“… And He Died”—and THEN?
“…And he died.” What a dismal topic! Read one of the early genealogies in Scripture, and it jumps out at you line after line. It is the signature on every life: “…and he died. Whoever he was, whatever he did, he lived and “begat sons and daughters,…and he died.” There seems to be little else to put in the record.
Genesis 5:5 5So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.
Genesis 5:8 8So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died.
Genesis 5:11 11So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died.
A profitless account? Keep reading until you come to the longest life on record. It is written of him also, “…and he died.” His name? Methuselah.
Genesis 5:27 27So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.
Here the rhythm changes slightly and another theme comes into the record.
28Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and had a son. 29And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us [be sorry about, repent or regret] concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”
Lamech said, “Noah will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands.” What could this be saying? One of the meanings of the Hebrew word “nhm” translated “comfort” is “be sorry, repent, regret.”
What is “the ground which the Lord has cursed”? In the Genesis allegory the ground God cursed was the evil people, whom God condemned because of their wicked conduct. The “curse” is the penalty of the law they disobeyed.
Lamech’s statement about Noah shows what was coming. Noah was on God’s side, and apparently Lamech knew God was going to be taking action against the evil people, “the world of the ungodly.” What was their wrong? Just how bad was it?
Genesis 6:5 5…the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth [literally, abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality—Hebrew Lexicon] , and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
It was bad. What was God’s response to the wickedness?
Genesis 6:6 6And it repented the Lord [nhm, be sorry, regret] that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me [nhm, be sorry, regret] that I have made them.
The same word translated “comfort” in Gen. 5:29 is translated “repented” here. God was grieved with man’s evil conduct and ready to take action.
30After he begot Noah, Lamech lived five hundred and ninety-five years, and had sons and daughters.
The flood followed. After the flood, the story continues with the sons of Noah and their families.
Genesis 9:29 29So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.
Again and again through the Scriptures it is repeated.
Come on down to the time of the Kings, and the entry is made about each king that he “slept with his fathers,” occasionally with a reference to his honor or dishonor.
Incidentally, the use of the term “sleep” shows their souls were not in heaven. Such is the harmony in Scripture.
Some were buried with the kings, and some had such bad records that they were not buried with the kings. Reference Ahaz the father of Hezekiah:
2 Chronicles 28:27 27So Ahaz rested with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, in Jerusalem; but they did not bring him into the tombs of the kings of Israel. Then Hezekiah his son reigned in his place.
It is the universal story, but—not quite! You and I are both thinking about two great exceptions, two individuals in the record who did not die. And their accounts are stellar!
Look first at the record of Enoch:
Genesis 5:22–24 22After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
What did Enoch do during 365 years? What did he do to keep in stride and “walk with God” 300 years? We can only imagine a life of faith and obedience, even though we do not know the subject. What did people do during those early years but raise their children, build their houses, and plant and grow and harvest their crops? We will have to wait to ask Enoch the details.
Whatever he did, we know Enoch lived for God! He had the law of God, he pledged to keep it, and he did! He LIVED by it so closely that God was pleased with his life, so pleased that he appointed him to a higher level of service. God wanted him somewhere else in his family of worlds, where he could go on in God’s service for another 3000 plus years! How do we know? Because we have the confirming record in Hebrews. And what a record it is! We read the testimony written in Enoch’s behalf:
Hebrews 11:5 5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
He was translated that he should not see death—which tells us he has not yet died! Somewhere Enoch is still living, and has he been told he will shortly be returning to his earth-home, after all the years of experience he has had somewhere else?
We cannot leave without a brief mention of Elijah. He also was translated. We read of his departure:
2 Kings 2:11 11Then it happened, as they [Elijah and his servant and successor Elisha] continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
What are the “chariots of God”?
Psalm 68:17 17The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
The Septuagint of this verse reads:
Psalm 67:17 (svt) 17The chariots of God are ten thousand fold, thousands of rejoicing ones: the Lord is among them, in Sina, in the holy place.
Angels took Elijah up and angels will bring him back!
Let us look more at Hebrews 11, because here the rhythm of “…and he died” turns into the record of faith of each one mentioned. It has been called God’s honor roll, but all mentioned, with the exception of Enoch, died.
The deaths of these heroes of faith may have been much the same as those before them, but how different the rest! On the end of each account here is a note of future and hope. Here is the summary statement:
Hebrews 11:13–16 13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
They didn’t “belong” in this world, this wasn’t a place for them to call “home” and settle down to enjoy. They were living on the promises of God, being “assured of them, [and] embraced them.” That is why they were “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” They were traveling through.
14For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
They weren’t at home, they were seeking the homeland! They were not waiting for it to be said of them, “…and he died.”
15And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
They were looking FORWARD, not back. And to a higher level, a “heavenly country.”
They died, with the exceptions noted, but that record is not the last. It is not the conclusion, only a brief interruption. The next record about them may well be “And he lived”! What did Job say about himself?
Job 14:14 14If a man die, shall he live again?
The unanticipated answer is “YES!” Job says,
All the days of my appointed time will I wait, Till my change come.
Job was looking forward to that “appointed time” when he would stand again on the earth and SEE his redeemer. It is a powerful passage of radiant HOPE—let us feel the fresh impact of its power NOW!
Job 19:23–27 23“Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! 24That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever! 25For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God [Christ, Emmanuel, God with us—Matt. 1:25], 27Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
And don’t forget the meaning of that last phrase, full of deepest, pure emotion and anticipation, as translated in the NLT:
“I am overwhelmed at the thought!”
Job was transported by the very thought of what waited for him beyond the grave—“at the appointed time.” He would come forth with a new body and in his restored flesh see His living Redeemer!
There is a great future in God’s plan for all His faithful ones. “And he died” is not the end but only the end of the beginning. The rest is ahead, when they will awaken to join the living believers and share an abundant life with them in the Kingdom of Christ.
What is our task now? To make use of that little time loaned us now, to put on the character of the Lord Jesus, to become like Him now during this very precious moment of time. Then when He returns to His home we can see Him “as He is” and He can welcome us into His heavenly family with his glad word “Well done,” and accept us to go on working through the eons of Eternity!