BIRTH AND DEATH
“A time to be born, and a time to die.”— Ecclesiastes 3:2.
Oh, what earnest words indeed from the prayer of Moses:
Death with swift and sudden warning,
May his prayer be made our prayer:
But we read with equal solemnity the words of the wise Preacher Solomon: “A time to be born, and a time to die.”
1. A time to be born.
It was God Who first created Adam and then Eve, the mother of all the living. Adam and Eve did not have a day or time of natural birth, but a day of creation. All the children of Adam and Eve, a great innumerable family, had a time of birth, however. Had we never sinned against God our Creator, the words “and a time to die” would not be found in our Bible. God spoke to Adam, who represented the whole human race, “The day thou eatest of the forbidden tree, thou shalt die.” We have eaten, and now dear readers, if we never shall have a taste, a hunger and thirst after the fruit of the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus, we will continue to eat of the forbidden tree and its fruit, till … we die of the poisonous fruit, sin, and fall into hell! Do you know the difference between the fruit of the Tree of Life (Rev. 22), and the fruit of the forbidden tree — sin, wickedness, unrighteousness, filthiness, poison, bewitching sweets for the flesh? The devil, with all the spirits of darkness, tries very hard to make the evil tree fruitful in the heart of man and without in the world. It is very fruitful in the world, in the homes, in the churches, yea, in the poor blinded soul of man. How very fruitful it is already in the hearts of young boys and girls.
There is a time to be born naturally. This is what the Bible teaches us; it is confirmed by so many passages of the Holy Scriptures. It is likewise confirmed in our daily life every day and night. How many are born in our midst continually. Ah, were so many born spiritually! In both natural and spiritual birth we behold the almightiness of God: truly He is a God of wonders!
All of us have personally experienced the truth of this word: “A time to be born.” This is according to the eternal council of God. God has in eternity decreed who shall be born; where they shall be born; of what race they shall be born; yea, who shall be the father and mother of the born child, whether they shall be God-fearing parents, worldly parents, or heathen parents.
By birth we were brought into this sinful world and life. A world so full of sin and wickedness; a world so full of deceit and temptations; a world in which Satan has his throne, according to our Bible.
We have all been born from sinful, unclean parents: who shall give a clean one from an unclean? Thus we all come into this world as unclean, spiritual lepers, by nature under the curse and condemnation of God’s holy Law. We come into this world in a miserable state and condition: born in iniquity and conceived in sin, Psalm 51. We bear the image of a fallen and sinful Adam, and are destitute of the image of God; we do not have the image of the holy Adam. What a pitiful state! When a child is born it may look well bodily and may seem to be perfect, but the little soul is only a heap of ruins. The throne of Satan is upon this ruin of mansoul. How soon is this manifested as the child develops, if it is not a new creature in Christ Jesus.
It sometimes pleases the wonderful sovereign God to bring a child forth with His image in the soul, with life and light in the soul — with something good in the soul. In such instances it is God’s pleasure in Christ Jesus to give His Spirit in the heart of the child before birth. He is that great Potter — the sovereign, almighty God! May we not believe that Samuel, John the Baptist, and Timothy were not only born naturally from parents, but also spiritually from God? When they grew up it was soon seen that there was something good from the Lord and for the Lord in the hearts of these children. Oh, that many dear children would be born in our dark days as these children. Parents, do you pray at times for this great blessing: a blessing for yourself, and also for your child? May you be given to plead in supplications at times before a faithful and gracious Covenant God, saying: “Lord, be our God, and the God of our seed.”
A time to be born … and then follows a shorter or longer time to live between birth and death, according to the eternal will of God. In natural birth, sometimes it pleases God to let the mother bring forth a dead child, or it may die soon after birth. But the spiritual mother church (Song of Solomon 8) never brings forth a dead child. O blessed thought! When this womb is opened by Word and Spirit, spiritual and living children come forth, that shall live, yea, live forever. Christ, the Fountain of Life, dwells in them. He has said: “Because I live, thou shalt live.”
That time that lies between our birth and our death is a time of grace, because we are all children of death through sin, guilty worms of the dust. It is a time of preparation for death and eternity, which lies before every one of us. Alas, how is this forgotten! How do poor, ignorant creatures waste this time and misuse it, not realizing that when death comes they must give an account of how they have spent their time. Oh, that poor creatures would learn from Christ and His Word to number their days, and consider earnestly what it shall be when the day of grace is past and a poor sinner will stand in the judgment of God as a trembling nothing, and will hear the Almighty and Righteous Judge say: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I wil mock when your fear cometh: when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” — Prov. 1.
