The Work Must Go On: Embracing the Departures In Our Lives

Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eight verses of the fourth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of the epistle which Paul wrote unto Timothy you begin to get the sense that. Rey distinct, and a very powerful end has been reached. As you approach this final chapter of this epistle you begin to notice the tone that was continued within the epistle changing, and doing so drastically and markedly. As I sit here and consider and meditate upon the words which are found in this passage of scripture I can’t help but be immediately struck with and by the reality that as Timothy is reading these words he is preparing for the departure of his mentor, his father, and his companion and Co-laborer in the work of the ministry. There is not a doubt in my mind that as Timothy read the words which were contained within this particular epistle he began to know and understand that the time for the apostle Paul here upon the earth had come to an end. It is absolutely uncertain and unclear if Timothy saw the apostle Paul after the writing of this letter, so this might very well have been the final correspondence and communication he received from the beloved apostle. I would imagine that as young Timothy read the words found within this epistle he was filled with an overwhelming amount of sorrow and sadness, as it began to be clear to him that the life of the apostle was drawing to a close here upon the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that the apostle Paul has much such a marked and noticeable impact and difference in the life of young Timothy from the very first time the two of them met in lattes and Derbe. I can’t help but think of the tremendous bond of friendship and fellowship that was forged when these two met, as they began to recognize that something special was beginning to form.

I can’t help but read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto young Timothy in this particular passage of scripture and be gripped with and by the fact that he must have felt a lot like the Ephesian elders felt when the apostle Paul called them unto himself to speak to them one final time. In the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the account of the interaction which took place between the apostle Paul, as well as the Ephesian elders which were present within the church of that city. When speaking unto these elders the apostle Paul made it absolutely clear and absolutely certain that he would not see them anymore from that day forward. If you read the account of this exchange and dialogue between the apostle Paul and the elders of Ephesus you will find that it was undoubtedly a very somber and sobering moment—not only for the elders themselves, but also for the apostle Paul. There is not a doubt in my mind that as the apostle Paul was speaking to these elders their hearts burned within them knowing that this dearly and beloved man who had helped stir them up and establish in the face would not be seen by them anymore. This brings me to one very important question and reality which is gripping my heart and soul. This particular reality is how we handle the departing and departure of those who have made such a tremendous impact and those who have had such a tremendous influence on our lives. How do we handle it when those who have greatly and wonderfully impacted our lives depart from our lives and we find we can never and will never see them again? How do we handle it when those whom we have enjoyed such fellowship and communion with are either suddenly removed from our lives, or when they know and are aware of their departure, and take the time to prepare us for their departure?

As I am sitting here today contemplating and meditating on the words which are found within this passage of scripture I can’t help but consider specific examples in scripture when those who have made such a tremendous impact within and upon our lives are removed from our lives. I can’t help but think of the final and parting words of Moses when he knew the time of his departure was at hand, and not only was he going the way of his fathers, but he would also not lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan. I can’t help but be reminded of David’s departure from this earth and the final words he spoke unto his son Solomon—and not only unto Solomon, but also unto the children of Israel. I can’t help but be reminded of the final encounter between Elijah and Elisha as this young prophet protégé knew that the time of Elijah’s departure was at hand. I can’t help but also be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke unto his disciples when He knew that the time of His departure was at hand. I am also reminded of the exchange which took place between the apostle Paul and the Ephesian elders which was again one more exchange between those who will remain in one place, and those who must move on. It’s interesting that when and as you consider these various accounts you will notice that all but one of them mark a departure—not only from those within and upon the earth, but also from the earth itself. Only on one occasion do we find final words being spoken by one who was not necessarily departing from the earth, but one who would be departing from a geographical location. Each of these examples brings us face to face with the reality of how we handle the departure of those who have had such a tremendous impact within and upon our lives. That which I am gripped with when engaging myself in this writing is the tremendous emotions and thoughts that go through our minds when we are confronted with loss and those who depart from us in this life. What’s more, is that I am also reminded of the words which the Lord Himself spoke unto Joshua after Moses His servant was dead and would no longer return to the earth, and how Joshua had great need to move onward and move forward.

If you turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy you will find the time of Moses’ departure having approached, as the Lord Himself made Moses aware of the reality that he would go the way of his fathers. If you begin reading with and from the thirtieth chapter through to the thirty-fourth chapter of the very same book thou will find the Lord speaking to Moses concerning the time of His departure, as well as the words which Moses himself spoke unto the children of Israel. It’s quite interesting and astounding to consider the final days and the final moments of Moses within and upon the earth, for not only did the Lord speak directly to him concerning his departure, but the Lord also instructed him to charge both Joshua son of Nun, as well as the children of Israel. Consider if you will the words which the Lord spoke unto Moses when He revealed unto him the time of his departure had approached:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: Call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it to the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee” (Deuteronomy 32:14-23).

As you continue reading the final chapters of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, you will find some of Moses’ final actions as being writing a song which he taught the children of Israel, speaking directly unto the Levites, charging Joshua, and even pronouncing a blessing upon the children of Israel. Consider if you will the words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the forty-fourth verse of the thirty-second chapter:

“And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Hoshua the son of Nun. And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel: and he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:44-52).

