This subject may not appeal to some folks, but for those who have reached the sunset days of life, a study of it will prove helpful and encouraging. For others, let me suggest that you try to enter into its message or save it until you find yourself in the classification of "old age"!
There can be nothing more beautiful than the declining days of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ The character of an aged believer should be more attractive than ever, and though the light of this earthly life may be fading and the shadows deepening, there should be an increasing mellowness, sweetness and serenity of spirit. "We all do fade as a leaf" writes God, (Isa. 64:6); "yet the leaf is never so beautiful as when it is faded. No artist ever painted a picture so beautiful as the panorama of woodlands transfigured with indescribable mingling of gold, crimson and saffron, as if a flood of divine glory swert across them".
FIRST: Consider the joy of possessing Christ as your Saviour in old age! There was an old man called Simeon to whom God revealed that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. (Read Luke 2:25-35). The Spirit of God led him into the temple as Joseph and Mary entered with "the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation" etc.
The blessed Saviour was embraced in his arms! How precious at the end of his life was this blessing! Have you embraced HIM? Is your heart and soul wrapped around the Saviour? The blessed Saviour was also before his eyes! He had no eyes for Joseph and Mary at that moment! Just for "the child Jesus". This ONE was God's salvation! No matter how dear are loved ones of earth at the end of life, the Saviour transcends them all! It makes the departure from earth one of peace for Simeoni No wonder he "blessed God". What a wonderful end to a long life! Arms around the Saviour and eyes upon the Saviour! His lips also praising God! May this be your end and mine!
SECOND: Consider the joy of speaking of Christ in old age. At the end of life, if we have known Him, the testimony should be much greater and clearer, than that of a young believer. Linked with the incident of Simeon, is the adoration of an old woman named Anna, recorded in Luke 2:36-38. She was a prophetess of great age, widowed after seven years of marriage. At the time of the temple incident she had been a widow for eighty-four years and would be well over one hundred years of age when she came into the temple at that moment. She had served God night and day through those years, with fastings and prayers. A descendent of the tribe of Asher (meaning happy), she was probably a happy child of God, but her joy was made greater when she also saw "the child Jesus.
Immediately her lips broke forth with praise Godward-"she... gave thanks likewise unto the Lord." HALLELUJAH! must have been the words of her heart and mouth! Then knowing that "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10), she set forth to visit all the saints in Jerusalem and she "spake of HIM to ALL them that looked for redemption". Praise God-ward and testimony manward! The usual infirmity of old age meant nothing in the joy of seeing HIM! It certainly takes Christ to make old people happy at the end of life and HE IS ABLE!
THIRD: now consider the joy of leaving earth and going to be "with the Lord". If saved, Christ your own and you His own, the Word declares - "Blessed (happy) are the dead who die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13). "Happy to die?" you ask. Why not? Listen to the words of the saintly McCheyne:
"The world says, 'Blessed are the living', but God says, 'Blessed are the dead!'. The world judges ttiings by reason and sense, as they appear outwardly to men. God judges things by what they really are. He looks at things in their real color and magnitude. The world says - 'Better is a living dog than a dead lion'. The world looks on their families in the fresh bloom of health, with bounding step and elasticity of youth, possessed with luxuries and long bright summer days ahead and the world says - 'There is a happy soul' - BUT God takes us into the dark shadows where a child of His lies cold in death. He points to the pale face where eath sits enthroned, the cheeks wasted by long disease, the eye glazed in death, the stiff hands folded over the bosom, the Iloved ones and friends weeping around, and HE whispers in our ears - 'BLESSED are the dead!'
If it is happy to have His smile here, how much happier to have His smile there! If it be sweet to have an anchor within "the veil", how much better to be there, where no gloom can come! If it be joyful to walk with Him here, how much more joyous to be with Him there! For-"in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever more" (Psalm 16:11). Yet, be careful! Not ALL the dead is this true of, but only those who "die in the Lord". Vast multitudes pour into the eternal world, yet only a minority are so blest according to the testimony of Jesus-"few there be that find it" (See Matt. 7:13-14). There is no blessing for the Christless dead: they rush into a Christless eternity where God cannot write "Blessed" but only "Cursed" for "He that helieveth shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned."
Consider what it means to be "IN THE LORD". Every one who is blessed in dying has been saved. They were "born again." They were awakened to see themselves lost, undone, hopeless and in need of the Saviour. The Lord Jesus drew near and revealed Himself. They believed upon Him as the ONE Who died for all their sins. They believed and were happy. That was their beginning of being "IN THE LORD". So when death comes, their happiness does not disappear, nor decrease, but rather it becomes greater! Praise the Lord!
There is no evil where the dead in the I,ord are! no pain! no toil! no heartache! no sorrow! no burdens! no struggles. "They rest from their labors". Oh, how blest they are that die "IN THE LORD". If you are an aged believer, lay hold of these facts. If younger, store them up in your heart for time ahead! "The Blessings of Old Age" are a reality and many other contributory facts from God's Word could be added. Let us not consider old age as going "down hill" as some suggest. It is not so! Not for a believer, as one has poetically suggested in the following words of a poem, quoted in part:
"But, oh! it is not going down,
May God bless these few thoughts based upon His precious Word to the hearts of all who read them, and especially to those who now in the sunset of life, will soon be passing into the eternal world. God grant you will be among those of whom God says: "BLESSED ARE THE DEAD THAT DIE IN THE LORD!"
J. W. Bramhall