When we received the news of the death of Brian, I remembered what we read in Ecclesiastes 7:1-2, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men and the living will lay it to his heart.”
For whoever doesn’t know the will and purposes of God, it could be a contradiction when we speak that the day of death is better, but for anyone that lived according to the plan of God and His will, as Brian did, filling his life with treasures, then leaving the things of this life for eternity and enjoying the eternal joy in its completeness is better. Being faithful here in this world is what we enjoy in Eternity more than we can imagine. We have experiences of that when we put the effort in to please God. He gives us to understand that his blessings in Eternity are much above what we can imagine in our human capacity. He was a worker in the work of the Gospel and we would ask the question, “Who will fill the empty place that he has left here?”
In Isaiah 6:8, there is a vision of the Kingdom of God, much above the things of this earth. He said, ”Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me.’” His place is empty and who will fill it? Elijah, a man so near to God and bold; he didn’t have fear of being reprehended by the King of Israel. He had in mind to prepare another for his place.
We read of Elijah passing by Elisha when he was ploughing with 12 yoke of oxen and he cast his mantle upon him. Elisha ran after Elijah, and Elijah said, “What have I done to thee?” Elisha understood that Elijah would leave that mantle and he could use it one day. Elisha went to say good-bye to his family, killed the oxen, roasted them, and ate it together with the others and went out to accompany Elijah. He had said, “Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.” Elisha understood that he was being called to occupy Elijah’s place. There was great virtue in that mantle. He had seen what Elijah had done and what virtue that mantle had. The good spirit of Elijah passing through the waters, he said, “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.” (II Kings 2:9-15) Elijah consented and said, “… If thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.”
Elijah knew that he would be taken. It was a prophecy for that day. It says, “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 he cried, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.’ And he saw him no more and he took hold of his own 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 the waters, and said, ‘Where is the LORD God of Elijah?’ And when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither, and Elisha 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.'” This Elisha was willing to accompany and to learn of these privileges to see things that Elijah had done to obtain this and he was a great man before God and not before men, because they mocked him. Today, thinking of the parting of our brother, a great servant of God, a faithful and dedicated worker, there aren’t words that qualify all his life before God. We will pray that there will be others to take his place and the place of others that have also passed on.