How necessary it is then to have a spiritual birth in the time that lies between our natural birth and our death. We must be born twice if it shall be well with us for eternity: born as a natural child, and born as a spiritual child. In this spiritual birth it is revealed from heaven that a sinner is a child of God’s eternal sovereign pleasure, chosen in Christ Jesus before the world was made, and now actually a child of God by spiritual birth from above. O wonderful work of God! Jesus spoke very clearly about this birth and the necessity thereof in this life, saying to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” To be born only once, is lost; to be born twice, is to be saved. This spiritually born child has a Father in heaven, but is not conscious of it at once. A clear sign of spiritual childhood is that this child now will love God, and has fervent desires to be reconciled to Him and to know that this God is His dear Father in Christ Jesus. How many days and nights in this time state may such a soul long for this blessing that he may have peace with God. What a great blessing it is to have in this short life a hunger and thirst after Christ and His righteousness; to experience a Bethel, and also a Peniel, as father Jacob. A blessed Bethel, where Christ is seen high on the ladder; a blessed Peniel, where Christ comes down and where the struggling soul gains the victory by grace, and is saved from sin, death and hell. Wonderful victorious faith; embracing faith; justifying faith; assuring faith; God glorifying faithl
These are some of the blessings a gracious God will give in Christ Jesus to needy and crying souls on the poor man’s market, without price or money. Oh, how wonderful it is if the blessed fullness that is in Christ Jesus opens up in the heart and life of a poor sinner in this time state; when he may have Christ as his Prophet, Priest, and King, and may, in union and communion with Christ, lead a fruitful life in this short time here below. And is this not the desire and strife of all those that have been partakers of the spiritual birth? An old Christian lady once said upon her deathbed: “Domine, I see now that I have been a little fruitful in this life that will now end. All honor to God!”
But we must pass on to make a few remarks about the Son of man also. There was a time for Him to be born, and also a time for Him to die. His was a blessed birth without sin from the virgin Mary, and a blessed death without His having any sin, but He died for sin, the sins of His people. He is the only Babe that was born sinless. In the time between His birth and His sin-atoning death on the cross, He has performed an unspeakably great work. In His actual and passive obedience to the will of the Father, He has merited forgiveness of all sins and eternal life for His whole Church. Oh, what glorious benefits there are for poor sinners as a result of the time Jesus has spent here upon this earth, and as a result of His suffering and death upon the cross of Calvary: a Calvary and cross where poor, guilty sinners may yet be led by the Holy Spirit, there to behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.
2. But we must also in the second place consider these solemn words, “A time to die.”
The wise preacher certainly refers to corporal death. Paul says: “It is appointed for man once to die.” Not only does the Bible teach us this, but we may behold this solemn truth throughout this whole world, and … we shall all experience it personally.
What man that lives has power to save
His soul from death, and from the grave?
When shall that time, that day, that moment be? God only knows. Isaac said: “I know not the day of my death.” How near may death be unto us, and yet we do not know it; how suddenly may the cold hand of death be laid upon us, and how helpless we lie! God speaks the last word. Old people must die, but let our youth be ever mindful that young people can die. O solemn truth! This cannot be denied. Some pine away gradually, while others are laid down in death by a sudden blow. They do not have a moment to yet cry to God for help and mercy. Body and soul are then separated. The body turns to dust in the grave, and where is the never dying soul? “Man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?” Job 14:10.
The day of death is a good day for the followers of Christ on the heavenly road, but it is an evil day for those that die without Christ. O terrible death: terrible judgment after death for the graceless and Christless! They travel on spiritually dead to the end of this swift passing life; then corporal death overtakes them, which is followed at once by eternal death. How bitter are the fruits of sin! How soon will the cry be heard in eternal death and suffering: “Had I never been born!” Oh, that sinners might awake out of that dangerous spiritual sleep and come to repentance while it is yet the day of grace, before it gets dark, eternally dark. Hear the Word of God: “What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.’ — Jonah 1:6. Hearken also to the admonition of Paul: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
A time to die. Also for God’s children. At times they can be so afraid of this death, and it seems to be for them a king of terrors. How little faith; how dark the future seems. However, the promise is, that the faithful Jehovah shall never leave nor forsake them. May Paul’s faith be granted, namely: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” These good words are followed by the exhortation: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
For the true believer the day of death is better than the day of birth, Eccl. 7:1. The day of death shall be his ascension day, upon which he shall receive the crown of eternal life. All sovereign grace, and for Jesus’ sake. His people shall then receive the wish of their heart: no more sin, no more shortcomings, no more troubles, no more battles, no more backslidings, no more darknesses: there shall be no night!
May Christ be our life, that death may be our gain. May we decrease, and He increase. O blessed experience in this short time: to die with Christ that we may live with Him. May Christ by His Spirit and grace grant His people to experience to His honor and exaltation: “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” And: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” O wonderful! Hallelujah!