Blessings and Dying Words
May 8, 2022
The legacy of people’s final words is fascinating. What were the final words and thoughts on people’s minds as they departed this life for eternal life (or eternal death)? These words are significant because death is the ultimate enemy of all men. There are more harsh and less harsh ways to die, but mankind was made to live and not die; death came as a result of the fall of man into sin and is a curse against us. What do men say when they face this final enemy?
- Hugo Chavez: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.”
- Thomas Hobbs: “I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
- (Fred) Rogers: “Am I a sheep [of Jesus]?”
- Joe DiMaggio: “I finally get to see Marilyn.”
- Jack Daniel: “One last drink, please.”
- Alfred Hitchcock: “One never knows the ending. One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”
In addition to these, we also have the final words of some of God’s people recorded for us in Scripture:
- The apostle Paul writes to his protégé Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:18).
- Stephen as he was being stoned: “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59–60).
- And of course we have the seven final sayings of Jesus from the cross, including the final declaration: “‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Lk. 23:46).
In the passage before us this morning, we have some of the final words of some of God’s faithful men. This is what faith looks like at the end of life. The temptation when facing death, of course, is to suppose that God has failed and that we cannot be confident in and trust Him. How did these evaluate God after their disappointments?
Last week we noted in the life of Abraham that “Spiritual tests are inevitable (and planned by God). When tested, continue to respond obediently to God’s direction for you.” In the account of the remaining patriarchs, the writer to the Hebrews expands the idea of spiritual testing, taking it to its final and ultimate earthly end: death.
While Abraham was tested with the potential death of his son, the faith of the other patriarchs of Israel were revealed as they approached their own deaths. From Hebrews 11:20-22, we will learn that death does not compromise God’s plan —
When facing death, be confident that God will still accomplish His purposes.
From the examples of the patriarchs, we learn how to face our ultimate test, death. We need to learn not only how to live well (to God’s glory), but also how to die well, so that God is exalted in our dying. Some of us see what seems to be the imminence of death and for others of us, death seems so distant that we do not even think of it. But all of us are moving towards it unrelentingly, day-by-day. How will we face it by faith?
- When Isaac Faced Death… (v. 20)
- When Jacob Faced Death… (v. 21)
- When Joseph Faced Death… (v. 22)
- When We Face Death
Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 11:20-22.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.