BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
The fear of death is common among human beings. Man has a lot of philosophical statements about death. Not a few books have been written on the same subject. Many songs have also been composed on death. When death strikes, especially taking a loved one, it is always painful.
At such times, people always feel sober, and while the incident is still fresh, everyone loves to think about what happens to him after death. People begin to wonder who is going to die next. When people express such thoughts of fear, a child of God should be able to say by faith that he may not know who is going to be the next victim but he knows who is not going to be!
Shakespeare said, “Cowards die many times before their death; The valiant never taste of death but once.” A lot of people make a bold statement like this but when frightened by something that poses a threat to their lives, the coward in them will be exposed!
The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 New King James Version). No book speaks as much about life and death as the Bible. The Bible tells us how to secure eternal life, enjoy life, avoid death, die gracefully, and prepare for life after death.
A child of God does not need to live in the fear of death as many people do (2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:15). Death, to a Christian, is a passage to eternity. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23 New King James Version).
We are to live as if we are not going to die and at the same time prepare for eternity because our citizenship is of heaven. “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Philippians 3:20 New Living Translation). We must live as pilgrims – foreigners here on earth – as we pursue the purpose of God for us on earth knowing that one day an end shall come to all our activities. “Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls” (1 Peter 2:11 New Living Translation).
Hebrews 11:13 also says, “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth” (New Living Translation).
However, when some people die, it may not be because the time apportioned to them by God has come. It could be as a result of certain wrong things they have done. Therefore, it is good to know what you need to know to escape deaths that are avoidable without necessarily living in fear.
Hezekiah was ill and after his recovery wrote: “…In the prime of my life must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years?” (Isaiah 38:10 New International Version). He didn’t want to die prematurely. He knew his time was not yet up. He considered dying at that time as robbery! Therefore, he cried to God and He heard his prayer and gave him fifteen more years to live on the earth (Isaiah 38:5; 2 Chronicles 25:25). Satan will not rob you of the rest of your years in Jesus’ name.
No wonder, the Psalmist in his anguish cried to God in Psalm 102:24: “Do not take me away in the midst of my days” (New King James Version). And Psalm 118:17 says, “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of God” (New King James Version). God’s portion for you is long life but you must avoid and disallow things that can cut short your life.
In this message, I want to share with you from the Word of God His provisions for escape from premature death, using Psalm 91 as my main text.
Tips for escaping premature death
1. Come into a living relationship with God. I regard this as the meaning of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty as Psalm 91:1 When you make the LORD your refuge and the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you and no plague will come near your dwelling (verses 9-10).
Because you’re in a living relationship with God through faith in His son, Jesus Christ, He accepts responsibility for your protection. I invite you to accept Jesus as your Saviour and Lord now if you haven’t.
2. Maintain unbroken fellowship with God. Verses 15-16 of Psalm 91talk about this: “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation” (New King James Version). One way of maintaining unbroken fellowship with the Lord is by communicating with the Lord in prayer, including praying to Him for daily protection.
Some people take for granted their going out and coming in daily because they are familiar with the routes they take – they don’t see the need to commit their ways unto the Lord, etc. The Bible says commit your ways unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5).
Praying to God for deliverance from evil, from death, etc. shows your trust in Him. “Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory” (Psalm 32:6-7 New Living Translation).
The Bible also says in Psalm 17:8-9: “Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me” (New Living Translation).
In 2 Kings 6:18, Elisha prayed to the LORD to strike with blindness the soldiers that came against him. He could do that because he had a relationship and regular fellowship with God. He was not praying to God to whom he was a stranger. It is one thing to have a relationship with God and another thing to have fellowship with Him. You should have both.
3. Be careful what you say. Verse 2 of Psalm 91 says, “I will say of the Lord.” What are you saying of the Lord? Are you saying what the Lord is saying about your circumstances? If you are sick, even if terribly sick, are you saying what the Lord is saying about the healing or what the situation or your feeling is saying?
