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THIS WANDERING GENERATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 5, 2011

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).


I have given this sermon many times in our church. I consider “This Wandering Generation” to be one of the most important sermons I have ever preached, and I want you to listen to it carefully this evening.

The text says,

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end…” (Daniel 12:4).

The full meaning of this verse was not to be completely understood until “the time of the end.” It would be “shut up” or concealed until the end-times. Notice that Daniel himself didn’t fully understand the prophecy that was revealed to him:

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8-9).

Only in the twentieth century did the prophetic meaning of these words begin to become clear. Dr. W. A. Criswell said that Daniel 12:4 tells us “a time of astonishing mobility and momentous increase of knowledge is forecast for the last days” (Criswell Study Bible, note on Daniel 12:4).

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).

People are very interested in Bible prophecy today because of events happening in the Middle East, and the terrorism we see in many parts of the world, and the events happening in Israel. The problems of ecology and overpopulation, and the great social and psychological problems facing mankind have also caused many people to turn to the prophecies of the Bible for answers. People often ask, “Does the Bible have anything to say about the events I read about in the newspaper?” I have to admit that if I didn’t believe the Bible I would be very discouraged and frightened by what’s happening in the world. We need to know what the Bible says about prophecy – about what’s going to happen in the future. What does the Bible say?

I. First, the Bible gives many signs that we are now living in “the time of the end,” spoken of in Daniel 12:4.

Our text says,

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end…” (Daniel 12:4).

I believe that we are in that time now, “the time of the end.” Every sign seems to indicate that we are living very near the end of the world as we know it.

First, there are ecological signs that the end is near. Jesus predicted

“great earthquakes…in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights…and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:11, 25-26).

Jesus said that people’s hearts would grow faint when they see what is happening “on the earth.” He said there would be great fear because of the ecological problems facing mankind!

Second, Christ said that racial strife would be a sign that the end is near.

“Then he said to them, Nation [‘ethnos’ or ‘ethnic group’] shall rise against nation [ethnic group] and kingdom [‘basilean’ or ‘national group’] against kingdom [national group]”
       (Luke 21:10).

Ethnic group against ethnic group, national group against national group – isn’t that what we are seeing today? With all of our human wisdom, technology and science we don’t seem to be able to stop ethnic strife between the races and wars between nations!

Thirdly, the Bible tells us that Israel would be a great problem to the nations in the time of the end. God said:

“I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people”
       (Zechariah 12:3).

True Christians need to stand up for Israel in these days. But the Bible predicts that the nations of the world will be against Israel in the time of the end. The increase of tension over Israel is a sign that we are in the last days.

Fourthly, the Bible tells us that an increase of persecution against Christians is a sign of the end. Jesus said,

“They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up…into prisons” (Luke 21:12).

That’s happening right now in the People’s Republic of China, in Sudan, in Indonesia, in the Middle East, and in many other parts of the world. I believe the terrible persecution of Christians, which we are now witnessing world-wide, is a sign that the end is near.

Fifthly, there is the sign of religious apostasy. The Bible says:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away [the apostasy] first…”
     (II Thessalonians 2:3).

Even while hundreds of thousands are pouring into the churches in China, Africa, and other parts of the world, there is, at the same time, a great falling away, a great apostasy from true Christianity, here in the Western world. This also appears to be a sign that we are living very near to the end of the world as we know it, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

All of the major signs are in place. The Bible predictions have come true. That’s why I am convinced that we are now living in “the time of the end,” spoken of in Daniel 12:4.

II. Second, the text tells us that knowledge and travel will increase at the time of the end.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4).

The increase of human knowledge in the last 150 years has made possible a great increase in human mobility and travel. The prophet Daniel never traveled faster than a horse could run, perhaps 15 miles an hour at the most. His most common speed was as fast as a man can walk. In Daniel’s time nobody had ever travelled faster than 15 or 20 miles an hour at the very fastest. But with the invention of the steam engine, and electric power, men went down roads and rivers at speeds of 20 to 30 miles an hour for the first time. Then Henry Ford popularized the internal combustion engine, and speeds of 25, 35, and even 70 miles an hour were finally reached. Today there are automobiles that can travel up to 600 miles an hour. Airplanes can travel 2,000 miles an hour, and spaceships at 24,000 miles an hour. Today a jet plane can fly around the world in less than 24 hours. And a man in a spacecraft can travel clear around the world in 80 minutes. And in less than 1 second a radio message can travel from one end of the earth to the other. They are now talking about the possibility of man in the future travelling at the speed of light, or 7½ times around the world in only one second. That may happen if anti-gravity devices are perfected. Think of it!

