A rather peculiar headline caught my attention the other day while browsing through news headlines. This one announced, “Braintree Police: ‘Hold Off’ on Crime This Weekend Due to ‘Extreme Heat’” (link to website). The article goes on to inform the readers that the police department in Braintree, MA used a little humor to convey to citizens the dangers of that week’s heatwave. In a Facebook post by the department, they jestingly stated, “Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday.” They also gave a list of suggestions as to how the potential criminals could occupy their time until the weather cooperates for unlawful activity. I’m not exactly sure if the request from the Braintree PD worked out or not. Quite frankly, I don’t think a criminal would heed the advice to refrain from illegal activity, heatwave or not.
I’m reminded of a couple of other incidents within the Bible of individuals “holding off” for peculiar reasons.
- God’s second plague against the Egyptians involved a surplus of frogs upon the land. “The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls” (Exodus 8:3). Because of this, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and agreed that he would let the Israelites go if they entreated to the Lord to remove the plague from the Egyptians (Exodus 8:8). Moses, in essence, asked Pharaoh when he would like this to happen. His response? Tomorrow (Exodus 8:10)! Wouldn’t you or I request the frogs to disappear ASAP? Was his pride holding him back from giving God the glory? Pharaoh told Moses to save his people, but “hold off” until tomorrow.
- Jesus, during His earthly ministry, had individuals turn Him down because they were “holding off” for something. Instead of giving their life to Christ to follow Him, they offered a few excuses. One asked to, first, bury his father (Luke 9:59) and another wanted to, first, say good-bye to those at home (Luke 9:61). They had other priorities. Doesn’t it seem like today, everyone has other non-Jesus first-place priorities? The procrastinating would-be disciples told Jesus, “hold off” until their priorities were taken care of first.
- After Paul’s third missionary journey, he returned to Jerusalem despite the prophetic warnings he would be imprisoned if he returned (Acts 21:4, 11). While in custody under the oversight of the Roman Governor Felix, Paul was able to defend the case of his false incarceration multiple times. “But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you’” (Acts 24:25). Maybe Felix understood the salvation of the gospel message but politically it was not the right time for him? Felix told Paul, let’s “hold off” now and when it is convenient for me, I’ll make time for God.
When it comes to you or someone else’s soul, why “hold off?” Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)! “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). On the day of judgment, many will go to “eternal punishment” while the righteous into “eternal life” (Matthew 7:13, 25:46). How does one find eternal life? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Don’t “hold off” any longer! Put aside your pride, procrastination, and selfish priorities and follow Jesus.