We normally think of death as a loss. And in this last week or so, that has been the case. We have seen the loss of Betty, a fine upstanding Christian lady, whose smile & bright conversation we all remember. A sister in the Lord, who has long been a member of this church. Her passing is a loss. We use the term “passing away” because it is a loss to all who knew her and loved her. Her passing away means the loss a wife, a mother, & perhaps a sister & brother – I am sure those details will be related to all who attend her funeral on Tues. That is how we think of death – it is in terms of our loss.
But that is not the only way to think of the death of a Christian. The death of a Christian is precious in the sight of the Lord.
In order for us to understand how the Word of God can say that, we must attempt to see things through God’s eyes. We see things as they appear to be, but God sees everything as it stands in his eternal order and purpose. I would like for us to consider some ways in which the death of a Christian is precious. In particular, in the light of our text, there are a number of things that are confirmed to us.
His eye is never taken from us. Notice, this is what the verse says. “Precious in the sight of the Lord.” He always has us in His sight. “He keeps you as the apple of His eye.”
When we think of death, we normally think of something solitary. Death is not something we can share. We are alone. We can be surrounded by family, but at death we depart, and we are alone – “it is appointed unto man once to die…!”
My wife’s parents were together for 65 years. If you included the time when they met, when Pop arrived on Grandfather’s farm as an orphan – a ward of the state, they were 13, it would be 76 years they had been together. Jenny’s Mum has that one regret. She was not able to be there when Pop passed away. She was 1 hour late. She feels that she failed him. We can understand that. We would want to be there for our loved ones, if we could. There is no doubt that there is comfort to be close to those we love at the time of death. But friends, no matter how close we try to be, when we depart through that final door, we depart alone.
And yet, if we are believers we are never alone. There is One who will not fail us. He will never leave us. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always.” He will ensure we do not pass away alone. The angels were ready to accompany Lazarus at his passing. As John Trapp says, “in life the angels are our supporters, at death they are our porters.”
We all have highlights in our life. I remember the SS anniversaries. It was the one time my parents came to church when I was young. We each have moments that are precious. Our graduation – marriage – birth of children – start first job. Out of all those highlights, none of us would place the day of our death as one of the highlights of our life.
But it is to God. Do you know why? God’s purpose is to involve us in His eternal purpose. He has a place for us, and His design is to show us more of His goodness – Eph.2:7. Our death is precious to God because at that moment, we begin to experience a whole new realm of love and goodness. Should it not be precious to God, when He has so much bounty to shower upon us.
I always remember our Christmas mornings, when our kids were small. We loved to watch their faces…..!
Our Lord gives us an insight as to what is involved. Pls turn to Joh.17 – “Father I will, that those You have given me, be with Me to behold my glory.” The day of our death may not be precious to us, but it is to the Lord. He above all others, knows it is the beginning of perfect blessedness.
Richard Baxter – “If a man that is desperately sick today, did believe he should arise sound the next morning; or a man today, in despicable poverty, had assurance that he should tomorrow arise a prince, would they be afraid to go to bed…?
There are many in society who believe death ends all. That is once of the reasons behind the push to legalise euthanasia. People think of themselves as nothing more than animals – and we wouldn’t let an animal suffer. Certainly not, because an animal does not have an eternal soul. But we do. And up to the moment when we take our last breath, we are bound to keep the laws of God – “Thou shalt not kill.”
If all our existence terminated, like a torch going flat, because we are nothing more than some electrical impulse that fades out, and passes into oblivion; then where is the preciousness in that. There is none. But our death is precious to God, because life goes on, and we must remind ourselves of that.
We who are left behind will feel the agony of the loss of loved ones. We will miss them more than we can express. And some of you are experiencing that even now. But if they were believers, it is only a matter of time before we are reunited. This must comfort us in our pain. If we & they were believers, they are not lost to us. Their death was precious to the Lord, and He will see to it, they are not lost to us.
All God’s works are programmed Eph.1:10. They are known to Him. It is already fixed. The time and method of our death. Betty died in her sleep, probably from a stroke. I am sure the memory of our loved ones passing away in such a manner is a comfort to us.