That is why knowledge of the Word of God is important. Studying the Word of God is another aspect of fellowshipping with God. When you fellowship with God in His Word, you’ll know what He says; you will know His promises. Then you’ll be able to say what God says.
The Lord says, “I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26 New King James Version). The Bible says by the stripes of Jesus you were healed (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Is that what you are saying? You must control your tongue. The Bible says death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21; James 3:1-12). Never say what God has not said. Many have died because of what they said and not really because of the sickness or because of what really happened to them. By your words, you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned (Matthew 12:37). Don’t let your mouth kill you
4. Trust in God’s promises and ability to keep you safe from death. Don’t have more faith in the ability of the devil to kill you than in the ability of God to keep you safe and alive! It is amazing how some people unwittingly ascribe more power to the devil than to God! There are several promises in the Word of God expressing God’s ability and commitment to keep you from untimely death (Psalm 91:1-6; Psalm 31:19-20; Psalm 121; Psalm 125; Isaiah 43:1-4, 8:11-13, 46:3-4).
God will give you a long and full life (Exodus 23:26b). Why don’t you choose to believe these precious promises than continue to live in the fear of death owing to one event or the other?
5. Don’t be moved by what is happening around you. This is the cause of fear of death for many people. Whenever something tragic happens, they are afraid that they may be the next victims. And if they believe that long enough, they may begin to visualize it. And if they say it long enough, Satan could empower demons to go out to see it happen somehow.
It does not matter who is dying around you, in your neighbourhood, in your city, etc.. You will only hear of it and see it but you are not the next victim. That is the meaning of Psalm 91:7-8: “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked” (New King James Version). Hallelujah! Expect no evil and it won’t come to you!
6. Receive angelic ministration or help. Stay open to the ministry of angels. There are angels that God has given charge over you to protect you. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12 New King James Version). Don’t send away the angels given charge over you by your negative words, words of fear or unbelief, and sinful lifestyle.
Elisha had to emphasize this truth on angelic protection to his servant that there were more on their side than the side of the enemies that came against them (2 Kings 6:16). Who were those on the side of Elisha and his servant? Angels of course! The ministry of angels is real even in our days and you should be open to it.
Whether you feel you are in danger or not, the angels are all around you. You don’t have to feel their presence. Avail yourself of their ministry. The Bible says angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. “Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14 New Living Translation). That’s talking about you and fellow believers in Christ.
7. Set your love upon the Lord Love the Lord. Don’t just seek Him because of what you want Him to do for you. Love Him with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Love the Lord with all your being and with all you have.
Psalm 91:14 says, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name” (New King James Version). Cleaving to the Lord in love is a very important protection against premature death. And loving Him means keeping His commandments. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 New King James Version). You set your love upon the Lord by doing His will.
8. Heed divine instructions and warnings. Your faith is not superior to divine instructions and warnings. Your faith won’t work against divine instructions and warnings.
In 2 Kings 6:8-9, Elisha warned the king of Israel not to pass the place the Syrian army would be going down to. The king heeded his warning and was saved from premature death. But if the king had waved aside this warning, he would have died prematurely, and if it were today, mourners would have said it was the will of God!
Joseph was able to save the life of Jesus from premature death when he heeded the warning of the angel in a dream that he should carry Jesus to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill him. If he had not, Jesus could have been killed (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23). Joseph did not say nobody could kill Jesus and then refuse to carry Him away just because he knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Some people would have acted like that.
Even Jesus Christ when He knew that they wanted to kill Him, the Bible says He withdrew. Jesus didn’t say nobody could kill Him because He was the Son of God. “Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. Jesus, God’s Chosen Servant. But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them” (Matthew 12:14-15 New Living Translation).
9. Beware of the company you keep. The company you keep has a way of influencing what happens to you in life and what does not happen. Nobody comes into your life and leaves you the same. He either adds to you or subtracts from you. He either pushes you up or pulls you down. He either injects life into you or injects death into you. The Bible warns you about the company you keep. Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do” (New Living Translation).