It’s interesting to note that for forty years an entire generation wandered through the wilderness waiting for another generation to fall away and perish within that wilderness. For a period of forty years one generation had to wait and wander in the wilderness waiting for the previous generation to go the way of their fathers, and for their bodies to fall in the wilderness. Consider the tremendous reality that for a period of forty years one of the main underlying events that surrounded each day, each week, each month, each year was the deaths of countless thousands—if not millions of people who had disobeyed and transgressed the command of the Lord. Now, as we come to the final days before the children of Israel would finally be able to enter into the land of Canaan, we find Moses himself preparing to die according to the word of the Lord. In the final five chapters of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy we find Moses preparing to die, and in light of the reality that he was going to die, he laid charge to three distinct groups of people. When the time of Moses’ departure and death was coming to an end he was instructed to charge young Joshua who would stand as his successor and lead the children of Israel into the land which he himself could not. Additionally, Moses charged the children of Israel themselves with a great charge knowing that they would not only need to enter into the land sworn on oath to their fathers, but also conquer, possess and subdue it. Within this passage of Scripture you will also find Moses giving charge to the Levites concerning the ministry of the tabernacle, for although Moses was departing and going the ways of his fathers, the children of Israel would remain within and upon the earth with the Tabernacle of the Lord, as well as the Ark of the Covenant which was the very center and foundation of the Tabernacle itself. What we find in the final chapters of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy is Moses preparing to depart and move on from this earth, and the final exchanges which would take place between Moses and the children of Israel. I can’t help but be reminded of this final encounter, for knowing he was going to go the way of his fathers, Moses was commissioned and instructed by the Lord to give charge to Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, as well as to the children of Israel to not only follow Joshua, but also follow the Lord Himself. Bringing the account of Moses to a close you will find the following words written concerning Moses and his departure from the earth, and Joshua’s rising up and leading the children of Israel:

“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of NEbo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: wi have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-poor: but no man knowth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, not his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel heartened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:1-12).

When you come to the twenty-secondchapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles you will find the account of David preparing for his departure to draw near, as he himself would go the way of his fathers who went before him. As you begin reading with and form the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles you will find David—not only preparing his son Solomon to reign as king in his place, but also to build unto the Lord the Temple meet and fit for His glory. I have to admit that I absolutely love the final chapters of this Old Testament book, for they once more bring us face to face with the reality of departure, and those departing from us who have perhaps had a tremendous impact on us, and those who have led us in the ways of righteousness. David not only helped unite the nation and kingdom of Israel, but David was also the one who led the army of Israel into battle against their foes and adversaries. What’s more, is that when you read these final chapters you will find that it was first put in David’s heart to build unto the Lord a Temple and an house which He could place His name, and which His glory and presence could rest and dwell. Now, as we come to the final days and ours of David’s time upon the earth we find him preparing both the children of Israel, as well as his son Solomon himself for the work which must continue on after his departure. If there is one thing I am absolutely and utterly struck and consumed with when I consider these various departures, it’s that despite the fact that these departures did in fact take place, the work of the Lord within and upon the earth must continue and must be carried out to completion. A perfect and powerful example of this reality is found in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of First Chronicles:

“Then David said, This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God. And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joining; and brass in abundance without weight; also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar woods to David. And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory through all countries: I will therefore now make preparing for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: but the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. Now, my son, the Lord be with thee; and propser thou, and build the house of the Lord that God, as he hath said of thee. Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfill the statutes and judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed. Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is in abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto. Moreover there are workmen with thee in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and timber, and all manner of cunning men for every manner of work. Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee” (1 Chronicles 22:1-16).

The more you continue to read the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture you will find David charging the princes of Israel to help his son Solomon in the work of building the house of the Lord in the midst of His people. When David was old and full of days he made his son Solomon king and performed a great work or organizing and arranging the Levites according to their order within the land of Israel. One thing we must recognize and understand about David’s departure is that prior to his death he did everything he could to make preparation for the building of the house of the Lord, for he knew that in addition to his son leading the children of Israel in quietness and peace and rest, the work of building the house of the Lord needed to be carried out and completed. LEAVING A WORK UNDONE! If you consider the account of both Moses and David you will find that although they each served their purpose within their own generation, when it came to the time of their departure, they each left with a work still needing to be carried out and completed. When Moses died and went the way of his fathers the work of leading the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, and even conquering, subduing and possessing the land itself still needed to be done. Although Moses had led the children of Israel through the wilderness, and although by the hand of Moses the Lord delivered the children of Israel out of their slavery, bondage and oppression in Egypt, there was still a work which needed to be performed and accomplished in the earth. Despite the fact that through Moses the Lord caused the children of Israel to see His salvation at the Red Sea as the waters parted before them, and would later return to their original order, thus destroying Pharaoh and his Egyptian horses, chariots and riders, there was still a tremendous work which needed to be done. A similar reality surrounds the death of David, for while it is true that David united the nation and kingdom of Israel to be that which the Lord intended it to be in the earth, there was still a work which needed to be performed in the earth. Despite the fact that David had led the army of Israel into battle against their enemies and adversaries round about, there was still a work which needed to be done. When you come to the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles you will find all the wars, all the battles, all the conflicts, all the struggles coming to an end as a result of David leading the army of Israel into battle to subdue the nations and peoples round about. With this being said, however, there was still one single work which needed to be carried out and performed within the earth—namely, building unto the Lord a house which would be meet and fit for His glory. One thing we must recognize and understand concerning the time of David’s departure is that even though he made a great deal of preparation for the building of the house of the Lord by gathering together in abundance the materials which would be needed to carry out the work, the work itself still needed to be carried out and completed. It is absolutely necessary that we understand this reality of the work needing to be carried out and completed within the earth.

