Living And Dying

by Tom Wacaster

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of God’s word.  Like the physical creation with its harmonious blend of colors on a beautiful sunrise or sunset, God’s word bespeaks the wonderful wisdom and majesty of the One Who gave that word to His creation. Who is there among men who has not, on at least one occasion, admired the coordination of colors that make up God’s creation, manifested in the dusk or dawn of each new day?  Like an artist who casts his colors upon the canvas, our God has stretched forth His hand and provided us with a world that is so full of beauty, with color coordination and design that defies the imagination. This author has never witnessed any natural landscape that clashes in color, or suggests anything but design from the Great Designer of this universe. And while the world about us speaks of the majesty of He Who made it all, the great wisdom of God is demonstrated even more in the beauty of His word. Let me share with you two passages that provide us with rich nuggets of truth, each individually a rich storehouse of spiritual wealth, but when considered together give great encouragement.

The first of these passages is located in Psalms 116:9. There the Psalmist wrote, “I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.”  There are three points I want to notice in this verse.

First, the Psalmist speaks of a “walk.” All men, spiritually speaking, walk one of only two possible walks.  Some walk in darkness, in the vanity of their mind (Eph. 4:17). Their walk is according to “the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). They mind the things of the flesh (Rom. 8:5), walking in darkness rather than light (1 John 1:6).  A man’s walk demonstrates his way of life: some men live as if this world were all there is, as if human opinion is all that matters, and human glory is all that is desired. But the truly gracious man considers the presence of God, and acts under the influence of His all-observing eye. “Thou God seest me” is a far better influence than “My master sees me.”

Second, the Psalmist vows to “walk before the Lord.” He determined to walk under the Lord’s careful eye, before His presence, with the sole intent of pleasing his God. His would be a walk in the light (1 John 1:6-8), a walk in wisdom (Eph. 5:15), and a walk in love (Eph. 5:2). The majesty of God is ever before him, and the realization of God’s presence helps him stay on the straight and narrow path.

Third, the Psalmist’s walk would be “in the land of the living.”  There are two possible explanations to the Psalmist’s vow that he would walk before God “in the land of the living.”   The language suggests that he had determined to set the proper example before others so long as he was allowed to live – as long as he was permitted to walk among the living.  He might also be making reference to those who were alive spiritually.  If that is the meaning, then he is telling us that he would be careful as to the company he would keep, making sure that he walked with others of like mind. He had determined that he would, by his example, encourage others of like precious faith, to walk in the same path. The child of God seeks not to live among the spiritually dead, but with those who are alive, and he draws strength from companions who will encourage and uplift. 

The second passage is perhaps a little more familiar to the Bible student. It is located in Numbers 23:10.  The verse is a portion of Balaam’s parable that began in verse 7 and ends with the verse under consideration. It is the second half of the tenth verse that we now consider: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end by like his.”  Why is it that so much of humanity thinks they can pass through life, giving little attention to the “lamp” and “light” of God’s word, and then expect somehow to be ushered into that heavenly realm where the righteous will spend eternity? Some evidently think they can “walk in the land of the sinful,” “run with the unrighteous,” and stroll through life without so much as a care or a concern to the kind of life they are living, and then, when they come to the end of life’s journey think that somehow they will be allowed to now pass into the “land of the living” for all eternity. The fact is, my friend, the land that  you walk in between your birth and your death is precisely the kind of land where you will spend all eternity, time without end. A person cannot live the life of the unrighteous and expect to die the death of the righteous.

Personally, I am grateful that God has provided us with His beautiful word; a word that provides hope for the hopeless, life for those who are dead in sin, peace for the troubled heart, and a promise of life in the hereafter when once we lay our heads to rest this side of eternity.

I’ll close with a poem that expresses the wonderful hope that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Thank God for the Bible
Author unknown

Thank God for the Bible, whose clear shining ray
Has lighted our path, and turned night into day;
Its wondrous treasures have never been told,
More precious than rubles set around with pure gold.

Thank God for the Bible: in sickness or health,
It brings richer comforts than honor or wealth;
Its blessings are boundless, an infinite store;
We may drink at its fountain, and thirst nevermore.

Thank God for the Bible, sent down from above,
Revealing to mortals God's infinite love;
A fathomless sea with its bright, shining shore
Where the glorified dwell and are safe evermore.

Thank God for the Bible  - rich treasures untold
Are laid up in store in its city of gold,
That beautiful home of the saved and the blest
Where no sorrow can come, where the weary find rest.

Thank God for the Bible! How dark is the night
Where no ray from its pages sheds forth its pure light.
No Jesus, no Bible, no Heaven of rest -
Oh, how could we live, were our lives so unblest!

There are millions who wander in darkness today --
No Jesus, no Bible, no knowledge to pray;
God help us to feel, and to act, in His sight,
To render our thanks, now, by giving them light.

Gospel Digest, January, 1959