I was recently asked by some friends to speak at the memorial service for their son who was killed in a car accident. He was 30 years old. I prayed about it and agreed to give a message. I prepared some notes, but as the date approached the Lord laid a heavy spirit of urgency on me. The following transcript is the message I was led to speak at the memorial service to the loved ones of the deceased. But this message convicted me even as I wrote it. It’s a call to the family of Elohim for authenticity. It’s a call to those of the world for repentance. I include it here in this blog (making only small editions to spare the identity of the family) since it’s clearly a message for all who have ears to hear. So I pray for you, Reader. Whoever you are and whatever camp you belong to, I pray that the words of the Living Elohim go forth and His Spirit cause His Truth to affect your heart in the way that’s needed, to do the good work He desires in you, to propel you to your knees and into His hands. May Yehovah bless you, amen.
When I was first asked to speak here today, I responded that I needed to pray about it. I thought to myself, “What would I say?” I haven’t seen him in maybe 7 years. I didn’t know if I would be the most appropriate choice. But as I prayed, God gave me this peace that said, “It’s ok. This message isn’t for the one who passed away. It’s for those he left behind.” I speak today to a people who loved him and were loved by him. And if he could only speak from his place of peace, I’m convinced he would want his loved ones to hear this message. The word the Lord has for me to give is this: “Urgency. Time is short. Pick a side.” Why so urgent? After I spoke with the family a couple months ago, I began jotting down some notes of what to speak today. But it wasn’t until this past week that God emphasized the necessity of this message to me. Circumstances in my life reminded me that a malignant disease could surface seemingly out of nowhere and any of us could face death much sooner than expected. World events reminded me that Biblical prophecy concerning the end of time will indeed happen one day, and we are witnessing the birth pains now. And of course, gathering here today to remember our loved one who passed serves as a reminder too of how unpredictable the length of our days actually is.
This is the third message I’ve been asked to give at a memorial service. The first was for my 15 month-old niece, Josalyn. She had a febrile seizure in the middle of the night and passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. The second was my 83 year old grandfather. He had struggled with bladder cancer for years and his kidneys were shutting down. His death was relatively expected but even in that case, he clung to life and remained longer than we had anticipated. The point is: Whether unexpected or expected, we can never know which day will truly be our last.
Psalm 39 says, “Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”
Whether death comes expectedly or unexpectedly, we all have to admit that this life is short, and this life is temporary. I’m convinced there’s not a more sobering realization to that fact than when we’re confronted with the unexpected death of a loved one. When a loved one passes, time slows down and we’re brought to this place where the physical realm and spiritual realm meet, and suddenly the boundary between life and death is right before us. We’re forced into strangely lucid thoughts like, “I really am going to die one day.” We have a set defined number of days on earth and our lifetimes diminish each day like sand in an hourglass. Death will surely overcome us, not one of us knows when, and there’s not a single thing we can do to prevent it. If this life were all we had, then we would truly find ourselves in an impossible and hopeless situation. Life and death would be totally meaningless. King Solomon, the son of King David, and arguably the most prosperous king of Israel wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. In it he complains that life continues in this endless cyclical pattern which seems to have no meaningful purpose. And he lists all sorts of pursuits in life he sought after to find fulfillment: food, wine, mansions, gardens, pools, servants, animals, gold, silver, women. And this is how he describes them:
Eccl. 2:9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Eccl. 2:10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
Eccl. 2:11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was meaningless and a striving after the wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
I imagine Solomon writing this text as a sort of confession at the end of his life. He was given the largest and most prosperous reign in the history of Israel and as he said, he sought to please himself in every imaginable way as a powerful king. But in his prosperity he began to turn away from God, eventually marrying foreign women who led him to worship foreign gods. Then at the end of his life, after treating himself to every pleasure he says of it all, “meaningless”. What was the point? All the things he chased after in this world gave him no satisfaction in the end. I can attest to that. I searched for fulfillment in my life too. I was no king but I lived like Solomon described, essentially withholding no pleasure from myself that I desired. And those were some of the most depressing times in my life, even to the extent of contemplating suicide. So what does Solomon, the king to whom God gave more wisdom than any other man, conclude? Listen to how he ends his book:
Eccl. 12:13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Eccl. 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
That’s it! At the end of Solomon’s life, after he considered all the mundane and fading things in this life, that was his conclusion. The only thing that fulfills man is fulfilling his duty:
Honor God and follow Him because God will hold us accountable for living our lives for Him or against Him. Listen to what the apostle Paul tells the Ephesians regarding the state in which we find ourselves in this world.
Eph. 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
Eph. 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Eph. 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
This is the story of each one of us. Left to ourselves we follow after our own hearts, doing what pleases our senses. The things we use to bring us fulfillment end up using us and leaving us empty. All the while we turn away from God and His Word, and live our lives as His enemies. This situation is truly without hope. But now listen to how the next verse begins. It’s the Gospel, the Good News, the Greatest News in two words: But God! “You were dead in trespasses and sins”… but God! “You followed the spirit of disobedience”… but God! “You lived in the passions of the flesh and were children of wrath”…
Eph. 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
Eph. 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Messiah. Grace is saving you!
Without Him, it’s true: We are in an impossible and hopeless situation. Life is short and we don’t know which day will be our last. We willingly turn our backs to our Creator and gamble with our lives that we will not one day stand before Him and hear Him say the most regrettable words a soul could hear: I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness. Being confronted face-to-face with death whether in ourselves or in our loved ones does not simply produce stress and anxiety. It’s terrifying! IF… If we don’t give ourselves over to the One who does know the beginning and end of our lives before we were even born.
King David, a man after God’s own heart wrote of God’s foreknowledge, saying, “My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” –Psa 139
This same One who gave you life is the One to whom your life is owed.
So this is the urgent message:
-Our time here is short
-The enemy of our souls trains us to focus on anything except God, putting our own pleasure today and repentance tomorrow. That’s his strategy: Tomorrow, tomorrow. You’ll always have tomorrow. Today we’re reminded that’s not true. We may not have tomorrow.
-Guess what God’s Word says, “Today is the day of salvation.” “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” “Choose this day whom you will serve: the gods of your ancestors, or the gods of the land in which you live. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord Yehovah.”
-Pleasures of this world will only leave us used, empty and wanting. They will not bring us true peace or fulfillment. That is only found walking in the footsteps of the Living God. I give you my testimony as one who has walked both paths. All the pleasures of the world don’t compare to the peace, hope, and fulfillment He gives in exchange for our surrender.
-He is the only hope. He is the only way we overcome death, because He overcame death. So in times like these we seek for answers. We seek for comfort and ask, “Is there any hope”. The answer of the Bible is, “There can be”. The prophet, Isaiah, wrote:
Is. 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD Yehovah is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not grow tired or weary;
And His understanding no one can fathom.
Is. 40:29 He gives strength to the weary,
and increases the power of the weak.
Is. 40:30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
Is. 40:31 but those whose hope is the LORD Yehovah shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not grow weary;
they shall walk and not be faint.
Let me leave you with this. It’s my prayer and blessing for you from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Rom 15:13
Amen. May the Lord bless you.