If you’ve ever made yourself aware of time while sitting beneath the cusp of nightfall, you know how quickly the day recedes and darkness enshrouds the world. If you do not actively make yourself aware, the transition can happen so swiftly that you hardly notice it. One minute you are talking to your friend in the orange of evening, and the next moment, you’re moving indoors to escape chilly air and ghostly shadows. This is not just the reality of the physical globe of dirt upon which we live. It is a good metaphor regarding the end of humanity in its present state. Since the times of the New Testament, human history has been drawing to a close, and with each passing year we approach the cusp of nightfall (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, James 5:8, 1 Peter 4:7). If it was urgent in the times of the apostles, it must be imminent in our day. Humanity is barreling from the orange of evening into a dark, chilly night of shadows.
It is within this metaphor of looming nightfall that we must consider the words of Jesus when he tells us that our work is great, that the harvest is plentiful, that the laborers are few, and that we are to pray for God to send people into that plentiful harvest (Matthew 9:35-38). Perhaps it is fitting that we adjust our prayers to inquire if we are among the laborers to be sent, rather than just asking that someone else be dispatched. But really, we need not ask that question. It’s already answered for us. Jesus has told us to go into the world and make disciples, and to teach them to obey all of his commands, which would include the command to go into the world (Matthew 28:18-20). You may think to yourself, I cannot stop darkness from falling on the world of men! That’s fair enough. You may however, spare one person from the shadows of the night. You won’t do it, though, if you’re not in the field laboring for their enlightenment. Because, if you’re not in the field, they won’t hear what they need to hear in order to avoid the coming darkness (Romans 10:11-15). The world of men who don’t know Jesus will certainly face that darkness. Maybe it is better, however, to not think of it in such impersonal terms. Every unsaved individual man and woman will face that darkness. You know some of them personally. Will you labor for their opportunity to hear and understand the gospel?
If you feel that you are too weak to assume such labor, I beg you to look around you. The day is receding! Shadows are encroaching, and the harvest is great! Do the work of an evangelist, and know that you have been given incredible power to do so (Acts 1:8).