Summary: While “aspire to inspire before you expire” is a catchy, insightful one-liner, when it comes to the lives of numerous heroes’ of faith, it is how they expired with motivational words seemingly on their dying lips, which leaves an indelible impression in u
“Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire”! Now is this Latin maxim, all “Greek and Latin” to my congregation? I can “justifiably” empathize with those not in touch with the “World of Justice” for it is the Latin maxim carrying a lot of relevance to only men donning black and white coats and honorable Judges carrying gavel. It simply means a man will not meet his Maker with a lie in his mouth, as such the final last words of any dying individual involved in a case carries lot of legal sanctity. That there are many instances’ of they (Dying declarations) totally tilting the legal proceedings one-way or the other is an indisputable fact! Section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act, deals with the significance of the Dying declarations.
Now let’s switch tracks and come to the spiritual realm. The famous last words of many a Biblical giant are of special significance to us, for they are not only truly authentic but also highly inspirational. While “aspire to inspire before you expire” is a catchy, insightful one-liner, when it comes to the lives of numerous heroes’ of faith, it is how they expired with motivational words seemingly on their dying lips, which leaves an indelible impression in us all. In this sermon, I intend to capture and encapsulate the final moments of some of Biblical stalwarts including the GREATEST OF EM’ ALL, drawing valuable lessons in the process…
1. Prophecy: Jacob, the Patriarch from who descended the twelve tribes of Israel was anything but truthful most of his life. His victims of deception included amongst others his own father, elder brother (Genesis 25:30-34/27) and father-in-law, who himself was no mean schemer (Genesis 29:16-25/30:25-43). Hence, it comes as no surprise that even after his life-transforming experience of “wrestling with the Celestial One” and “exchanging” his own limited strength for that of Divine (Genesis 32:22-32), Jacob himself falls prey to the deception of his own sons. If anything, in the incident described in Genesis 37:12-35, the truth emerges that “Sowing-reaping” principle catches up with everyone…even with a Chosen one like Jacob, making a wrongdoer invariably taste “the bitterness of his own medicine”.
Now, it is another matter that even the slips and falls of His chosen ones’ are woven skillfully into the tapestry of Eternity by the Master weaver all with a purpose of bringing out a greater beautiful design later. While we with the benefit of hindsight would know that what was heartbreak for Jacob, was actually breakthrough for Joseph, (Genesis 45:4-10), it is stirring prophecy of Jacob in his death bed (Genesis 48-49), which would capture the imagination of any Bible student. This deceiver had come a long, a long way growing strong in his relationship with His Creator post the Wrestling encounter. The personal tragedies like early demise of his beloved life Rachael and the painful separation from his favorite son Joseph only brought about a greater refining influence in him, which can be discerned from a marked change in his demeanor in his final years.
There he was all conviction and authority even as his life was ebbing away in his death bed, calling spade a spade, when it came to some of his unruly sons and eventually gazing far into the future, one last time, he comes up with a faith-filled Messianic Prophecy of Millennium times!
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His” (Genesis 49:10- also refer Rev 5:1-5). Now this Prophecy reveals not only his unshakeable faith in the Redemption plan of the Almighty for the fallen mankind but also faith in the ushering of a just reign in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, for only during that period would the nations obey Him!
Not a soul, who knew Jacob the “deceiver’s” formative years, would have envisaged such a glorious end in his life. It only reinforces the fact, that as much as the beginning is important in the spiritual scheme of things, the end is also equally vital. Yes, Jacob post the watershed experience of an ethereal wrestling bout had spiritually grown, so much in his reverence for the Lord that the Omniscient One had made known His covenant (reign of the Messiah) to Him (Psalm 25:14 NKJV)!
2. Brevity: Joseph’s spiritual life unlike that of his father was marked by consistency, not seen in any of the patriarchs of the OT times, who all revealed a feet of clay at different times. Every much in consistency with his shining character are the last prophetic words of Joseph, as he neared the end of his life. It is the brevity of his last message, which stands out revealing to us all clarity of his vision, as regards the future of his brethren, in a foreign Land. Encompassed in just two verses (48 and 49 of Genesis 50) is his Prophetic statement of faith in the redemptive plan of the Sovereign God. So powerful was his conviction about Israel’s path to freedom from Egypt (all the more amazing since, since God did not speak to him directly-Joseph would have most probably “HEARD” about this Divine promise from His father Jacob) that he made his brothers’ promise that they would carry his bones, when they leave Egypt. Many years later, we find Moses keeping that promise in Exodus 13:19 and finally we see in Joshua 24:32, the mortal remains of Joseph being laid to rest in the Promised Land. Oh how the spirit of Joseph would have rejoiced to see that happen in the celestial abode now inside an IMMORTAL BODY!