Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. All of them will answer and say to you: ‘You too have become as weak as we! You have become like us! Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, the sound of your harps; maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, and worms are your covers.’ (Isaiah 14:9-11 ESV)
Cemeteries are portrayed in horror movies and cartoons as scary places. I have never found them so. They are to me places of extraordinary peace and reflection. There are few walks that so immediately release me from the fever of the world than sauntering through a cemetery, pondering the names and dates and remarks etched in stone. Who were they? What did these lives mean?
Pity there is no cemetery of the nations through which we might sometimes stroll. For the death of the nations is as real as the death of your uncle. Only your uncle still lives somewhere. The nations often fall to rise never again. The chronicle of the life of any nation is written in the history books. Those things are too old and too formidable for most of us to endure. But a walk through a cemetery! That we might manage.
Over there is a stone that says “Assyria – Used mightily of God to discipline his people – Gone forever – The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” Just beyond is another. “Babylon the Great – Used of God to discipline his people – Gone forever – The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” And over there. “Persia – Used by God to restore the fortunes of his people…” Well, you know the rest. The Greeks, the Romans, the Nazis, the Soviets, all are there.
There is also a host of stones unfinished. The wise prepare their stones ahead of time, knowing what will be. The stones of the current nations are there, the ones now strutting their ‘hour on the stage,’ as Mr. Shakespeare said, the beginning dates already chiseled, the end dates waiting, just waiting.
Here is one unfinished. The engraver hides the name but we can see the date, Born 1776. There is no end date. But the engraver is adding something at the bottom. What is it? The end date? No, the end cause… “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”
John 14:6… the way home. What a Savior!