W. E. Blackstone, in his classical book, Jesus is Coming, said this back in 1917:

Now we are to consider what are the evidences for believing that His coming is near. Out of the many reasons for believing that the end of the world as we know it is near, out of those reasons we will give seven as follows. First, the prevalence of travel and knowledge.

That was written back in 1917. Then Blackstone quoted Daniel 12:4. Then he said,

A comparison of recent years with the present shows a most marvelous increase in both travel and knowledge.

He continued,

An incident is told of a woman in England who after long consideration decided on a journey. Friends gathered to assist her in departing. And walking a mile or more to bid her farewell, a great crowd gathered to tell her goodbye. Yet her entire journey was to be only fifty miles.

And they all came to say goodbye to her, because they knew they would never see her again! She was moving fifty miles away! And yet today, if anti-gravity can be discovered, man will be traveling at the speed of light – or 7½ times around the world in one second!

And then Blackstone said this:

Now invention has chained the mighty forces of steam and electricity to palatial carriages by land and sea, so that one can go around the world with comfort and ease in 60 days.

That seemed astonishing to Blackstone back in 1917. Just a few years before that, Jules Verne wrote his famous science fiction novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. It was made into a motion picture you can still see on television, starring David Niven. And when Jules Verne wrote that, people laughed at the idea of going around the world in 80 days in a balloon. Today, it sounds very old-fashioned and antiquated to talk about going around the world in 80 days, because now it is quite common for people to travel around the world in 20 hours. And a man in a space ship can go around much faster than that!

Our text says,

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4).

This happened in the 20th century, in the lifetime of my parents and grandparents. When my grandmother was born there were no automobiles. Man had not yet invented the airplane. My grandmother remembered the first two men who flew in an airplane – the Wright Brothers. And yet she lived to see a man orbit around the world in a satellite. That's in one lifetime! All of that increase in scientific knowledge, and speed, and travel is a sign that we are approaching the end of the world as we know it.

Dr. M. R. DeHaan, in his book, The Signs of the Times, said this:

Daniel gives two of the signs of the end of time. They are these: (1) Many shall run to and fro, and (2) knowledge shall be increased. I call these two the travel sign and the education sign. The time of the end will be characterized by an unprecedented increase in travel and hitherto undreamed-of progress in knowledge, education, discovery of science. Daniel says, “Many shall run to and fro.” He predicted that this would be an age of unprecedented travel. It is startling to read such words written over 2,500 years ago in the words of the prophet Daniel. Yet it completely describes our modern age today. The world has shrunk. It is an age of speed and travel. First came steam and then electricity. First came the train, then the diesels. The automobile. Fast ships. The airplane. And now jet planes followed by satellites. A person simply cannot ignore the significance of these words, “Many shall run to and fro.”

But let us go deeper into this prophecy of Daniel and its fulfillment, which we see in the world today.

III. Third, the text tells us of the restlessness of mankind at the time of the end.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).

Ask yourself, Why do people run to and fro? Why is there so much travel today? I think one reason is that people are driven, there’s something in their hearts that drives them to this constant moving and changing.

Remember what Cain said in the book of Genesis:

“Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth. I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth”
       (Genesis 4:14).

Cain committed a sin. He killed his brother. As a result of sin he was driven as a fugitive on the earth, constantly travelling, never satisfied with staying in one place.

I am convinced that the main reason people move around so much today is because they are driven by sin. The main reason people come to America is because of sin, the sin of covetousness. People don’t come to America to become good Christians! They come here out of greed, out of covetousness, to make more money. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to get Chinese exchange students to become real Christians. In China the greatest revival of Christianity in modern history is taking place. But when those Chinese students come here they are only interested in making more and more money. They want to run to Las Vegas on the weekend – to gamble for money. They want to work rather than come to church – to make more and more money. Money becomes their god – just as it has become the god of the Americans.