Can you imagine the emotional agony for those who lose a loved one in a violent death. Perhaps by murder, or to be killed in war. We won’t all die peacefully in our sleep. Some of us have lost loved ones in car crashes. Or from cancer. What do we do when those we love do not die so peacefully. Stephen was the first martyr. He died a brutal death. His loved ones took his battered body and buried him. All the apostles died likewise, like their Master, in a brutal fashion.
At the beginning of this sermon, I urged you to see death from God’s point of view. The fact is, it is immaterial how we die, or whatever mode of death comes to us – for whichever way we die, our death is precious in God’s sight.
In Rev.6:9 John sees in his vision, the souls of those who were slain for the word of God, and they cried ‘How long O Lord, until you avenge our blood.’ The Lord calms them and says, ‘rest a little while longer.’ You see, death will come to everyone sooner or later, and the ways & means of dying are myriad – the important thing is not how, but when – and when it happens, that moment is precious in the sight of God.
If our loved ones are killed by a drunken driver; or executed in a flood of persecution; or murdered by house breakers – they are unthinkable memories to be left with us. But if anything will preserve us from going insane with grief and bitterness it will be this truth. It will preserve us in our faith and comfort. Death is death, no matter how it comes, if we are a saint – a believer, it is precious in God’s sight.
In Ps.72 we are told, “their blood is precious in His sight.” Those who make too much of this present world cannot see this truth; and even those of us who have faith, it is hard to grasp. But grasp it, we must. This is our comfort. God has already appointed our death, because it is precious to Him.
Do you remember our Lord signified to Peter what sort of death he would have. The Lord knew. Peter’s life was already mapped out. “The days fashioned for him, when as yet there was none of them.” – “By this He signified what death Peter would die.” He knew – why? Because it was precious to Christ.
And even now my friend, if you are a believer, the moment of your death is already marked out. It is already precious to the Lord. He has already arranged which angels will carry us forth. Christ has already prepared a place for us. When it all happens – whether it is a stroke or heart attack, or cancer, or a gun, or a car crash – for us, it will be immaterial. This is what must comfort those who are left behind.
We think our lives are precious. We think no one cares about our life more than we do. If we cut ourselves we doctor ourselves up. If we have a pain, we see a doctor. We tread carefully through the dark to avoid holes & rocks. We are careful in crossing the road. We take care because no one cares more about our lives than we do. They are precious.
Now I am sorry to shock you, but if we are Christians, all that must change. We must correct that thinking, that none cares for our life more than we do. Jesus said, “he who would save his life must lose it.” If we truly count our life as precious, then we must be ready to abandon it to Christ. There is only one way to save our lives, and that is to believe there is one who considers our life is more precious than we do ourselves. That is Christ. He laid down His life for us. The Bible says, “we are no longer our own, we are bought at a price.
“He that seeks to gain his life will lose it, but he that loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same will gain it.”
In other words, He is announcing to us, that He counts our life more precious than we do. But if we want to hold onto it, and we want to take charge of it, we will lose it. We cannot save ourselves. He must save us. He must do everything for us. He must have all the glory for saving us. Or we are not saved.
“He that loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same will gain it.” He is not urging us to do away with ourselves, but to let go of trying to save ourselves. He calls us to trust Him to save us. If you keep hoping in anything you have done, to save yourself, you have lost your soul.
How can we arrive at such a position where we can give up on trying to save ourselves, and start trust Him completely, to save us? We can, if we believe we are precious to Him. Do you doubt it? Then look to the cross – see His suffering – see Him abandoned – see Him in awful anguish crying out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” Did He not do that, because you were precious to Him.
“He that spared not His own Son but …..!
Surely our text confirms how immeasurably precious believers are to the Lord. If a sparrow does not fall to the ground w/o our Heavenly Father, how much more precious are we, says our Lord. The hairs of your head are all numbered. David says he numbers our tears – keeps them in His bottle. Surely the moment of our death is of primary concern to Him who counts our hairs.
“….how shall He not with Him, freely give you all things?” Let me remind you of just one of those things – your death. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Amen.