Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama
    "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Ephesians. 5:14)
    With the dawning of each new day, there is heard the sound of the trumpet as reveille calls forth the whole army. The tasks that are to be performed demands that every one be up and about the assignments that are given. The strategy is planned by other than the army, and the tactics that are to be employed are not left to the soldiers to dictate. No, the Commander-in-Chief has already wisely determined these, and has in no wise left them to others. And His purpose is consummately grand and sure.
    There is no place in the army for the slacker, nor for the timid. Duty requires that every member fill the position that has been given to them. To do less is to be disloyal. To do more is not required, because one cannot do more than duty demands. One can never exceed one's duty, because the whole duty of man in this army of Jehovah is to love Him, and to serve Him only.
    According to the meaning of the term "reveille", there is a grave and awesome duty given to each one who hears this clarion call. There is no avoiding this call. There is no misunderstanding as to the import of this call. The sound is certain, and all who hear are bound to respond to its demands.
    The word means, in the French, to awake. In the Latin, it means "vigilare", to watch. In military affairs, it is the call that is to be sounded about the break of day to give notice that it is time for the soldiers to rise. The implication is clear that soldiers are not called upon to rise when there is nothing for them to do. They rise for the purpose of performing the duties that the day holds. They rise to carry out the assignment that is given them by their Commander-in-Chief.
    To awake, as used in our text, and also as used in I Corinthians 15:34, means to rise. To collect one's faculties. To awaken. To rouse from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease or death. Figuratively, it means to rise from obscurity, from inactivity, from ruin, or from nonexistence.
    Those who have been placed in the army of Jehovah have been chosen by Him to be a soldier (II Timothy 2:4). They have entered this army by conscription. Their duty is clear, and the duration of their service is forever. However, they desire to have it so, for having been chosen, they are caused to see all the advantages that such service holds. They do not serve against their will, but gladly and with great joy. They anticipate that gladsome proclamation, "well done". They want to serve their Sovereign, and to please Him in all things.
    We wish to present this message to you now in an organized fashion. We would be remiss if the message produced an uncertain sound. We believe that the subject can be outlined by the use of these key words:  Awake - Rise - Prepare - Work.
    We believe that to awake implies to rise. To rise is for the purpose of preparing for activity. And preparation is toward the work that is to be done.
    The apostle Paul addresses the saints of God at Ephesus. He is writing to God's children who have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4), and quickened (2:1). He is writing to saved ones. He is not writing to men at large. He is not writing to lost men. He is writing to God's children.
    To these who have been regenerated by the power of God through the instrumental means of the preached gospel, he now provides good and wholesome instruction. He tells them that their duty is to be followers of God, as dear children. As those who follow their Father (5:1).
    The command, "Awake thou that sleepest", is addressed to those who have fallen into a state of sleep. That is, into inactivity. They are in a condition likened to death. They are not dead, they are asleep. They have been given life (2:1). and that life shall never, never, ever be lost. Note the assurance that Jesus gives us in John 5:24. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me. hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
    Paul is not asking those who are dead in trespasses and sins to come awake from that death. He is telling those who have been given life to act like they are alive. He is telling them to rouse from their sleep and collect their faculties so that they may be followers of God, as dear children.
    When children of God awake, what should their attitude be? What is their interests and desires? How should they respond to the dawning of this day that God hath made? How should they respond to the sound of God's reveille?
    I believe that each of us should awaken with thanksgiving in our renewed heart. I believe that it should be to our great joy and pleasure that God has given us another day to love Him, and to serve Him. In whatever position He has placed us. We are His. He has the prerogative to deal with us as ever seems good to Him to deal.
    When the day dawns, the happy child of God should bend his knees before his Lord, bow his unworthy head, and speak with love in his heart. He should reflect gladness as he speaks, "Good morning, Lord. What would you have me to do for you this day? Thank you Lord, for your love for me, and for your tender providence that has watched over me, and has sustained me during the time of my sleep; during the time of my stupor; during the time of my inactivity. Thank you for the sound of reveille that has alerted me to a new day."
    Even when our sleep is during the day, when God calls us to our duty, we should respond with thanksgiving. We should feel shame that we have neglected our duty, and we should seek God's help so as to refrain from any future neglect. I'm not talking about literal sleep in this case. I'm talking about inactivity. I'm talking about how our dilatoriness is to be viewed, and how it ought to shame us to be found "asleep on duty". I'm talking about the time and opportunity wasted, and duty neglected. Shame! Shame upon each of us who must be awakened from our stupor!