The Spanish-speaking people are constantly moving, constantly changing. It ruins their children and it ruins them. Stay in one place! Stay here with us!

A. W. Tozer told about the real Christians we once had in America

:

The sturdy old deacon who spent his entire life in the same county where he was born has passed and gone forever. He existed before the days of the modern nomad… His basic error was that…he needed a change and a rest…but not having heard of these wonderful aids to health and longevity, he kept his nose to the grindstone, raised ten healthy children, worked his own farm, and managed also to read one or two good books a month… He could still shoot a squirrel out of a chestnut tree at a hundred yards without glasses and chin himself a dozen times running when he was eighty-seven. When he finally died he was mourned sincerely by his family and a host of real neighbors who had learned to appreciate his sterling worth by living beside him for a lifetime. How anyone can claim that his grandson, who changes apartments every two years and spends his summer roaring through the landscape in a cloud of fumes, is his equal in manly character is beyond comprehension. (A. W. Tozer, “Midsummer Madness”).

Why do people all over America move so much? Why do they leave their churches and move across the country? It’s almost always because they are greedy for more and more money. I disagree with Billy Graham on many things, but I completely agree with him when he said that the greatest sin of America is the sin of covetousness, greed for more and more and more money.

Young person, all of this constant moving and changing, and desire for more money has harmed your generation. Your parents rip you up, out of your school, and pull you away from your friends, and you’re lonely as a result. It’s a great tragedy. Most young people in America are terribly lonely. You can’t have a stable home and real friends if you are constantly moving.

Don’t let them tell you to move somewhere else to go to college! There are fifteen or twenty colleges and universities within driving distance of this church. You stay right here and go to school! Stay right here in this church and make friends right here! Why be lonely? Come home – to church! The most important thing you could do is to become a real Christian – and stay right here in this Baptist church and help us make a positive impact on Los Angeles! Don’t go away. It will only make you lonely – again. Why be lonely? Come home – to church – and stay here!

If you leave your church, you leave your roots. You leave everything that really counts in life. That’s what Cain did. And it ruined his life, and the life of his children. They became pagans – the first pagans in the world – because Cain moved away from the presence of the Lord to live in the land of Nod. Dr. DeHaan went on to say:

The land of Nod means literally “the land of wandering.” That's what the Hebrew word means, the land of wandering. It implies travelling from place to place. Tradition relates that Cain went out to India and China and other remote lands… The general interpretation is that Cain travelled some distance from his home. It suggests a restlessness, an uneasiness.

Moving, moving, moving. That’s what people did in the time of Cain, in the days before the Great Flood. And Christ told us that the actions of Cain’s progeny before the Flood would characterize people in the last days. He said,

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

And that’s just the way it is today. People move constantly, just like they did in the days before the Flood. That’s exactly what people are doing today.

“Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”
       (Daniel 12:4).

Why do people move so much? I’ve already said that most of it comes out of greed, out of covetousness for more and more money. The Bible says:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous…”
       (II Timothy 3:1-2).

People in the last days are literally “money-lovers” and “self-lovers” – that’s the literal Greek. And I have said that this constant desire to move is generally based on greed of one sort or another. People say, “I could take a job and stay here in this church, but I’ll make a little more money if I move over there.” They say, “I could go to this school, it’s pretty good. But I’d make even more money in the future if I went to that school – way over there.” So you have this constant wandering and moving of a materialistic, greedy, selfish generation.

Now Jesus had something to say about this. Jesus said:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

That’s what Mr. Mencia did. That’s what Mr. Griffith did. That’s what Dr. Chan did. That’s what Dr. Cagan did. That’s what Mrs. Salazar and Dr. Judith Cagan did. That’s what my wife did. All of the leaders of our church have put the kingdom of God first. See how happy and normal their families are! And that’s what I want you to do. Don’t go running off somewhere. Stay right here and seek first the kingdom of God. As Mr. Griffith sang a moment ago:

A heart that’s contented, a satisfied mind,
These are the treasures money can’t buy.
If you have Jesus, there’s more wealth in your soul
Than acres of diamonds and mountains of gold.

