My dear fellow Boomer, we have had our time in the sun but now it’s time to die. This is the message God is sending us through this present coronavirus. He is calling us to prepare to meet the great Judge of all the earth. But what are we doing, instead?
Stewart Brand is asking people to tweet their advice about COVID-19 and ventilators; whether or not they’re worth it? If he gets sick, should he allow them to put him on one? Eighty-two years old and this is pretty much what we’d expect of Brand: talk about tools right to the very end.
But is death—physical death, that is—our very end?
Decades ago, I remember listening to Dylan doing a radio interview with a Brit who wanted him to tip his hat to reincarnation. Dylan kept gently demurring, but the interviewer persisted and finally got his comeuppance when Dylan responded irksomely:
How many times do you think you’ll have to do it before you can get it right?
Wise Bob. We’ve had our life and now we will be judged for how we did it by the only and perfectly holy God. No mulligans.
The interviewer moved on to peace. Boomers, reincarnation, and peace.
Again, the twit tried to get Dylan to say something cosmic about the need and present possibilities of world peace.
Bob wasn’t signing on. After being badgered about it for a minute or two, he responded:
Look, the moment you stop to reload your rifle—that’s the only peace you’ll ever have.
Wise Bob. We have had our time for giving peace a chance and have spent that time slaughtering our precious unborn children in their mother’s womb. Now, finally, our women are in menopause and the bloodletting has ceased for us and is being carried on by our own children who survived their countless murdered siblings.
Now arrives a grim reaper named COVID-19 and it’s noteworthy this reaper is particularly focussed on our Boomer generation.
Whether by COVID-19, renal failure, or cancer, the God Who made us and determined every moment of our lives before one came to be never stops warning us in His Word, the Bible, that He hates injustice, oppression, and the bloodshed of innocents. In fact, there is a weird anthropomorphism in Scripture I didn’t notice until I was in my fifties.
Think for a moment about God—Who He is. One thing for certain is that He knows all things. Christians call this one of God’s “perfections” or “attributes”; God is “omniscient.” He is all-knowing.
Yet the prophet Jeremiah records this statement of Yahweh’s wrath against His sons of Israel:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle… Because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind.” (Jeremiah 19:3-5)
See it there? Yahweh declares child sacrifice an evil so terrible that it had never entered His mind! How can it be that God Himself was surprised by the depth of man’s wickedness in practicing the slaughter of his own children?
Abortion is only one of our terrible evils, but it is the worst one. We have led the West into this great and awful slaughter while lecturing our children about the great strides forward they may thank us for in marching against the Vietnam War and for civil rights—but not the civil rights of the wee ones we have slaughtered in the pursuit of our rabid lusts and greed and convenience.
Our hypocrisy is like the hypocrisy of every generation before us who have called their descendants to honor them as they approach the grave. We tell our grandchildren, “I marched at Selma” and “I lived in a commune” and “I was there at Woodstock” and “Your mother and I made a large contribution to Stanford’s $28 billion endowment,” but we never would think to say, “I paid several of Planned Parenthood’s quack-murderers to kill three of your siblings and my fundamental principle of politics is voting to keep the slaughter of the unborn safe and legal.”
We have the blood of billions of little babies on our hands now. Our generation has led the way and the world has followed us in our bloodlust even while thanking us for standing against the rather small (by comparison) slaughters of the Third Reich, Joe Stalin, and Mao.
So now, COVID-19 is on us and every Boomer realizes, although he might dodge this bullet, it’s our time for bullets and one of them will most certainly take us in the next few years. So what are we going to do in the end? Get wasted and wait? Beat God to the punch and do the Brand thing: pull the plug ourselves? Whistle Ripple into the dark?
There is an ironclad principle God has woven into His universe. This principle applies to man, the only species He has graced by forming us in His Own Image and Likeness. This principle is, “to whom much is given, much shall be required” (Luke 12:48).
Fellow Boomers, we have been given much. The generations that have followed us—our children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren—know this. They have seen our character and know we have taken more than we’ve given. They lived long enough to see we’re worse than our parents we rebelled against and despised. They know our deepest principles are not liberty, fraternity, and equality, but statism, child-murder, and an equal combination of lust and greed.
My Dad was wise and used to say “people get old and die the way they lived.” We may have been able to hide who and what we actually are as long as we could live independently behind our travels and summer homes and remote-controlled garage doors and bank accounts, but the days are now on us when we will be forced into our second childhood and again need others around to care for us. Intimately. Didn’t Laura Nyro once sing, “Ain’t got no place to run to, baby; no place to hide.”
