By Jimmy Tuten
Over the holidays I was in the home of a dear friend who is in the publishing business. He showed me a beautiful volume on Pompeii that his firm was responsible for bringing into being. I marveled at its magnificent color photographs depicting the city’s ruins and fantasized over what the city must have been before that dreadful day in the summer of A.D. 79. What was once a showplace of culture was buried beneath tons of hot, wet ashes and cinders that were sprayed over it by the eruption of Vesuvius. For almost seventeen hundred years it was forgotten and its actual existence was questioned by many. Having been discovered, its testimonies to grandeur are ours to behold. The most important thing about Pompeii’s ruins is what they tell us about the people of that day. It is a fact that numerous individuals lost their lives in the destruction who needed not to have lost their lives.
Archeologists found that most who lost their lives at Pompeii did so because they lingered too long, trying to prolong enjoyment of what they were doing or trying to salvage their valuables. One publication tells us, “The excavator’s shovels revealed all manner of family tragedies, scenes of mothers, fathers and children caught in absolute extremity. Mothers were found still holding their children in their arms, protecting them with the last bit of veil as they both suffocated. Men and women were dug up who had gathered their valuables together, got as far as the city gate and there collapsed under the stony hail, still clinging to their gold and precious things. At the threshold of one house two young women were found who had hesitated until it was too late, intending to go back into the house and salvage some of their treasures. Body after body was found at the Gate of Hercules, bodies all heaped together and still encumbered with the household gear that had grown too heavy to drag any further” (Gods, Graves, And Scholars). What a lesson to learn!
God’s Word reveals a far greater destruction to come than that experienced by Pompeii, a destruction involving those who obey not the gospel (2 Thess. 1:7-9). The certainty of this destruction cannot be denied, yet rather than flee to the arms of safety, people linger in sin. The same things that caused many to perish in Pompeii, devotion to loved ones and earthly possessions, are causing people today to linger in disobedience to God’s Commands. They will die in the destruction of the world because they are outside of Christ (2 Pet. 3; Rom. 6:1-6, 17). Nothing should keep us from obeying the gospel (Matt. 10:37-38; 6:19-20; 16:24-26).
Learn a lesson from the destruction of the beautiful, proud city of Pompeii. Flee from a life of sin that you might escape the wrath of God upon the disobedient. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). “Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42).
“Careless soul, why will you linger, wandering from the fold of God? Why so thoughtless are you standing, while the fleeting years go by.”
Truth Magazine XXIV: 27, p. 433
July 10, 1980