PART 4 THE UNCERTAINTY OF DEATH
PART 4 THE UNCERTAINTY OF DEATH
The Young Men, and They Are Dead
I don’t know whether you believe there are invisible forces of good and evil operating on the earth. If you are not sure this next story will give you a glimpse as to what might be taking place in some of the lives of those who are following God.
Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly
Suggested Reading: Job 1:1
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
As I read the Biblical description of him, I thought about a person we had talked about earlier named Noah. What we can conclude about Job is that God revealed himself to him concerning salvation and he responded. He was perfect (a man of integrity) and upright (honest in his dealings; a man on whose word people rest); one that feared (worshipped) God, and eschewed (refused to follow the way of) evil. His prosperity of wealth in respect to the agricultural economy at the time indicated that his substance (purchased property) was greater than anyone who lived to the east of Palestine. He was also prosperous as to having many children, seven sons and three daughters.
Job 1:6-7 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
Unbeknownst to him a group of fallen angels, who accompanied their leader Satan, are now before the Lord informing Him of their true purpose on earth which was to go here and there looking for someone who was righteous whom they could hinder in regard to their walk with Him. I’m sure they on various occasions reported to God and probably conveyed to Him how most of His created beings were not subservient to Him and if any were they only did it on account of His blessings which He bestowed on them.
The Lord responded to them in effect saying, Job follows me, but not because of his material or family blessings. They refuted this claim and said, But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. In other words, allow us to do to him whatever we desire and he will decide to no longer follow you. So, God granted their request except he told them they would not be allowed to take his life.
What occurred next is an alarming display of the power of the forces of evil. I’m sure for many the idea of an actual devil let alone an army of supernatural beings that follow him is a myth. If anyone were to say this or that calamity occurred because of the devil, they would be probably considered as being mentally ill.
A messenger came to Job and reported to him saying that a group of people called the Sabeans all of sudden showed up and attacked (killed) those servants of his who were guarding the cattle (oxen and cows) and asses (female donkeys) taking these animals away with them. I’m sure this might have been something that was not considered as being out of the ordinary. Some people do bad things. When Job heard this news he had no idea that the forces of evil were at work. As soon as the messenger had finished speaking, another one arrived and told him of another calamity. He said that a fire (firebolt) had come down from heaven and killed his sheep and those watching over them. I wonder what was going on through Job’s mind when he got this news. A firebolt? Probably what most of us would have been thinking, are you kidding me?
If we believe that these events actually occurred can we believe that another messenger arrived just as the other one had finished speaking and said that the Chaldeans came in three groups killing those servants who looked after the large number of camels and took off with them? At this point, all of his agricultural wealth was gone. Could he have been thinking I have lost all of my possessions, but I still have my family? And then the final pronouncement came. Another messenger brought him the worst news of all, Out of nowhere a great wind (a whirling wind) from the wilderness (a region or country BEYOND, or on the OTHER SIDE11) caused the house where his sons and daughters were living to collapse, and all of them were killed.
I can’t imagine what had just transpired. It’s one thing to lose your possessions, but it’s quite another thing to lose your possessions and all of your children.
What was Job’s response? What would have been my response?
I would probably have said, God how could you have let this happen to me? I served you faithfully day to day. We are friends. We have the same goal in mind, to let others know about you with the hope of a response to your invitation of salvation. Do you think that these could be some of the thoughts Job was contemplating?
Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
So, Job arose and ripped his outer garment and shaved his head both of which were signs of mourning. After which he fell down (lying or kneeling, and touching the forehead on the ground12) and worshipped God. His worship consisted of expressing to God his thoughts or perspective on what had happened. He said that as he came into this world out of his mother’s womb without earthly possessions so he will return. He thanked God for the privilege of allowing him to have a family and found consolation in the belief that an intelligent and holy Sovereign presided over his affairs13). He understood that prosperity and adversity happens to every person. In this instance, adversity was at his door, intense heartbreaking adversity. He blessed (gave praise and honor) to Jehovah. In all this, he didn’t sin, because he didn’t charge (murmur) against God foolishly (with wrong or blame).
What can we deduce from this story concerning the subject of death? We learned that death could be attributed to unseen invisible forces of evil whose purpose is to thwart God’s plan for those who have responded to his initiation for salvation. We also learned that these forces can influence (motivate) people’s minds to commit horrendous acts on their fellow humans for personal gain without any regard about their possessions or well being. These forces also have the ability to use the various phenomena of nature to bring about destruction and devastation.
The subject of death has taken us to look at some of the many causes of it. However, is there an example of such when someone who was facing certain death did something that got God’s attention which caused the perception of the perpetrators to change?
Religion Has a Godly Appearance
I’m sure you have heard of such a thing as a stay of execution where someone who has been convicted of a heinous crime is about to be punished for it and at the last minute an appeal is made to prevent the planned judgment from taking place. Do you think there could be a stay of death where God intervenes and prevents it from happening? If this is the case, what would cause God to act in such a manner?
Nevertheless there are good things found in thee
Suggested Reading; 2 Chronicles 17:1-19:3
This is the story about a king named Jehoshaphat. Asa, the king of the Southern Kingdom of the two tribes of Judah, dies, and his son, Jehoshaphat, succeeded him. Apparently, at this time, there were hostilities between the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. One of the first things Jehoshaphat did was to reinforce the fenced (fortified) cities (fortresses) along the northern front of the territory with troops in conjunction with establishing garrisons (military posts) throughout the land.
