The Pendulum and the Pit

     Edgar Allen Poe wrote a breathtaking short story entitled, “The Pit and the Pendulum.”  A man awoke to find himself in a pit tied in such a way he could scarcely move.  He saw a pendulum high above swinging back and forth, getting a little lower with each swing.  He noticed the bottom was a sharp blade intended to sever his chest when it descended low enough.  Just before it took the last swing before slicing into his chest it stopped and he was delivered.

  There is a sense in which a pendulum is swinging on each person’s clock of time.  There is a mark that signals the end of each person’s life.  When the pendulum brings the hands of time to that mark there is nothing that can extend that person’s life other than the reprieve of Almighty God.

  1. None of us knows where that mark is.  It could be much longer or shorter than we imagine.
  2. Christians who have lived pleasing to God can face that hour with peace of mind and heart.
  3. The unsaved invariably want to postpone that hour: 

VOLTAIRE shouted at his doctor, “Promise me six months!”  The doctor answered that he could not do that.  Voltaire grabbed the doctor, pulled him down on top of him and said, “Then you shall go to hell with me.” 

JOSEPH STALIN sent all over Europe and offered fabulous sums to doctors if they could only give him six more months to live.


                                                         The Clock of Life

The Clock of Life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just where the hands will stop—
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more.
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
As no man can restore.

 The present only is our own;
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in tomorrow
For the clock may then be still.

   Ephesians 5:14-16

  We Must Walk With God Now.

  1. Reading, hearing, memorizing and meditating on the Word of God
  2. Praying and communing with God

  We Must Live A Godly Life Now

Matthew 5:16.  A godly life along with the testimony, “I am what I am by the grace of God” will glorify God and point Others to Him.

We Must Serve God Now.

  1. With our talents and gifts
  2. With our financial support

We Must Point The Lost to Christ Now.

  1. If you knew that your life would end at midnight tonight you would probably make some phone calls and visits to give a last urgent witness to loved ones and friends. 
  2. You do not know that you will have another day to do it, so it is wise to do it in the time you have.


  On The Religious But Lost.  See John 8:21, 24, “…you shall die in your sins.”

  1. Lost even though they had the right religion.
  2. Lost, even though they had Jesus present
  3. Lost, even though they were hearing the truth of salvation from the lips of the Son of God.

When these remain unsaved past the deadline hour the result is tragic.  See Matthew 25:1-13.

  On Those Who Put Off Salvation.

  1. God’s time for salvation is always NOW. 
    1. He told Israel to eat the Passover Lamb in haste.  Exodus 12 
    2. Come NOW and let us reason …”  Isaiah 1:18
    3. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found…”  Isaiah 55:6
    4. Behold, now is the accepted time…” 2 Corinthians 6:2

God’s warnings.  Proverbs 27:1 and 29:1

  1. Some Bible examples of those who put off salvation too long.

Felix,…Go thy way for this time:  when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”   Acts 24:25

King Agrippa, “…You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”  Acts 26:28.  

  1. The great majority of men and women who die lost have had many opportunities to be saved.

George Saters checked the visitor’s card that he was interested in joining our church.  I looked for his house for two hours with no success.  A couple of days later he fell dead walking across his living room floor.  He could have gotten saved the morning he was in church. 

Another man checked his card the same.  He went hunting and died crawling under a barbed wire fence that week.

In Gamaliel, Kentucky a man was invited to the revival I was preaching.  He said, “I get more out of the almanac than I do the Bible.”  He died with a heart attack on the doctor’s table that day.

  On Those Rejecting The Holy Spirit.

  Genesis 6:3, “My Spirit shall not always strive with men.”   See also Matthew 12:31-32.  Proverbs 1:24-30.

This will help illustrate the unpardonable sin.  I committed the unpardonable sin against passing trains in my uncle Jim Ramey’s sleeping car in Colorado.  The first night a train passed I fell out of an upper bunk.  Each night the noise bothered me less and less.  By the end of a week, I didn't even hear it.

Like Napoleon after a bitter battle when he was informed he had won:  “One more such victory will cost me my kingdom.”  One more victory over the Holy Spirit may cost you your soul.


For The Christian It is Just the Grave.  Psalm 49:15.

  1. A resting place for the earthly body for a brief time.
  2. Job had no fear of it.  Job 14:14-15
  3. The soul goes into the presence of the Lord.  2nd Corinthians 5:8

For the Unsaved There Is The Pit of Torment

  1. A pit of hopelessness.

The rich man heard, “…between us and you there is a great gulf fixed…”  Luke 16:26

God stretches forth His arms of mercy only so long.  If people will not come to Him in the allotted time the pendulum swings they will be separated forever.

  1. A pit of bitter memories

The rich man heard, “Son remember…”  --a lifetime of neglected opportunities to get saved.  

       3.  A Pit of torment.
God describes it as a place of fire and brimstone.  I believe it is literal.  There is no comfort in making it symbolic for if it is, then it is  something more terrible than  can be conveyed in human language.
 Wisdom teaches us to be prepared to meet our God before the hands on our clock of life reaches the mark where we must depart this life.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted