inside. Disappointed, He must turn away and sustain those who have already responded.

Even in the last hour, however, a chance to repent still remains, but the return to God will be frightening and painful. This evil world will attack with bloodthirsty cruelty any weakness it sees. Rent, spent, and defiled, these Christians who must endure the Tribulation—and possibly martyrdom—can rekindle their love for Christ. But, oh, at what a price!

Let this be a warning! The time for our Lord and Savior's return is close, and we cannot afford to ignore the knock at the door! We must cast off the comfortable, clean and secure bedclothes of our cozy lifestyles and gird ourselves to "seek the LORD while He may be found" (Isaiah 55:6)!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy in Song


 

Matthew 25:5

They all—both wise and foolish—nodded off for a while. The wise, too, let down in their spiritual energies.

Staff
Y2K: You-2-the-Kingdom


 

Matthew 25:5

Matthew 25:5 prophesies that, as the return of Christ nears, the church goes to sleep. Why? Perhaps it is because we have been somewhat misled since prophecy has not been fulfilled in the way we expected. However, the overall theme of what we were taught is still accurate. Babylon has a little longer to exist until the axis of history turns again. Now is not a time for wild-eyed fanaticism but for recapturing a steady sense of controlled urgency in preparing for Christ's Kingdom by resolving personal spiritual and moral problems.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophecy and the Sixth-Century Axial Period


 

Romans 11:2-3

God Himself has kept Israel from seeing and hearing (understanding and applying) His truth, giving Israel a spirit of slumber to make possible the salvation of the Gentiles. He has determined to call and choose only a limited number from Israel in this age, allowing the rest to remain blinded. With the rest of humanity, they will rise in the second resurrection and have the opportunity for salvation.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The Second Resurrection


 

Romans 11:8-11

From the Exodus (c. 1445 BC) until Paul wrote this epistle (c. AD 55), the Israelites had not been offered the Holy Spirit (except for those few God specifically called). The bulk of the people had a form of "blindness," or they were "slumber[ing]," as Paul says. While sleeping, a person does not know what is going on; he is oblivious to what is happening around him. It ought to be easy, then, for us to understand Israel's constant bickering, warring, complaining, sexual sins, intrigues, and murders, remembering that they were operating within a God-imposed, spiritual handicap so that an example could be set and written for us to learn from. Humanly, it creates quite a deterrent! God, of course, knew what He was doing all along, putting these people through the paces so that our understanding could be deeper and broader.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost and the Holy Spirit


 

1 Thessalonians 5:6

The advice given to the Christian is to watch. While asleep, one cannot watch. The Greek word for "watch" can be better translated "alert," and the word for "sober" is more correctly "self-controlled." So Paul advises, "Let us be alert and self-controlled." In other words, while all of the distractions of this world spin dizzyingly around us, we have to be alert to their appeal and controlled enough to discipline ourselves to prioritize in the right way.

Though such a task is not easy, we must forcibly set our wills to pay attention to those eternal things that are more important. If we fail in this task, we may begin conducting our lives in darkness, and living in darkness leads eventually to spiritual blindness. It is vital to our spiritual health to remain alert and self-controlled!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

1 Thessalonians 5:6

These people were so far gone already in around AD 50 that they were being neglectful—they were going to sleep spiritually. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, they all slumbered and slept, and the Thessalonians were now going to sleep spiritually themselves.

John W. Ritenbaugh
How to Know We Love Christ


 

Hebrews 10:19-20

Hebrews 10:19 begins the verbal bridge that transitions from the doctrinal material to its practical application. This latter section contains arguably the most powerful exhortations in the entire Bible for us to get up and get going. If these Hebrews were not Laodicean as a whole, they were very close to it.

Overall, God is saying through the apostle, "Don't you realize your danger? Being justified and sanctified, you absolutely cannot allow yourselves to continue in your neglectful ways. You have powerful help available through Christ, yet you are drifting away! Don't you realize what you are giving up by your slow but steady drift into apostasy?" He had already warned them as chapter 2 opened that their neglect of their privileges and responsibilities was allowing this great salvation to slip away.

