It Is All Futility

We are all prone to idolatry. We may consider ourselves far too advanced to bow before an idol of wood or stone, to bend the knee to the image of an animal or man. But none of us is immune from bowing before the idols of our dreams and desires, before the idols of our wandering hearts. None of us can forever resist the allure of our illicit longings, of finding hope in mere riches, of finding meaning in mere accolades. In one way or another we are all prone to idolatry. And idolatry is futility.

In the prophecies of Isaiah we hear the voice of God as he rebukes the nation of Israel for its commitment to idols. He challenges the people to consider the cost of turning away from the God who called them, the God who saved them, the God who loves them. “When you cry out,” he says, “let your collection of idols deliver you!”

He knows the day will come when his people will face a great calamity. He knows the day will come when his people will understand that they cannot save themselves. And in that time, he tells them, they ought to be consistent and cry out to their idols for help, for deliverance, for satisfaction. Cry out to those pieces of wood, cry out to those blocks of stone, and let them come to your rescue!

And what will happen? “The wind will carry them all off, a breath will take them away.” In that day when they, in desperation, cry out for deliverance, they will see the futility of their idolatry, for their gods will be unable to stand before the smallest breeze, the merest breath, the tiniest puff of wind.

We may roll our eyes at the Israelites for being so easily swayed by Baal and Asherah and Molech. We may regard them with mockery for thinking these imaginary gods could ever have interceded on their behalf, could ever have come to their rescue, could ever have been worthy of their worship. But with a moment’s honesty we need to admit that we are just as easily swayed. With a moment’s introspection we need to consider the cost of our own idolatry.

“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!” he said to Israel. And perhaps to us he says:

When you encounter times of deep grief and sore loss and long to be comforted, let the women of your pornography rush to your side. Let them minister to your sorrows.

When you are old and infirm and need someone to care for you or simply care about you, let your career come to your side and nurse you. Let it bring you comfort as you prepare to face eternity.

When you have sinned and transgressed and long for someone to love you and walk with you through repentance and restoration, let the characters in the books or movies or games that so consumed your time be with you. Let them be the friend who sticks closer than a brother.

When you have been treated unjustly, forsaken by those who ought to love you and care for you, let your money hasten to your side. Since you have prioritized wealth ahead of relationships, let your bank account and cars and holiday homes rush your cause and come to your rescue.

But God does not leave his people without hope. There is hope even for the idolater if only he is willing to repent, if only he is willing to turn to the God who saves. “But he who takes refuge in me,” says God, “shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.” It is never too late to turn to God, never too late to cry out to him for help and deliverance, never too late to flee to the one who is—and will always be—our refuge.

Tim Challies

Jewish Feasts

There are seven Jewish festivals or feasts outlined in the Bible. While they are mentioned throughout Scripture, we find instructions for all seven laid out in Leviticus 23. Leviticus 23:2 refers to the seven Jewish festivals, literally “appointed times,” also called “holy convocations.” These were days appointed and ordained by God to be kept to the honor of His name. These times of celebration are important not only to Israel, but also to the overall message of the Bible, because each one foreshadows or symbolizes an aspect of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of Leviticus contains God’s instructions to His chosen nation, Israel, on how they were to worship Him. It contains detailed instructions about the duties of the priests as well as instructions on observing and obeying God’s Law and the sacrificial system. God designated seven specific feasts that Israel was to celebrate each year. Each one of these Jewish festivals is significant both in regards to the Lord’s provision for His people and in regards to the foreshadowing of the coming Messiah and His work in redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. While Christians are no longer under any obligation to observe any of the Old Testament feasts (Colossians 2:16), we should understand their significance and importance, nonetheless.

The feasts often began and ended with a “Sabbath rest,” and the Jews were commanded to not do any customary work on those days. Both the normal weekly Sabbath and the special Sabbaths that were to be observed as part of the Jewish feasts point us to the ultimate Sabbath rest, which is found only in Jesus Christ. It is a rest that Christians experience through faith in the finished work of Christ upon the cross.

