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How Do We Want To Be Remembered?

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Recently I have been reading through the Old Testament. It seems like each time I do there is something different that “jumps off the page” that I had never given much attention to before. One thing that has been of particular interest this time through is what is written (good or bad) about certain people when they die. There are many references, but I will focus on just a few.

First of all, let us consider Abraham. The Bible gives us a lot of information about his life in both the Old and New Testaments. He made his mistakes, but one of the outstanding characteristics of his life was his faith. Who could ever forget the touching occasion when God tested him by seeing whether or not he would offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Genesis 22)? His faith, for the most part, was exemplary!


Abraham lived to be 175 years old and here is the epitaph that Scripture gives him upon his passing: “Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). The expression “gathered to his people” means more than being buried in the family cemetery. It is beautiful imagery of being reunited with those who had lived, as he had, in service to God.


While there is no reference to the reaction of the people concerning Abraham’s death, it is recorded in other deaths of Godly people that there was mourning by family and others who knew and loved them. For example, when Jacob died, “the Egyptians mourned for him for seventy days” and at his burial, a great company (including his family) mourned “with a great and very solemn lamentation… seven days” (Genesis 50:1-11).


In sharp contrast to this, consider the death of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21). He demonstrated no faith in God, lived a very wicked life and died a horrible death. Further it is noted, “His people made no burning for [did not honor] him… and, to no one’s sorrow, departed” (2 Chronicles 21:19, 20). No honor is paid. No one mourns his passing. No beautiful imagery is given, but obviously like Judas Iscariot, he went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25).


Surely the day is coming when you and I will “go the way of all of the earth” (cf. Joshua 23:14; Hebrews 9:27). How do we want to be remembered?