The Empty Seat
by Danny Douglas
When David was fleeing from Saul, Jonathan said to him: “…Tomorrow is the new moon; and thou shalt be missed, be cause thy seat will be empty” (I Samuel ). He knew that he would miss his beloved friend when they came to the table. On the night before the Lord’s death when the disciples were breaking bread together, Jesus knew that it would not be long until there would be an empty seat at the table. It would be the seal of Judas Iscariot who would soon go out to betray Him. “He then went out immediately. And it was night” (John 13:30b). How it must have broken the heart of our Lord to know that one of His own disciples had “lifted up his heel” against Him (John ; Psalms 41:9).
God has spoken very plainly about the fact that He expects His people to be present when the saints assemble together and His Heart Must Be Broken Today Over Empty Seats. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
The Empty Seat Has An Eloquent Tongue! It says to the other members, “I don’t need fellowship with you.” It says to the world, “There are more important things than worshipping God and studying His word.” It says to the preacher and Bible teachers, “I have nothing to learn from your lessons.” It declares to the elders, “I do not care about the account that one day you must give for the flock.” It says to babes in Christ and children, “I am unconcerned about my example before you.” Most importantly, it says to Christ, “There are places I had rather be than in thy presence and worshipping the Father.”
The Lord declared: “...l will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews ). What a wonderful blessing for Gods obedient people! He is right in their midst when they assemble in His name.
For something to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus means that it is to be done in accordance with, and in obedience to, His word. This fact is verified by Colossians 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
Therefore, when the Lord’s Church comes together for worship, He is right in her midst. What a privilege it is to assemble on the Lords day with those of “like precious faith” to worship God in spirit and in truth! Indeed we have the assurance of Christ. However, we are moved to ask: Is this promise true only for Lord’s day morning? Is it not also true for the other times when the saints meet for the purpose of worshipping in the name of Jesus Christ? Is it not a true for the services of a Gospel Meeting? What about the evening worship periods of the Church? Do we not come together in His name at these times also to keep His commandments and to do His will? Surely Christ considers these meetings to be in His name as well as the Lords day morning assembly.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1). When we come together again, those who truly love God will be here, and they will be glad. Jesus Christ will be here also. Jesus Will Be Here. Where Will You Be? Jesus said: “…Where I am there shall also my servant be…” (John 12:26).