Well, for the True Believer who may be living when Christ returns, the only certain thing is "taxes", because "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1Co15:51-52) Thus, the one who when Christ returns is "...living and believing into [Jesus] shall never ever die." (Jn11:26)
But for those who don't know the Lord, through repentance of sin and Saving Faith in Jesus Christ's shed blood on the cross and resurrection from the dead: everyone alive is a sinner. "...there is none who does good, no, not one." (Rom3:12) "They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt." (Ps14:3) "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and "the wages of sin is death" (Rom3:23,6:23a) "the soul who sins shall die" (Ezk18:4b) "..it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment," (Heb9:27) "And many of those sleeping in the earthís dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting abhorrence." (Dan12:2)
Unregenerate man has all sorts of thoughts about death, and how to commemorate it. An old cowboy song used to say: "And when I die take my saddle from the wall, and put it on my pony and lead him from his stall"....and the song goes on to say how the dead cowboy will now "ride the prairies he loved so well".
When soldiers die they are memorialized with a rifle, hard hat, boots, etc. The boots unworn, the rifle unheld, the hat undonned. When a president dies they might symbolize the death of the commander-in-chief with the "riderless horse". Or if planes are flying in formation, one of them veers off by itself, away from the formation, symbolizing the lost comrade.
Many people believe in various notions of post-death deification: that the spirits of the departed remain with and around us, only in the 'spiritual' dimension, but they are still around "watching out for" us and "protecting" us. They don't look to God, but to the alleged spirits of dead ancestors.
Last month we took a lesson from a local memorial service held in honor of a fallen police officer in Moscow, ID. Last month we observed the -chaplain- who spoke.
But there was another moment that was quite moving. Indeed, when the daughters read their "Dear Daddy" letters, and when the son, in military uniform, could not retain his composure as he saluted his fallen father, as cameras panned, there seemed (confirmed to me by a local officer who was in attendance) to hardly be a dry eye in the audience. But what was even more compelling to me was something near the very end. I'm assuming a 'recording' prepared beforehand (?) and played over the PA speakers. It was a simulated police dispatch 'broadcast', as if over all the officer radios on the police channel (more or less as I'm remembering the pertinent parts of it)...
When a person dies, what is left to the living? One cannot call to them, "Hey, Jack, would you come give me a hand with this...." Family goes home, walks through the door, and there is the overwhelming sound of -Silence- where that person's presence used to be. They no longer occupy their 'place' at the table. Perhaps loved ones go visit the grave and -talk- 'to' the departed; but there is no response.
But the fact that they have departed is a lesson and warning to the living: that where they went, so we too will go...unless the living know the Lord and are expectant of the Lord's return in the Rapture. But if the Lord hasn't yet returned, and it is a person's 'time', WE -ALL- GO THERE. We -all- travel through the "gates of death" (Job38:17)
How do we travel through those gates? Alone? In dread and fear? Certainly, there is a bit of 'uncertainty' because we have never been that way before, and until we travel it, it is not "disclosed" to us. (Job38:17) A person going down a long steep slide into the pool of water the very first time might be 'nervous' before committing. What is that first skydiving 'jump' out the airplane like? These things are merely nerves and jitters. But to travel death's door?
For the one who knows God, we can share the psalmist's confidence, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Ps23:4) Notice it doesn't say that there is "no fear". Of course there is a little fear "of the unknown". But there is No Fear "of evil". It might be "scary" to go through the door, but on the other side, for the Believer, is the blessing of being "home with the Lord".
But if a person doesn't know the Lord, 'who' is waiting on the other side? Satan has this to look forward to: "Sheol from below is excited over you, to meet you at your coming. It stirs up the dead for you, all the chief of the earth." (Is14:9) Think of a horror flick where scary ghosts are reaching their spiny fingers towards you. That's the company you will keep, and it will be in the Lake of Fire. (Rev20:14-15)
But as one leaves this life, what is one's legacy by which they are remembered? Were they a good person, whom people mourn? Or were they a real scoundrel and, "Good riddance!" ?