    When we are awakened, we must immediately rise. There is no excuse for our continued lounging on our bed of inactivity, for we have been awakened. Now that reveille has sounded to begin a new day, we must rise. We must be up and about. We must, for we are in His army.
    We should arise with enthusiasm. We should reflect an attitude of joy to be counted worthy to serve our God. We should actively seek His will, and strive to walk in harmony with Him. "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing". (Psalms 100:1,2). "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." (Psalms 122:1). And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (Acts 5:41)
    These scriptures teach us that those whom God has chosen are to approach their duty with gladness of heart. They are to be enthusiastic as they rise to meet the privilege and the responsibility that is laid before them, and upon them. It is an honor to serve God!
    Making a joyful noise unto the Lord does not mean to put forth the winning smile. Nor does it mean the feigned back-slapping, glad-handing approach of the professional vaudeville performer as is so often seen. It does not mean showmanship at its finest, either from the circuses of the world, or from the religious circus. All clowns are not employed by Ringling Brothers. Some circulate freely among Christendom, and they are generally successful at their trade, as men count success.
    Peter and John were not applauded, nor were they commended by the council of Pharisees, according to the record of God as stated in Acts, chapters 4 and 5. They were made to suffer. But they did so with gladness. With enthusiasm. Note what is said in Acts 5:41. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
    We should also arise with the promises of God before us. We also should fully expect our Mighty God to be faithful to Himself. For He has promised, and He will not deny Himself. He is faithful. What He has purposed for our lives, He will fully and faithfully execute.
    "It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." (II Timothy 2:11-13). "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Revelation 1:5)
    God is faithful. He has promised to perform every stipulation of the everlasting covenant of grace, and to do so for the sake of those covenanting parties. That is, with the Persons of the Godhead. He will keep His word and He will do whatsoever He has been pleased to covenant to do. We may safely rely upon God. God is faithful!
    When we have been awakened by the sound of reveille, we arise at once and begin our preparation for the day's activities. And our preparation must be fitted to the need. That is, because we are servants, we must be submissive to the tasks. But to be submissive to the tasks, we must first be submissive to the will of the Master who has assigned the tasks.
    Humbleness is the proper attitude of one who serves. It should be our attitude. We need to be made humble before God. We need to own Him as God and as the Lord of our lives. We need to know that "we are not our own", but have been "bought with a price". (I Corinthians 6:19,20) We need to know that "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" (I Peter 2:9).
    Our preparation for duty should also reflect our determination and singleness of purpose. We should be resolved, that by God's grace, we will serve Him honorably this day. That we will seek leadership of His Spirit so that we do nothing that will reflect unfavorably upon Him. That we never cast reproach upon Him, or upon His precious church.
    As servants, we are to "be obedient to them who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:" (Ephesians 6:5-7).
    As servants, we must also make preparation by using the means that God has so graciously supplied for our warfare. We are in His army, therefore, we are supplied from His armory. We must not be slack, nor must we seek to exercise prerogative in choosing which items of armour we use.
    "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:11-13)
    John The Baptist might be an excellent example of one who understood his assignment. He surely demonstrated his devotion to duty, and reflected favorable his willingness to spend and to be spent by his Lord.
    John truly exhibited an humble attitude when he said that he was "just the voice of one crying in the wilderness". (John 1:23) He confessed that he was not the Christ, but that he was sent to bear witness of the true Light. No pretense here. No ego trips for the humble, sent messenger of God. Just submission to the will of another. This is a servant who was sent of God to serve. To serve His cause. To "prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Matthew 3:3)
    When Jesus Christ Himself arrived on the scene at the river Jordan, John continued to show an humble spirit. Jesus had come to be baptized as the Father had commanded as He prepared for His own work as a servant, as a Son of the Father. But John, recognizing Deity, shrank back from the sin of presumption. He declared his unworthiness to baptize the Lord. He was but a creature, and could he presume to baptize the Creator? His statement, "I have need" proclaims his right estimation of his demerit. And because the Lord commanded John to baptize Him, there was no sin of presumption, but a "fulfilling of all righteousness".
    Our preparation for duty should be thorough. It should include all the means that God has given, and should not go beyond His instruction.
    We should be determined to receive God's word and do according to the directions He gives. We should both say and do all that the Lord our God commands. We should receive His word as it is indeed the word of God, and not the word of men.
