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THIS WANDERING GENERATION

 

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

A sermon preached annually by video
at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

 

"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)

 

We're glad to have you with us tonight here at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle. And we want to invite you to come back on Sunday, because I'm going to be preaching a sermon that will be very helpful to you with all of the people, and we want you to be with us this coming Sunday.
Now I want you to open your Bible with me to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Daniel. And I want to speak this evening on the subject "This Wandering Generation." I consider this sermon, "This Wandering Generation," to be the most important single sermon that I have ever preached at our church. And Mr. Griffith now will come to sing for us.
Acres of diamonds, mountains of gold,
Rivers of silver, jewels untold,
All these together couldn't buy you or me
Peace when we're sleeping, or a conscience that's free.
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.
And we're glad to have you with us here tonight if you're watching by television. Now I'm reading one of the great prophetic passages in Scripture, from Daniel chapter 12, verse 4. "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end." These words would be sealed up and not understood by Christians across the ages of time until the last days. And only in the past few decades of the twentieth century have the prophetic meaning of these words become clear. Notice the end of the verse. "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." People are tremendously interested in Bible prophecy today, because of the events in the Middle East and in Europe, because of the problems of ecology and many other problems such as overpopulation, and the great social and psychological problems that face mankind at this hour. Very often people ask me, "Does the Bible have anything to say about the events that are happening on the earth?" I have to admit that if I didn't believe God's Word, I would be terribly frightened at this time. So we need to know what the Bible says about prophecy and what's going to happen in the future. What does the Bible say?
Now, the Bible teaches that the end is near. II Timothy 3:1, "In the last days perilous times shall come." There's never been a time like this in world history. I have heard people say, "Well, it's always been like this. Things are about the same as they always were." But you can't fool me with that kind of talk because I've studied something about history. And things are not exactly as they used to be. We live in perilous, unrestrained times today. And one of the problems that we are facing tonight is the problem of travel. And this verse in Daniel tells us that there will be a great increase of travel and mobility and moving at the end of time. God said to Daniel, "Seal the book, even to the time of the end" - the end of history - the end of the world as we know it. And then he said, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
Now Daniel doubtlessly had never traveled faster than horseback, perhaps 15 miles an hour at the most. And probably his most common speed was that of walking. In fact this was the speed of all men until about the middle of the nineteenth century. Before that time nobody had ever gone faster than 15 or 20 miles an hour at the very fastest. But with the invention of the steam engines and electrical power men were sent down roads and rivers at speeds of 19 to 30 miles and 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 posted. Today cars can travel at maximum of 600 miles an hour. Planes can travel at 2,000 miles an hour, and spaceships at 24,000 miles an hour. Today a jet can fly around the world in 24 hours or less. And a man in a spacecraft can travel around the world in 80 minutes. And in less than 1 second a radio message can travel to the ends of the earth. And, if anti-gravity can be discovered, man will be traveling at the speed of light, or 7 1/2 times around the world in only one second. 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." That is the coming of Christ. This classical writer on Bible prophecy continued by saying,
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.

This was written back in 1917. And then Blackstone quoted Daniel 12:4. 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 7 1/2 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.

Now that was astonishing to Blackstone back at the early part of the twentieth century. A few years before Blackstone wrote that, Jules Verne wrote his famous novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. And it was made into a motion picture that 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. It sounds fantastic and very old-fashioned and antiquated that Blackstone said people would be able to go around the world in 60 days. Because today we can go around the world in about 20 hours or less. And a man in a spaceship can go around much quicker than that.

The Bible says, "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." And all of this has happened in the 20th century, in the lifetime of our parents or great-grandparents. When my grandmother was born there were no automobiles. Man had not yet flown in an airplane. My grandmother saw the first man go in an airplane, and I talked to her about that - two men called the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. And yet my grandmother lived to see a man walk on the moon. That's in one lifetime! "Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." All of that increase in speed and travel is a sign that we are approaching the end of the world as we know it.
Now 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.

