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A Date with Death

It must be true; I heard it on the radio. That’s better than if I had read it on the internet, right?


The DJ was commenting on an Australian study saying that watching TV takes years off your life. He then mentioned a Taiwan study that claims that exercising 15 minutes per day adds years to your life. The DJ suggested that we should balance TV and exercise so that we die “at just the right time.”


What is the right time? Is there a predetermined time at which we are scheduled to die? When someone escapes a narrow brush with death, we hear, “It just wasn’t his time.”


It is true that the Bible says, “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). But does that mean that each individual’s day of death has been scheduled – or just that death will someday come for each of us?


People often blame God for someone’s death. “God called him home” or “He needed another angel in heaven” or “God’s timing is not our timing” – we may hear when someone dies.


But the Scriptures seem to indicate that death is not God’s. It’s referred to as his enemy to be overcome (1 Corinthians 15:26). It will eventually be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14). Where God lives, there “will be no more death or mourning” (Revelation 21:4). It is the devil who holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). It would seem that, if somebody is scheduling your death, it’s not God.


Rather than focus on the “when” of our death, we should focus on the “how” of life. The context in Hebrews suggests that. The focus isn’t so much on the appointment with death as the one with judgment. Notice the next verse: “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).


If ever a date with death was predetermined, it was Jesus’ death. But the importance of his death was not the date, but the ransom paid to take away our sin, to prepare us for his return.


Surely, it’s not a bad idea to pay attention to our health. Maybe we really should watch TV less and exercise more. But the ultimate question is not: “When will I die?” The real question is: “How will I live so I will be prepared for death whenever it comes?”


Now, excuse me. I need to run for 15 minutes so I can watch a rerun of Andy Griffith.


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