An urgent text: “Call me now.” Telephone message: “Your dad is trying to contact you.” Returned call: “Uncle Scott has passed away.” A short abrupt series of communications brought shocking news to extended family. Although no one had heard from him for a long time, every one of the extended family members still felt close to the departed uncle. This was apparent by tales of reminiscence recounted by my morning helper. I could tell that she was somewhat disturbed, unsettled and upset.
Later that evening, my wife Judy entered my room with: “We just got a text…” I was numbed and unsettled. Earlier that day, my good friend received the call he had been dreading for over 30 years: his son had passed from this world into the next. Although not altogether unexpected, the news came as a shock.
The world I live in bombards me with the fact of death. News programs on television, news reports on websites, cinema, favorite television shows, TV promotions for video games, etc. confront me with death and dying. Yet, for all this exposure, I am anesthetized to the horror and shock of death. It is only when I am directly impacted that I begin to sense the dreadful reality of death.
On the other hand, I was recently disturbed by a phone call with a very close relative. Although I’m sure he was putting up a front, pretending to be tough, his nonchalant comments concerning the threat of his own death were troubling to me. His overly optimistic comments regarding his eternal future reflect a completely different value system, lifestyle and future. His view of God and forgiveness were completely out of sync with mine.
Although there may be many contributing factors, the bottom line is one of authority. As someone asked me one time, “On what do you base your opinion?” The issue is really one of authority. Is anyone’s opinions or feelings superior to others? Obviously this is a huge issue impacting every area of life and experience. For me (and for all of his creation), this authority issue is settled. God our Creator as spoken and revealed himself clearly in his Son and in his Word. The self-disclosure or revelation has been recorded and preserved for us in the Bible.
So it’s important to discover what God says regarding issues in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Getting back to my original point, and refraining from referencing many Scriptures, I offer two passages to consider. The first has to do with all people:
Hebrews 9.27, 28: And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The second one has special references to believers in Jesus:
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, ESV)
Much more could be said in explanation of these words but I think is good to conclude that the words of Moses when he reminded God’s people: These are not idle words for you; they are your life.