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A young wife and mother gets into her car one sunny Saturday morning, intent on going to the grocery store. She has no idea that less than a mile away a drunk driver is also out on the road, and that the crash he would cause would take her life. The drunk driver would live.


A man grumbles about the pouring rain as he climbs into his truck, preparing to drive to his place of work at a food processing plant. It never crosses his mind that before noon he would be among the fatalities listed in the aftermath of an EF4 tornado that would strike the factory where he worked. At the airport in Los Angeles a family of six boards a jet, excited about having saved up enough money to vacation in Hawaii. When they left home, when the plane cleared the runway, none of them knew they would never see either again, for one hour later catastrophic engine failure would strike, the jet plummeting into the Pacific with all on board killed, including that family of six.


A seemingly healthy 20-year-old goes to bed, unaware that he has an aneurysm in his brain that would burst and kill him in his sleep. A 70-year-old widow thinks that she has a cold, but dies of pneumonia three days later in a hospital room. Of these individuals, two of the four children of the doomed couple on the airplane were below the age of accountability and therefore had a free ticket to heaven. Eighty-two percent of the passengers on that plane, including the others in the young siblings’ family, were lost. Of the rest of the persons above, only the 20-year-old man was born again. The other people—lost.


All of the above scenarios are fictitious, but lots of other scenarios like them plus multitudes of other life-ending events have played out in the history of fallen humanity. From folks dying in their sleep to people being killed on the battlefield, people die sooner or later. Death has all kinds of weapons at its disposal for terminating lives. Death has many tools with which to build its doors into eternity. There are persons who learn that they have a certain amount of time left to live, such as those who are diagnosed with a terminal illness. There are others who are more aware than most of the possibility of dying, such as the elderly and those who work in hazardous occupations. To most, however, death is an afterthought, if they even think about it at all, especially among the young and among those who have had few or no people close to them who have passed away.


If you visit your local cemetery, however, you will see headstones and graves of all sizes. Young, middle-aged, or old, male or female, rich or poor, famous, infamous, or unknown, nobody is immune to death, and it can strike at any time. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, notes the brevity of life in Ecclesiastes and makes these observations:


Ecclesiastes 2:14-16, 3:19, 9:11-12:  The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all. So I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This also is vanity.” For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!…For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity…I returned and saw under the sun that—the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.


One of my earlier blogs, months ago, dealt with the Certainty of Death. This one is more about the potential suddenness and unpredictability of death. Remember the illustration at the beginning of this blog and the fact that stuff like this happens in real life every day. Unless one is suicidal, terminally ill, or otherwise paying attention to their impending demise, people simply do not spend a lot of time planning on or thinking about dying, as I mentioned earlier. The subject can be terribly depressing. God Himself does not expect us to spend every waking moment dwelling on death. Neither should we go about living our lives in unreasonable fear of it happening to us. Know, however, that it can strike, and when it does, usually there is no turning back. Those who have had near-death experiences (NDE’s) have been given a chance by God to go on living.


While some are deceived by demons while going through an NDE and while others go so far as to embellish or even make up such an experience, those who have had NDE’s and are of reliable character consistently inform us that heaven and hell are both very, very real. There is indeed a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, as the saying goes. For more information on NDE’s, we highly recommend this book: Imagine Heaven, written by John Burke.


Have you ever used a weed eater? If so, you have noticed that any grass or weeds in its path disappear almost instantaneously. Like the weed eater rapidly striking down greenery, so death can hit with equal suddenness upon persons’ lives. People in ancient times had no concept of machinery such as this, but they did take notice of other fleeting natural phenomena and compared the brevity of life to it, as we see in this passage from James:


James 4:13-15:  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”


One thing that is clear from the Scripture above is awareness not only of the brevity and fragility of life but also recognition of the One who holds our lives in His hand: God. Before we are ever born, He sets out the days of our lives in a book. However, these days are not set in stone. We can shorten our lives and die before our time, or God can add years to our lives. People can also live longer than the typical lifespan if they are naturally endowed to do so. There are even situations where persons who were supposed to die are left alive while those who were supposed to live are killed. We can see all these facts in the Word:


Psalm 139:16:  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.


Ecclesiastes 7:17:  Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?


Isaiah 38:4-5:  And the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years…” ’ ”


Psalm 90:10:  The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.


Ezekiel 13:19:  “…And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?”


So here we have a Scriptural frame of reference on the facts of living and dying, the Lord’s ultimate decree on how long a person will live, and flexibility He has built into this system via the free will of people and whether they behave righteously or wickedly. Even so, while death comes to anyone who lives to old age, there is still the fact that not all people get that far. People of all ages die. Unless God gives us a specific revelation concerning when someone will die (for example, Jeremiah 28:15-17) or unless there is some other thing such as a doctor’s terminal prognosis to give us a timeframe, we cannot know when death will come to anybody. With the suddenness and unpredictability of death having been established as a fact, how do we live in the light of it?


As Christians, unless we leave our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ through full and final rejection of the Lord and the faith or through such prolonged backsliding that the desire to repent disappears permanently, we can rest assured that when we die we will go to heaven. Does that mean that we stop taking the possibility of sudden, unexpected death seriously? Of course not. We still have a responsibility to have our affairs in order (our will if applicable, et cetera) so that if death takes us unexpectedly then our loved ones will not be stuck with things in disarray. You had better believe that no matter how angelic the behavior of family members is, the wolves among them will manifest if you pass away without some measures in place to curb the unruly. For those who are lost, it is imperative that you get saved.


There are a lot of myths out there about what happens after death. Some think that if enough good deeds are done, you will go to heaven. Others believe there is no life beyond the grave, only annihilation and thus the cessation of existence. Still others believe in a variety of different things—reincarnation, purgatory, and so on. The truth is, you can forget about any theory that is not supported by Scripture. This includes purgatory despite the fact that some in Christianity such as Roman Catholics believe in it. This is what the actual Word of God says:


Hebrews 9:27:  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,…


Once you die you go to one of two places: Heaven or hell. Once you are dead your eternal destiny is set:


Ecclesiastes 11:3:  If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.


If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and you sense a need to be right with Him, that is the Holy Spirit dealing with your heart and showing you that you must be born again; that is, you need to be saved. Do not ignore this. The Lord is not obligated to keep coming to you, and you cannot come to Him unless He invites you (John 6:37, 44). You can click on the Contact tab on this website and send us any questions you have about salvation, or you can click on the link at the end of this blog on how to be saved. If you are backslidden, come back to the Lord while you still have the wherewithal to repent. Just as the father of the prodigal son ran to him and welcomed him back with open arms, so your heavenly Father will do with you if you come back to Him (Luke 15:11-32). For all the rest of us who are Christians, we are to keep growing closer to God and maturing in the faith (Matthew 22:36-40; Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 5:126:3).


Spread the Gospel to others so that they, too, may have an opportunity to escape eternal damnation, encourage the backslidden to repent, and encourage each other. Having done all these things, if death does come suddenly, all you will be robbed of is living on the earth. If death comes suddenly and you are not ready, woe unto you! Forever you will burn in the lake of fire. Do not be that person, but be the one who is saved and living for Jesus Christ.



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