July 31, 2015

Famous Last Words

2 Samuel 23:1–24:25, Jude 1:17–25, Psalm 148:1–150:6

Blues singer Bessie Smith died saying, “I’m going, but I’m going in the name of the Lord.”

William Henry Seward, architect of the Alaska Purchase, was asked if he had any final words. He replied, “Nothing, only ‘love one another.’”

Leonardo da Vinci was overly modest, saying, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

Today I’m reading the last words of David: “The oracle of David, the son of Jesse, the oracle of the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue . . . .” (2 Samuel 23:1-2) The remaining words are praise for God.

What would I like my last words to be? After what David said, the next part gives me one possible answer. It is related to battle. “These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.” (2 Samuel 23:8)

The passage goes on to describe others who fought for the king and were valiant in the battles. These were people of great courage and strength. It seems to me that many of the OT wars prefigure and point to NT spiritual warfare. God’s people no longer fight other humans, but spiritual beings in the spiritual realms. Because of that, it seems that these descriptions point to those who are mighty in prayer and in fighting evil. They are often called prayer warriors. It makes me think that I would like my last words to reflect something about that battle, perhaps even a short, “Jesus wins!”

The NT reading also speaks of spiritual battles, not for myself but for the souls of others. It says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 20–23)

Prayer is difficult and often a battle. God calls me to pray against Satan’s work, but this is the most challenging obedience. The deeper I go into prayer, the greater the resistance. There are days when all I can think about is the work of it and my own fatigue, yet in my heart, I know this is my calling.

It was also the calling of David who wrote, “Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 149:5–9)

He battled flesh and blood. Again, my battle that is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I am to “take up the whole armor of God, that I may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:12–13)

“Jesus wins” are excellent last words. Because He won, even death will not defeat me and Satan is already defeated. Because Jesus won, I win also.

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