Author: Ron Graham
In this lesson, we look at a single Bible verse "It is appointed for men once to die, and after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27) which tells us five facts about death... Knowing these facts helps us understand and prepare for death. We break this text up into five portions, each of which implies a certain fact about death.
In the phrase "It is appointed for men once to die..." we find our first fact, that death is unavoidable.
When Hebrews 9:27 says, that death "is appointed", it might be stating the obvious, yet most people live as if death is unlikely!
We have birth control, but not death control. It is inevitable that "the silver cord is loosed and we fly away" (Ecclesiastes 12:6 Psalms 90:9-10). Such language as that, is usually reserved for funerals, yet it expresses a fact of everyday life: All of us, sooner or later, must keep a personal, unavoidable, appointment with death.
In the phrase "It is appointed for for men once to die..." we find our second fact, that you are no exception.
When Hebrews 9:27 says "it is appointed for men once to die...", it does so generically, with no sense of gender. In other words "men" here stands for all humankind —man, whether male or female.
You could replace the word "men" with your own name, because the scripture applies to you individually as well as to mankind in general.
Nevertheless, as we said before, most people live their lives as if they were exceptions to the rule of death!
Unless the second coming of Jesus Christ occurs in your lifetime, you personally cannot be excepted from death. In all of human history, the Bible tells of only two exceptions. One was Enoch (Genesis 5:23-24). The other was Elijah (2Kings 2:1,11). [Compare John 21:17-23]
Anyway, were you to escape death only to face judgment, the stale cliche might find fresh meaning: "out of the fryingpan into the fire".
In the words "it is appointed for men once to die..." we have our third fact, that you only die once.
When Hebrews 9:27 says, "once" it brings home the fact that you don't get a second chance at life and death. It's a one-off.
When people say, "You only die once!" they usually mean that you might as well be reckless. But surely, since we live and die but once, we should make of our life what we were meant to make of it. Surely we should not waste our one life, but live it as pilgrims in this world (1Peter 2:11-12, James 4:13-17).
The words "once to die" contradict the theory of re-incarnation (that we live successive earthly lives). The statement, "You must be born again" is no support for re-incarnation. Jesus made it clear that the rebirth of which he spoke was spiritual not physical (John 3:1-21).
In the words "...and after this comes judgment" we have our fourth fact, that death is not the end.
When Hebrews 9:27 says, "after this" it puts life and death into perspective, and supplies the wonderful hope in what otherwise would be a fatalistic and depressing statement.
An old wireless advertisement used to say, "Death is so permanent!" But in one sense death is not permanent at all. There is something after death. This is why Christians speak of death as a "sleep" because it is a temporary state (John 11:11 1Thessalonians 4:13-18).
For those who seek and follow Jesus, there lies beyond death "an inheritance imperishable... reserved in heaven" (1Peter 1:3-9).
In the words "and after this the Judgment" we find our fifth fact, that death is your destiny’s door.
There is no second chance after death. Hebrews 9:27 is telling us precisely what there is after death -- "the judgment". But those "in Christ" need not fear. "There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). How do you get "into Christ"? By faith and by baptism (Galatians 3:26-29).
Those who refuse or neglect that, are counted as ungodly, irreligious, and unprepared. They have everything to fear (John 5:28-29 Matthew 25:31-46).
It is appointed for men once to die and after this the judgment. Death is appointed, and you are no exception. You only die once, and death is not the end; it is your destiny’s door.