death

God is not a destroyer.

God is not a destroyer.

Esther 7

Esther chapter 7 contains a startling example of the self-destructiveness of sin. Haman’s gig is up. When the king asked Esther to present her request, she replied, "If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated." (vs 3-4) That must have been a heart-stopping moment for Haman, as he realized the web he had spun for himself. I’m sure he never imagined that the Queen of Persia was a Jew.

Ransom {ex30:12}

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Imagine having to pay for your life
the way you pay for your heat
the way you buy your electricity
the way you purchase water and sewer.

Perhaps if we received
a monthly bill for
"Life-Services Rendered"
     breath and
     blood and
     heart beating and
     neurons firing and
     general suspension of the return-to-dust clause

we would remember that
life is a utility we can't generate
and be immune to
the otherwise-all-pervasive plague
of self-sufficiency.

 

God is the one who remembers.

God is the one who remembers.

1 Chronicles 8

After eight chapters, we are nearly done with the genealogies. (At least the ones at the beginning of this book. I’m sure we will encounter more as we go along.) In today’s chapter—as I’m sure you noticed if you read it—there wasn’t particularly much to take hold of. Just another long list of names, following a previous seven chapters of long lists of names.

God sees death differently than we do.

God sees death differently than we do.

2 Kings 20

Once again, we encounter the subject of death, and I thought Hezekiah’s reaction on the news of his impending fate was telling (and quite familiar): "Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 'Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.' And Hezekiah wept bitterly." (vs 2-3)

A Rondel on Boys Who Weren't Necessarily Bad {ex12:13}

exodus-judging-a-rondel-on-boys-poem.png

For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.
Those oldest boys may have been perfectly upright;
no wickedness in them had been diagnosed,

no judgment that they were, to evil, a host,
but doomed even if they were kind and polite.
For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.

Even a Hebrew who thought smeared blood the most
distasteful and gruesome of any known sight,
who neglected to paint the jambs crimson-bright
would suddenly find his own firstborn a ghost,
for where there was no blood on the post…

 

Rondel: a French form consisting of 13 lines—two quatrains and a quintet—with a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA (the capital letters are the refrains, or repeats).

God wants a moment with you.

God wants a moment with you.

2 SAMUEL 23

Friends, applaud. The comedy is finished. —Ludwig van Beethoven

Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight. —Lord George Byron

Why do you weep? Did you think I was immortal? —King Louis XIV

I’m bored with it all. —Winston Churchill

I have tried so hard to do the right. —President Grover Cleveland

All my possessions for a moment of time. —Queen Elizabeth I

Oh, do not cry. Be good children, and we will all meet in heaven. —President Andrew Jackson

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. —Oscar Wilde

These statements are all the famous last words of the person who uttered them. You might find some of them surprising. I certainly did. I thought Queen Elizabeth’s utterance was especially insightful. When you come right down to it, you can’t take anything with you. And depending on how you’ve lived and where you’re at in life, you might give everything you have for more time.

God is a tenderhearted father.

God is a tenderhearted father.

2 SAMUEL 18

Outside of Jesus’s cry of abandonment on the cross, this chapter contains, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching cry in the Bible: "O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!" (vs 33) Sure, at first you might think any father would be devastated over the loss of a child. But this wasn’t your average child. Absalom wasn’t a good boy. In fact, when he was killed, he had one goal in mind: to murder his father.

God looks at life and death differently than we do.

God looks at life and death differently than we do.

2 SAMUEL 14

I loved verse 14 in this chapter. Let me quote it here from the New Living Translation: "All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him."

God is life.

God is life.

1 SAMUEL 20

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. I know several dear people who are struggling with illness, and I have several friends who have just lost someone they loved. And the ten-year anniversary of my own father’s death is coming up in a few months. I will never forget the final moments of his life—sitting beside him, rubbing his feet and legs while he took his last breaths.

True Famine {gn43}

Photo © Unsplash/Patrick Hendry

Photo © Unsplash/Patrick Hendry

There was no food to be found
growing in the land
but there was
a bumper crop of fear.

Jacob was afraid
he was going to starve to death
or lose Benjamin
trying not to.

Jacob's sons were afraid
of being overpowered
captured
and forced into slavery
     in other words
     exactly what
     they had done
     to Joseph.

Fear, fear everywhere
as if there was
no God of our fathers
no Yahweh-Elohim
no Jehovah-Jireh.

What would it have mattered
if Israel had no shortage of food
when there was such a
famine of faith?

 

God values human life.

God values human life.

DEUTERONOMY 21

At first blush, this may seem like a strange chapter on which to affix a title like God values human life. After all, it references things such as murder, stoning, hanging, and captivity. Yet, beneath the discussion — like a strong undercurrent — I see a God who is trying to instill in His people a fundamental respect for life. Let’s take a quick peek at each section: