Robben Island

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
On a dark February morning in 1889 James Fish and his brother Joseph stood by the rail of the steamship, the Delhi, and waved goodbye to their mother and a few Christian friends. The brothers were traveling to South Africa to preach the gospel of God's grace. After preaching in South Africa for several years, James felt led of the Lord to leave that work to others and dedicate his time to spreading the good news of salvation on Robben Island.
Robben Island is a barren piece of land located in the mouth of Table Bay. Nobody would choose to live there, yet South Africa had stringent laws which sent people there and denied them permission to return. You see, Robben Island was a leper colony.
On April 15th, 1896, Mr. Fish held a gospel service for the men. This meeting was no different than many others he had held, except for the fact that he recorded his visual impressions in his diary. "One hundred and twenty came. What a sight to behold! Old and young were making their way to the meeting, some crawling, others shuffling in a most painful manner.... The most pitiful scene of all was a man with neither hands nor feet carried on the shoulders of another man."
As you read this, can you imagine what the men looked like as they filed into the meeting?
How different from the rest of the world! Or—is it? What is the rest of the world but a sin colony? It is a place where God's name is blasphemed by multitudes daily, a place where men live only to fulfill the lusts of their flesh, a place where sin abounds, and men and women love to have it so.
The word "sin" may mean little to you; it means little to most people today, but it robs children of their families—it destroys the health of men and women—it fills prisons—it hurls nation against nation in war. Everywhere you look you see the effects of SIN. As Robben Island was a leper colony, so this world is a sin colony.
As you read this, can you picture how God sees you with your sin on you? Remember, the past may grow dim in our memories but never in God's. He remembers and requires the sins that are past. Be assured that one sin in His sight is more vile than a thousand are in our sight. Deep down we all know it, yet we like to close our eyes to it.
Leprosy causes premature death. Sin causes eternal death. "The wages of sin is death." "The soul that sinneth it shall die."
"No! It can't be! I can't have leprosy!" a person might cry out after being informed that he had contracted the disease and must be sent to Robben Island. The same reaction of denial is common when the gospel is preached and men are told that the wages of sin is eternal separation from God. "No, it can't be—not in my case," and so saying they shrug off God's warning about sin.
Denial of the truth of God's wrath against sin is possible in this life. The moment a person dies is the moment when such denial will no longer be possible. At that moment the full force of the verse, "The wages of sin is death," will strike each one. Hear such a one cry out in bitterness as he enters the regions of eternal misery: "No! Not me! I can't go there. Not me!"
Sin has a price. The gospel that was preached that night on Robben Island told of what it cost God to offer the world eternal life. It told of the Savior who voluntarily went to the cross and died, so that sins might be put out of God's sight. "The blood of Jesus Christ His [God's] Son cleanseth us from all sin." A million years of doing good works could never remove the stain from a single sin, but "Twice ten thousand sins, one moment takes away" —the moment a sinner trusts in Christ.
The good news of God's grace hasn't changed in almost two thousand years. He is still offering eternal life and the forgiveness of sins to all who will simply believe on the name of His Son. "The gift of God is eternal life." However, if you should refuse God's gift there will be nothing left for you but to collect the "wages of sin" which "is death." This is not physical death only, but spiritual death and eternal separation from God. Only in the name of Jesus Christ is there salvation for sinners.