A TIME TO DIE

Scripture Reading: Genesis 49:28-33

“Then he commanded and said to them, ‘I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite’…When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” (Genesis 49:29,33)

We now come to the death of Jacob. We all know that it is never easy to face the death of a loved one. But we know that everyone must die (unless the Lord Jesus comes back first). The book of Ecclesiastes tells us — “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — a time to give birth and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,2).

How we die is a matter of utmost importance — not the kind of death, but how we handle the death process. Jacob is an example of how we ought to die when our time comes. He bore witness to his faith in God to the very end.

Jacob spoke to his sons and gave a prophecy to each of them (49:1-27). Then he pronounced a blessing on them — “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him” (49:28). We are not given the words Jacob said to them, but the dying father spoke a blessing to each of his sons.

Then Jacob gave instructions about his burial (49:29-32). He went to great length to describe where he wanted to be buried. His desire was to be buried in the land where the Jewish people would one day settle and where the Messiah would be born and do His great work.

Let’s look at Jacob’s example in death. First, notice that his mind and heart were fixed on God and His promises (49:24,25). During the process of his death, his focus was set on God. Second, Jacob demonstrated the great love he had for his family. It is a touching scene to see all his family gathered around his deathbed knowing the love they had for their father and his love for them. Third, Jacob expressed his desires concerning his burial as we have noted (49:-32). Fourth, Jacob looked forward to being reunited with his loved ones who had gone before him — “I am to be gathered to my people” (49:29). He looked forward to seeing his loved ones who were already in heaven. Fifth, Jacob looked forward to seeing the glory of God. He had a little taste of it on earth when God appeared to him on a couple of occasions. Like his grandfather Abraham, Jacob was looking for the city which has the foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).

As we grow older, we should make preparations for our deaths. We must be ready for we do not know when we will die. Our focus should remain on our faithful Lord, who has prepared a place in heaven for us. We should express our love for each of our children and grandchildren. (I have a letter that my dad wrote me prior to his death that I treasure. In it he expressed his love for me and how proud he was of me.) We should also plan what arrangements we would like for our funeral and burial. Finally, we need to make sure that our house is in order (finances, property, will, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, etc.). We must remember that there is a time to die.

Lord Jesus, thank You for preparing a place in heaven for me. You will come again and take me to the place You have prepared for me and I will behold Your glory. Let me be prepared for the time that You call me home.

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