Susan Beckett | The Dwelling Place City Church
“Martha! Come quick – it’s The Big One!” Yikes!! Sounds scary – so what’s going on here? Well – the first thing that probably comes to mind is that Martha’s guy is experiencing a heart attack commonly known as, The Big One, aka – the widow-maker. Or, it could be that he’s referring to the huge steel rollercoaster in Britain – the tallest & steepest one in the entire world and rightly called The Big One! Or – is this dude watching the made-for-TV movie “The Big One,” depicting a massive earthquake that destroys Los Angels?! Or…The Big One is also a jumbo memory-foam pillow. Poor Martha – so many choices!
In summary, our Martha could have a man experiencing a fatal heart attack after riding on a rollercoaster, having survived an earthquake, while watching TV with his giant new pillow. Stranger things have happened.
But, what if there’s a brand new Big One?! Can we tag an event in our personal lives so titanic and earth-shattering that it also receives the esteemed title of The Big One? And what event could possibly be so epic that it would receive this revered title? I can think of only one event that could indeed be termed The Big One by people — and that would be our departure from this life into the next. It’s always seemed like a notable occurrence to me – hence, The Big One!
Of course, along with this fresh revelation of a new Big One, we must remember that the choice is ours as to where we transition to – namely, heaven or hell. Jesus often spoke about both these other realms. In Mathew 22, He compares the Kingdom of Heaven to guests attending a wedding feast without the proper clothing (robes of salvation, etc.) and casts into outer darkness where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Back in New Testament times, almost every large city had gigantic stone walls that protected the people from thieves and from lions who roamed the countryside at the time. The residents of the towns often dump their trash and garbage over the side of the walls at certain parts of the city. Because all this trash included unused food, the roaming lions would come to the base of the city walls late at night to scrounge through the trash and look for food, not unlike bears today visiting a rural town’s dump site.
These huge piles of trash & garbage also became sites that authorities used to determine the guilt or innocence of individuals suspected of a crime but were not fully proven guilty. The town authorities would tie the suspected offender with a rope and lower them to the base of the town walls during the night – right into the midst of the garbage where the lions would forage for food. Come morning; if the suspect was still alive, they were judged to be innocent. But if they had been devoured, the assumption was made that they had indeed been guilty of the accused crime. (And we thought our courts could be tough!)
But, the problem was, even if the accused was found still alive, they were usually insane or on the verge of going crazy. Their teeth were usually ground down by their own nervous gnashing and grinding as lions prowled and roared all around them during the night. This is where the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” originated – a horrible experience of suffering and agony as the result of being cast out over the city walls.
Jesus is desperately trying to tell us that once we’ve stepped out of this life and into the next, it’s too late to change our eternities. The opportunity to receive a savior has passed – an individual either did or didn’t make that decision for Jesus. Sadly, those who reject God will realize too late what they have truly lost and the realization that there’s no ‘second chance’ or ‘time off for good behavior – thus, “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Thankfully though, God has made way for every single one of us to avoid eternity lost. Romans 6:23 tells us: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” John Chrysostom put it this way: “By the cross, we know the gravity of sin and the greatness of God’s love toward us.”
So saddle up – The Big One – coming to a town near you.
Bob and Susan Becket pastor The Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street in Hemet, CA. For more information, you may contact them at DPCitychurch.org
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