I have been here in downtown Los Angeles for over sixty years. Nearly my whole ministry of fifty-three years has been in downtown Los Angeles, first in a white church, and then in a Chinese church, and then in this church. I often wanted to leave Los Angeles. But God wanted me to stay. There were many times when it was extremely hard to stay here, often financially difficult and emotionally difficult. But I have found that it’s more important to be in God’s will than to be in a “better” place. C. T. Studd, the great missionary to China and Africa, said, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” And I agree with him!

Now all of those that I went to school with moved out of this city. My family died or moved away. Every one of them is gone from Los Angeles. There used to be so many here. Now, other than my two boys and wife, I'm the only person named Hymers left in Los Angeles. I’m the only person of my generation left in the city where there used to be dozens of them. But those who moved away and those who left have not had a better life and have not found what they were looking for. And I now have a much fuller and richer and better life than any of those who ran away and left the city. Stay in the city. And I think that that's a message that pastors ought to preach from one end of America to the other in our great cities. Stay in this city! Stay in the local church! There's nothing out there!

Some preachers have a coming-home day, where they have everybody come back who left the church. I've heard that in several churches, where they have coming-home and everybody comes back to church. I don't think they ought to have that. I wouldn't have a coming-home day for those who and left the inner city and left their church. What they ought to have is a “staying-home” day for those that stayed. Have a “staying-home” day and never honor those that leave. Never. Never even mention them except as scalawags.

What do you think happened to our churches? What happened to America? The white people left the cities. They left their churches. We've got to preach against that. It's pretty nearly killed America. Nothing has destroyed our nation more than white people leaving the cities, leaving their churches, running away. It’s called “white flight.” And it has ruined America! Stop running away! Stay in the city! That's what we need to preach. It's not a message people will like, but maybe somebody will do it. What are we supposed to do, just preach what people like? We’d better preach what people need to hear!

Now, I'm the only one left, but I have a much fuller and richer and better life than those who ran away and left the city. And I encourage you to do the same thing. Go against the tide. Put roots down and stay where you are.

And then another reason, besides materialism, is lack of self-control. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” The Bible said that this generation would be “without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent” (II Timothy 3:3). The word “incontinent” means they can't control themselves. Many people are continually moving because they just can't control themselves, particularly among our Spanish people. They couldn't possibly stay in the same place. They have to move every three or four months. That's no way to live!

Unfortunately, though he was a wonderful man in many other ways, my mother's father was like that, my grandfather. He had seven children, each one of them born in a different state of the Union. He was constantly moving. My mother was born in Oklahoma. One brother born in Nevada. Two of them born in Western Canada. Moving, moving, moving. No wonder he didn't have anything at the end of his life. That's no way to live! I watched what happened to my mother's family and my father's family with all their moving and I determined that I wasn't going to change my kids around like that. One night I counted them up with my wife just before we went to sleep and I counted the schools. I went to 28 different schools before I graduated from high school. And I lived in several different homes as a child. And I decided when I grew up that I was going to put down my roots and stay in one place. Because I don't see that people get ahead by all that movement. If you have moved here, then make this your last move. Put your feet down and say, “That's it. This is the last time I'm going to move.”

It is said that Aldous Huxley was on his way to a meeting of the British Association in Dublin, Ireland. But he arrived late at the station. Hurriedly he jumped in a cab drawn by two horses. He said to the coachman, “Drive the horses fast.” The coachmen beat the horses. And away they went in the cab, jolting over the streets. After a while Huxley yelled up to the driver, “Do you know where you're going?” The driver answered back, “No, I don't know where I'm going, but I'm driving very fast.” That's the way modern man is. “I don't know where I'm going, but I'm going there very fast.”

