Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jehoram and Dorcas: A tale of two deaths


Jehoram:

He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chronicles 21:20)

Left, The Royal Sceptre of Boris III of Bulgaria

Dorcas:

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. (Acts 9:36-39)

In the first case, a sinful king. He served satan, and practiced wickedness. He was still a man, however, and yet not one person lamented his passing. Not even his wife. He was a king, touching the lives of each and every person in his kingdom. His influence was the largest a man's could be, and yet not one person in an entire kingdom or beyond mourned his death. He was not regretted.

In the second case, a woman. Her sphere of influence was small because of her gender. Her reach was especially small because she served widows, nearly the lowest of the low in terms of cultural power. At her death, relatives are not mentioned, it would seem that it was her friends the widows who washed her and laid her in the upper room. And yet, she was beloved. Usually the ritual was to immediately rub the body with spices and lay the death cloths on and bury immediately. Yet these women did not. They loved Dorcas so greatly they sought a different way.

They sent men to find Peter. They did not want to let her go. Dorcas' life was regretted. They lamented and cried and presented her works to Peter. One can visualize wringing of hands and weeping and wailing of many. Dorcas was loved and lamented.

Dorcas: “who with her needle embroidered her name ineffaceably into the beneficence of the world.”~Unknown

Why was Jehoram immediately forgotten and Dorcas never forgotten? I cannot say definitively or exclusively, but one reason surely must be that Dorcas was in Christ, and Jehoram was in Satan. The verse says that Dorcas was "a certain disciple" so she was a believer. She must have been beautiful in Christ, bearing the fruit of His love and grace and joy and peace, all the while serving tangibly with her needle.

Who can say what influence a loving submissive disciple of Christ will have for His kingdom? Jehoram was given Christ's kingdom (Judah) and he served satan with it. (2 Chronicles 21:6). Dorcas was given Christ's kingdom and served Jesus with it. Both have everlasting eternal consequences but both have earthly consequences too.

As for the eternal consequences of their deaths, Jehoram's life was snuffed out and the spiritual repercussions were zero. It seems that nobody was the better for Jehoram having lived. As for Dorcas, she was raised bodily from the dead but the effect of that was many were saved. They were raised from the dead, too! Their spiritual deaths were now over and many became alive in Christ! The effect of that was Peter stayed and nurtured the new church in Joppa, personally discipling many converts. What an eternal effect Dorcas had on the lives of the people there, personally and spiritually!

The question is, what kind of death would you have? Or me? Would my own death be unlamented? Unremarked? Or would it cause distress and weeping? The key is serving, and the fruit we bear. Dorcas served the people in Christ's name. Jehoram expected to be served, and was one of satan's. Dorcas served with her needle. Jehoram expected to be served with his scepter. Dorcas loved Christ and thus she loved her neighbors. And they noticed. Boy, did they notice. Jehoram loved satan and thus he hated his neighbors. And they noticed. Boy, did they notice.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

Love, serve, produce fruit. It will have an eternal effect.



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