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Wednesday, July 3, 2013
"When Death Shall Be No More"
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"The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26). "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
This week we have been considering the Battle of Gettysburg which was fought 150 years ago on July 1-3, 1863. On July 3 the battle culminated with Pickett's Charge. We have visited that part of the battlefield and envisioned the scenes of horrific wounded and dead soldiers that took place there.
From Civil War history I read this glaring abbreviated account: For three days, more than 150,000 soldiers clashed in a series of Confederate assaults and Union defenses. On the third day of the battle, Lee ordered an assault on the Union’s center, a move now known as Pickett’s Charge. More than 12,500 Confederate soldiers marched on the Union position, coming under intense artillery fire. Union guns decimated the attacking Confederates, injuring or killing nearly 50 percent of the approaching brigades. The charge’s strategic failure and loss of men forced Lee into retreat. Three days of fighting at Gettysburg took a horrible toll on both sides; 10,000 soldiers killed, 30,000 injured (many died afterward of their wounds), and 10,000 captured or missing (again many of these missing were killed, but their bodies never recovered). It is estimated that over 569 tons of ammunition were fired during the battle.
Over ten years ago I recall being in a Pastor's meeting in the Gettysburg area when I was a manager for a chaplain company and trying to recruit chaplains to serve in a poultry processing plant in that area. The pastors shared with me that there is (in their view) a specific demonic stronghold in that area due to the immensity of violent death that took place in such a concentrated area.
We read in obituaries what is I suppose the ideal way to transition out of this life in a phrase such as "died peacefully surrounded by loving family" or in our area where many express faith in God we often see "went home to be with Jesus..."
However in our observation many times death is not peaceful but violent, a body wracked with cancer, young firefighters killed in a raging forest fire, vehicle accidents, violence, terrorism and of course war. Death is often ugly and painful, not peaceful.
Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote the now classic song "Because He Lives" when he was in his thirties and she in her late twenties. The third verse has an interesting insight, especially considering how young they were when the song was written.
And then one day I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's final war with pain
And then as death gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and
I'll know He lives
The early church, having a firm belief in the glorious resurrection of Christ, nevertheless, experienced death; many through martyrdoms. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is defending the resurrection of Christ and future resurrection of those who believed in Him. Especially in the section verses 20-28 he deals with the matter of human death and future resurrection. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
Paul calls death, "the last enemy". On this side of eternity we all deal with the mortality of death. The closer it hits home the greater the personal and lasting pain. Sometimes death is after a long well-lived life, which of course can still bring loss and mourning to loved ones.
But so often death comes early and tragically through disease, accidents, violence and war. It does not discriminate; godly missionaries are slain while doing the Lord's work. In parts of the world being a Christian is very life-threatening. So many of our Christian brethren are being slain in the Muslim-dominated countries yet it is so under reported. I wonder how many readers heard of the recent beheadings in Syria and tremendous persecution in Egypt.
A young mother is smitten with cancer; a young child is killed by a drunk driver; a baby is violently murdered inside what should be the safest place of their existence. Such is the nature of the fallen world we live in.
But a future glimpse of heaven brings us fresh hope and eager anticipation for that appointed day when "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You that the grave is not the end for the believer, but simply the passage way into an eternal dwelling with You. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, but the lights of glory will welcome us into our eternal home where we will reunite with our dear loved ones who've gone before us. For those who've lost loved ones in the midst of their serving our country in some capacity we pray for their peace and comfort knowing that they too paid a price for our freedoms, comfort and safety. We pray for our persecuted brethren that Your Holy Spirit would be like a soothing salve, an anesthetic in the midst of their ongoing deprivation and abuse; that it would apply equally for their grieving family members. We pray for deliverance from their captivity and for their opportunity to share the gospel with cellmates, guards and others whom they interface with. We pray this through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Ester volunteers on Tuesdays to sort clothing at our local Mount Joy Gift & Thrift Store which is run by 150 volunteers and a handful of staff members, raising funds to benefit missions. She met up with DeAnna who was our neighbor 11 years ago and they have a fun time working together.
This photo does not capture the beautiful full rainbow that appeared in the sky about 8:00 this evening. It was a three colored rainbow that was often hidden by moving clouds.
"Because He Lives" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"No More Night" Video David Phelps
An interesting site concerning the Battle Of Gettysburg with many statistics.
Or this historical summary
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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