Proverbs 13:20 also stresses the power of association or company: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble” (New Living Translation).
Those on the ship that Jonah boarded to escape to Tarshish could have died for no other reason than they were in his company. However, thank God that with lots that were cast, they found him out, and at his request, he was thrown into the sea, and calm was restored to the sea (Jonah 1:1-15).
Pray that Satan won’t bring you into the company of anyone carrying a death sentence or mark of death. Moreover, ensure you also make wise choices. Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (New King James Version).
10. Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed. Do not hurt God’s servants (1 Chronicles 16:21-22; Psalm 105:14-15). Don’t speak against the Lord’s anointed; don’t do them any harm. David refrained from harming Saul in 1 Samuel 24 and 26. Twice, he had the opportunity of killing Saul, but he didn’t. Despite that, his heart still smote him for cutting just a piece of the skirt of the anointed (Saul). “But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. He said to his men, ‘The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king. I shouldn’t attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.’ So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul” (1 Samuel 24:5-7 New Living Translation).
For mocking Elisha as a baldhead, some boys were cursed by Elisha and two she-bears came out of the forest and tore forty-two of them to pieces (2 Kings 2:23-24). They died prematurely for lack of or rejection of home training!
11. Honour your father and your mother and obey your parents in the LORD (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2). Disobedience to parents is part of the spirit of the last days. “For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred” (2 Timothy 3:2 New Living Translation).
Not honouring one’s parents cuts short one’s life. If you honour your parents, you qualify yourself for the enjoyment of the promise of long life. “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 New King James Version).
Obeying your parents in the Lord also can preserve you from the danger that can lead to death, particularly when such parents are in the Spirit, and not fathers, like Saul, that hurl a spear at their sons! Regarding such people, the best thing to do may be to emulate David to fulfill God’s purpose for your life – David escaped from Saul (1 Samuel 18:11, 19:9-12, 27:1-4).
It is important to honour your father and your mother so that you can live long, even if there is a scriptural reason to disobey them. You may need to disobey them, if necessary, to obey God, but NEVER DISHONOUR them.
12. Don’t walk in the fear of death. Jesus swallowed up death in victory through His death on the cross and resurrection. By His death and resurrection, Jesus has given us victory over the devil and death. Jesus, by His death, has destroyed him that had the power of death and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (Hebrews 2:14-15). Therefore, you don’t need to be held in bondage by the fear of death again. You already have the victory.
If you’re born again, you should know that when you die, you’re going to resurrect. Death is not the end; death is not a loss. Earth’s loss is Heaven’s gain. Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 New King James Version). Death does not have the final say! There is resurrection after death!“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56 New King James Version).
The Bible says if you love your life, you’ll lose it but if you lose it, you’ll gain it. Live your life without any fear that you’re going to lose it. Those who live their lives harboring such fear actually lose it. “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:25 New Living Translation).
That does not mean you should be careless with your life. Rather, live your life with faith in God that you won’t die prematurely because your life is hidden in Christ and whatever must kill you, must first kill Jesus Christ, go inside Him, and bring you out to kill you! This is impossible.
13. Take good care of your health. Lack of good health is one of the causes of premature death. Taking good care of your health, therefore, becomes non-negotiable. This includes avoiding sexual immorality, which is the major cause of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is responsible for the untimely death of some people. Proverbs 7:21-27 tells us that sexual immorality causes death. Job said, “For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a devastating fire that destroys to hell and would root out all I have planted” (Job 31:11-12 The Living Bible). Those who engage in sexual immorality destroy their lives.
Proverbs 2:19 says the man who visits the adulterous woman is doomed; he will never reach the paths of life (New Living Translation). The same thing will happen to the woman who allows an adulterous man into her life – she won’t see the paths of life but the paths of destruction. “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32 New King James Version).
