I know this text can read monotonously, but for the twenty seconds it will take to do so, please read it slowly. Don’t get lost trying to pronounce the names:
“Now these are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the sons of Israel. Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, and the name of his city was Dinhabah. Then Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah became king in his place. Then Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites became king in his place. Then Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the field of Moab, became king in his place; and the name of his city was Avith. Then Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah became king in his place. Then Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates River became king in his place. Then Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor became king in his place. Then Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar became king in his place.” Genesis 36:31-39
Seven times in nine verses, Death plays a staccato dirge. You can’t miss it if you’re paying attention.
And there is something else we can’t miss if we’re paying attention: The utter inevitability of Death.
The older I grow the more I encounter Death. So do you. Many of you have already lost a parent. Maybe both. You’ve lost aunts and uncles, perhaps also cousins, siblings, close friends . . .. Like that staccato dirge, your own list of obits grows with each passing year, and what Solomon wrote cries out for our attention: “It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
But most don’t take it to heart.
I minister each week in two 55+ communities. The average age in both is probably mid-80s. They see death all the time. Month after month. And what NEVER ceases to surprise me is how many of those old men and women want nothing to do with Jesus. I mean – they all have one foot in the grave – as they say – and the other on a banana peel. And yet they live each day as if they’re going to live to 200.
But they know they will not. I’ve heard some residents say, after they’ve lost yet another of their friends, “Will I be next?”
Some say it with dread. Some with a kind of resignation. But none with humor. “Will I be next?”
And yet, so many continue to ignore the Holy Spirit’s wooing – as many of them have done for decades. It’s as if they’ve dug themselves into an unbreakable pattern of saying ‘no’ to God.
Well . . . ‘nearly’ unbreakable. Because of God's incomprehensible mercy, it is always possible, through His grace alone, to break out of that decades-long pattern.
Read that text again from Genesis. Those who died were each a king. Powerful men. Wealthy men. Influential men. But like all powerful, wealthy, and influential men and women who have ever lived, Death has always been and remains today the great equalizer with the weak, the impoverished, the forgotten.
Surely, it IS better to go to a funeral than to a place of feasting. Why? Because funerals can serve as a stark reminder of how very short this life is – and how long is eternity.
Jesus told His followers a long time ago, and He still says it to you and to me today: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” (John 14:6)
One day the staccato dirge will stop at your door.
At YOUR door.
What you do with Jesus in this life determines where you will spend eternity after your last breath.