Scripture Reading: Genesis 49:28-33
“And Jacob...was gathered unto his people.”
Some have questioned the afterlife, believing that when this life is over there is nothing more. This is certainly not the teaching of Scripture. In fact, the Word of God is crystal clear when it comes to whether or not there is an afterlife. Here, in the first book of the Bible, as soon as Jacob “gave up the ghost,” which refers to his physical death, he was “gathered unto his people.” Obviously, this is not merely a reference to the grave, for as yet, Jacob had not been buried. His burial would not be for many days. This is an assurance that upon death, Jacob was reunited with his people that had gone on before him.
How differently did Jacob and his descendants view death than did the Pharaohs of Egypt. Death was not feared by Jacob. It was rather welcomed. When we observe his final day, the blessing of his sons, he is not anxious, fearful and dreading the ending of his life. He talked to his sons clearly about his approaching death and his desire to be buried in the cave that was in the field of Machpelah. The days of his pilgrimage were ending, and his calm appraisal of the situation was simply, “I am to be gathered to my people.” Rather than dreading the event and fighting desperately for every extra moment of life he could have, it sounded as though he looked forward to this final adventure of his life.
The Apostle Paul said this about death; “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin;, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:56) Even he was telling Timothy of his upcoming death, he does so with an excited anticipation about what is just ahead: “...the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness....” Death for God’s own is not a dark, loathsome experience. On the contrary, it is the beginning of a long and blessed eternity with the Lord Jesus
Pastor Steve Smith