Recently a young missionary pilot and his wife lost their lives in an airplane accident in Zambia. They hadn’t been in that country very long, but they served the Lord in a hospital that had been there a long time. When this young couple died the President of Zambia declared a national day of mourning with all flags flown at half staff. All programs designed to entertain were postponed. About 2000 people attended the simple funeral and burial – a testimony to the love and respect that the people of Zambia had for these missionaries. By contrast, in the verse above, an Old Testament king of Judah named Jehoram died “to no one’s sorrow” or regret. I am sure there were people at his funeral, but apparently he was one person that this earth was better off without. He had been king of Judah for eight years, but had turned his back on God. So God, as well as his subjects, turned their backs on him when he died. No one was grieved at his passing.
Eternity is not the main theme of the Old Testament even though resurrection and eternal values are found there. The way Jehoram was buried – “not in the tombs of the kings” – reflected God’s rejection of this king. While Jehoram lived only for a time, he exists for eternity, no doubt wishing he had worshiped the “God of his fathers” rather than “forsaking” Him (2 Chr. 21:10). What must eternity be like for him?
To die and not have anyone care would show such a futile, wasted life. We are all put here for some reason, and even those who do not believe in any god still realize that the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31) is a necessary part of any society that is going to endure. Jehoram loved himself and his idols, and he violated this most important command. He was a wicked man who killed his own brothers as well as some of the princes of Israel (2 Chr. 21:4).
Today, rather than have our family and friends face the grim reality that death is the result of sin, our bodies are embalmed and “fixed” so that we look happy. And many do not want to witness the actual burial in the ground. We do everything we can to pretend that death is not real. But death is real and so is eternity.
The believer in Christ can rejoice that death is not the end, but just the beginning of a glorious future with Christ. Death is a time to mourn, and if people don’t feel an emptiness in their life when a family member or friend dies, something is wrong – unless the dead person is like Jehoram, so evil that people are glad when he dies. Expressing grief, as did those who mourned the death of the missionaries, shows honor and love for the person who has died.
If I die before the Lord returns, I hope those who come to my funeral will mourn. Then after the tears are shed, I hope they’ll rejoice in the fact that because I believe that Christ died for my sins my future will be glorious. It would be terrible to die “to no one’s sorrow.”
By Bruce Collins
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org