Saturday, September 5, 2009

Appointed to Die - Hebrews 9 part 2

"... it is appointed for men to die once
and after this comes judgment..."
(vs 27)

God is sovereign.

God is sovereign over the day we are born. It is He who made us and not we ourselves (Ps 100). It is He who knit us together in our mother's womb (Ps 139). It is He who opens and closes the womb. God is sovereign in our birth.

God is sovereign in all of the days of our lives. Man plans His ways but it is the Lord who ordains His steps (Pr 16:9). God has carved our paths in perfect faithfulness, even before the foundation of the earth (Is 25:1). The good, the bad, the simple, the complex, the happy, the hurtful - all the twists and turns of this life fall under the sovereign providence of God. "He works all things after the counsel of His will "(Eph 1:11).

God is sovereign in the day of our death. Hebrews 9:27 informs us that the day of our departure from this earth is an "appointed" day. It has been determined, planned, layed out. It is known by God when, where, and how we will die. All the fretting and fuming in the world will not change it. It is set in the stone of the eternal counsel and wisdom of God. Christ asks us in the sermon on the mount: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Luke 12:25).

We will all die - for the wages of sin is death. We will all die and the day upon which we will die is appointed. I suppose the greater question is "How shall we then live?" The Bible tells us that "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Ph 1:21). We are given these days in between our birth and our death that we might glorify and enjoy God. We are to live our days, not storing up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven where they are eternally secure (Mat 6:19-21). "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?" (Mat 16:26).

It is appointed for us to die and it is appointed for us to face the judgement. "This is a matter of comfort to the godly, but it is a matter of terror to the wicked, who die in their sin." (Matthew Henry)

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Ps 116:15) "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord...that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them" (Rev 14:13). For the righteous, "the day of one's death is better than the day of his birth" (Ec 7:1). But for the wicked it would have been better had he never been born (Mk 14:21).

Christ alone is the refuge to carry us safely, securely, and certainly through the gates of heaven. He alone is "the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Him" (Jn 14:6). He alone removes the sting of death (1 Cor 15:55-56) and leads us graciously through the valley of the shadow of death that we may fear no evil (Ps 23).

The day is appointed. The judgment is as well. Are we ready?

Longing for the day, thankful for the Redeemer of the day,
"Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! Thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die,
lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust:
Jesus is my hope and trust!
Jesus lives and reigns supreme;
and, His kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with Him,
ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised; be it must:
Jesus is my hope and trust!
Jesus lives, and by His grace,
vict'ry o'er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
ever to His glory living.
Me He raises from the dust:
Jesus is my hope and trust!
Jesus lives! I know full well
naught from Him my heart can sever,
life nor death nor pow'rs of hell,
joy nor grief, henceforth forever.
None of all His saints is lost:
Jesus is my hope and trust!
Jesus lives and death is now
but my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
hast a crown of life before thee;
thou shalt find thy hopes were just:
Jesus is the Christian's trust."
(Christian F. Gellert, 1757)

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