In Hebrews 10:19, He reminds them that they already have access to God, so they should come before Him with eager boldness. This is one of our great privileges. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden and God's presence, but through Christ, God's regenerated children are now invited into His presence in spirit. Because the way has been prepared for us to do this, we are able to come to know God up close and personal. This is among the greatest of all blessings afforded to everyone who makes the New Covenant.

In other words, He meets with us, not outside the back or front door, but inside the house! And not merely inside the house but inside the second room beyond the veil—the Holy of Holies—where formerly only the High Priest was welcome once a year! The veil separating the rooms in the Temple was torn asunder at Christ's death (Matthew 27:51). Nothing hinders our liberty to go boldly into God's very throne room.

Jesus Christ Himself is "the Way" to the Father (John 14:6). As High Priest, Jesus has dedicated Himself to intercede on behalf of us sinners in our relations with God. In John 17:19, in His prayer the night before His crucifixion, He says, ". . . for their [His disciples'] sakes, I sanctify Myself." He set Himself apart to the shedding of His blood for us and to His position as our High Priest.

The phrase in Hebrews 10:20, "through the veil, that is, His flesh," refers to what He did as a human to make this access to God possible. When He was flesh and blood, He died for us so that we, like Him, could go directly into the Holy of Holies. Spiritually, His death pierced the veil.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Power: Our Shield Against Apostasy


 

Revelation 3:2

God first addresses their "works." While they may still have the truth, their dead works indicate a lack of living faith (James 2:17-20). This indicates a people who perceive themselves to be alive, but who apparently are basically standing still, spiritually catatonic, and comatose. They may exist as stones in the Temple, but not as "living stones" (I Peter 2:5). Perhaps this is why Christ says "not one stone will be left upon another" (Matthew 24:2)!

Staff
The Seven Churches: Sardis


 

Revelation 3:17

Just as with Sardis, those in Laodicea are completely self-deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). Their view of their spiritual state is diametrically opposed to that of Jesus Christ. Laodiceans think they are okay; they generally do not know they are Laodicean. In most cases, they think they are still Philadelphian and thus in good standing with God. They believe everyone has been asleep but themselves, yet Christ says, "They all slumbered and slept" (Matthew 25:1-13)!

One of Laodiceanism's major characteristics is utter self-deception. Each of us must look carefully into the Word of God for a true test of our spiritual condition (James 1:22-27), not presuming our evaluation of ourselves is the same as our Savior's. He is the ultimate Judge.

Staff
The Seven Churches: Laodicea


 

Revelation 3:20

Here, Christ is reporting that—in His own church—some know that He is at the door, but they will not rouse themselves from their spiritual lethargy to open it. By implication, they will not invite Him into their lives. As unbelievable as it sounds, there are those in His church who will keep Him on the outside looking in (see Song of Songs 5:2-3)!

But there is hope. In Revelation 3:20, that word "if" holds out hope—hope that a Laodicean can repent, can change, can choose to open the door to Christ rather than ignore Him. Are we opening the door? Are we opening ourselves up to Christ to build the kind of relationship that will lead to eternal life (John 17:3)?

Our calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29), and it is God's will that we succeed (John 6:39-40). And when a thing is God's will, Isaiah 14:24 says, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand." God has given us everything we need to succeed; we just have to open the door.

Are we opening the door? There are some easy tests:

» Are we diligently praying, studying, meditating, fasting, and not allowing our deceitful and sleepy natures to accept excuses for failure?

» Are we opening our minds and hearts during services by being alert and eager?

» Are we wise or foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-12)? Have we been lulled to sleep and see no need for urgency (II Peter 3:4)?

God knows the true answers to each one of these questions. Do we?

These relationship-building tools are our Christian responsibilities. They are the daily, little things given to us that, in a large measure, tell God the real intentions of our hearts. Failure to handle these "trifles" proves us as unfaithful servants (Luke 16:10-13).

One who gives careless attention to his responsibilities is a Laodicean. We need to open our doors to Christ as never before because, as Romans 13:11 says, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."

Pat Higgins
Are We Opening the Door?


 

 




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