The body is not for sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13); it is to do the will of God. Hebrews 10:5b says, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer” (New Living Translation).
Taking good care of your health also includes avoiding bad eating habits that can cause premature death. Eat what makes your body healthy. Don’t abuse your body by engaging in the destructive use of narcotic drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances. Ephesians 5:18 warns, “Don’t destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life” (Contemporary English Version).
Furthermore, exercise your body. 1 Timothy 4:8a says physical exercise has some value. Maintain the right emotional attitude that frees your life from anger, hatred, tension, and stress as well as the attendant diseases – high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, etc. Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep deficiency or deprivation has been linked to some diseases. Also, go for regular medical check-ups which help in the prevention or early detection of some diseases that can lead to premature death.
14. Mind your business. In 2 Chronicles 35:20-24, King Josiah, a good king, died prematurely because he interfered in a war that didn’t concern him. Despite King Neco of Egypt’s assurance that he wasn’t his target, Josiah and his army marched out to fight him and, in the process, the enemy archers hit him with their arrows and wounded him. He later died.
Know what concerns you and what doesn’t concern you. If you get involved and you get yourself into trouble, it’s your fault. “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before” (1 Thessalonians 4:11 New Living Translation). 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 also warns believers not to be going around interfering in or meddling in other people’s business but settle down, get to work and earn their own living.
Jesus faced His assignment and refused to be drawn into settling a dispute over family inheritance. “Jesus replied, ‘Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?’” (Luke 12:14 New Living Translation)
Jesus’ attitude was different from that of Moses in the Old Testament. Moses sought to settle a dispute between two Jews. The Jew, who was fighting his fellow Jew, told Moses, who was trying to stop the two from fighting, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14 New King James Version). The anointing does not guarantee a man escape from death if he goes beyond the limit of his assignment!
15. Don’t put your trust in man for your security. Don’t trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the door of your mouth against her who lies in your bosom (Micah 7:5).
Don’t think anyone will protect you against death; don’t put your trust in security personnel for your security, no matter how vigilant and professional they are. I’m not saying you shouldn’t employ them! Psalm 127:1 says except the LORD watches over the city the watchmen stay awake in vain.
A man’s enemies are the men of his own household (Micah 7:6; Matthew 10:36). Jesus did not put His trust in man; He did not commit himself to them because He knew all men despite the fact that many believed in His name when they saw the signs He performed. “Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart” (John 2:23-25 New Living Translation).
King Asa of Judah ignored God and trusted man for his healing when he was sick. He replaced God’s help with a doctor’s help and died of his sickness. “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign” (2 Chronicles 16:12-13 New King James Version).
If Asa had repented and cried to the LORD, He could have healed him. Hosea 6:1 says, “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up” (New King James Version).
Asa’s problem actually started three years earlier, in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. He sinned by failing to trust the LORD to give him victory over Israel but went into a military alliance with Syria (2 Chronicles 16:1-5). Despite the rebuke from the LORD delivered by Hanani the seer, Asa was unrepentant. He was angered by Hanani’s words, threw him into prison, and began to oppress some of his people (verses 7-10).
Three years later, in his thirty-night year on the throne, he was afflicted with a disease in his feet. Yet, he failed to seek God’s help. The sickness lasted two years. In his forty-first year on the throne, he died. No sickness will cut short your life. You won’t die prematurely.
Conclusion: I am sure you have learnt some things from this message that will help you to keep your feet from the path of death, keep your mouth from sowing the seed of death, and keep your heart from issuing forth death.
I want you to confess this: I shall not die but live to declare the works of God. With long life will God satisfy me and show me his salvation (Psalm 91:16). This is your heritage in God.
Any ancestral curse of premature death upon any reader is destroyed in Jesus’ name. Any seed of premature death that anyone may have sown into his life in the past dies now in Jesus’ name. You and your entire family will not harvest premature death. It shall be well with you in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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