A Lousy Epitaph

What’s going on your stone? You can find this one at Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona for someone named Butch: “Here lays Butch. We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger; but slow on the draw.” Apparently, Butch was a lousy gun-slinger; but if that’s all they could come up when he died, he also must have been a pretty shallow guy. Statesman Winston Churchill has this inscribed on his headstone: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” Hopefully Winston knew God was ready; hopefully Winston really was ready.

There’s an epitaph of sorts in 2 Chronicles 21. His name was King Jehoram of Judah. He was the son of King Jehoshaphat. Whereas the father was godly, the son was not. In his first act as king, Jehoram murders his six brothers. His wife is the daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel (how much baggage did she bring into the marriage?). Jehoram was a wicked king, so wicked that if it wasn’t for His promise to sustain the line of David (1 Chronicles 17:7-14); God said He was ready to put an end to Jehoram and his line right there (v. 7).

Instead, God has His prophet Elijah send the king a letter; saying that because he did not walk in the godly counsel of his father (King Jehoshaphat) or his grandpa (King Asa) and because he promoted sin throughout the land (vv. 10-11), he would be struck with disease—something about his bowels “coming out” (v. 15). Ouch; that sounds like a tough way to go. Well, sometime later “his bowels came out”…and “he died in great pain” (v. 19).

Then there was the matter of his epitaph; how would the eight year reign of King Jehoram be remembered? The last verse of 2 Chronicles 21 tells us: “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” When no one regrets your death, you lie alone.

Which brings us back to the original question: What’s going on your stone? How will you be remembered? How do you want to be remembered? Will there be those who regret your death? The Christian isn’t looking for acclaim when he dies (there will be plenty of that in heaven); but if no one regrets your death, what kind of life did you live?

Pastor Rich Hamlin
May 19, 2011

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