God our Creator ordained, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
So, dear fellow sinner, prepare to meet your God. You will not escape Him. You will not escape His judgment. And for those not found washed by the blood of His Beloved Son Jesus, there will be terrible wrath unleashed on you for all the wickedness you have committed during your days here on earth.
Stop. Don’t look around and compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to your scribbler here. Yes, he’s a pastor and a Christian, but trust him when he says he doesn’t think he’s any better than you. God says this about every last one of us, Christian or pagan:
There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of god before their eyes. (Romans 3:10-18)
Now comes the division. The Christian is the man1 who accepts this judgment of God. The non-Christian is the man who rejects it. In this yellow wood, the road less travelled is the path of acceptance of God’s judgment of our character. He knows us. He made us. Trust His judgment. You are not in a position to judge yourself, and that for a whole bunch of reasons; but, not least, that you have not spent your life cultivating self-awareness and self-knowledge built on any capacity for self-criticism.
It takes abiding in the Church of Jesus Christ and sitting under the fellowship of His people and prayer with the Lord’s Supper and the preaching of His Word to begin to have eyes that recognize and acknowledge our sin.
But many readers have been through the tragic end of a marriage or death of a wanted child and we know the dark nights of our soul. Lying awake at night even now we echo Walt Whitman:
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
God loved us sinners so very much that He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to save us from those sins. From those sins’ guilt and shame and memory. To save us from the sins’ deserved judgment now and eternally. You have good reason to cry aloud at night just as King David himself did before you:
O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger,
Nor chasten me in Your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away;
Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed.
And my soul is greatly dismayed;
But You, O LORD—how long?
Return, O LORD, rescue my soul;
Save me because of Your lovingkindness.
For there is no mention of You in death;
In Sheol who will give You thanks?
I am weary with my sighing;
Every night I make my bed swim,
I dissolve my couch with my tears. (Psalm 6:1-6)
Spend a couple minutes and listen to this recent recording of the Psalm above by two younger fans of Dylan who shepherd God’s flock. It’s been such a help to me as I meditate on my sins.
Yes, it is time to face our death. It may come soon, hurried along by COVID-19 and its complications. It may come in a couple years from an accident or sickness. But what is certain is the time is very short, now.
Will you prepare to meet your God. Or, will you go to your grave in self-righteousness and pride, denying that you need the shed blood of God’s Lamb, Jesus, to wash you?
You do know this is the meaning behind the Christian Church’s practice of the Lord’s Supper, right? We gather together, all baptized into Jesus in the Triune Name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and eat and drink together the Body and Blood of Jesus broken and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins. The close identification we make of the bread and wine with our Lord’s Body and Blood was the reason those in the Roman Empire who looked on our worship thought we were practicing cannibalism. We’re not, but we’re understanding of this mistake because of how closely we identify with being one with Christ’s suffering and death, the breaking of His Body and the shedding of His Blood, in our clear and certain faith that God will forgive us all those sins we swim in on our beds at night.
The good news of Jesus Christ we proclaim to you, a fellow sinner, is that God loved sinful man so much that He sent His Son to bear the penalty of sin for every man and woman, boy and girl, who flees to that precious son to be cleansed from his personal and awful wickedness.
You are stained by adulteries and fornications before them. You are filthy with greed and pride. You are in bondage to weed and alcohol. You left your husband, the father of your children, for your lesbian lover. You abandoned your wife and children for younger flesh. You have spent your children’s inheritance. You have refused to worship the God Who made you. You have hated Him for naming Himself “Father.” You have slaughtered your unborn children…
Come to Jesus and be washed from your sins, and yes I know they are terrible. As are mine.
What’s always given me confidence in the Word of God is that it’s the only book that makes it a principle shared by each human author inspired by the Holy Spirit to fully expose the sins of its heroes. Adam and Eve. Noah. Abraham and Sarah. Jacob and Rebekah. Eli. Samuel. King David. King Solomon. Jonah. The Apostle Peter. The Apostle Paul.
Like each of them, you too are a great and terrible sinner who can only be cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Come to Him. He Himself says He will never cast out those who come to Him. He Himself pleads with us:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
One final warning. If you consider yourself righteous and able to stand before the Holy God, read this warning from Jesus remembering He is the Only One Who has ever been in Heaven and is able to be an eyewitness of what goes on there:
But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)
It makes us tremble, doesn’t it. Put away your pride and flee with us to Jesus. You will not believe the joy that will follow as you experience the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ.
It is His kindness that leads you to repentance.
|↑1||”Man” used inclusively.|