Beginning in the spring, the seven Jewish feasts are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The Jewish feasts are closely related to Israel’s spring and fall harvests and agricultural seasons. They were to remind the Israelites each year of God’s ongoing protection and provision. But, even more importantly, they foreshadowed the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Not only did they play significant roles in Christ’s earthly ministry but they also symbolize the complete redemptive story of Christ, beginning with His death on the cross as the Passover Lamb and ending with His second coming after which He will “tabernacle” or dwell with His people forever.

Here is a brief summary of the spiritual significance of each of the seven Jewish festivals or feasts. It is interesting to note that the first three occur back to back, almost simultaneously. The Feast of Unleavened Bread starts the very day after Passover is celebrated. Then, on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits begins.

Passover reminds us of redemption from sin. It was the time when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is on that basis alone that God can justify the ungodly sinner. Just as the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorpost of Jewish homes caused the Spirit of the Lord to pass over those homes during the last plague on Egypt (Exodus 12), so those covered by the blood of the Lamb will escape the spiritual death and judgment God will visit upon all who reject Him. Of all the Jewish festivals, Passover is of the greatest importance because the Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal (Matthew 26:17–27). In passing the elements and telling the disciples to eat of His body, Jesus was presenting Himself as the ultimate Passover Lamb.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed immediately after Passover and lasted one week, during which time the Israelites ate no bread with yeast in remembrance of their haste in preparing for their exodus from Egypt. In the New Testament, yeast is often associated with evil (1 Corinthians 5:6–8; Galatians 5:9), and, just as Israel was to remove yeast from their bread, so are Christians to purge evil from their lives and live a new life in godliness and righteousness. Christ as our Passover Lamb cleanses us from sin and evil, and by His power and that of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are freed from sin to leave our old lives behind, just as the Israelites did.

The Feast of Firstfruits took place at the beginning of the harvest and signified Israel’s gratitude to and dependence upon God. According to Leviticus 23:9–14, an Israelite would bring a sheaf of the first grain of the harvest to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord as an offering. Deuteronomy 26:1–11 states that, when the Israelites brought the firstfuits of their harvest before the priest, they were to acknowledge that God had delivered them from Egypt and had given them the Promised Land. This reminds us of Christ’s resurrection as He was the “firstfuits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Just as Christ was the first to rise from the dead and receive a glorified body, so shall all those who are born again follow Him, being resurrected to inherit an “incorruptible body” (1 Corinthians 15:35–49).

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) occurred 50 days after the Firstfruits festival and celebrated the end of the grain harvest (the Greek word Pentecost means “fiftieth”). The primary focus of the festival was gratitude to God for the harvest. This feast reminds us of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send “another helper” (John 14:16) who would indwell believers and empower them for ministry. The coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection was the guarantee (Ephesians 1:13–14) that the promise of salvation and future resurrection will come to pass. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every born-again believer is what seals us in Christ and bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17).

After the spring feasts conclude with the Feast of Weeks, there is a period of time before the fall feasts begin. This time is spiritually symbolic of the church age in which we live today. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection are past, we have received the promised Holy Spirit, and now we await His second coming. Just as the spring feasts pointed toward the Messiah’s ministry at His first coming, the fall feasts point toward what will happen at His second coming.

The Feast of Trumpets was commanded to be held on the first day of the seventh month and was to be a “day of trumpet blast” (Numbers 29:1) to commemorate the end of the agricultural and festival year. The trumpet blasts were meant to signal to Israel that they were entering a sacred season. The agricultural year was coming to a close; there was to be a reckoning with the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Trumpets signifies Christ’s second coming. We see trumpets associated with the second coming in verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Of course, the sounding of the trumpet also indicates the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth in the book of Revelation. Certainly, this feast points toward the coming Day of the Lord.

The Day of Atonement occurs just ten days after the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement was the day the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel. This feast is symbolic of the time when God will again turn His attention back to the nation of Israel after “the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and . . . all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–26). The Jewish remnant who survive the Great Tribulation will recognize Jesus as their Messiah as God releases them from their spiritual blindness and they come to faith in Christ.

The Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) is the seventh and final feast of the Lord and took place five days after the Day of Atonement. For seven days, the Israelites presented offerings to the Lord, during which time they lived in huts made from palm branches. Living in the booths recalled the sojourn of the Israelites prior to their taking the land of Canaan (Leviticus 23:43). This feast signifies the future time when Christ rules and reigns on earth. For the rest of eternity, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation will “tabernacle” or dwell with Christ in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9–27).

While the four spring feasts look back at what Christ accomplished at His first coming, the three fall feasts point us toward the glory of His second coming. The first is the source of our hope in Christ—His finished work of atonement for sins—and the second is the promise of what is to come—eternity with Christ. Understanding the significance of these God-appointed Jewish festivals helps us to better see and understand the complete picture and plan of redemption found in Scripture.

Rosh Hashana

The Bible college where I serve has a flagship course titled “Preparation for Ministry.” But I increasingly find it a challenge to convince people to take the time to do preparatory work. Most enquirers look for the quickest path to ministry, the one with the least resistance. This raises alarm bells for me. We compel students to pause and prepare because this is the way God works with his people throughout the Scriptures.

From Noah building the ark to Moses walking the wilderness, God frequently prompts his people to stop and prepare for what’s to come. This is the function of the little-known Feast of Trumpets.

What Is the Feast of Trumpets?

In two brief passages tucked away in the Torah, Moses calls his hearers to observe what has become known as the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashana (Lev. 23:23–25; Num. 29:1–6). On the first day of the seventh month, God’s people were commanded to rest from their work and present offerings to the Lord. They were called to observe this day by blowing trumpets—hence the name given to the feast.

God frequently prompts his people to stop and prepare for what is to come. This is the function of the little-known Feast of Trumpets.

There’s some debate about whether this served as a New Year’s festival for the Israelites, something common in the ancient Near East. This seems unlikely given it occurs in the seventh month. The feast does, however, fall at the end of the grape harvest and just prior to the annual rains. The Feast of Trumpets could be viewed as marking the beginning of the agricultural year.

Why Is the Feast Significant?

Though the feast is addressed only briefly in Scripture, we see three ways it’s significant.

First, it’s celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. Not all numbers are significant in the Bible, but the number seven carries connotations of perfection or holiness. Just as the seventh day of the week is holy, so too the seventh month is marked as special: a Sabbath month. This assertion is based on more than mere numbers. The seventh month carried three feasts or festivals: Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets is therefore an opportunity for the people to prepare themselves for this holiest of months in the Jewish calendar.

Second, consider the trumpet’s significance. Admittedly, the Hebrew word for “trumpet” doesn’t occur in either text, but the blast (Lev. 23:24; Num. 29:1) presupposes blowing a trumpet. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the trumpet blast is associated with God’s power or presence. Often it’s blown like a musical prayer to acknowledge or request divine help—a prayer that tends to be answered. At the beginning of the agricultural year, blowing the trumpet is an expectant prayer to God that marks the passing of one season and the anticipation of a new one.

At the beginning of the agricultural year, blowing the trumpet is an expectant prayer to God that marks the passing of one season and the anticipation of a new one.

Finally, the trumpet blast was a call for the people to respond. When they observed the feast, the people rested from work and offered sacrifices. This solemn rest—drawing aside from regular activities—acknowledges reliance on God. The trumpets call the people to prepare for the time later in the month when the high priest will enter the Holy of Holies. By resting, they remind themselves that the faithful God alone is their salvation.

The feast prepares the Israelites to meet their God.

Prepare to Meet Your God

In this way, we see the feast fulfilled in Jesus. Admittedly, there’s no quotation, reference, or allusion to either Leviticus 23:23–25 or Numbers 29:1–6 in the New Testament. But in Jesus we meet God, and at the very same time, we’re prepared to meet God.

