"WILL YOU HAVE AN HONORABLE FUNERAL?"
1. In First Corinthians 10.11 the apostle Paul informed the Corinthian Church members that the things that are found in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament "are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
2. And since "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," Second Timothy 3.16, you should understand that the details of Godís truth in the Old Testament have been preserved by God for your benefit.
3. With that in mind, turn to Isaiah 14. As you turn, allow me to introduce you to the prophetic nature of the book of Isaiah, referred to by some as "the Bible in miniature."
4. There are 1,292 verses in the book of Isaiah, containing 111 separate predictions, according to The Prophecy Study Bible. The 111 separate predictions take up no less than 754 verses, or an astonishing 59% of the book!
5. The particular passage that we will look at is a part of a series of predictions in which Godís judgment on the nations of Assyria, Babylon, Moab, Philistia, Egypt and Ethiopia are described. Nestled between predictions, first, about the destruction of the king of Babylon and, then, the kingdom of Babylon, is a very well known prophesy about the fall of Lucifer, which many of you are familiar with.
6. Since you are almost certainly in Isaiah chapter 14 by now, stand as we read together verses 12-17:
"12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" Please remain standing.
7. No doubt, you noticed the five proud "I wills" of Lucifer that led to his downfall and which will eventually lead to his complete ruin in "the sides of the pit." But few take note of the fact that Lucifer will someday be so reduced that people will be amazed that he was the one who once wrought so much destruction. To be sure, Godís judgment upon His enemies is complete and is utterly effective. Lucifer will end up a nobody.
8. Before you are seated, let us also read verses 18-20, which refers to the downfall of the king of Babylon, and has direct application to anyone who is not a Christian:
"18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
19But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
20Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned."
9. Please be seated. Remembering that these things were written for our admonition, please observe that while other kings are honored at their deaths by elaborate state funerals, Godís prediction for the king of Babylon was for him to be "cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch." As well, he was to be "as a carcass trodden under feet."
10. I fear for you, my friend. I am gravely troubled. For you see, what God said of Satan will be true of you. And what God said of the king of Babylon will also be true of you. You people, listen carefully this morning. As well, try really hard to do something that is easier for those here who are much older than you are. Try to think years and years ahead, when you are old.
11. Someday you will die. You will surely die. After all, "it is appointed unto man once to die." Youíve never known anyone who hasnít died or who will not die. And when you die you will be "trodden under feet,"either in a grave, or after your dead body has been cremated and scattered. You will someday be trodden under foot. People will walk on whatís left of you. They will step all over you.
12. What will it be like at that time, when you die and itís time to dispose of you? That will be the subject of my sermon after brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song.
1. Will they give you an honorable funeral when you die? My text for this morning is Psalm 18.42, in which David, the psalmist, writes: "I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets." In Davidís day the garbage, the trash, the refuse, was just thrown outside, where it would be eaten by dogs and other scavengers.
2. This is a Messianic psalm, with one verse from this Psalm quoted by Paul in his letter to the Romans and another verse quoted in Hebrews, and both of the citations indicated to be the words of Jesus. So, not only do we read here of David recounting Godís great deliverance of him from his troubles, but we also see One greater than David in these words.
3. Those things said, I turn to you and what will happen to you. Unless youíve been in another country, or completely isolated from radio, television and newspaper advertisements, you realize that Americans are increasingly turning to cremation as a method of disposing of their dead. The Neptune Society, and others.
4. Why so? Because burning up a guyís dead body is cheaper and easier than the traditional way of buying a piece of ground and buying a box to bury him in. You see, people can usually save five or six thousand dollars, or the approximate cost of a down payment on a car, by cremating you and scattering your ashes, by burning up your dead body and tossing the ashes somewhere.
5. And if the Forest Lawn Mortuary advertisements are any indication, more and more bodies are being disposed of in our day without so much as a memorial service. I myself have been approached and asked if I would be willing to preside over funerals at several cemeteries. I indicated that I would. But I have never once been called to do so.
6. Why not? Because fewer and fewer memorial services are conducted, and not just because sour and bitter old people claim they donít want a memorial service. Oftentimes itís because of the surviving family memberís greed to save a little money, and their desire to "get it over quick," so they can scatter your ashes, and quickly forget about you as they spend what little money you left behind.
