Friday, September 21, 2007

DEATH: RESTING OR SUFFERING?




DEATH: RESTING OR SUFFERING?


Introduction:
Death parts best of friends, takes away precious ones, causes the disappearance of our last means of support with the victim left an easy prey to swindlers, or could be reduced to begging for food thus, leaving behind a bitter feeling that may never subside each time we look at our future as bleak. Yet despite this “it is appointed unto men to die once and after that judgment” (Heb 9:27).
We all know that one day we shall die whether we like it or not. When God originally created man, he used to live for at least 350 years. Then man became so bad that God reduced it to 120 years:
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years (Gen. 6:3).
Then later our life span has greatly reduced to 70 and 80 for the robust:
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” ( Ps. 90:10).
Yet despite this man does not take time to number his days. He does not think about when he shall die and when he really does die where he will go.
The human being has not denied the presence of death but has sought out its own interpretation whereby it is considered as a tunnel that leads to another life or city. Man is the only creature known to bury its dead because he considers burial as a rite of passage into another life. The belief that human beings could live again has influenced the way many of us live, think, and the way we feel. That is why there are funerals and mortuary rituals among every people on earth.
Myths about death exist in every society, to some death is a natural end of life, while to others it is a time God takes people to be with him.. We have the tale about why death came into the world in our tradition. It was said that the dog and the tortoise were commissioned to carry a message of life and death. The first person to reach first will have his message established as the rule. The dog bore the message of life while the tortoise had that of death. On their way the dog found some bones and decided to remain there to eat. The tortoise came and passed him with the message of death. Before the dog could reach the tortoise had arrived and delivered its message and from that day death entered into the world. How then did death enter into the world? The Bible unequivocally answers this question : “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” ( Rom 5:12). So then did Adam die immediately he sinned? If not what happened. This brings us to the types of death.
There are two types of death; physical death and spiritual death. Death is so subtle and elusive that there has not been even a clear cut definition. However, we coined out a definition basing on the types of death. Physical death means the cessation of life while spiritual death is separation from God.
There are also different kinds of physical death. There is what we call natural and unnatural deaths. Natural death is when a person dies of natural causes while anything out of that realm is considered unnatural like accidents, zombies, famlas, or cases where the ground opens and swallows people up like the Korah Incident Num. 16:1-50.
To better answer our question how did death enter into the world? When God created, Adam and eve there was no death. They were to remain immortal. When they sinned against God the spirit of God that would have made them immortal left them and they became mortal. They took a corruptible body that could die. And since we came from Adam and Eve we inherit their nature- the sinful and therefore deadly body. Yet though the general and unique source of death is sin there are different causes of death. Some people die from hunger, diseases, wars, executions while others kill themselves. In short what nature leaves undone humans complete it. As a result we all are seeing that no mortal can immortalize the mortals. We are left with the fear of unknown or death especially. The Bible again as if to informed us well underscores it this way
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Eccl. 3:1-2).
That means we cannot boast of tomorrow for we do not know what the day may bring. Le me tell you guys the story of a man who did not apprehend the lesson.

The illustration of Rich Fool Lk 12:16-20
There was a rich man that had a farm that yielded a lot of crops. His crops outgrew his barns so he decided to enlarge his barns. He felt that the solution would be to tear the smaller barns and build bigger ones. By so doing he will have enough room for all his crops. Then once that was done he will lay back and encourage his soul to take it easy. For his lone devoir was to eat, drink and be merry. After he finished saying that God said to him “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided” So when you die who will get what you left. Everyman who gets rich on earth without storing in heaven is a fool.

Application:
Preparing for life before death is wonderful but neglecting life after death is something none of us should do because it is terrible.
Many people are living on earth but are not walking with God .Therefore; they are not storing anything in heaven. God created us so that we should walk with him. In Genesis 5 verse 1-32 there is a serious issue evoked. From Adam to Noah there are ten generations mentioned. All of them except one ended with a similar note “and he died”. Curiously, the one that did not bare that epitaph read “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen 5:24).Methuselah lived for 969 years symbolizing people who live all their age or whole life who really get old.. Lamech lived for 777 years symbolizing a perfect life. What the French call Mille a l’heure. While Enoch lived for 365 years which is symbolic of 365 days which make up a year to indicate that though he neither lived long nor with much life as we say it yet he did the most important to walk with God every day of his life. That was what mattered to God. So God felt that Enoch was too good to live on earth because the better place for him would have been heaven.
Folks the best place for us to desire going is heaven. What shall it profit a man if he gained the whole world and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? There is the story of two people who did not prepare themselves before they died. Jesus startled a group with a story about a rich man and a poor man especially because most of them considered riches as a symbol of righteousness. Let me tell you what happened to them.