As you continue on in Scripture—particular in the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings—you will find the time of Elijah’s departure from the earth. Within this particular passage of Scripture you will find the account of Elijah knowing and preparing for the time of his departure quickly approaching, and knowing the journey he needed to take prior to that departure. When you come to the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Kings you will find the powerful account of Elijah preparing for his departure, his ultimate departure in a flaming chariot, and his mantle falling to the earth and being picked up by Elisha. Consider if you will the account of Elijah’s departure from the earth beginning with the first verse of the second chapter:

“And it came to pass, when the Lord would take Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elijah from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-0el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, KNowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord lieveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to J Eric Ho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take way thy master from thy head today? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord lieveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, the Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israle, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of this clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote thee alters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and ELisah went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him. And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not” (2 Kings 2:1-17).

As you read the words which are recorded in this passage of scripture you will find Elisha preparing for the departure of his master and father—Elijah. What is so unique about this particular passage of scripture is that it is yet another example of a departure of a servant of God from this earth and returning unto the Lord God. In fact, twice while on this journey with Elijah the sons of the prophets asked Elisha if he knew that his master was going to be taken away from him. On both occasions Elisha told these sons of prophets to hold their peace and to essentially be quiet. What I absolutely love about the departure of Elijah from this earth is that immediately prior to his departure he asked Elisha what he would have him do for him. Elisha’s request was simply that he would receive a double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah. Elijah informed him that what he asked for was indeed a hard request, but if he saw him when he departed, he would have what he asked for. Of course the event took place and after Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind in Heaven his mantle fell to the earth. Elisha immediately picked up the mantle—not only to receive the double portion of the spirit which was on Elijah, but also to carry out and compete the work which still needed to be done. I am convinced that when we speak of these departures, and when we speak of others within our lives who have made a tremendous impact in and join our lives, there is always and there will always be a work That still needs to be done. In the case of Moses, in the case of David, and now with Elijah we find the prophetic work needing to be done. Initially there was the work of inheritance and possession which needed to take place—a work which was succeeded by one of building the temple for the glory and presence of the living God. Now with the departure from Elijah we find the prophetic work continuing within the earth. If there is one thing we must lay hold of when one or more individual is removed or departs from our lives, or from our midst, it’s that there is in fact a work which still lies before us. I am convinced there is a work of possession and conquest that lies before us in the earth today, as well as a work of building for the Lord a temple and house for His glory, His honor and His name. What’s more, is that there is a prophetic work that needs to take place and still is present within the earth. I believe that one of the greatest needs within this realm of departure within our lives is going before the Lord and seeking to understand the work which still lies before us. When the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy he wrote unto him concerning the work which still needed to take place in the earth. In his final letter to this young minister the apostle Paul charged him with a wonderful commission—almost as Jesus Himself did with His disciples when He departed and prepared to return to His Father.

I am reminded of the words which the Lord Himself spoke unto Joshua after the death and departure of Moses from the earth, as well as the words which Jesus Himself spoke unto His disciples prior to His departure. When you study and examine Jesus’ departure from the earth you will find Him providing very specific instruction to His disciples, which was to prepare them for how they should live and conduct their lives after His departure. One thing we learn and recognize when reading the New Testament book of Acts is that it is essentially a continuation of the work which began with the life and ministry of Jesus here on the earth. While it was true that the Head of the body was in fact removed from the earth, it was also true that His body remained upon the work carrying out and continuing the work which He began. When the apostle Paul was departing from this earth there was an apostolic ministry that needed to be carried out and completed on the earth. If there is one thing we can learn from the apostle Paul’s final letter unto Timothy it’s that there was a specific charge and commission that was given unto him—one which was essentially as though the mantle of Elijah being picked up by Elisha. As I consider that which is found in this final epistle I can’t help but be consumed with the tremendous reality and concept that there is a mantle that has been placed upon this generation—a mantle for this generation which essentially serves in these last days as a fire runner generation to prepare the way for the sudden appearing and imminent coming of Jesus the Christ. I am convinced there is a charge that is being issued in and unto this generation—one what is calling us to action and to embrace that which lies before us. Just as John the Baptist stood as the forerunner for the appearing and coming of the Messiah, so also do we in this generation stand and serve as the forerunner for the appearing and coming of the Messiah in these Last Days. It is absolutely necessary that we embrace the mission and work that still lies before us in this generation and that we carry out to completion that which has been set before us.

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