“For death has come through our windows, has entered our palaces, to kill off the children–no longer to be outside! And the young men–no longer on the streets! — Jeremiah 9:21
Gen. William Nelson, a Union general in the Civil War, was consumed with the battles in Kentucky when a brawl ended up in his being shot, mortally, in the chest. He had faced many battles, but the fatal blow came while he was relaxing with his men. As such, he was caught fully unprepared.
As men ran up the stairs to help him, the general had just one phrase, “Send for a clergyman; I wish to be baptized.” He never had time as an adolescent or young man. He never had time as a private or after he became a general. And his wound did not stop or slow down the war. Everything around him was left virtually unchanged–except for the general’s priorities.
With only minutes left before he entered eternity, the one thing he cared about was preparing for eternity. He wanted to be baptized. Thirty minutes later he was dead.
Jeremiah describes the thief that comes stealing into our lives when we least expect it. He is a cunning foe. He is an enemy we will not be able to rid ourselves of till the very last. This thief–this enemy is death.
We can read or hear of this enemy’s nightly activity as he creep up to our window. He is at work on our nation’s highways. He is at work in our local hospitals. He has been called a wicked king, whose palace is the grave, whose pleasure is the fountain of tears of a weeping world and whose flowers are the faded garland of the coffin lid.
This thief takes no vacation or holiday for the Bible speaks of his persistence in Hebrews 9:27, “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.” All living have an appointment with destiny. Death lays his icy hands on the great men of the earth as well as upon the weak. His fatal grip comes upon the king, who must lay aside his scepter and lie down in death with the pauper. He puts his cold finger on the doctor, who must then write his last perscription and die. When he comes, the truck driver must leave his truck on the highway and his cargo undelivered. When he brushes the life of the carpenter, the workman must put down his hammer and his saw, and exchange his coveralls for a shroud. Death’s handprints are pressed upon the constitution of all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God–all.
The mother of Sisera waited longingly for a son who would never come home. She never thought she was seeing him for the last time.
Belshazzer, the king, while drinking wine at a drunken party, suddenly came face to face with this thief and the fact that his time had run out. At that moment, Belshazzer was the most surprised man in the world!
This thief that comes is coming for you and me! His eyes are focused on our frail existence. He is waiting for his opportunity. He is ready to strike.
But before you stop reading…Wait! There is good news! The thief that comes has been defeated. He has no more power! Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Because God’s children are human beings–made of flesh and blood–the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has set us free from this thief called death and has brought life and immortality into our souls. For those who have believed in Him–who have trusted Him for salvation–Jesus has become our very life!
Years ago, when Pepper Martin was the hero of the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, he was asked what was the greatest ambition in his life. To this he replied, “To go to Heaven.”
When Jesus has your life,
What can the thief steal?
When your life belongs to Jesus,
It is then that Heaven is real!