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14th March: Old Age

... Man goes to his eternal home. Ecclesiastes 12:5

The first seven verses of the 12th chapter of the book Ecclesiastes contain one of the greatest poetic descriptions of old age in all literature. If you have a Bible handy, take time to read through these verses now. Some of the allusions are not easy to grasp, as modern man does not think quite so readily in pictures as people did 3,000 years ago, but the overall picture of senile tremor, degenerative joint disease, cataracts, deafness and the general slowing down of metabolism is quite clear. Death comes as the final scene in the drama: man goes to his eternal home, the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

What happens at death? 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12 indicate that man is a tri-unity of spirit, soul and body. What happens at death? Think for a moment of what happened when the Lord Jesus died on the cross. His body was laid in the grave. (It did not, however, decay). His soul went to Paradise (Lk 23:43), the happy part of Hades or Sheol, the unseen world (Acts 2:31). He committed his spirit into the hands of his father (Lk 23:46). You will see the similarity of language with that of Ecclesiastes (see also Ec 9:10). Death can be described as entering the gates of Sheol or Hades (Is 38:10).

These gates into man's eternal home are everlasting gates (Ps 24:7-10). In most of the Old Testament death is painted in gloomy colours: even in the New Testament it is called `the last enemy' (1 Cor 15:26). But the Lord Jesus told Peter that the `gates of Hades' would not prevail against his Church (Mt 16:18). The King of Glory has entered those gates, and risen from the dead: he now has the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:18). So the Christian can face death with confidence, knowing that the Lord has himself been through the gates of death, by his death on the cross for us.

Lord Jesus, as I care for older folk who are drawing
near to the end of their lives, give me the patience
and understanding I need. Give me sympathy and
compassion. Help me to care for these folk as I
would like others to care for my parents, or for
myself as I grow old.

Further reading: Ec 12:1-8.JWMcM

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