Looking Forward to the Gathering
By Kent Heaton
“This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:7-8).
Abraham is one of the great men of faith in the Bible. He lived a remarkable life that we only know the final one hundred years. Everything we read about Abraham begins when he was seventy-five and giving birth to two sons – one at the age of 86 and another at 100 – and then the final seventy-five years. Moses describes the life of Abraham as a ‘sum’ or an amount of time accumulated to fill the space of his beginning and end. The dash between the date of birth and the date of death is a small thing compared to the totality of life lived. When all is said and done life is but a vapor – even if a man lives for 175 years. All men will have a sum of life and that existence is very short; yet upon this short life an eternal existence depends. Abraham lived a full life with many powerful stories of faith to leave as an inheritance to the spiritual family that walks in his steps. His sum of life can help measure the sum of a man’s life who wants to walk with God. The faith of Abraham trusted in God to fulfill what He promised even when Abraham did not know how the promises of God would be seen in his life. Of the three promises made he only visualized one. The Lord promised Abraham he would have a seed (remarkable considering his age), he would be given land and there would be a nation coming from his loins. Isaac was the son of promise that Sarah bore to her husband at the age of ninety (remarkable for her age). God’s power worked in the lives of Abraham and Sarah to bring to pass all He had said would come to pass. The nation promise would come many generations later when Moses led the Hebrews to Mt. Sinai. Forty years later Joshua took the nation of Israel across the Jordan and fulfilled the final promise. Abraham believed in all of the promises of God before they happened. The sum of his life was summed up by his faith in the Lord.
Death is feared by most and dreaded by nearly every man. Moses describes the death of Abraham as ‘breathing his last.’ There will come a time for all men the breath of life will leave the body as the earthly tent is folded up. Rich and poor, kings and paupers, proud and humble will all share in the valley of death. No man is exempt. Righteous men die and unrighteous men perish. What may not be common in life will be ordinary in death because every man since Adam will cease to exist in the carnal form of flesh. Abraham died in a good old age, an old man full of years. Not everyone will die in a good old age full of years but death is certain. With this reality standing before all men it would seem that greater care would be taken to prepare for death. What value can man find in himself when he believes he will come into the world through the wonder of conception and birth, live a period of years, die and that is final? How can there be any worth to life if it all ends in nothing? Abraham died full of years but he looked beyond the grave to the gathering with his people. This expression of gathering to his people is said often in scripture of men like Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Aaron and Moses. It is a beautiful manner of holy script to tell that Abraham did not cease to exist in death but continued to live after death. His faith was looking to a city he had not seen but promised by God. Abraham died in peace knowing death was not the final answer.
The joy of living a life full of years knows the promise of living an existence filled with eternity. Life after death is a reality and something to long for. Abraham was a great man of faith as he looked into the eyes of God and saw everything promised by the Father came to pass. He trusted the Lord in leaving his home going to a land he did not know. His faith gave him a son at the age of one hundred even though he knew his body was dead from conception. When told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice he willingly took his son to worship the Lord believing in the resurrection. As the breath of life left his body at the age of 175 Abraham waited to awaken in the glory promised by the Father. His life was full of years but his eternity is endless. We will not live to be 175 years of age but whatever years we have to live should be full, saturated with the good things promised by God, seeing His promises fulfilled daily and knowing the Lord cares for His people as they journey toward the eternal home. Death is certain but redemption is the joy of dying in the Lord. When the time comes for death to take our mortal tent and fold it upon on the shores of eternity the only thing left to do is close our eyes. What a day that will be when we open our eyes to the face of God as we gather to our people. Welcome home. Enter in.
By Tom Sutherland
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the
faith. Test yourselves.” Have you at times questioned in your mind whether a certain thing was right or wrong? We all have wished, I know I have, that there was a guaranteed way of always making the right decision. There isn’t, of course, but following are several questions, which when answered honestly, will help us to make the right decision.
- The Personal Test – Will doing it make me a better or worse person?
- The Practical Test – Will doing it likely bring desirable or undesirable results?
- The Social Test – Will doing it influence others to be better or worse persons?
- The Universal Test – Suppose everyone did it?
- The Scriptural Test – Is it forbidden in Gods word?
- The Stewards Test – Will doing it involve a waste of the talents God has given me?
- The Character Test – Will doing it make me stronger or weaker morally?
- The Publicity Test – Would I be willing for my friends to know about it?
- The Common Sense Test – Is it good, plain, everyday, ordinary, common sense?
- The Family Test – Will doing it bring honor or dishonor to my family?
- The Final Test – Would Jesus do it?
I hope this has helped you. I know it has helped me. God’s word is, of course, the best guide when we have a question about right or wrong. We need to fill ourselves on a daily basis with His Holy Word.