As Jesus walked the ancient Middle East, teaching authoritatively, healing miraculously, caring intimately, and dying innocently, we meet God. Because Scripture records Jesus’s life and ministry, we encounter God each time we return to the text. But when we encounter God-in-the-flesh honestly, we quickly realize we’re not ready to meet God. This is a problem because there’s a trumpet blast coming that will bring us face-to-face with our Creator (Joel 2:1; Zeph. 1:15–16; Matt. 24:31; 1 Thess. 4:16; Rev. 8). Rhetorically the psalmist asks, Who has the right to meet God (Pss. 15:1; 24:3)? How can we unworthy people prepare to face him?

There’s a trumpet blast coming that will bring us face-to-face with our Creator.

We must look to Jesus. In him we see the One who laid down his life for his friends (John 15:13). We see the One who, even though he was without sin, bore the penalty of sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus becomes a curse for us in order that he might prepare us to meet God (Gal. 3:13–14)—one day presenting us blameless (Jude 24–25) like a bride without blemish (Eph. 5:27). In Jesus we hear the announcement of the end of one age in judgment and the beginning of a new age in resurrection. In Jesus we confidently anticipate the fullness of the age to come, an age inaugurated with the sound of another trumpet.

Mercifully, we’re no longer required to follow all the intricacies of Old Testament laws about feasts. Jesus fulfills them. Does that empty the Feast of Trumpets of any value for Christians today? By no means. This ancient Israelite feast continues to call us aside from the frantic world we live in to rest and focus our thoughts on our Savior. It calls us to meditate on how God is preparing us to meet him at the final trumpet blast (1 Cor. 15:52).

Davy Ellison

Thorns

Give the Reverend Dullard Drydust enough time and he will manage to confuse most sections of the Bible. Because we preachers are notorious for getting hung up on Greek tenses and purpose clauses and theological trivia, we often shy away from those passages that appear nontechnical and plain.

Like the parables, to be specific. Like Mark 4, to be exact. Not only is that particular parable simple and straightforward, it’s even interpreted for us by Jesus, the One who thought up the story in the first place. And since it has to do with a farmer-type who pitches some seed on different kinds of soil, it doesn’t seem to have the sophisticated ingredients needed for homiletical hash. After all, there’s not a lot you can say about the story of a farmer who drops little seeds here and there in haphazard fashion—or is there?

At first glance, maybe not, but after some thought, I’m convinced there’s more here than any of us ever dreamed. And since the Son of God explains its essential meaning, the story cannot be twisted or forced to fit the fancy of some hungry-eyed pulpiteer looking for three points and a poem.

This is a profound story about life—real life—your life and mine. It boils life down to the four basic responses people have toward spiritual things.

The “seed,” according to the speaker, is “the word.” I believe we’re safe in saying that “the word” refers to truth. God’s truth. Truth for living. Life-giving words provided for us by the Lord our God. The Scriptures, yes, but also the insights, the perspective, and the wisdom that grow in us when the seed takes root.

The four different “soils” represent people of all ages and interests and backgrounds who respond to the things of the Lord in various ways. Some listen, then immediately reject—instantly they turn it off. Others hear and seem to enjoy it and even respond well on the surface, but soon spin off when their bubble bursts and the going gets rough. Still others grab hold and initially embrace what they hear, but by and by they get sidetracked as their growth is throttled by life’s “thorns.” Then, as always, there are those who hear, believe, grow, hang in there, and before long begin to reproduce as healthy plants in God’s vineyard.

It’s obvious that the first two groups are those who are not born again. They are rootless, lifeless, and fruitless. It’s obvious that the last group is born-again: submissive, active, and productive. But frankly, I’m bothered by the third group.

They are Christians, because they grow and get right on the verge of bearing fruit, but their growth becomes retarded. These people hear everything the fourth group hears. But those insights and needed truths are never really accepted, never allowed to take root and grow. Why? Because thorns have come in—thorns which suffocate the normal healthy growth of each plant.

Thorns like these trip us up and cause untold misery. They are killers!