Illustration of Lazarus and the Rich Man Lk 16:19-31.
A poor beggar and a rich man both died and went before God. The poor man was rewarded with heaven while the rich man was rewarded with hell. In hell he turned his eyes and saw the poor man. He asked for the poor man to give him some water or worst still a drop of his saliva. That was not possible. He then felt that it was not a pleasant place for anyone to be. He still had five brothers. So he requested for a messenger to go forewarn them. They had the prophets there with them. Let them listen to them was the answer father Abraham gave him.

Application:
The rich man did not go to hell because he was rich but because he was greedy, selfish, and egoistic with his wealth. Let us remember that we shall one day die. And when we die we shall all be rewarded according to our deeds. The Bible again affirms it in revelations 20:12-15 when it says:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15).
That means we have to do something before we die and after someone dies. Consequentially, we ask: is there a responsibility of the society to the defunct and bereaved? When Lazarus died the bible says: “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35). Jesus wept for two reasons; while on the one hand he felt for their sorrow but on the other hand it was because of their unbelief. Jesus cared for those who were left on earth. When he was dieing he enjoined John to take care of his mother and for the mother to take care of John. Firstly, if the defunct left a widow and a child they were not to be afflicted as stated in Exodus “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child” ( Ex. 22:22). James supports this theory when he says:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James1:27).

Illustration about Onan
There were three brothers called ER, Onan and Shelah. After ER died according to the law, Onan was to take over the wife of the brother so that they will have sons who will be heirs to ER; Onan’s defunct brother. He accepted to marry the woman but each time he went to bed with her he spilled it on the bed so that she will have no children to inherit his brother’s property. The thing angered the Lord that he killed him at once. The Lord killed Onan because he refused to fulfill his obligation as heir to both God and Tamar (the widow).

Application;
Some of us know that each time we lose a relative, husband or wife our greatest worry is always what will the family do. Some families will come to take everything that the man had with the woman forgetting to know that he left a child. Sometimes they pretend that they will take care of the child and instead make the child a houseboy or girl. The society has the obligation of seeing that, the child lives. We all know that sometime someone is sick and no one cares about him until he dies. The Bible encourages us to take care of them while they are still alive. Do all you could for them while they are still alive! Let me tell you the story of King David

King David’s Illustration
David had a child from his adultery with Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba). The Lord struck the child with sickness, and so David prayed and fasted neither drinking nor eating. Thinking God was not hearing he added sackcloth and ashes sleeping on the floor. Yet on the seventh day the child died. Immediately, as the child died he got up, washed himself, changed his clothes, went to church and when he came back he ate. It marveled his subjects that they asked him why he behaved like that. He told them that he fasted and prayed while the child was still alive because he thought no one knows. May be the Lord could see his state and grant the child’s life back but now that the child has died there is no point in crying. He shall not come back instead they will go to him. So he comforted his wife.

Application:
When someone dies no matter the coffin or casket we buy, no matter the clothes we wear them, no amount of tears or flowers will change the situation. It does not matter how many people attended his funeral. He is dead and the focus should change to the living. We should be preparing for our turn instead. Some of us abandon our sick uncles in Cameroon with no treatment and we start to wait to give them a great burial with a casket from the US. God calls that waste of money and time.

How to conquer death
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:55-57).
Death seems to be victorious each time someone dies. Death has a sting called sin. This is what kills people. Sin has this power because of the law which states that, anyone who sins must die. When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, he took away our sin thereby fulfilling the law on our behalf. He took our place. Jesus then rose up after the third day and ascended into heaven after the 40th day. If we want to live eternally we have to believe in him so that the Holy Spirit comes and gives us a new spirit that will enable us to change our mortal bodies into immortal ones when the last day comes.

Conclusion:
We know that death awaits each of us at the corner. We all fear his visits. Some of us have learned the lesson others have not. Yet it is a lesson we all need to learn .It is neither facultative nor optional. It’s obligatory if we want to meet God and have a peaceful destiny. In all of this we cannot solve this enigma. There is only one person who can do that for us and that is Jesus Christ. To believe in Jesus Christ is to gain eternal life. If we believe in him we shall no more die and even if we die we shall live.

Appeal
I will want to know who wants to believe in Jesus. If you want to believe in Jesus please just surrender you life to Jesus in prayer and then send me an email so I can help you in your new walk. God bless you all!

Until then, death is a debt humanity owes God.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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