    We must "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15) We must be made to acknowledge that preparation is needed. May we confess that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16,17)
    As the preparation for work was to be done "... in singleness of your heart ..." (Ephesians 6:5), so is the work itself to be performed. As honesty to our call, and as loyalty to Him who called us to service demands, so should our labor be. We must not be slothful, nor must we be unsettled in doing our work. We must work, and we must work with singleness of mind.
    Every bit of labor that we perform is to be done with a purpose in view. There must be a reason to put our hand to the plough and to go on in the work. Why would one work if not to meet a desired end?
    Can you imagine a cunning craftsman who does not work according to design, or purpose? It would make no difference how much skill he possessed if that skill were undirected, or misdirected. Suppose the craftsman had a well conceived plan, but through carelessness he did not follow the plan. What would be the results of his labor? Or suppose the craftsman had been provided a perfectly thought out plan, but chose to ignore the directions given, and instead worked aimlessly, or worse still, worked contrary to the plan. What a travesty. What a disaster.
    What should the workman do as he works? Why, he should keep his mind and his heart upon the anticipated finished product. He should look to the end and there see the results that he desires. As "laborers together with God ..." (I Corinthians 3:9), the aim of our labor is His honor. We may be called upon to plant, or to water. But all the increase will be produced by God. And that is our motive. That God may in all things be honored, and His Name be magnified above every name. We are but laborers.
    Arising from sleep, the willing laborer goes to his place and begins to work. And because the laborer has been assigned to a specific work, he does so believing that the Master has wisely chosen the place and the labor to be performed. He moves in faith. He trusts the Master.
    Can you imagine the thoughts that could have gone through the minds of those whom Joshua instructed to march around the city of Jericho? "What can possibly be accomplished by this foolishness of marching around such a defended city?" they might have asked.
    But willing warriors did march around the city, and they marched by faith. And the results were sure. They marched believing that God was faithful, for He had told Joshua, "I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour." (Joshua 6:2) God had announced the victory before any labor was expended. Before any work was done, the outcome was proclaimed.
    "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae: of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins: being destitute; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Hebrews 11:32-40)
    These, the many of Hebrews, chapter 11, and untold millions besides worked as servants of the Master. And they worked by faith, as God gave them faith. They moved in the fear of God, and did His bidding. And they persevered to the end. They died in faith, not having received the promise. But they saw the promise afar off, and were persuaded of the promise. They were assured that all that God had promised, He was willing and able to perform.
    We may work as they worked. We may operate by faith as they did. We may be assured as they were. Why? Because the exact same God that gave them faith and assured and comforted their hearts gives us faith and assures and comforts our hearts. Hallelujah! Praise ye the Lord.
    At the sound of reveille, God's people awake and become active. They have been inactive for they slept. But reveille is sounded to call them to the work of the Lord.
    Reveille has no meaning to those who are not in God's army of warriors and workmen. The Trumpet of Judgment calls their attention to their plight, and if God be pleased to save them He puts them in His fold. Then they will hear reveille.
    The gospel is preached, as God directs. And the power of God the Holy Spirit is applied, and the elect of God are convicted of their guilt. Each of them is then brought low at the exact time that God has appointed. Then, our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ comes to that one and declares, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." (Acts 9:5) He comes and delivers out of the pit, and He causes sweet peace to overflow that one. He saves. God be praised, He saves.
    NOW, the sound of reveille can be heard by this new born son of the Most High God. NOW, he has been conscripted into the army of God, there to labor and serve at the will and pleasure of He who has chosen him to be a soldier.
    And each time that reveille is sounded, he bounds from his slumber with thanksgiving and praise, and actively seeks his daily assignment. He is no gold-bricker who is derelict, but is busy in his Father's vineyard.
    Hark! Listen! Did you hear? It is the sweet sound of reveille. It blasts forth the certain sound of DUTY. Get up. DUTY calls. Get up! Get up! "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee Light." (Ephesians 5:14)
    "... behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 4:35)
    There are those out there whom God has chosen. Them He will yet save. He has chosen them to salvation. He has also chosen them, and you and I to service. You are a laborer in His vineyard. You are an instrument in the hands of the Husbandman. You are to be used of God in calling the sinners of His choice to repentance.
    Reveille has sounded! Is it not time that all Baptist churches and Baptist people respond to that call with happy and glad hearts as His people, as His soldiers? I call upon all God's people to respond!
    "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." (I Corinthians 15:34)

 (The Baptist Herald - February, 1990)

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