And... is every last little thing we did taken into account? The Great White Throne judgment looks at the "books" to determine one's destiny and judgment. (Rev20:12) Jesus said that "every idle word" a person speaks is held accountable to us. (Mt12:36) So if a person broke the speed limit, does that determine the afterlife? Supposing a person became angry and had 'words' with somebody and then patched things up again, is that of major consequence? There are some people who are so paranoid about being "pleasing to God...IN EVERY AREA" of life that they will engage in rituals of "prayer" before every activity to have God's "blessing" on each thing: before they start up their car, before beginning a game of softball, before this, before that.
How did God place man on this earth? When each baby is born does God have a "schedule" for each one, handed to the parents, mapping out each minute of each day, and if they deviate from any miniscule thing, are they due God's judgment? Or did God create mankind with free will? Did He not command man to "have dominion" over the creation. (Ge1:26) When Adam was created God gave him the task to "name" the animals, and whatever Adam named them, that is what they are called. (Ge2:19-20) God created the flying creatures to "fly to and fro" (Ge1:20) If a bird deviates one inch from some sort of pre-imagined flight path, is that outside God's will? Like we speculate on occasion: Does God care if I wear the red shirt or the blue one? Does He care if I drive a Honda or a Chevy? He has left much of life to our own free choices. He has put us here to "eat and drink and to enjoy the good of [our] labor" (Ec3:13)
Think of a parent with a toddler: Let's go over here. Toddler meanders over to check out a piece of dog dropping. No, no, no... come over here, let's wipe those dirty hands; OK, let's keep going. Another meander over somewhere else to scare up some birds. Another re-direct. Eventually toddler reaches the desired destination, and: "Good Booooy!!!!"
As Believers we -do- sin (deviate) occasionally and commit trespasses; but then we "confess" and receive God's cleansing. (1Jn1:8-10) Jesus expressed it in terms of a person who has been bathed being "clean", but just needing to have the feet washed. (Jn13:10) Thus, we can understand Paul's words: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..." (Rom8:28-29) That process of "conforming" might include some re-shaping, re-directing. Thankfully God is...
Why does it not also include Bathsheba? After all, the reason he had Uriah killed was to cover up the fact that he had gotten Bathsheba pregnant in adultery. Could this be a little hint that David and Bathsheba's affair resulted from Bathsheba's enticement of David through her "bathing" where she knew David could see her? That the fault for that incident was more on her? (2Sa11:2)
We could certainly pick at straws till the cows come home. But what we see is God's mercy. God's grace. David was a man whose life was -CHARACTERIZED- by a heart that sought after God's commands. David may have deviated now and again, but he was also of a humility that would confess his sin before God. And when he died, his epitaph was that he had been "righteous" before God, EXCEPT where he shed innocent blood.
In the beginning God breathed life into man (Gen2:7) and after the flood established basically ONE LAW for (generic) mankind:
What is the whole point in looking at those who have gone before? Well, Israel's history was recorded for us to learn by: "Now these things became examples for us, so that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted..." that we should receive "admonition" (1Co10:6,11)
Or: "cautionary advice".
We can look at David's life with all its ups and downs, and take hope for ourselves when we see ourselves failing and then being lifted back up again, and realize that even though we are "dust", God still considers us "righteous" through Jesus Christ. We may stumble, but God allows us to "rise up again" (Pr24:16)
But we also need to take to heart that if we mess up big time, God does not overlook it. Yes, David repented and was forgiven (Ps51, 2Sa12:13); but as he passed through the gates of death, that spot marred his otherwise "perfect" record. As Paul illustrates how our works are "tried by fire" to determine the rewards or lack thereof (1Co3:13-15)
Yes, we may sin, and God's grace will cover it when we confess. But "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom6:1-2)
But when we have passed through the 'gate', how are we ushered in to the other side? And what legacy have we left on this side to those who remain?