And Dr. DeHaan said,

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 and the fulfillment that we are seeing in our lifetime. Let us ask ourselves the question tonight, why, why do people run to and fro? Why is it that there's so much travel today? Now I think that one reason is that people are driven within their hearts, there's a driven-ness. 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 murdered his brother. As a result of that sin, he was driven as a vagabond in the earth, constantly traveling, never settling down.
And I'm convinced that one of the main reasons people move around so much today is because they are driven by sin. Take for instance the movement of Spanish people, moving from Central America to North America by the tens of thousands. Their movement is not motivated by the love of God, but by the lust for gold, to make more money. I have never met a Spanish person who came to America because God wanted him to. It's always for materialism. It's always for a greedy desire and love of money. The Spanish people want what the North Americans have. I disagree with the Pope on almost everything. But when the Pope spoke in Cuba a few months ago, he said, "You don't need what the North Americans have and you should not seek what the North Americans have," and I agree with him on that.
Driven by covetousness they move restlessly across the border. And what if you did get what the North Americans have? You'd get all the curses the North Americans have also. And that is what happens. Mrs. Cagan told me the other night, "Once they become like the Americans they are as difficult to win as the Americans. You can't get them to accept Christ or come into the church." If you did get what the Americans have, you'd get all that goes with it, divorce, ruined, children, and a ruined life.
And we find that among the Chinese people also. When they first come here, when the Chinese people have just been here for a few months, it's easy to get them to come to church. But after you have been here for a few years and learned good English, you become like the Americans. And it's almost impossible to get you to come to church.
If you're watching this by television and you're Chinese, and you were born here, I already know what you're going to tell me when I talk to you a little later and ask you to come to church. You're going to say "no," because you're like an American now. You're against God, against the church, and out to make money, and nothing else. And if you're not, prove it by coming to church this Sunday.
And you'd get all the curses that the Americans get, when you become like an American. You get a ruined life, children with a ring in their ear, drugs and all that goes with it. Don't be like the Americans!
Take the movement that we see among people that live in North America, constantly moving from one place to another. What is the usual motivation? Greed, covetousness. Wanting what somebody else has. Wanting to make more money. People will rip up their children, three, four, five, six times moving to different jobs in different parts of the country to make more money. And they pull up their roots and move over and over again. I happen to think there's more important things than just getting a raise in your pay. And I happen to think that children need to stay in the same high school. And I happen to think that that's more important than just getting a raise by moving back East or somewhere else. And I happen to think that staying in your same local church is more important than moving to make more money, because "the love of money is the root of all evil," and that's a Bible verse.
I have disagreed with Billy Graham on many things, including ecumenicism. But I completely agree with him when he said that the greatest sin of the people of North America is the sin of covetousness. And that's what's behind almost all of this movement that people are doing today. When the Oriental people come here from the Orient, the Chinese have a term for America, a name they call America. They call it "the Golden Mountain." And many of them have not come here to contribute, but rather to get gold out of the golden mountain. And one Chinese woman said, "I don't like him saying that." Well, of course she didn't like it, because that was exactly the reason that she came. People never like it when you name their sin, the sin of covetousness. But my job is not to say something to make you feel good, but to tell you the truth. You need God in your life. And if money is the most important thing, and more important than God, then you will lose your soul, your children, your heritage, and your very life.
So what I am saying is this: Most of the movement that we have today is based upon sin. And most of it is based on the sin of covetousness - wanting to get what somebody else has.
Please don't get me wrong. I think we ought to welcome everybody that wants to come to America. My own father was not an American citizen. He came from another country. But I'm sorry to say that he and his family came here out of covetousness. And I sometimes wish that they had stayed where they were, in Canada. It didn't do them much good when they got here. They lost their roots. They lost their ancestral religion. They were lost in Los Angeles. They lost everything that really counts in life. And most of them went to Hell without Christ.

But I'm saying that many "run to and fro" motivated by a lust to make more money. "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16). In his book, The Days of Noah, Dr. M. R. DeHaan said this:

Cain became the first world traveler. After he had murdered his brother Abel, he left his homeland and became a wanderer in the earth. We read in the Genesis record, 'Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.' Notice that he went out from the presence of the Lord. Most people leave their religion behind when they move.
And that's particularly true when you leave your local church. Moving. People will even stay in the Los Angeles area, but they move from their local church, and for a while they seem to be coming along all right. But pretty soon in that new church they're not going. We saw over 200 people go with J. Richard Olivas. Now just a handful, about fifteen, are left in his church, of all those who left with him. And almost all of the rest of them have gone back to the world. And one man that goes to Richard Olivas' church said this, "Our church has just become a way-station on the way back to the world." You stay in your local church. It's the most important single spiritual thing that you can do. Notice that they went out from the presence of the Lord. Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. Though I disagree with him on many things - I agree with Dr. John MacArthur in his note from I John where he says that their leaving the church "unmasks" them as not being true converts (MacArthur Study Bible, note on I John 2:19). Most people leave their religion behind when they move. And that's one of the great problems of moving. Moving, moving, moving. I don't think there's any more important lesson for a young Christian to learn. The Bible says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us" (I John 2:19). And though I would be in disagreement with John MacArthur on the Blood of Christ, the Eternal Sonship of Christ, and other subjects, his note in The MacArthur Study Bible on I John 2:19 is completely Biblical and completely correct. Dr. MacArthur said, when people leave their local church it unmasks them, it reveals them as not being born again, not being converted, and I agree with him.
You leave your church. You leave your roots. You leave everything that counts. And that's what Cain did. And it ruined his life and the life of his children and his offspring. His children 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 this:
The land of Nod means literally 'the land of wandering.' That's what the Hebrew word means, the land of wandering. It implies traveling from place to place. Tradition relates that Cain went out to India and China and other remote lands, according to The International Bible Encyclopedia. The general interpretation is that Cain traveled some distance from his home. It suggests a restlessness, an uneasiness. Now Christ said, 'As it was in the days before the flood, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. Jesus said, 'But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be, as in the days before the flood' (Matthew 24:37-38).
And that's what people were doing before the flood. Cain and his children were wandering and moving and wandering and moving. And Jesus said it would be like that at the end of time. And Daniel said the same thing. 'Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.' Dr. DeHaan says,
Remember this was before the flood, and therefore was certainly included in Jesus' word as a sign of His coming again, 'As the days of Noah were.'

