September 5 – Famous Last Words

That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Read: Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Psalm 49:1-20, Proverbs 22:20-21

Relate: “He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of Aaarrrggh.” These are the famous last words of Joseph of Arimathea according to one documentary. (Monty Python) Of course, there has always been a debate as to whether there really was a castle named “Aaarrrggh” or if he simply died while carving his last words. Some skeptics might claim that Joseph would simply have said,  “Aaarrrggh” if he was truly dying and not have bothered to write it on the wall. These skeptics are obviously unaware of one soldier’s Civil War journal that has this as its final entry: “June 3. Cold Harbor. I was killed.” Either there was a very talented ghost at Cold Harbor or some dying soldier bleeding out was extremely dedicated to that journal.

With his dying breath, John Adams is supposed to have said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” Again, there is some debate about this. Some say that he only intelligibly said, “Thomas Jefferson” and the rest is a presumed thought extrapolated from his unintelligible mumblings. Whether he said it, or just thought it, or others thought it on his behalf matters less than the fact that the sentiment was wrong. Many miles away, only three hours earlier, Thomas Jefferson also breathed his last. Incidentally, Jefferson’s second to last words were also untrue. A few hours before midnight, on the 3rd, Jefferson said, “This is the fourth of July.” A brief moment, when offered laudanum, Jefferson said, “No doctor, nothing more.” Some accounts leave this part out because it isn’t sufficiently patriotic.

React: If you could choose your final words in advance, what would they be? In a way, this is what we are asking when we discuss what will be on our tombstone. Honestly, I doubt I will have a tombstone. I could really care less if I get one or not, but I also recognize that such things are for the living not the dead. So if my friends and family decide they would like a place to visit and remember and grieve, then I would want my tombstone to say, “See you later.” It’s got a light side, but ultimately it is a three-word message of hope. I know without question where I will be going and I sincerely hope that you read this devotional, as well as any reading my hypothetical gravestone will be there as well. If you strive to live up to Solomon’s last words found here in Ecclesiastes, then I most definitely will.


Dear God,
I long to be faithful right to the end. Help me to reverence You and obey Your commands with every breath that I take right up to that last exhale. Even from the grave help me to continue to point people to You. You know those who I have been praying for who have wandered from You or have not yet met You. Please continue to draw them and pursue them with Your love as long as there is still time. More than anything I long to see them, and You in the later.

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