When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people (Genesis 49:33 NASB).
Some rarely think about it. Others fear it and fight against it. But there are those happy people on this earth who have come to view their eventual death with a holy reverence, happy anticipation, and settled joy.
Old Testament Patriarch
Jacob had lived a full life. He’d known his share of failures and heartaches.
But God had made promises to him, and Jacob had watched those promises fulfilled, one by one. God had given him His blessing and a rich, full family that would continue his line, including the promise of the One who would come and rule and reign favor, Jesus Christ.
Now came the time for his death. In a simple, profound statement, we see what death is for the man who has believed in God.
He Charged His Sons
Jacob finished his task as a man, a husband, a father. He had fulfilled the purposes of God in his generation (Acts 13:36).
What greater joy than to know that your life has accomplished what your Creator designed for you! Jacob did not complete this with perfection—he had his share of sin and failure—but he completed his task.
He Breathed His Last
There is a moment for every man and woman on earth where they take their final breath. It is as inevitable as the setting sun. No matter your station in life, how the world views you, what you have or don’t have, the last breath is common to man.
We must prepare for this moment, because it is not the end. It is simply the threshold to eternity.
He Was Gathered to His People
Some ancestors had gone before him. Now Jacob would join them in eternity.
But there is more for the true believer. We are joined to our true family. We experience the glorious gathering with those entirely saved by the grace of God. We are ushered to a place where there is no more sin, strife, unrest, or rebellion. A world of perfect love.
Everything that grieved us in this world is gone. Every separation from those who know Christ is over. And most importantly, we are gathered to our Father and elder Brother to rule and reign with them forever and ever! AMEN.
Bounding for Home
This is why D. L. Moody, the great evangelist, said, “Someday, you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”
Adoniram Judson, the great missionary to Burma, said near his death in 1850, “I go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.”
There is no greater assurance as we watch a relative who is a true believer die. We know where they are. They are not “lost.” They have simply moved to the home that has been carefully and perfectly prepared for them by the hands of Jesus.
If we know Christ, we will soon join them, and our death means we breathe our last and are “gathered to our people.” Glorious reunion … fulfilled promise … eternal joy!
Father, thank You that, for the true believer, there is no death. Our last breath here begins our first breath with You and our true family in heaven. Help us see it rightly and face it joyfully. Thank You that death has no sting for the believer, and the grave has no victory. May our passage home show the watching world the believer’s highest victory and greatest reward.