The Final curtain is when the show is over and the actors slip out of sight forever. When we die it is the same thing because we are cut off from the rest of our family and friends to go to a place where they cannot follow us at that moment. Death is not a subject that many people like to discuss but it is something we all have to face so we cannot ignore it forever. Although many people have given accounts of heaven my desire is to stick to what the Bible says about what is behind the final curtain and for us to see that death is not defeat but victory.
When it comes to death everyone has an opinion about what happens to us when we die. Some say we are just blanked out for eternity, some say we come back as part of earth or even as other human beings. There are shows that have psychics or mediums that claim to talk to relatives that have died and how their relatives are speaking to them from the “other side”.
There is a parable in Luke 16 of the Rich Man and Lazarus and this is given to us for us to be able to see behind the final curtain and to know what awaits us when our time is up.
1) We cannot communicate with the Dead
Luke 16: 26-31 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers[g]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
According to the parable there is no way that the man can go back and communicate to his brothers. If he could he would and he would encourage them to change their ways. What is being communicated with these television shows is not what our relatives would really say to us if they could. They would tell us things that would bring a real perspective to what life is really about and where you will live in eternity. So the Bible makes it clear in this parable that there is no way to even communicate with someone that has gone died.
I have to bring this up because I have actually heard people pray to dead relatives for help. On my sons baseball team years ago there was a unexpected heart attack of one of the fathers leaving the nine year old boy without his father. One day at a baseball game I heard the widow talking to someone about how she was praying to her deceased husband for help. Although this may be comforting to think they can hear us and even help us we are commanded not to communicate with the dead.
Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
See also Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Leviticus 19:31
During the NCAA Basketball tournament I heard an ESPN commentator say that a basketball coach should pray to a couple of the saints for help. I know many people have been taught to pray to different saints but that is not who we should go to in our time of need.
Why go to a saint when we can go straight to God through Christ Jesus?
Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I joke about that when people pray to the Saints if Jesus lets them know that they are praying to them. I can imagine if Jesus did that the Saints would roll their eyes in Heaven knowing that the people praying to them should only be praying to Jesus. We are not supposed to pray to the deceased and when we pray to Jesus Christ we are praying to someone who is alive.
2) Departure and Arrival Times
John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
The first thing Christians must change is their view of death. We need to view death like a departure from one place to another. When we load up on an airplane we have a departure time and an arrival time. The word depart is the same word where we get Exodus, which is where we get our word Exit. The beautiful part of the Exodus from Egypt was once they crossed the Red Sea they were headed to the Promised land. Once we Exit this earth, those who are Christians, are headed to the promised land. Just like Moses led the Children of Isreael across the split red sea so we will experience Christ leading us to Heaven.
Just like every area of life Jesus has gone before us and faced what we will one day face. Jesus already experienced death and He gives us the strength to face death when our time has come. Jesus already has gone where we have to go and He never asks us to do what He has not already done.
We also have to change our view of where we are living now. I refer to earth as a hotel. It may be nice, have a great pool and continental breakfast but it is not our home. The apostle Paul says that our earthly bodies are but a tent.
2 Corinthians 5:1,8 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
If you have ever been camping you know what it is like to get home and sleep in your own bed. Even if you love camping or traveling, everywhere you go, you know it is not your home.
If you have ever been around some Christians that are older physically, they start wanting to go onto heaven so badly that they sound almost morbid. My friends Grandmother would ask him why God would not allow her to die. Although this sounds sad it really is not if you know that where you are going is your home and not where you are now.
Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
The Apostle Paul said our bodies are like tents and that one day we must depart. To depart was a shipping term that meant to bring up the anchor so you can set sail.
Philippians 1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Paul was saying that he desired to set sail for home but for now there was work to do while on earth.
3) The importance of the journey
The subject of death is important not because of how or when but where we will be going. It may be too early according to our minds or it could be tragic but whatever or however we pass from this life to the next we all will. People spend more time focusing on their vacations than they do on their eternal destinies. They make sure they have a plan for their vacation and they investigate the best places to go and stay and eat but they never investigate who is correct about eternity. Just like the rich man and Lazarus so many people do not pay attention to the evidence that God has already sent them. We need to know for sure where we are going and how we are going to get there.
The story of Christianity is that God Paid the way, showed us the way, gave us a map and He also gave us a tour guide.
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Just like if you have a ticket to a big football game as a guarantee that you will get in so is the Holy Spirit ours. The Holy Spirit is our ticket/ passport/ visa/ map for our journey and our tour guide all wrapped up in one.
If you have ever traveled overseas you understand what it is like to come home and at least be in the line to go through customs. It feels so good knowing that you have your documentation and they will let you in because you have proof that you are a citizen of that country. The Holy Spirit as our passport guarantees us that we are citizens of Heaven.. In fact Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in Heaven.
It is this guarantee of the Holy Spirit that makes sure that no matter what happens we will not lose out. People buy travel insurance just in case their is a natural or man made disaster that could ruin the trip. We have a promise that nothing will keep the trip from occurring.
Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4) Death has been destroyed
Christianity is about Jesus dying for our sins but raising again defeating death and sin. It is why we celebrate and why we know that one day when we die we will be raised again to a new life in Him.
Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
We do not fear death, as scary as it may seem, but we embrace it because we know it will lead us through that final curtain to the other side where Christ is. In the end there is nothing death can do to us. Like a dog that is all bark but no bite, so death is to us who believe in Christ and His victory over it.
1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[a] I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
A father who lost his wife was trying to find the words to comfort his children. As they were in the car a big truck passed over them casting a shadow over the car. The dad asked them if they would want to be hit by the truck or by the shadow. The father went on to explain that death is like that shadow although it seems large and scary it really cannot harm you.
One day when it is time for our final curtain call we will be like the thief on the cross that believed in Jesus and we will know that “Today we will be with Him in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)