Monday, March 22, 2010

God's Sovereitnty: In the Moment and Means of Our Death

There is no doubt that the Bible gives us full evidence that God is Sovereign. The Bible clearly teaches that God is King, that God is Supreme, and that He is a ruler of the entire universe.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” (Psalms 103:19, ESV- emphasis mine)

“…having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (Ephesians 1:11, ESV, emphasis mine)

It is not the purpose of this post to teach or prove the sovereignty of God. We may attempt to do that at another time in another post. Suffice it to say, that for the basis or foundational cornerstone of this blog, God is absolutely sovereign. By the way, I am not implying in any manner or fashion the idea of “fatalism.” The sovereignty of God and fatalism are not to be thought of as being the same.

Natural men, men who are void of the indwelling Holy Spirit, men who are in their “natural state” hate the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. They demonstrate their hatred primarily by the very way they live their lives, “independent of God.” On occasion some men will voice their hatred of God’s absolute sovereignty of every area of their life. Men like to think that they are free agents and are the ones calling the shots.

Among the many areas of our life that God is absolutely sovereign over is our birth and our death. This is not to say that God is not sovereign over the span between our birth and death, but this post is dealing with a most unusual example of God’s sovereignty over death. God has ordained both the moment and the means of our death. It is already scripted and has been since eternity past. It cannot be changed. The good and glorious news is that in most cases God never reveals to us the moment or the means of our death.

Some folks are aware of the means of their death. I realize that countless others are aware of the means of their death by such things as aids, leukemia, various cancers, and other terrible diseases. Sometimes these very folks are privy to an approximation of the time of their death. Most of us are blissfully in the dark.

Unfortunately, not only are we blissfully in the dark, many times we feel we are invincible. We think, live, and act as if we are going to live forever, or at least until 100. However, the Bible tells us very clearly, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” (Ephesian 5:15, ESV) and “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” Colossians 4:5, ESV)

I said all of that in order to say this: Robert Gary Jones on Monday arrived at his sovereign moment and means of death. He was jogging on a South Carolina beach when an airplane making a crash landing struck him from behind killing him. It seems to be so incredulous that it could not conceivably have happened. Yet it did.

God is not a cruel nor capricious God who acts on whims and impulses motivated by cruelty. His sovereignty is mediated through love, compassion, mercy, justice, holiness, wisdom, and many other attributes. Why the  various means and moments of a person’s death are determined by God is not for us to know. To accuse God of being capricious or cruel is absolute blasphemy.

I have often wondered speculatively what means has God ordained for my death? I am really not afraid of death at all since I know Christ as my Savior and more importantly that Christ knows me. I will admit I don’t like the process at all. I think the Irish had it right when someone once said, “If I knew where I was going to die, I would never go near the place.”

To be struck by an airplane while jogging on the beach is beyond my imagination. However, God owes Robert Gary Jones nothing. God owes no man – no explanation, no specific amount of time in this life, and no consideration of any kind. God did no injustice by Robert Gary Jones being struck by an airplane at only 38 years old.

I grieve with his family and I am sorry for their loss. Death is never an easy thing. His death will be an incalculable loss to all who know him and love him. Even knowing the Sovereign prerogative of God in this area doesn’t make it easy for anyone.

So, what is the lesson in this post and in this seemingly untimely and senses death of Robert Gary Jones? Hebrews makes it clear, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” God has never promised any living being a specific amount of time to live in this life. Some are ordained an hour of life, others a week, some ten years, some twenty three years, some thirty eight years and some one hundred years. We must live each day as if it is all that we have. We must be wise with the life that we have been given and we must realize that just like Robert Gary Jones, we too will die. God has ordained the moment and the means of my death and yours. Am I ready? Are you ready?

Let me leave you with one of the greatest view points on a man’s confidence about God’s sovereign determination of the moment and means of his death that I have ever come across. This comes from General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

“Jackson's most famous attribute was his unflinching bravery, which won him the nickname of "Stonewall" at the Battle of Manassas (aka First Bull Run.) A devout Presbyterian, Jackson believed that the time of his death had already been determined, thus no space on the battlefield was any safer than the next."

He said, "My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to always be ready, no matter when it may overtake me."

What do your religious beliefs teach you?



I have always used the line from the song by 4Him:

We only have so many times to ride around the sun, so many times to see a full moon rise, when day is done.


I once worked with fellow Christian and every time he heard about the death of someone Joe would say:

"We all have our scheduled appointment to meet God, It looks like he kept his

Robert Gary Jones kept his appointment and you will keep yours and I will keep mine.

Mike said...

This year I am on a quest to memorize large sections of scripture from all the "sections" of the Bible. My current section comes from Lamentations 3:19-33.

The end of that passage hits this issue of God's sovereignty right on the head. "Though the Lord causes grief, yet will He show compassion..."

I thought to myself, "Lots of people really don't like this idea that God causes grief." Yet we see it replete in the Scriptures, such as the story of Joseph when he said to his brothers, "You meant it for evil, but God MEANT it for good."

I think a decent grasp on God's sovereignty is something that has helped me to handle trials much more gracefully than I normally would.

AL said...

Great post, and I like the Stonewall Jackson quote.

I've always liked this verse on death, from the '96 NLT version (it was changed slightly in later versions):

Isaiah 57:1 NLT 1996
"The righteous pass away; the godly often die before their time. And no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come."

Eddie Eddings said...

One thing a Christian can take comfort in is that we will be without sin when we stand at "judgment" or "reward" seat of the Lord Jesus Christ. My sins have been dealt with by His precious blood and I will recognize that He is righteous in all He does. We will all have wood, hay and plenty of stubble...once that is burned away, the real value will be what Christ did - not what we did. Every saint will cast their victory wreaths at His feet to honor His work in and through us.