GOD’S WORD FOR YOU
1 CHRONICLES 1:19
19 Two sons were born to Eber. One was named Peleg because in his days the earth was divided. His brother was named Joktan.
Grace and peace to you from God our Heavenly Father and the Promised One, his Son. Dear Isaac and Rebeka, and family and friends of Eber ben-Shelah.
We lay to rest today the namesake of God’s holy people, the Hebrews. Eber’s days numbered 464 years on this earth. He was a righteous man, and a preacher of righteousness. His sons Peleg and Joktan were the fathers of many. Peleg, we remember, was given his name because in his infancy the world was divided. His name, which we know means “division,” is also our word for “canal,” when the soil is divided to bring water to fields and gardens. Eber outlived his sons by more than two hundred years.
I think for the sake of you younger ones– I think I’m right in naming Jacob and Esau, and a few others– it is good to remember what we mean when we say that “the earth was divided.” When our ancestor Noah and his sons came down from the ark in the mountains to resettle the earth, the Lord spoke to them. This was when the Lord changed the food of mankind from fruit and green plants to everything, including the flesh of animals, birds, and fish. The only thing God withheld from mankind was the blood within the flesh. He said, “Flesh that has the blood still in it, you shall not eat. The blood is its life.” And the Lord commanded the four men and their wives, who were all the world’s people on that day, “But you, be fruitful and multiply, increase abundantly on the earth, and multiply on it.” The Lord commanded them to spread out, and some of them did. After a time, some of Japheth’s people went to the north, and some of Ham’s people went to the south. But a great many of the people did not spread out over the earth. In those days, everyone had one language with a single way of speaking. Instead of obeying the Lord, they built for themselves a tower. Instead of making the Lord’s name great, they wanted to make their own name great.
But the Lord our God is the One true God, who made the heavens and the earth with his own voice, his own word, which is the holy power of his speech. He knew what was in their hearts and on their lips, and he confused their language and their speech. To each man and his wife, all the others were speaking in a meaningless babble. They fled from one another in confusion and divided from each other in grief, because they could not understand one another’s babbling, and then the families really did spread out over the face of the earth as God had willed it.
Eber’s child was named at that time, and he called him Peleg, Division, on account of what had been done. The Lord had worked against man to carry out his will, but the great promise of the Lord our God remains. He also promised to send a Savior, the child of Eve’s line, to save mankind from their sins. And now the great God and Lord has spoken to you, O Isaac, and we know that the line of the Savior will be through you and your family.
Before the days of the flood when the waters covered and destroyed what was, there was a man named Enoch who was taken up into heaven while his eyes were still open, his blood still surged hot in his veins, his strength was still mighty in his arms. Even though he lived, he was taken up so that he has no grave at all on the earth or under it. For some, this is proof of the other great teaching of the promise that God made to Eve. There is a place for us all, following the judgment of God that will come at the end of the world, an end that will not come by water. The wicked will be judged along with the evil angels, the demons of the Evil One. They will be condemned to everlasting pain and suffering. But for all of us who look to the promise of God and who seek with our lives to live for God and to love him and even to strive to keep his commands (even though we all fall short of this and sin) there is the promise of Eve’s Seed, the Savior. In the Savior we have forgiveness. In the Savior we have life. In the Savior we will have what was given to Enoch instead of death, for he was taken up to God’s heaven to a different kind of life. He was given eternal life, because God is eternal and he created us to be with him in his eternal life.
For all of us who lay down our lives, as our ancient grandfather Eber has now done, we are part of God’s covenant. We live under God’s promise and forgiveness just as surely as we live and breathe under the vault of the firmament.
In heaven with God, we will be reunited with all who have gone before us. We will know and recognize Eber once again, and his sons Peleg and Joktan who were already there, waiting for their ancient father to join them. There, the terrible division of the world and of the languages will be undone. And there the terrible division of death from life will be undone, and we will live without death at all.
We will live a life that is removed from sin and its terrible effects forever. There will be no curse, no pain, no age, no sickness. The fatigue of age will disappear. Those who stoop and are bent over will straighten up. Those whose eyes have gone dark with age will see again. Those who have gone deaf will hear once again. Those who have lost a finger, or a hand, or an arm, will have them back. Those who have lost a child, or a wife, or a mother or father, will have them back.
The angels are powerful and deathless, tireless, and forever praising God, and so shall we be. The angels are fearless and flawless, and so shall we be. We will not be angels, for unlike the angels, we have flesh, and just as Enoch has flesh in heaven, so shall we, but without sin, without bruise, without blemish.
And just as we are reunited with our loved ones but in a more perfect way, so also we will be united with God but in a more perfect way. We will walk in his will and according to his word without ever falling into sin. There will be no more temptations, and so at God’s own invitation we will eat from the tree of life, and live forever.
This truly is forgiveness. This truly is the resurrection to everlasting life. This truly is God’s will for us. This truly is God’s gift to all who put their faith in him.
We cover Eber’s body with earth, for the body returns to the earth from which it came. But his spirit is with the Spirit of the Lord, and with the Son of God, and with God the Father. His spirit waits to be united with his flesh in the resurrection. Let us treasure his memory, thank God for blessing us through him, and humbly acknowledge that we were each blessings for him.
Like an orange summer moon,
Rising on horizon high,
Rare, half-veiled in mystery and creeping cloud,
We stand upon the borderland
Of what is now and what will be.
We yearn for that Forevermore
When we will be what cannot be
Here below, but there, Oh there,
All that God wills will always be
Without fault or flaw or falling leaf
Apart from his great and holy word.
We will rise over moon and smiling sun
To be with God the Holy One
Rising on horizon high
To know every unveiled mystery
And life without any, not any, end.
Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, New Ulm, Minnesota
God’s Word for You – 1 Chronicles 1:19 The funeral of Eber