Travel, travel, travel. That's the way it was before the flood. That's the way it is now.

Now why are people moving all the time? Why are they running to and fro? I've already mentioned materialism, a lust for 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 3:2). "Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous." That's the word in the same passage. And I have suggested that this constant desire to move is generally based on covetousness of one sort or another. "I could take a job and stay in this area, but I'll make a little more money if I move over there. Or I'll make even more money if I move over here. I could go to this school, but there's a better one over there across the country." So you have this constant wandering of a materialistic, self-centered and selfish generation.
Now Jesus said something about this generation and about this question. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33)." And that's what Mr. Griffith did, he sought the kingdom of God first and put God first in his life. And that's what Dr. Cagan did. He sought God first and put God first in his life. And that's what Mr. Lee did. He sought God first and put God first in his life. And Mr. Song and all of the leaders in our church have put God first in their lives. And that's what I want you to do.
Now Jesus said the most important thing in our life is to seek first the kingdom of God. I've proven that to be true in my own life. Now I could have gone anywhere. But I believed that God wanted me to stay here. And I have stayed here for many years in downtown Los Angeles since Olivas left, and I have stayed here for nearly fifty years in downtown Los Angeles. First in an American church, and then in a Chinese church, and then in this church. Now I did not want to be here. The last place that I ever wanted to be in my life was in Los Angeles. But God told me to come back and make my home here, in Los Angeles where I was born and where I was raised. And I have been here for sixty years and in the ministry for over forty years in this place, even though it's a very difficult place to do Christian work. And I could have gone somewhere else. And there were many times when it was difficult and when it was not financially feasible to remain here. But I have come to believe that it's better to be in the center of God's will than to be in a "better" place. The best place to be is in the center of God's will. C. T. Studd, the great missionary to China and Africa, said this: "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. 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 the great cities. Stay in your city! Stay in the local church! There's nothing out there!
Some preachers have a coming-home day where they have everybody come home. I've heard that in several churches, where they have coming-home and everybody comes home to church. I don't think they ought to have that. I wouldn't have a coming-home day for those that were traitors 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 traitors.
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 destroyed America. Nothing has destroyed America more than white people leaving the cities, leaving their churches, running away. Stop running away! Stay in the city! Save America! 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 says that this generation will 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 this: "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 woman last night. She said, "Before I came to this church I didn't know why I was here." Isn't that right? She's here tonight. 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? Isn't that what you were thinking. 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.
Somebody sat down with a young man, an old Christian sat down with him, and this young man 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're watching by television. Somebody brought you here tonight. They sent a car and picked you up and brought you here. And you've been listening to this sermon. And you've been asking yourself, "What does 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 to church this Sunday morning. I want to sit down in my office and talk to you about how you can find God and forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ. And I know that you have experienced a great deal of loneliness. And one of the great things about coming to church is that you're going to make friends in the church that will take away that terrible feeling of loneliness that you often have.
So there are two reasons that I want you to come this Sunday. First, to make friends in the church who will take that loneliness away that you've been experiencing. And then, secondly, I want to talk to you about Jesus Christ and about how His Blood can wash your sins away and how you could become a real Christian. Because the Bible teaches that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. And Christ is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven right now, praying for you. And I want to talk to you this Sunday in my office at the church about how you can know Jesus Christ and find meaning and purpose and forgiveness of your sins. And we'll see you this Sunday!


Scripture Read Before Sermon: Daniel 12:4

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Acres of Diamonds"