The Inevitable Death of Life
Many of us like to think about our health and beauty on a daily basis but we do not like to think about our death. When we think about it, we don't like to accept it. Instead, we want to deny the reality of death. We don't like to view death as the last enemy as the Bible describes it. Instead, our modern culture wants to view death as an enemy to be defeated now—through gyms, spas, facelifts, health foods, and other body-enhancing pastimes and procedures.
Death, however, is inevitable! Our impending death is something that you and I ought to be thinking about on a daily basis. God actually wants us to think more about our death more than we think about the enjoyment of life. This fact is made clear in Ecclesiastes 7:2, where the Bible tells us that, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart."
Are you aware that each passing day draws you closer to your grave? Today, you are closer to your grave than you were yesterday! For this reason, the act of removing our clothing each day as we go to sleep in our beds should always serve as a reminder to us that one of these days, we will put off the body in a similar way and we will sleep the sleep of death.
"... death is a reality of life. It is no respecter of persons. Death takes the king, and will not spare the beggar. Death will ignore and breakthrough every barrier to visit the rich in his mansion, and it will stalk the poor man on the streets. Death will outwit the best professor and not argue with a fool. It will snatch away the medical doctor and bewitch the medicine man. Death flies with you in the Aeroplane and rides with you in the 'matatu' (a Kenyan taxi). It swims with you in the pool and sails with you in the sea. It walks with the pedestrian and drives with the motorist. Death will snuff out the life of a 120-year old, and not spare a newborn. Death cannot be avoided or evaded."
➖ African Bible Commentary
The book of Genesis focuses very much on the inevitable death of all people. It begins gloriously with the hope of creation, but after the fall of man in Genesis 3, the book is from that point filled with death throughout its pages. In Genesis chapter 5, for example, we are told that “Adam lived 930 years, and then he died. … Seth lived 912 years, and then he died. … Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died. … Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died …” (Genesis 5:5, 8, 11, 14). The chapter continues that way through the deaths of Mahalalel, Jared, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. All died! But in addition to this, the book of Genesis which begins with hope is not only scattered with death on its pages, but it also ends with death. It doesn't even end with the lavish honors of Joseph that we see in the closing chapters of the book, but it ends with a coffin in Egypt. It ends by telling us in the very last verse in Genesis 50:26 that "Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt."
So when we look at Joseph’s coffin in the closing verse of the book of Genesis, we ought to be reminded of our own pending death. It is true that sometimes, we may consider ourselves great, as Joseph was. We may be greatly loved by our families just like Joseph was. People may even depend on us for their jobs, their care, their comfort. But all the love or dependence in the world will not give one minute of life when our turn comes to die! Probably you are like Joseph, with the world at our feet, looking to you for wisdom or praising you for our achievements. But just like Joseph, you too must die. Fame, wealth, achievements, and the love people have for you cannot save you from death. No security measure will secure you from death. You will never bribe the grave! You too, like Joseph, must die.
Joseph’s coffin in Egypt and the death that we see every day in our Newspapers and on our Televisions should remind us of the truth that God declared in the beginning, that sin leads to death. You may find sin attractive—pleasing to the eyes, good, desirable. But “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23)—God says so—and sin will always lead to death. Everyone must die. Yes, but how will you die?
When the celebrated English essayist and poet Joseph Addison was dying, he sent for his son-in-law, the Earl of Warwick, that he might see how a Christian could die. And indeed, the death of a Christian is one of the major points that are illustrated by Joseph's coffin in Egypt. That coffin contained the remains of a believing man.
Speaking on the death of a believer, James Montgomery Boice said that "Eve had doubted God, and her disobedience brought death on the race—including the death of Joseph. But Eve did not die in unbelief. She came to believe God again, and Joseph also believed God and testified to that belief as he died."
So death is inevitable. And the question before you now is not whether you will die or not, but how will you die? Will you die as a Christian (a believer in Christ) destined for everlasting bliss in heaven, or as a condemned unbeliever destined for eternal torments in hell? There is no way we can be ready for death except through Christ. Are you, like Joseph, looking to Christ, our Saviour and Lord who was to destroy death, triumph over the grave, and crush Satan’s head?
Prayer: "God teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12)