by Roger Thomas

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2 Kings: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot! (3 of 10)
Series: Through the Bible
Roger Thomas
2 Kings 2:1-17

Introduction: Our text records the death of Elijah. It is interesting how the prophet's death is so unique yet has become symbolic of every believer's death. We sing the familiar strains of the old spiritual ''Swing Low Sweet Chariot, I looked over Jordan and what did I see, comin' for to carry me home'' often without knowing that it is based on the death of Elijah. Countless old hymns speak of ''crossing Jordan'' as a metaphor of death. That too comes straight out of this text.

It is fitting that Elijah's death has become such a familiar symbol for every death. Remember what James said, ''He was a man just like us.'' Maybe so, but his death was unique. But so is every death.

There appears to be a sameness to death the way we often experience it. Funerals, funeral homes, and cemeteries are a lot a like. Some are bigger and fancier than others. But the differences are minor. Once upon a time, people experienced death up close and personal. Elderly and sick relatives remained at home to die in their own beds, surrounded by family members of all ages. Wakes or visitations were held in the family home. Most funerals took place in the normal surroundings of church and home. Death was a part of life. No longer. We take great pains to separate death from normal life.

It is less and less common to experience death. As a preacher I have been at a lot of funerals and gravesides. I have also stood at a number of bedsides as individuals ''crossed over Jordan.'' I remember the first funeral I preached thirty-five years ago. Clara Schneider was an older lady my first church. Rose and another lady in the church were asked to sing a special music for the funeral. After trying to sing while looking into the face of the grieving widower, she said she would never do that again. And she hasn't.

I have been at the bedside with family members as a loved one died. I sto ...

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