“While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” Matthew 25:5. Who wants to be sleeping when He comes? Who will miss the wedding? What is the difference between the wise and foolish ones? What does it look like to be sleeping? What does it look like to be awake?
One of the most successful means the adversary uses to keep us in a state of slumber is to prevent us from seeing the obvious. Satan wants our eyes to be blind and shut. He wants our ears to be closed and deaf. The adversary damns another soul each time he manages to obscure truth in plain sight and prevent one from awakening to the awful situation in which we find ourselves.
“The devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!” 3 Nephi 9:2. He glories in trickery and deception. He proclaims, “All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” 2 Nephi 28:21.
The evil spirit seeks to cover the truth and hide the fact that “All is NOT well in Zion.” If he succeeds and we believe his lies, his deadly noose tightens and the chains of hell are wrapped around us. If he can keep us entertained or lulled in the deep sleep until the night cometh, he can forestall us from recognizing our awful situation. He then seals us his and the chains of hell hold us captive.
“For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked” Alma 34:35.
Prophets, through all generations of time sent from the presence of God, expose Satan’s deception and deceit. They declare the word of God with confidence and power. True messengers of Christ proclaim the call of repentance to the children of men. Repent! Change your course! Turn around and face God! Follow Christ, not me! He’s the only One who can save you! Helaman 5:9
Repentance is critical in the journey to salvation. Without it, we will be damned. That’s probably the main reason repentance is the central message of the scriptures and the word of God delivered through prophets.
When a clear and direct message of truth and repentance is declared to a wicked and idolatrous people, it usually pushes many painful buttons, offends pride, and often threatens the false traditions of the fathers. “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” 1 Nephi 16:2
“The words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken” 2 Nephi 9:40. Truth that contradicts traditions of men can turn life upside down, inside out, and backwards. To some, truth can be quite irritating, infuriating, and frightening.
Hugh Nibley observed and pointed out that there is nothing quite as annoying as being awakened out of a deep sleep (Last Call: An Apocalyptic Warning from the Book of Mormon, p. 23). I suppose very few really appreciate being disturbed in slumber and being called to repentance. Hardly anyone enjoys hearing about the awful situation one is in and the road to hell one is actively following.
It’s not fun to discover bona-fide religious leaders acting as wolves in sheep’s clothing Matthew 7:15. It can be very disturbing to realize my misconceptions and errors. It may be unsettling to become aware that I have practiced idolatry for my entire life, trusted in men more than God, and entertained the false belief that I am saved by simply belonging to a church bearing the name of Christ. 3 Nephi 27:8
It can be distressing to become conscious and understand that when I follow other men and trust in them for salvation, I merit no more than a telestial reward and glory D&C76:98-100. It can be horrifying to be alerted to and made aware of eternal facts, truths, and realities. It can be seriously shocking and sickening to my soul to find out I have “received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant” D&C 76:101, when all along I assumed I had. It’s dreadful to realize I have only sacrificed my life for foolish and worthless returns. It’s alarming to discover I was climbing the wrong ladder that leads to nowhere.
How devastating it would be to comprehend that I cannot be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud. D&C 76:102. How terrible to be compared to liars, sorcerers, adulterers, whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. D&C 76:103
What an awful situation to suffer the wrath of God on earth, suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, and be cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work. D&C 76:104-106
Being unconscious sometimes seems to be less stressful, less demanding, and much easier, at least for now, than facing the truth, accepting God’s words at face value, and making the necessary adjustments and corrections needed to repent and return unto God. When it comes right down to it, deep sleep and slumber can be very pleasant until we awaken and realize the awful situation we face here.
Jacob declared, “O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death” Jacob 3:11.
Mormon describes the reaction of individuals who come into the presence of God without having been redeemed from the fall. Any person who comes into God’s presence in their fallen state of filthiness and nakedness would rather be in hell than to dwell with a holy and just God. Mormon 9:4-5
Speaking to his son, Alma the younger said, “Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds” Alma 42:27.
To obtain the waters of life, all you have to do is come. No one is compelled to come, just those who want to. It’s an open offer to all and it’s free with no strings attached. No one is forced, manipulated, or controlled. All can think, believe, and do what they want. It is absolutely voluntary and everyone has the choice to accept it or reject it.
However, there is personal responsibility. We will be held accountable for our individual choices. If the offer of God is discarded or ignored, we will receive the connected and undeniable consequences. The offer is available to all, we can choose to be awake and claim it or to sleep and lose it, but we each stand accountable for our deeds.
“O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe” 2 Nephi 1:13.
“And it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he said unto his disciples: Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein, until the night cometh, wherein no man can work” 3 Nephi 27:33.