God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 1 Thessalonians 4:14
I have a treasured memory of gatherings with family friends when our boys were small. The adults would talk into the night; our children, weary with play would curl up on a couch or chair and fall asleep.
When it was time to leave, I would gather our boys into my arms, carry them to the car, lay them in the back seat, and take them home. When we arrived, I would pick them up again, tuck them into their beds, kiss them goodnight, and turn out the light. In the morning they would awaken—at home.
This has become a rich metaphor for me of the night on which we “sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 kjv). We slumber . . . and awaken in our eternal home, the home that will heal the weariness that has marked our days.
I came across an Old Testament text the other day that surprised me—a closing comment in Deuteronomy: “Moses . . . died there in Moab, as the Lord had said” (34:5). The Hebrew means literally, “Moses died . . . with the mouth of the Lord,” a phrase ancient rabbis translated, “With the kiss of the Lord.”
Is it too much to envision God bending over us on our final night on earth, tucking us in and kissing us goodnight? Then, as John Donne so eloquently put it, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally.”
Heavenly Father, because Your arms carry us, we can sleep in peace.
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. —William Penn
Deuteronomy gives us the last written words of Moses. Speaking with the warmth of a father who is about to leave his children, he reminisces about how the Lord, who rescued them from Egypt, miraculously fed, led, and protected the Israelites in an uninhabitable wilderness (1:1–4:40). He reminds them of what the Lord had said to them at Sinai (5:1–26:19). Then he describes how wonderful or terrible their life would be depending on whether or not they continue to remember and trust the God who had led them to the threshold of a promised homeland (chs. 27–30). Moses’s heart must have ached as he expressed what the Lord had told him—that the people he loved would eventually suffer greatly for forgetting the God who had done so much for them (31:29). With a song (ch. 32) and words of blessing (ch. 33), Moses entrusted Israel to God and to the leadership of Moses’s assistant, Joshua (34:9).