Church of Christ
Mission USA

Goodbyes And Some Lessons From Them

by Perry Sexton

      Goodbyes are almost always sad, depending upon the circumstances, of course. Some goodbyes are for short term separations, others for much longer time, and some are (at least from the earthly perspective) permanent. Of course even the short term separations can be sad. Jerry Clower told of a time when he saw a young man getting onto a bus. He said the family was wailing something fierce, it was so touching that Jerry himself, being a total stranger, got to bawling. I think Marcel was there also and did some squalling. Then as the young man got on the bus that Monday morning, he called back, "See ya'll on Tuesday."

      But in truth, short term separations can be sad: as most parents can tell you when their young child stays away from home overnight for the first time, that is, if they even make it through the night. The saddest separations of all are those at death, when a Christian knows he will never be with the deceased again because that person was not a faithful child of God. In this lesson, let us look at some goodbyes for our learning and admonition.

      The goodbye of Rebecca and Jacob. This goodbye came about by a house being divided. You remember: (Gen. 25:28) "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob." In process of time, this caused problems and more wrong doing. Rebecca schemed and instructed Jacob how to deceive his father into blessing him the younger son rather than blessing Esau the eldest son. The deception was a success, but what awful consequences it had. Here is the account of when Isaac and Esau learned of the deception: (Gen. 27:33‑34) "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. {34} And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father." Then Isaac told Esau: (V.35) "And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing."

      The result: (Gen. 27:41)  "And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob." Because of this, Rebecca sent Jacob away to her brother Laban in Haran (v.42ff). Saying: "And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away;" (Gen. 27:44). That goodbye for "a few days" turned in to 20 years. Rebecca never saw her favorite son again. As is often the case, man gets caught in his own evil conniving (remember Haman?)! That family suffered greatly because of selfishness: Isaac in his old age must have been terribly disappointed in his wife and Jacob for their deception (Gen. 27:33ff); Rebecca surely carried her guilt with her to the grave and bore the consequences thereof; Esau, having been wronged by his own mother and brother turned to hate and revenge (v.41ff); while Jacob had to leave his family, never again to see his beloved mother.

      Another sad farewell started out not so sad. It brings home well the point James made: (James 4:14) "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." This account is of Jacob and his favorite son Joseph.  Jacob carried on the family tradition as is often the case. (Gen. 37:3) "Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours." This favoritism also caused problems. (Gen 37:4) "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him." Parents must learn to be like God: (Rom 2:11) "For there is no respect of persons with God." In everything the more we can be God-like the better off we will be.

      The goodbye: (Gen 37:13) "And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I." We can assume the normal farewell took place between a father and his beloved son, a farewell of expecting to see one another again soon. But such did not happen. A pleasant and normal goodbye turned into a very sad goodbye. You remember how the envious and jealous brothers sold Joseph into slavery, partly as a result of Jacob’s favoritism. That goodbye for a short term turned into many years.

      Briefly, I want to look at what would be a permanent goodbye. Because of his jealousy of David, Saul wanted to say goodbye to David permanently (1 Sam. 18:8)! In fact, he made several attempts to take David's life (1 Sam 18:11ff). As it turns out, eventually Saul got his permanent goodbye, but not as he intended. Saul took his own life after being wounded in battle with the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:1-4). From the information we have, Saul's goodbye indeed has turned into an eternal goodbye! God had chosen Saul to be the first king of Israel. Saul could have had a wonderful life had he done right! Isn’t this true of everyone? But men let sin ruin their lives and especially their eternal lives! I have often remarked concerning family and church matters: "How good things could be if only people would do right." Saul and David could have had a good relationship, but pride of life got in Saul's way. And his sins affected other people as well, for example, his son Jonathan. Jonathan had no ego problem like his father. He even desired that David be the next king and he would serve him (1 Sam. 23:17). Because of Saul's raging jealousy, David could no longer sit at the king's table, for fear for his life. This brought about the statement by Jonathan that has been used untold times at funerals: (1 Sam. 20:18) "Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty."                       (continued next month)

      {As I was writing this article I received an email from the son of a dear friend and gospel preacher who, according to the doctors, is in his finally days on earth. Later, and before the article was finished, I received the news: Earl Gieseke died on 3-9-10 at age 78; married 57 years; preacher for more than 50 years; an Air Force vet of the Korean War. I pray that we will have a happy reunion over there.  Please remember his wife, June, in your prayers.}
 2010, 3 Jrnl  For a lighter side to goodbyes.  

See  2010, 5 SW  for rest of article.