7. Do you doubt what I say? When was the last time you were at a funeral service? Did you notice that almost no one bothered to honor the deceased with appropriate clothing? The funeral of the guy who lived across the way from me was conducted by a pastor wearing a plaid shirt and a leather jacket. Men frequently wear old blue jeans, these days. And they are certainly without so much as a white shirt or a tie. And the women? They who wear dresses wear dresses that make them look more like cocktail waitresses in a bar than grieving friends, loved ones, or family members. But at least these are funerals. More and more rare as time goes on.
8. Understand that this lack of care for you when you are dead is a judgment from God on the wicked in our nation. God says, "I did cast them out as dirt in the streets," Psalm 18.42. Thatís what most funeral services are these days, the casting out into the street as dirt of those who have died.
9. You will die someday, as will I. As you ponder and consider your own eventual death, and what will happen immediately after you die, I want you to consider this question: Will you have an honorable funeral?
1A. NOT IF YOU DONíT HAVE FRIENDS
A man or a woman canít have an honorable funeral unless he or she has some friends. And if you donít have any friends, and friends are not just people you call on the phone once in a while, but people who will take the time and spend the money to honor you at your funeral, then you wonít have an honorable funeral. Two illustrations of this reality are found in the Bible. Two illustrations of men who died who had friends.
1B. First, There Is The Example Of The Honorable Burial Prepared For Lazarus By His Friends
1C. In John 11.11 we read, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." And in John 11.19 we read something else: "And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother."
2C. This type of a funeral, a funeral that was comforting to his sisters, a funeral with friends who came to honor him, would not have taken place if he had not had many God-fearing and Bible-believing friends to care for him and to care about him.
3C. Do you have such friends as these here in our Church? Is Calvary Road Baptist Church your Church home? Do you come to Church every time the door is open, and love the people, so they will be here for you at your time of need, and later at your funeral?
4C. When Delfin Estolloso died his daughter and his wife Priscilla were loved and prayed for. We were concerned about them and tried to do our best to help them, in part, to honor Mr. Estolloso, because we here in this Church were his friends.
5C. When Daved Magnifico got really sick his friends here in the Church visited him, sat up with him at the City of Hope, read the Bible to him and read his favorite books to him, and loved on him. And when he died we did our best to comfort his wife and his daughter, and to look after them. Why did we do that? Because Daved was a wonderful friend to us here in his Church.
6C. Do you have such friends here at Calvary Road Baptist Church? Do you take the time and the effort to invest your life in the lives of others, to be their friend? Or will you be one of those without friends when you get really sick, and with no one to honor you at your funeral . . . because there was always a reason for you not being here when the doors were open?
2B. As Well, There Was The Funeral Of Stephen, Which Also Shows This Great Truth
1C. Stephen, of course, was the first Christian martyr. And when he died "Devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him," Acts 8.2.
2C. Would you have devout people in the local Church willing to bury you in an honorable funeral and make "great lamentation over you" when you die? Would there be the kind of people Stephen had, who risked the wrath of those who killed Stephen, to bury him with honor and with dignity, to provide for him a fitting funeral?
3C. You see, the tragic situation today is that most people have only a handful of acquaintances, who are not really friends. Theyíre not the kind of people you spend quality time with, not the kind of people you normally invite into your home or apartment. Not that there is anything really wrong with them. Itís just that theyíre not . . . . friends.
4C. Such so-called friends as these wonít usually go to the trouble of even coming to your funeral when you die, in this secular and lonely age in which we live. What a terrible way to die and be buried.
5C. Get into Church. Be here every time the door is open. Make deep, long-lasting friends here. Then theyíll be here for you when trouble comes, when you get sick, and even when it comes time for your funeral. Donít change your membership and become a Church tramp. Settle in here at Calvary Road and make friends that will last a lifetime -- and beyond.
6C. The Bible says: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching," Hebrews 10.25. Things havenít really changed, have they? There are still people who forsake the local Church, who by being absent do not exhort one another, and who will be sorry for it someday.
7C. Will you have an honorable funeral? Or will God say, "I did cast them out as dirt in the streets," Psalm 18.42?