3 And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim;
4 But sought to the Lord God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel.
As far as his walk with God is concerned, scriptures convey to us that he followed the Lord God (Yahweh) of his father, king Asa, walking in His commandments, the divine institutions as enacted by Moses14, and not according to the doings (Baal-worship properly so called, but also the worship of Jahve by means of images15) of Israel. By the way, Baal was the Canaanite name for the Syrian god Hadad, god of storms and wars16.
Anything that was associated with pagan worship such as high places (places of worship) and groves (sacred trees set up near an altar) were destroyed. He revitalized the worship of Yahweh by sending princes (laymen of high position), Levites, and priests to go into all of the cities of Judah, instructing the people in the Law.
As a result, peace from their enemies ensued. They even brought to the king monetary currency and an abundance of livestock as presents. Blessings abounded. However, right around the corner an important strategic decision involving a military alliance was about to be presented to Jehoshaphat. What would he do? Would he enter into it? Would he consult God concerning it beforehand?
2 Chronicles 18:1-2 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab. And after certain years he went down to Ahab to Samaria. And Ahab killed sheep and oxen for him in abundance, and for the people that he had with him, and persuaded him to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead.
This military alliance involved Jehoshaphat and the king of Israel named Ahab. Before this was even brought up an alliance had already taken place of a different nature. Jehoshaphat gave affinity (gave his daughter away in marriage) to Ahab’s son, Joram. This set the stage for the next alliance. Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to meet up with him at the capital city of the Northern Kingdom, called Samaria. When he did Ahab expressed to him his desire to reclaim a city called Ramoth, located in Gilead that was once a part of his territory from the Syrians who took it from him. Should Jehoshaphat simply say yes because of the marriage alliance or should his response be to consult the Lord in this matter?
2 Chronicles 18:5-6 Therefore the king of Israel gathered together of prophets four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the king's hand. But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him?
Jehoshaphat’s response was, let’s pray (inquire) of the Lord (la-Yahweh). I thought this was a tremendous answer. And what was Ahab’s response? He reveals to Jehoshaphat the pagan faith that he has adopted. He gathers together four hundred prophets and asked them if the armies of Israel and Judah should go up together and recapture Ramoth to which they all said, yes. Surely this would convince Jehoshaphat that God was with them, right? But somehow he recognized that these prophets did not follow Yahweh. And so, he asked Ahab if there was a prophet of the Lord that he knew of. He said there was one named Micaiah whom he disliked because he never prophesied anything favorable when he was asked about such and such.
So, Micaiah was summoned and asked if they should attempt to capture the city of Ramoth to which he emphatically said no. He also mentioned that if they nonetheless decided to go forth that Ahab would be killed in battle. Instead of Ahab thanking him for this warning, he became angry as to the declared prophecy and had him put in prison. What was Jehoshaphat’s response? Shouldn’t an alarm bell have gone off when he saw that this prophet was put in prison? What would benefit a prophet of the Lord to go before the king and lie? For whatever reason, Jehoshaphat must have been convinced that this prophecy was false. So, he joined in with Ahab on the assault of Ramoth.
2 Chronicles 18:29 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and will go to the battle; but put thou on thy robes. So the king of Israel disguised himself; and they went to the battle.
As the armies of Judah and Israel were on their way to encounter the army of Syria, Ahab has a brilliant idea as to how to thwart Micaiah’s prophecy just in case if it was true. He decided to disguise himself by taking off his royal robes, while Jehoshaphat was told to keep his royal garb on. Ahab probably theorized that according to prophecy the Syrian forces would be looking to kill him. Therefore, even though Jehoshaphat was wearing royal clothing he would be spared because the prophecy said nothing about his death.
So, the battle was underway. The king of Syria decides to tell those who are commanding the chariots to find the kind of Israel and kill him above all else. At some point, they saw someone with kingly robes on and assumed it was him. They proceeded to surround him and come in for the kill. And then something truly remarkable happened. Did God open the earth and swallow up their army? Did God have them somehow turn and fight each other? No.
2 Chronicles 18:31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.
Very frightenedly Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord and the Lord assisted him by somehow allowing them to recognize that he was not the king they were looking for and so they turned away from pursuing him. Eventually, they caught up with King Ahab, and an enemies’ arrow was shot piercing through him and he died. The prophecy of Micaiah was true after all. I thought there was one more thing to mention concerning Jehoshaphat in respect to God’s intervention when he called out to him for help.
2 Chronicles 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.
Jehoshaphat immediately returned with his army back to Jerusalem. When he arrives, a prophet of the Lord named Jehu approached him and said that God was angry with him in that he aided a fellow king who followed another god and received council from false prophets. However, there were good things found in Jehoshaphat, such as taking away the groves (sacred trees set up near a pagan altar) along with establishing his heart to seek the Lord.
I found this interesting in that when we look at the life of Stephen, the deacon at Jerusalem, or the life of the apostle Peter what we notice is that they were martyred and yet neither of them cried out to the Lord for deliverance. It could be assumed they brought themselves to the realization that whatever was to happen to them was God’s plan. Jehoshaphat could have thought about his situation in the same way, but he didn’t. Instead, he cried out to the Lord and the Lord helped him.
How far would you go to see your child brought back from the dead? Do you believe that God could do this? This next story will provide for us the details of such an occurrence.
14Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 12 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
15Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 15 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
16Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament.
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