Temple Baptist Church - 7-17-2011
A. We have looked at the secret to a happy life coupled with the ingredients that make up such a life. I want to take a short look at this thing of death or, as David described it, “the valley of the shadow of death.” I find that an interesting term and one that shows the doctrinal understanding of the Old Testament saint. David knew that death was not harmful; death was not permanent; and death was accompanied by the Lord Himself.
B. The Valley of the Shadow of Death is not:
1. A Fictitious Place. It is a reality soon to be experienced by each of us if the Lord does not return soon.
2. A Final Place. We will “walk through” the Valley and come out the other side to one place or another. Either heaven or hell.
3. A Fearful Place. To the child of God, there is to be no fear in death.
C. Some people are afraid of shadows. Shadows, in themselves, cannot harm you. Sometimes there is a reason to fear though. You sometimes need to fear what is casting the shadow. THREE THINGS THAT MAKE UP A SHADOW: 1) There must be a Real Object 2) There must be a Light 3) There must be a Place of Reflection
1. The object of the Valley of the Shadow of Death is the Lake of Fire. There are two types of death mentioned in the Bible: 1) Physical death (Hebrews 9:27) 2) Spiritual death (Revelation 21:8)
2. The light of the Valley of the Shadow of Death is the Bible. In order to have a shadow, there must be illumination. (2 Timothy 1:9-10)
3. The reflection of the illuminated object of the Valley of the Shadow of Death is the heart of man. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
D. Death is a reality! Ignore it and it will not go away. Try to escape and die anyway. Death is a Place of Appointment - none can escape. Death is a Place of Helplessness - none can prevent. Death is a Place of Separation - none can cross the gulf that is fixed. Death is a Place of Hopelessness - none can change it. Death is a Place of Permanence - no second chances.
E. Our trek towards death is a walk that begins at conception (still births, etc) and ends at the end of our lives. Preparation for death is made during life, not after the fact. I want to see a few things that make up a “peaceful” end to this life as we are ushered into the eternal presence of our Lord.
1. A Peaceful Death Requires Acknowledgement – “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” - 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.
That day is coming for each of us and life teaches us that we are but temporal creatures. This “vapour” that goes faster than a “weaver’s shuttle” is rapidly coming to an end for each of us. As I look around, those who were here when my family first came to Laurens are either gone already or have greatly changed with age. I was in my late 30’s and now am in my mid 60’s. I have buried family (both physical and spiritual) and friends over the years. You had better acknowledge that all of the diets, exercise, and plain old “not thinking about death” will not make it go away.
2. A Peaceful Death Requires Commitment – “Yea…fear no evil” - 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.
Death is not an evil thing! God loves you and I more that we can ever know! He wishes no evil upon His children and has allowed death to simply be the DOOR through which we walk into His presence. Jesus is that DOOR and it is He that swings wide our entrance into eternity. To the lost, it is the unknown but, to the saved, it is our escape from this life of sin, sickness, and sorrow! Death is the fulfillment of our purpose for being here.
3. A Peaceful Death Requires Contentment – “for thou art with me” - 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. (Commend – to present or to commit the keeping of)
“If Jesus goes with me I’ll go; anywhere! It’s heaven to me; wherever I be if He is there!” Our Lord promised that He would never leave nor forsake us! Where I go, He goes; where He goes, I go. The Apostle Paul called death gain and proclaimed that it was “far better” than life here. Here we find the contentment that comes only through faith and trust in our loving Saviour! His presence and peace will be with us when we close our eyes in death and death will be a sweet release from this “present evil world.”
4. A Peaceful Death Requires Expectation – “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” – Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (Carried! What an insight into death was given in this story, not only concerning heaven and hell, but also the confidence that we have in the process of death and delivery.)
Psalms 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” If it is “precious” to the Lord, then it will be “precious” to us! We will be guided, protected, and comforted when our time to die comes. I believe that! When the saint dies, it will be alright. We do not have the grace to die until it comes time to die. God will give “dying grace” at the exact moment that we need it and we will find that that grace will be sufficient to carry us through the “valley of the shadow of death.” It is then that we will find that death is truly a “shadow” and, thank God, not the “substance” of eternal death.
5. A Peaceful Death Requires Excitement – “And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” - Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; (2) While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: (3) In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, (4) And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; (5) Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: (6) Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. (7) Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
Solomon described death as “man goeth to his long home.” This is our short home but one day, we will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” No sin, no sorrow, no sickness, no parting, no disappointments, no discouragement, no devil, no necessities, and no more curse. Home forever and ever and ever and ever and, when you get through all of those “forever’s,” say, “AMEN!”
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (Peace is found only in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ!)