1The Necessityof Certainty
Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Death is not a pleasant topic, nor one which we will dwell upon, but it is an important starting point for serious reflection. Moses wrote, "So teach us to number our days [that is, to realize howquickly they come to an end], that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). Theimplication is clear that something lies beyond the grave for which we ought to make plans. Infull agreement, King David wrote, "LORD, make me to know mine end... the measure of mydays ... that I may know how frail I am" (Psalm 39:4). That realization would only be depressingand much to be avoided unless there is something after death for which we should prepare. In thesame vein, Solomon declared: "It is better to go to the house of mourning [that is, a funeral], thanto go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart"(Ecclesiastes 7:2).The uncertainty of life and the inevitability of death are two of the most basic elements of human existence. Logically, then, what may lie after death deserves at least some seriousattention and planning before it may be forever too late. And it is only reasonable that prior tothat awesome moment of death, which overtakes all in its own time and without discrimination,one needs to be absolutely certain what death will bring and exactly why.
Of course, because nothing less will do. Regardless of one's religious belief or lack of it, death puts its terminating stamp upon every earthly passion, position, possession, and ambition. There is a finality to death that shouts, "Too late! Too late!"Inasmuch as death could come knocking at any time, regardless of one's age, health, or expectations, there is great urgency in knowing with absolute certainty what lies beyond death'sdoor. No matter how young we may be or how healthy we may seem, that dread event drawssteadily and inexorably closer for each one of us-and often comes as an unwelcome surprise.Of Juliet, Lady Capulet mourned, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost upon the sweetestflower of the field." In
Milton expressed the universal horror that anyone could become "Food for so foul a Monster" as death. Homer's
, written in the eighth-century B.C.,lamented, "Death in ten thousand shapes hangs ever over our heads, and no man can elude him."That being the case, there is great urgency to know what lies before us when death releases usfrom these material bodies. There is-no known recovery once one passes through death's door into whatever lies beyond.