One of the marchers in Coxe's army as it moved on Washington tried to explain his mission by saying, “We don't know what we want, but we want it mighty bad, and we want it mighty quick.” And that's the way many young people are today. “I don't know what I want, but I want to get it as quick as I can.” By the way, where are you going in your life? You're going as fast as you can, but where are you going? You're living your life in the fast lane. But where is your life taking you? Where will you be twenty-five years from now? Where will you be fifty years from now? You're going as fast as you can, but where are you going? Where will you be a hundred years from now? Where will you spend eternity? You're moving as fast as you can, but where are you going? What is it that you want out of life? You know, the great philosophical questions of life are these: Who am I? Why am I here? and Where am I going? And if you have not answered those questions, I don't care how much college education you get, it's not going to do you any good ultimately. Who are you? Why are you here? Where are you going? Where will you spend eternity?

I talked to a person some time ago. She said, “Before I came to this church I didn't know why I was here.” She said, “I went to work and I came home. I went to bed and I got up. I went to work. I came home. I went to bed. I got up. And I would ask myself, ‘What is the purpose of it?’” Why am I here? Where am I going? And she said, “Until I came to this church and I found out the purpose of my life and I found out why I'm here on earth.” That's what you need. Why be lonely and purposeless? Come home – to church!

An old Christian sat down with a young man one day. This young man thought he was going places. He was earning money. The old man said to him, “What do you intend to do with your life?” “Well,” the young man said, “I'm going to work very hard.” The old man looked at him and said, “What then?” “Well,” he said, “I'm going to make a lot of money.” The old man looked at him and said, “What then?” “Well,” he said, “I suppose I'll get married.” The old man said, “What then?” Then he said, “I suppose I'll have a family and raise them.” “What then?” “Well, I guess I'll retire and enjoy myself and enjoy what I've made out of my life.” “What then?” “Well, I guess then I'll die.” “What then?” And that question haunted him. And he couldn't get it out of his mind.

And that's what you need to do. You've been asking yourself, “What does my life really mean? Where is my life going? I've been running to and fro, but where is my life going?”

And that's why I want you to come back here to church next Sunday. I want you to make solid friends in this church. That’s the way to cure loneliness. The church is not a perfect place, because it has human beings in it, and human beings are not perfect. But the church is “the happiest place on earth.” They say that about Disneyland, but they are wrong. The local church is the happiest place on earth!

But you must commit yourself to the local church. It won’t cure your loneliness if you come for a while, and then leave. You must join in with the church, and keep coming, every week, no matter what happens. That kind of commitment is necessary to have a stable marriage – and it is necessary to be part of a church family! People are lonely because they are too selfish and greedy to commit themselves to others. They wind up like old Scrooge, in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. They are so selfish and greedy that they end up completely alone – stuck in some rest home, utterly cut off from meaningful relationships. And it starts now, while you’re young. Put it down as one of the great axioms of life: if you will not commit yourself to a stable group of people, you will always be lonely. And there is no lonelier place than Hell. The rich man in Hell was so lonely that he pleaded for a beggar to come and give him a drink of water. You must come into this local church and stay here if you want to overcome loneliness.

And then, you must come fully to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He shed His precious Blood so that your sins could be washed away. He rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God, in Heaven. But you must turn away from your selfish, pagan lifestyle, and you must come to church every single Sunday, without ever missing. That is true repentance! That’s what it means! And you must then come fully to Christ, and be washed clean by His Blood! That is real salvation! That is New Testament Christianity! That is the answer to the great questions of life! That is the way to live forever! Come out of this wandering generation! Leave it! Come into this local, New Testament Baptist church! Come all the way to Christ! Do it! Do it! Do it! And God bless you forever!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here)
or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Daniel 12:1-4, 8-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Acres of Diamonds” (by Arthur Smith, 1959).


THE OUTLINE OF

THIS WANDERING GENERATION

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).

(Daniel 12:8-9)

I.   First, the Bible gives many signs that we are now living in “the
time of the end,” Daniel 12:4a; Luke 21:11, 25-26; Luke 21:10;
Zechariah 12:3; Luke 21:12; II Thessalonians 2:3.

II.  Second, the Bible tells us that knowledge and travel will increase
at the time of the end, Daniel 12:4b.

III. Third, the Bible tells us of the restlessness of mankind at the time
of the end, Genesis 4:14; Matthew 24:37; II Timothy 3:1-2;
Matthew 6:33; II Timothy 3:3.