Chuck Swindoll

A Life Well Lived

Toward the close of his life, the apostle Paul penned his “pastoral epistles”—letters to his protégés Timothy and Titus. He wrote the letters late in life, knowing he was awaiting the martyr’s crown. In a sense, that means these letters are Paul’s dying words. He knows his time is limited. What should his protégés in the faith know once he’s gone? What should the church of all ages continue to remember? Here are three things to appreciate in Paul’s letters to Timothy:

1. Their loving and pastoral tone

Paul writes “to Timothy, my true child in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2). Love drips from Paul’s pen in the pages that follow. These aren’t truths in the abstract; they are loving exhortations of a man to his son in the faith in his final days. The beginning of the second epistle contains a poignant reminder of their love-bond:

“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”(1 Tim. 1:3-5)

These are not the words of a theologian, but a father for his beloved child. He yearns for a joyful reunion. Paul has not only seen Timothy’s tears, but also his faith as it was passed down from the godly women in his life. Thus, Paul has the intimate knowledge of Timothy to be able to exhort him to build on the grace he’s already received. In our age of broken families and dysfunctional relationships, such love reminds us of Christ Jesus and feels like a balm upon our wounds.

2. Their memorable “trustworthy sayings”

We’re all looking for Scripture to hide in our hearts. Paul helps direct us to some God-inspired wisdom that’s good for us to remember, both as individuals and as the church. He usually begins such passages with, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.” In other words, these are truths that are useful to carry around in our hearts and repeat to one another. Perhaps my favorite comes from the beginning of the first epistle:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.(1 Tim. 1:15-17)

We’re often tempted to locate sin in everyone but ourselves. We are our own best defense attorney and the world’s best prosecutor. As Paul progresses through the Christian life, he seems to become more painfully aware of his own sin and more wondrously aware of God’s grace. He considers himself the least of the disciples, the least of all Christians, and the foremost of sinners. But he reminds us that this is the point: God saves the worst to show the best. In this way, the world is mesmerized by God’s grace and led to worship him.

3. Their picture of a life lived well, by God’s grace

In Acts 20:24, Paul tells the Ephesian elders, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Formerly, Paul hated God and killed his people out of supposed zeal for God and his truth. But God saved the very worst of sinners and gave Paul a very singular, gratitude-infused aim: To finish the race well.

Toward the very close of his final letter to Timothy, it seems that the prayers of Paul were answered:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.(2 Tim. 4:6-8)

Do you see the parallels between these two passages? His fervent wish “if only I may finish my course” has become “I have fought . . . I have finished . . . I have kept.” Paul reminds Timothy and the rest of us that though the road is hard and our faith is frail, God will prevail. He not only tells us, but he also shows us. We can imagine Timothy on the day his spiritual father, Paul, was put to death. With tear-filled eyes, he could testify that God was proven faithful in the life of Paul. He will do the same with the rest of us.

Stephen Roberts

Your Golden Calf

Did you know that TikTok tracks how many videos you’ve watched on the app? I regret to inform you that I discovered this in the settings. It is with deep sadness that I also regret to inform you that every one of those dumb videos you watch is tallied up, even if your username is “User8723098439823094802348” and your picture is a gray circle. 

In today’s reading, we read about God’s people worshiping idols while Moses had his ten commandment tablet moment with God. I remember being a kid, hearing this story in Sunday School, and wondering how the Israelites could be so stupid. Like, don’t you guys know that God’s finger is writing on a rock your friend, Moses, is holding right now? Why are you obsessed with a statue? 

It can seem absurd to read some of the sins recorded in these ancient cultures, but man—how similarly strange are the things we value through our countless tally of views each day?

I’m not anti-video-clip. I’m not boycotting Netflix. But, if the best part of my day is watching a girl get her hair highlighted with some synth behind it in my headphones…that sounds almost as absurd as exalting a gold calf. 

In 1 Corinthians 10:6–7, Paul warns the people of Corinth not to be idolaters. And then, it reads, the people ate, drank, and partied. It seems we never learn.

Worshiping power or money or comfort or cows made out of melted jewelry leads to discontentment, increased exhaustion, and heartache. But, the beautiful thing is, we have Someone better to give our attention to. Jesus can captivate us. Jesus has erased our offenses. He can heal us, lead us, and comfort us when life hurts too much. When spending time with Jesus is the best part of my day, I feel rested, whole and purposeful, and content. 

