A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: When the Righteous Die (Isaiah 57:1-2)

"The righteous perishes, and no one lays it to heart, and merciful men 
are taken away; no one considers that the righteous is taken away from 
the face of evil. He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their 
beds, each one walking in his uprightness." (Is57:1-2)

Isn't it interesting to observe the behavior of the living, when 
somebody has died. Back during my college days when I would hire myself 
out as an organist, I heard lots of crying, as typically the organ 
console would usually be in close proximity to the casket in these 
funeral parlors; so I would hear all this as the living would file by to 
get one last look at the dead.

If a heinous rapist/murderer gets only 'life' in prison, people complain 
(and rightly so) that the scoundrel isn't executed...he is "not fit to 
live"; why should state/tax resources be expended to sustain the life of 
such a person, when there are needy people for whom there aren't 
sufficient funds to help them properly; and the life of our loved one 
was snuffed out. If a scoundrel dies... well, "good riddance...he got 
what he deserved!"

But if a seemingly 'good' person dies: Oh how sad! Such a 'vibrant' 
young person, who was full of zest and loved life, to have their life 
snuffed out in the 'prime' of their life! And the minds start 
philosophizing: Why do such bad things happen to good people? 

In other words, in their minds:  Death is a -bad- thing.

Jeroboam, the king whom God used to break Israel away from Judah as 
punishment for all of Solomon's sins of idolatry brought in from all his 
pagan wives, began a sin in Israel that would stick with the northern 
kingdom for the remainder of its existence. Throughout the O.T., of each 
new king it is stated in terms like: He did evil in the eyes of 
Jehovah...following in the sin of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin... 
because he made a couple of golden calves and had people bowing to them, 
in order to keep them from being obedient to God's Laws and Feasts, to 
make the annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem (in Judah) (2Ki13:2, 
1Ki12:29,32), and to worship -only- at the place God appointed. 
(De12:13-14, 1Ki8:29, etc)

So in preparation for judgment, God takes the life of one of Jeroboam's 
sons. While the boy is still sick, Jeroboam sends his wife to the 
prophet, disguised to look like somebody else, and as she steps into the 
prophet's dwelling, the prophet, having been prepared by God ahead of 
time, calls out: "Come in, wife of Jeroboam! Why do you pretend to be 
another person? For I am sent to you with a difficult message." The 
prophet then tells her that the son will die as she enters the city when 
she gets back home. And then gives this explanation:

"And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one 
of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave; because out of the whole house 
of Jeroboam, only in him there is found something good toward Jehovah 
the God of Israel." (1Ki14:13)

We're not going to get into the argument/debate about "election vs free 
will". Scripture is quite clear that God's predestination of people is 
based on His "foreknowledge" of them. (Rom8:29)  God "foreknew" of what 
sorts Jacob and Esau would be, and made proclamations about them, even 
before they were born, "the elder shall serve the younger". (Gen25:23, 
Rom9:12)  We can understand Paul's mention of their "election" even 
before they had been born, to have committed good or bad deeds. God 
knows "the end from the beginning" of all things. (Is46:10)

And so, all the house of Jeroboam was going to experience God's wrath 
upon them, for his sin of leading Israel astray into idolatry. But 
within the heart of this one particular son (since God knows the heart 
of man Ac15:8, 1Ki8:39, 1Ch28:9), God saw something "good toward 
Jehovah". He saw a heart possessed of righteousness. 

As Abraham had asked, "Would You also sweep away the righteous with the 
wicked?" (Gen18:23); which God did not, by bringing Lot and daughters 
out of Sodom before judging it; as He will rapture the Church out of 
this world before His judgment of it (Rev3:10, 1Th5:9); so he did for 
Jeroboam's son. He did not subject the one, lone, righteous son to the 
same judgment the rest of the family was about to face. So God took him 
in death.

But... What of all that "fulfilled life" he might have lived? But to 
"die" and be buried? Isn't that a form of judgment?

Well... It's like a question somebody sent in recently, asking about 
Moses and Elijah appearing with Jesus at the transfiguration; the person 
questioned: "I thought Moses and Elijah were dead?" So what were they 
doing there...'alive'? 

Well, we know Elijah did not die, but was taken up to Heaven in a 
whirlwind. (2Ki2:11)  However, Moses -did- die. (Deu34:5)  So now... the 
fact that -both- Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, very-much-alive, 
proves that there is "Life-after-death". A righteous person goes to be 
in God's presence.

Paul said it this way: "We are confident, yes, preferring rather to be 
absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." (2Co5:8)  "For I 
am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with 
Christ, which is far better." (Php1:23)

So, Jeroboam's son was not in a bad way. He did not miss out on all the 
fulfillment of the joys of 'this' life. Since God saw something "good" 
in him, when he died, he went into God's presence. And in so-doing, God 
also spared him the misery of the judgment the rest of his family 
received.

The world's living ones are sad when a good person dies...thinking this 
world is such a wonderful place. But actually, this world is a sinful 
place. And the longer a child of God comes to know God, the more 
detestible this world becomes to their mind and heart. So the Believer 
is longing to be with the Lord, and is desirous of: "Please, take me 
outta here!"  Like our opening passage, such a person is...

"...taken away from the face of evil. He shall enter into peace..."

For the Believer death is a good thing: "Yea, though I walk through the 
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with 
me..." (Ps23:4)

Amen!