2A. WILL YOU HAVE AN HONORABLE FUNERAL? NOT IF YOU DONíT HAVE A FAMILY
1B. In Genesis 50.22-26 We Read That Joseph Had His Large Family Around Him When He Died. They Embalmed Him And Put Him In A Coffin With Great Care. Later They Took His Coffin And Carefully Buried It In The Promised Land, Joshua 24.32.
2B. Joseph Had An Honorable Funeral Because He Had A Family That Cared For Him. But If You Donít Get Converted And Get Into This Church Your Chances Of Having A Family Like Josephís Donít Exist, What With The Disintegration Of The Nuclear Family These Days.
3B. You May Not Even Marry. Many People Have Had Such Horrible Personal Experiences, And Are So Afraid They Will Be "Burned" Again, That They Refuse To Seriously Consider Marriage. And Unless A Man Gets Into A Good Church, Where There Are Real Christian Women, The Kind Of Women The Bible Says You Can Trust, Itís Not Likely That Youíll Have A Stable And Durable Marriage And Family Even If You Do Get Married Someday.
3B. Or Perhaps You Will Be Like One Of Those Who Does Get Married, But Who Has Either No Children Or Few Children. Such People Oftentimes Get So Caught Up In The Materialistic Lifestyle Of Today That They Put Off Having Children Until Itís Too Late To Have A Loving Family Of Children Around Them.
4B. My Friend, If You Follow This Wicked World You Will Have No Wife, Or Worse Yet When You Are Old, You Will Have No Loving Children To Care For You In Your "Golden Years," When Your Spouse, If You Were Married, Will Already Be Gone.
5B. Then What Will Be Left For You? To Be Taken Care Of By The People Who Are Left, The Minimum Wage People In The Old Folks Home, Who Will Neither Like You Nor Love You, And Who Will Say "Cast them out as dirt in the streets" When You Are Dead, Psalm 18.42.
3A. WILL YOU HAVE AN HONORABLE FUNERAL? NOT IF YOU DONíT HAVE CONVERTING FAITH
1B. Those People Who Will Preside Over Whatever Burial, Or Disposal Of Your Remnants, Thatís Arranged Wonít Have Anything Much To Say About You When You Die. Since You Donít Have A Church Home There Wonít Be A Minister To Speak Who Knows You.
2B. They Probably Wonít Even Have A Memorial Service For You, Because They Wonít Want To Pay For A Speaker, And Because Theyíll Know That A Minister Canít Give Them Any Real Hope -- Since You Had No Real Faith.
3B. The Bible Says, "When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth," Proverbs 11.7. As Forcefully As I Can, I Must Warn You With Word That Jesus, Himself, Spoke: "Ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins," John 8.24.
4B. And If You Do Die In Your Sins Everyone Will Know It. You See, Christian People Frequently Die Quite Differently Than Unsaved People Die. And A Christianís Funeral Is Very Different From The Funeral Of A Non-Christian.
5B. Your Funeral, If You Even Have One, Will Likely Be A Horrible, Hopeless, Event. People Will Hate To Come To It, And Most Will Just Stay Away, Because They Know That You Donít Have Saving Faith In Jesus Christ.
6B. But A Christianís Funeral, On The Other Hand, Those Who Are Truly Converted To Christ, Have The Most Joyful Funerals, Even In The Midst Of Sadness And A Sense Of Loss. Of Them It Is Said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them," Revelation 14.13.
7B. So, I Ask You One Last Time, "Will You Have An Honorable Funeral?"
1. To have a good funeral you must prepare now. And you kids need to listen to this, because this applies to you, as well.
2. To have a good funeral you need to get into this Church, make close friends here, and stay here no matter what happens.
3. Then, you must have a good family. Youíll not have a good family to give you a good funeral unless you are part of a good Church like this one, and unless you stay here no matter what happens.
4. Finally, you must have real, converting faith in Jesus Christ. When you are a real Christian the pastor who conducts your funeral will be able to give hope to your friends and relatives who are left behind.
5. Get into this Church every time the doors are open. Get saved. Make sure you know Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to pay for your sins. He arose physically from the dead to give you life.
6. Throw yourself on Jesus. Believe on Him, and you will not only have a good funeral, youíll also have eternal life. Because your sins have been washed away in the Blood of Jesus Christ, Who is alive, at the right hand of God, in Heaven, even as I speak.