My times are in Thy hand:
deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
Note: Please understand that my purpose for writing this study is not to rebuke those with a wrong perspective on death, nor to make light of someone's struggle over the death of a loved one; but my purpose is to lessen their struggle and increase their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ by helping to give them the Biblical perspective of the issue. I believe that if we remember what the Lord has said in His Word, then we would not be sorrowful as those without hope. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13) If you are grieving over the loss of a loved one right now, and are looking for answers, please prayerfully read over this study. If you are not ready for answers at this point, please save this study on your computer, and down the road you will have it handy when you need it.
The Bible teaches quite clearly that the Almighty God is in control of our lives and deaths. He is the one who has decreed our physical boundaries, our physical characteristics, our personality. (See Acts 17:26; Ecclesiastes 3:2; Psalm 139:13-16) He is also the one who has determined when and where we would be born, and when and where we would die. Death is not an accident; it is an appointment. Hebrews 9:27 says And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
Death comes to all. It is a result of sin; in fact, it is the punishment for it. (See Romans 6:23) Ecclesiastes 8:8 There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it. Everyone living will someday die (except for those Christians who are living when Jesus Christ returns, at the rapture). Death should not come as a surprise. The tragedy is not so much in dying, but in being unprepared for death and the judgement that comes after.
The way we can be prepared to face death is by placing personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His death for our sins on Calvary. We were all guilty of death, but the Bible teaches that Jesus tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). He died in our place as our substitute. He took the punishment that was due us for our sins, and by placing personal faith in His death, burial and resurrection, we can spend eternity in Heaven, instead of Hell. Because I have personally trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I need not fear death - it is only the doorway to Heaven for me. When I die, I go to be with Jesus and all my saved loved ones. 2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Ps 68:20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death. This verse teaches that it is the Lord alone who can issue a pardon and deliver us from death. There are two main applications to this truth:
1) Death means separation. The first death is physical - the separation of the spirit from the body. (See James 2:26) The second death is spiritual - the separation of the spirit from God. (See 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9) This is called the second death in Scripture, and is otherwise known as Hell. (See Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8) Only Jesus Christ can deliver us from the punishment due our sins (eternity in Hell). He took our punishment upon Him when He shed His blood for us upon the cross. The price of our redemption was paid. We do not need to pay it ourselves - we just need to believe in and receive the Saviour who has paid our debt. This is our issue from the second death.
2) The second application is the deliverance from physical death. When we are faced with a life-threatening illness or enemies that seek to kill us, it is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can issue us the pardon and deliver us from death. He is the only person with this authority. We need to petition Him for deliverance when we (or our loved ones) are faced with physical death, but we also need to submit to (accept) His will in the matter. It may not be the Lord's will to deliver someone at a specific time; we must leave the decision in His hands, the hands that were graven for us! Isaiah 49:15-16 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me.
So many people are afraid to face death and live in bondage to their fear. (See Hebrews 2:14-15) If we are children of God (through faith in Christ), we need not be afraid of dying. We can live in faith, knowing that our times are in His hands, that He is in total control of when we live and die, and we can trust Him that in His perfect wisdom He knows the best time to take us home. When an infant (or young child) dies and when a believer dies, the Bible teaches that they go immediately to Heaven, to a much better place, to dwell in the presence of God forever. It may bring Him more glory and result in more souls being saved if He took His ailing child home. It may be greater mercy on the Lord's part to take the sick Christian to Heaven, where they will be perfectly healed and made whole and will not suffer any more. When a believer dies, they have gone to a infinitely better place with no sickness, no pain, no sorrow, only unending joy.
The Bible teaches that the Lord takes the righteous home to give them relief from the evil to come, and that their deaths are precious in His sight. (See Isaiah 57:1-2; Psalm 116:15) The righteous enter into peace when they die; they enter into the eternal hope that they've been waiting for. (Proverbs 14:32)
I know Christians love that part. They don't have a problem with that; however, they have a problem with the deaths of their unsaved loved ones, those that die without receiving Jesus Christ as their Saviour. I know from the Word of God that when an unbeliever dies, they have already made their eternal choice - whether we agree with it or not. The Lord took them when He knew it was best, according to His infinite wisdom. I believe that an all-knowing God would not take an unbeliever while they were searching, looking for truth, if He knew that person would come to place personal faith in Jesus a little further down the road. He has promised that those who seek Him will find Him.
Two verses that have really eased my mind on this point are:
Matthew 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Our Heavenly Father is in control of when we die. When we do, it will be according to His perfect will, not an accident or oversight. We can trust Him with our lives and our deaths.
Revelation 1:18 I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Jesus Christ has the keys of Hell and death. That means that no one dies without His say, no unbeliever goes to Hell until He says so. Even the devil has to get permission to kill a believer. (See Job 1:12; 2:6) Our job, as believers, is to ensure that we have done all we can to reach the lost around us, especially our loved ones. If we are doing so, then when an unbeliever we love has died, we don't have to be tormented in mind about what ifs. They made their choice, and the Lord has allowed them the free-will to do so.
When Jesus was dying on the cross, He submitted His will to the will of His Heavenly Father, and trusted His Father with His spirit in death. Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost. Jesus is our example to follow. If we are saved, we can trust our Heavenly Father in this area as well. To die in faith will not be a problem, if we live in faith. If we trust the Lord with our spirit (and soul) during our lives, it will be an easy matter to trust Him with our spirit in death. Psalm 31:5 Into Thine hand I commit my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. 2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
When a believer dies, it is like taking a walk through a valley. Ps 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. It is only the shadow of death. Jesus Christ has taken away the sting and bite of it. (See 1 Corinthians 15:55, 57) For the believer, there is nothing to fear – only endless glory to look forward to.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
I especially like the next verse (verse 18): Wherefore comfort one another with these words. There’s a reason these promises are in the Bible. They were put in there by the Lord to encourage and strengthen us, to comfort us, and to exhort us to to keep our eyes on the future hope of seeing all our saved loved ones again someday. That someday won’t be too far away. Oh come, Lord Jesus.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.
And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
“Even so” – it is well with my soul.
From the hymn It Is Well With My Soul by H.G. Spafford.
I've Gone Home
I've gone home to see my Father,
I've gone home, so don't you cry
I'll be waiting for you in Heaven,
In my mansion prepared on high.
No more sickness, no more sorrow,
No more pain, and no more grief.
I've gone home to be with Jesus
Though my sojourn here was brief.
I've gone home to live in Heaven
With all the blessed saints of old,
Here with Abraham and David
To stroll through streets of gold.
I've gone home to be in Heaven
Where there's no sadness, and no night.
There is joy and peace unending,
In this blissful land of light.
But there's something else more beautiful,
So precious, beyond this crystal sea,
As I wander through realms of glory
I find my Saviour walks with me.
I've gone home to be in Heaven,
Though you miss me, and tears abound,
Just keep believing in God's promises,
And listening for that trumpet sound.
Because one day in God's timing
When the Lord calls out your name
Look to the skies in awe and wonder -
We'll see each other again.
Poem written August 1st, 2002
Study written June 5th, 2002
By Jerry Bouey
Eagle's Wings Ministries
The Christian Counter