Death, according to the Holy Writ, is the Christian’s last enemy – the finishing battle, the final difficulty ere the pilgrim’s long-anticipated release from this mortal life to joys beyond, unspeakable.
For six millennia now, Adam’s fall has carried all men to Death’s door. “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war.” Ecclesiastes 8:8. Simply said – none can restrain Death. It will come. These appointments can arrive at any age, at any time (often unannounced), and Death will execute its purpose in one of its various manners.
Man will want a friend in that day, for here, even strong men fail for fear. The very approach of this feared foe makes faint many a heart. So few, so very few prepare the soul for this journey awaiting all. They have dreamed it not to be, yet the Word echoes still – “There is no discharge in this war.” One’s might, one’s money? Less than nothing now!
Suffering is difficult for all. Our hearts are touched with passion for any in physical distress, whoever they may be. But for the Christian, for the good man, it will never be more than he can bear, for he trusts in God, who has safely preserved him through all of life’s difficulties and afflictions unto this hour.
“A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1. In the eyes of God, who has a good name but he that lives to His glory and walks in His holiness? And, who but a true Christian, he that has been made holy through the blood of the Lamb, can deem the day of his death better than the day of his birth?
“A spotless name, By virtuous deeds acquired, is sweeter far Than fragant balms, whose odors round diffused Regale the invited guests. Well may such men Rejoice at death’s approach, and bless the hours That end their toilsome pilgrimage; assured That till the race of life is finish’d none Can be completely blest.”
Heaven is the Christian’s goal and fervent hope. For this they willingly live and labour and suffer. What though it be a fiery chariot that carries them up thither!
What father is not moved with compassion at the suffering of his child? All can wait; to that child he must attend. Has his heart ever pulsated with deeper love and longing as he views the pallid brow of his treasured loved one? She sleeps, she tosses, he watches – and he remembers. He remembers the day of her birth and the exaltant joy of seeing her face for the first time. He remembers her first steps, the sweetness of her laughter, her tight hugs. He remembers how much she trusts and loves her daddy. The father’s tears flow, his prayers ascend.
Holy, trusting saints of God, can we even begin to comprehend the compassions of our Heavenly Father as He attends His treasures as they face their last, great battle? He knows we have never died before. It is new territory, and we are so frail. He, who has made intercession for His children (Heb. 7:25) throughout their entire pilgrimage, pities their frame and will intercede for them in the hour of deepest need. Were eyes but given to perceive the supernatural realm, angels celestial would be beholden, wreathed about the Christian’s bed. And how very near God’s presence!
While upon this earth, in a body fashioned as ours, Jesus suffered an agonizing death. He understands the physical extremity of pain. (Who but those who have known suffering can feel the deepest compassions for others in like condition?) He died an exceedingly difficult and agonizing death – the searing, shooting pain throughout His lacerated and pierced frame; the horrid feeling of suffocation as breathing became seriously laboured. Who better could “be our guide even unto death” (Psalm 48:14)?
Truly, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15. Precious, their last proof of love and trust; precious, their unwavering faith; precious the testimony of their unvanquished hope in the promised world to come.
Here, in the seemingly cheerless valley of the shadow of death, the weary pilgrim confirms the support and consolations of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ Himself has conquered Death for us all!
For a Christian, Death is made a servant. By its means, he makes a great and glorious escape from all the troubles of this world and transitions him to realms of joy unspeakable! He now beholds celestial angels who waft him through the brightness of other-worldly light. O the gleeful laughter and ecstatic shouts of another victor over Satan and sin through the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ! Indeed, this is the best day of his life!
“There is not a friend like Jesus When you draw your life's last breath. If you'll be his friend while living, He will be your Friend in death."
Dear reader, have you this Friend? You need Him! God delights to save and redeem fallen man, that he might have hope after death and enjoy the eternal felicities of heaven and the unspeakable glory of His presence forevermore.