Tonight, when you’re winding down with that Texan beekeeper who shares videos of bees being transported to new hives (I have found myself in some strange rabbit holes), take a break and return to God’s Word. Even if you already have that morning. See what He reveals to you and puts in your heart. Jesus is the One worthy of our worship, attention, and affection. Let’s give it to Him.

Scarlet Hiltibidal

It Comes to Us All

Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen.

Zechariah 11:2

When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, it is a sign that the woodman is around, and every tree in the whole company may tremble lest tomorrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one, whether as great as the cedar or as humble as the cypress, the appointed hour is fast approaching.

I trust we do not, by often hearing of death, become callous to it. May we never be like the birds in the steeple, which build their nests when the bells are tolling and sleep quietly when the solemn funeral peals are startling the air. May we regard death as the most serious of all events and be sobered by its approach. It ill behooves us to play while our eternal destiny hangs on a thread. The sword is out of its sheath—let us not trifle; it is ready, and the edge is sharp—let us not play with it. He who does not prepare for death is more than an ordinary fool—he is a madman. When the voice of God is heard among the trees of the garden, let fig tree and sycamore and elm and cedar all hear the sound.

Be ready, servant of Christ, for your Master comes suddenly, when an ungodly world least expects Him. See to it that you are faithful in His work, for the grave shall soon be prepared for you. Be ready, parents, see to it that your children are brought up in the fear of God, for they will soon be orphans. Be ready, businessmen, make sure that your affairs are in order and that you serve God with all your hearts, for the days of your earthly service will soon be over, and you will be called to give account for the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or bad. May we all prepare for the tribunal of the great King with a care that will be rewarded with the gracious commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Charles Spurgeon

Mercy Killing

Euthanasia, sometimes called “mercy killing,” is always a difficult issue.

On one hand, we do not want to take a person’s life into our own hands and end it prematurely. On the other hand, we do not want to prolong the process of dying more than necessary—that is, we want to preserve life, but not prolong death.

Q. At what point do we simply allow a person to die and take no further action to extend his or her life?

Q. What do we say about those who end their lives (even assisted) to end their impending or current pain?

Death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Life is a sacred gift from God (Genesis 2:7).

When given the choice between life and death, God told Israel to “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Euthanasia spurns the gift and embraces the curse.

The overriding truth that God is sovereign drives us to the conclusion that euthanasia and assisted suicide are wrong.

We know that physical death is inevitable for us mortals (Psalm 89:48; Hebrews 9:27). However, God alone is sovereign over when and how a person’s death occurs.

Job testifies in Job 30:23, “I know you will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.” Ecclesiastes 8:8 declares, “No man has power over the wind to contain it; so, no one has power over the day of his death.”

God has the final say over death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54–56; Hebrews 2:9, 14–15; Revelation 21:4). Euthanasia and assisted suicide are man’s attempts to usurp that authority from God.

Death is a natural occurrence. Sometimes God allows a person to suffer for a long time before death occurs; other times, a person’s suffering is cut short. No one enjoys suffering, but that does not make it right to determine that a person should die. (Keep in mind that pharmaceuticals will mask their physical pain)

Often, God’s purposes are made known through suffering. (i.e. battling one’s cancer or condition is more for the loved ones than the one suffering. Their spirit and courage strengthen and teach their loved ones.)

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other” (Ecclesiastes 7:14). Romans 5:3 teaches that tribulations bring about perseverance. We will all face our death eventually and dealing with the death of others is key.

God cares about those who cry out for death and wish to end their suffering. God gives purpose in life even to the end. Only God knows what is best, and His timing, even in the matter of one’s death, is perfect.

We should never seek to prematurely end a life, but neither must we go to extraordinary means to preserve a life. To actively hasten death is wrong; to passively withhold treatment can also be wrong; but to allow death to occur naturally in a terminally ill person is not necessarily wrong.

Anyone facing this issue should pray to God for wisdom (James 1:5).

The Christian and Suicide

1 million people a year commit suicide. It is the third leading cause of death.

