March 9, 2013

A few days ago, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died after a long struggle with cancer.  According to Gen. Jose Ornella, the Chief of the Presidential guard, the President’s last words were: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die…” words of despair and helplessness.

That detail about Mr. Chavez’s caught my attention, because a few days earlier I was thinking about “Famous Last Words”. Researching internet, I found some were interesting, some were cynical, and others very straightforward. Here’s a sample of what we can read on www.mapping.com:

Lady Nancy Astor (1879-1964) “Jakie, is it my birthday or am I dying?” (Seeing all her children assembled at her bedside in her last illness.)

Louis XIV (1638-1715) “Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal?” (Noticing as he lay on his deathbed that his attendants were crying.)

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) “I hope I haven’t bored you.” (Concluding what would be his last press conference.)

George Washington (1732-1799) “It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”

We can also find the last words of men of faith in the Bible. Let’s look at three of them: Joseph, Moses and Joshua.

Joseph proclaimed the certainty of God’s faithfulness in the future. Joseph knew that God was always with him, and he never stopped believing in the promise that God made generations earlier to his forefathers. In Genesis 50:24 we read: And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”

Moses gave words of blessing and assurance. Moses personally experienced God’s eternal arms holding him up throughout his lifetime, and often saw God fight the enemy for His people.  In Deuteronomy 33:27, after Moses blessed the children of Israel on his deathbed, he assured them that “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will thrust out the enemy from before you.”

Joshua reminded the people of God’s faithfulness in the past. Joshua experienced it all: the miracles, the journey across the wilderness, the giants, victories in battle, and the Promised Land. Knowing his time was short, he reminded his people of God’s faithfulness in the past. In Joshua 23:14 we read: “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”

We’ll all have last words one day. Will they be words of despair and helplessness? Expressions of regret?  Will they be words of blessing and assurance? How we live our lives now determines what our very last thoughts and words will be. The last verse of “Bless the Lord” (10,000 Reasons) by Matt Redman  reflects my desire to praise God, even to my last breath!   Please take time to listen to it and make it your prayer, too!


May 3, 2012

Moses. Old. Experienced. He had heard God’s voice on numerous occasions…but he also heard – more often than he wanted to – the complaints, the murmuring, the grumbling of the rebellious, stiff-necked people he was chosen to lead. Moses had seen God’s glory! He knew the Lord face to face (Deut. 34:10)…but he also saw the spiritual corruption in the people’s hearts when he saw them worshiping the golden calf. Moses was a godly leader…but first he learned to follow his God who said “I will send you.” (Ex. 3:10). Moses was an encourager….but only because he trusted in the words of his faithful God: “I will certainly be with you” (Ex. 3:12). As a young man, Moses was overly enthusiastic and took justice into his own hands…as an older, experienced leader, we see a mellowed Moses, who learned to wait and trust God’s plan; but it took years.

However, in one foolish act of impulsive disobedience, Moses was denied entrance into the Promised Land. After striking the rock to get water when God instructed him to speak to it, Moses heard God’s sentence: “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12) Moses was told that instead of entering the Promised Land, he would die on Mount Nebo.

Moses. Old. Experienced. He knew he messed up; he didn’t blame anyone. He didn’t pout, whine or wallow in self-pity. Moses understood that he would view the Promised Land from afar, but not enjoy it. Before he went up Mount Nebo, where God, in His mercy, allowed Moses to see the land of Canaan from afar off, he called one last assembly of God’s people. There he shared with them a song he had in his heart; a song of praise to God, who was faithful every step of the way. His song, in part, went like this:

“…for I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deut.32:3,4)

Moses. Old Experienced. He couldn’t enter the Promised Land, yet his last words were words of praise. Then he went up Mount Nebo.

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