"ONE STEP FROM ETERNITY"
Intro. Saul is obsessed with an ungodly jealousy of David which has prompted him to try twice to kill David with a javelin. In the next several chapters we will find him chasing David all over the countryside trying to catch him to kill him.
I. JONATHAN THE SON OF SAUL HAS BECOME A VERY CLOSE ALLY TO DAVID. THERE WAS A BEAUTIFUL BOND BETWEEN THEM.
A. In the previous chapter we found David fleeing to Samuel who was in Naioth of Ramah.
1. Saul had sent servants down to capture David, but the Spirit of God was so heavy they would just begin to prophesy when they came near Samuel and David.
2. After this happened to three groups of servants, Saul finally came down himself, and before he got there, he began to prophesy.
3. David fled from Naioth and met with Jonathan. This is where our story picks up here in chapter 20.
B. David asked Jonathan what he had done, what was his sin or iniquity against Saul that he was so determined to take David's life?
C. Jonathan insisted that David would not die, that Jonathan was sure his father would not do anything against David without first telling him.
D. David said that his father knew the friendship between them so that he was hiding his intentions from Jonathan.
E. Here is where David declared "As truly as the Lord lives, there is only a step between me and death."
II. IN REALITY THAT IS TRUE OF ALL OF US, WE ARE JUST A STEP AWAY FROM DEATH.
A. James asked, "What is life?" then he said, it is as a vapor that appears for a moment then vanishes.
B. In our early years we do not think much about death, we seem to have a feeling of immortality. Death seems to be removed far down the road.
C. As we get older we begin to realize our mortality, but still think of death as being down the road yet a ways.
D. The truth of the matter is that none of us know just when death is going to come knocking at our door.
E. The Bible says that it is appointed once unto man to die.
1. God is the One who has made that appointment, and you do not know just when that appointment is made.
2. Often the appointment comes far sooner that a person anticipated.
3. Jesus spoke a parable of a certain rich man.
The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought to himself, "What shall I do, because I do not have enough room to store all my fruit?
And he said, "I know what I will do: I will pull down my barns, and build bigger; and there will I store all my fruit and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have enough goods stored up to last for many years; take it easy, eat, drink, [and] be merry.
But God said unto him, " Fool, this night thy soul shall be required of you: then who shall own all those things, which you have provided?
4. This man thought that he had it made, and that he would be able to just relax and enjoy life for many years, but God had different thoughts.
5. He was just a step away from death and did not even know it.
6. This is so often true of a person, you may be much closer to death than you really imagine. You may be thinking of your security for many years to come, but God is saying, "You fool, you are just a step away from eternity."
7. We know that death often comes without advance warning, we are often shocked when we hear of the untimely death of a friend in some accident.
a. Those working at their desks in the World Trade Center who were at the point of impact by those planes, had no advance warning.
b. The were just a step away from death, and did not even know it.
E. In the Old Testament we have the story of Belshazzar the king of Babylon.
1. Though the city of Babylon was under siege, he had such confidence in the defenses of the city, that he threw a great party.
2. While the enemy outside the great walls were planning his destruction, he was getting drunk.
3. When he ordered that the holy vessels that his grandfather took from the temple in Jerusalem be brought in that they might drink their wine from those gold and silver cups, and while they were praising the gods of gold and silver suddenly they saw a hand writing on the wall strange words Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.
4. At the sight he suddenly sobered up and called for the wise men to interpret the writing for him, which they were unable to do.
5. Finally Daniel was bought in and interpreted for him the words. He heard these fateful words.
6. Daniel first preached him a sermon. He told him that he was well aware of his grandfather from whom he had inherited the kingdom, how in his pride, God humbled him, Daniel said now you in your pride have not humbled yourself before Him, but have ordered the sacred vessels that were brought from the temple in Jerusalem to be brought in that you might drink your wine from them, and you have praised the gods of gold and silver, but the God in whose hand your very breath is, you have not glorified.
a. You are dependant upon God for your very breath. Yet so so many use that very breath to curse God.
b. The breath of Belshazzar was fouled with the smell of wine.
This [is] the interpretation of the words: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. (It's all over, you are washed up.)
TEKEL; You have been weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
6. We read, "And that night was Belshazzar slain."
a. One moment drinking and celebrating, and in a short time he is in eternity.
b. He did have a little warning, you may not however get an advance notice.
7. Perhaps God is weighing you in His divine balances of justice just now, will He find you wanting?
III. IN THE LIGHT OF THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE, AND THE CERTAINTY OF DEATH HOW SHOULD I LIVE?
A. Moses said:
So teach [us] to number our days, that we may apply [our] hearts unto wisdom.
1. I should live a holy and righteous life, for I never know when I will take that step into eternity.
2. I should live my life in such a way that God is pleased with me, so when I take that step, I will step into His kingdom of light rather than stepping into the kingdom of darkness.
B. Jesus said to His disciples: Be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an hour when ye think not. He then spoke a parable to them.
Who is the faithful and wise servant, whom the lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season?
Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing.
Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delays His coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he is not expecting Him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in pieces, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes].
C. We should live so that at whatever moment the Lord says this is your last step, we will be ready to step into His kindgom.
1. Not everyone has a warning as to when death might come.
2. Many who have died took that last step not knowing that it was the last step.
3. God is under no obligation to warn you.
4. You may be planning a death bed repentance, but you may not get that chance.
5. It may be that some day you are planning to get right with God, to clean up your act and serve the Lord.
6. You have no guarantee that God is going to wait for that day.
D. You may be telling God that you want to come to Him on your terms' that you will choose the time and place.
1. Many people have made that mistake.
2. We must come to God on His terms. Who do I think that I am that I can dictate the terms to God?
3. The governor Felix said to Paul the Apostle that he would talk to him again about salvation on a more convenient day, tragically for him, that more convenient day never came.
4. Now is the time to get right with God.
And that, knowing the time, that now [it is] high time to awake out of sleep: for now [is] our salvation nearer than when we believed.
5. Paul wrote, God has said I have heard you in the accepted time and I will help you in the day of salvation. Paul adds, behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.