  • Suicide was the twelfth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of over 45,900 people.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10-14 and 25-34, the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 44.
  • There were nearly two times as many suicides (45,979) in the United States as there were homicides (24,576).

Q. If a Christian as a soldier jumps on a grenade to save his buddies, is he committing suicide?

Q. Is a Christian who refuses treatment for a terminal cancer committing suicide?

Q. Does a Christian who commits suicide go to hell?

The Bible mentions six specific people who committed suicide:

Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4–6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5).

Five of these men were noted for their wickedness (the exception is Saul’s armor-bearer—nothing is said of his character).

Some consider Samson’s death an instance of suicide, because he knew his actions would lead to his death (Judges 16:26–31), but Samson’s goal was to kill Philistines, not himself.


The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die. We should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).

God is the giver of life. He gives, and He takes away (Job 1:21). Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is ungodly because it rejects God’s gift of life. No man or woman should presume to take God’s authority upon themselves to end his or her own life.

Some people in Scripture felt deep despair in life (consider death a relief).

Solomon, in his pursuit of pleasure, reached the point where he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17).

Elijah was fearful and depressed and yearned for death (1 Kings 19:4).

Jonah was so angry at God that he wished to die (Jonah 4:8).

Even the apostle Paul and his missionary companions at one point “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

However, none of these men committed suicide.

Solomon learned to “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Elijah was comforted by an angel, allowed to rest, and given a new commission.

Jonah received admonition and rebuke from God.

Paul learned that, although the pressure he faced was beyond his ability to endure, the Lord can bear all things: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Yes, according to the Bible, suicide is a sin. It is not the “greatest” sin—it is no damning than other evils, in terms of how God sees it, and it alone does not determine a person’s eternal destiny. That decision remains with Christ, the final Judge.

However, suicide definitely has a deep and lasting impact on those left behind.

Scripture teaches that, from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are granted eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13)

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

and nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39).

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a “created thing”; therefore, not even suicide can separate a Christian from God’s love.

Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ. We should also point out, however, that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death. It is possible that a person who commits suicide could have a last-second change of heart and cry out for God’s mercy. We leave such judgments to God (1 Samuel 16:7).

The suicide of a believer is evidence that anyone can struggle with despair and that our enemy, Satan, is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44). Suicide is still a serious sin against God. According to the Bible, suicide is murder; it is always wrong.

For Any Other Reason

Now, let me be clear. Religion is boring. Rituals and meetings for ritual and meeting’s sake is a waste of time unless you like those things. For James, our faith is not about religion at all.

It is about having a vital, vibrant, living, and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything else is imitation.

So how do we get back to being the type of church that the world really needs?

What can we do to reach all generations including the baby boomers who bought into the lie that people, possessions, position, and power bring peace and purpose to life?

The boomers have enjoyed more prosperity than any other generation, but they also lead all other generations in divorce, drug addiction, loneliness, and suicide.

Clearly, our world needs a fresh glimpse of true faith. To provide that, we must become credible again.

Let me repeat: Christianity is not about religion; it is about a relationship with Jesus. If you are here today and do not understand that need to have a personal relationship with Jesus above all, then we have failed you.

We are not like other religions. We do not focus on a person’s quest to find their way to heaven by their good works, penance, almsgiving, and any feeble attempt to make God see us as somehow worthy.

Our faith is not about a man trying to get to God. It is about God coming down to us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Religion has never and will never be able to change our world. It is, too this very day, at the root of much of the world’s wars and conflicts. The hope of our world is not in religion of any kind.

True hope, real hope has always rested in a relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to devote a few weeks to making sure that we understand that. Unless we do, we belong in the dustbin of time.

No one wants to be seen as a liar. Liars are considered untrustworthy. And yet, we are perfectly content to lie to ourselves all the time.

Relatively few people are completely honest with others. In one study, researchers found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation, and many lied multiple times.

We are not here to entertain one another. We are not here to grow ourselves numerically. We are not here to show the world that we are better than they are.

We are here to worship our Lord and Creator and by His grace build a living relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. If we are here for any other reason, we are lying to ourselves and those around us.

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