The Death of a King
THE DEATH OF A KING (The King of Pop)
TEXT: Isaiah 14:4-11
Ezek 33:11 - As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
This past Thursday American pop culture convulsed at the news of the death of its king, Michael Jackson. My generation has never witnessed the demise of such an iconic figure in pop culture.
I recognize that I along with others am in a minority this AM. I do not own nor have I ever owned one piece of Mr. Jackson’s music. In fact, as I reviewed the titles of some his best known songs, I sensed a faint familiarity with only one.
Why such a focus for a sermon? Any event (witness 9-11) which grips our society’s collective consciousness demands a biblical response and analysis.
No one can deny that MJ was good at what he did (one of his albums was the top seller in all the world of all time); but we should pause and ask, Was what he did good? One commentator summed up Mr. Jackson’s life in this way, “He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.” (Andrew Sullivan)
Jackson’s form of entertainment and others like it wield an insidious power which has shrunk the collective soul of Western society. But it has done more than shrink it; pop culture has pierced that soul like a dagger, draining it of the virtues which once formed the backbone of a decent society.
Jackson’s music promoted a fatally-flawed value system: fast living and loose morals. The lyrics of his songs and the language of his dance moves exuded sensuality. One adoring fan expressed the impact of his music, "In the 20th century, I can't think of a figure more popular than Michael Jackson. He was identified and his music was loved by even those who couldn't understand a word of what he sang." --Ahmed Bashir, Lahore, Pakistan
The life and death of MJ illustrates several spiritual lessons.
I.No one, no matter how great, is able to escape the grave (14:9).
The moment we are born, we begin the race with death, and death always finally wins.
Heb 9:27-And as it is appointed unto men once to die (to die once), but after this
Isaiah 14:9-11 provides the reader a supernatural perspective. The veil of the afterlife is temporarily lifted and we are given a glimpse of the place where the spirits of the enemies of God are consigned.
In v. 9, “hell” is the Hebrew word “sheol”….a topic about which there is very little information in the OT. Sheol is the region of the dead. It is where the departed spirits of the wicked await judgment.
A. The grave is like an insatiable monster devouring both great and small.
Eccl 3:19-For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast:
Job 24:19-Drought and heat consume the snow waters; so doth the grave those which have sinned.
In this particular case, the man in focus was a king, the king of Babylon. Babylon was the enemy of Israel who had taken the Jews captive. But Babylon’s usefulness in God’s program had expired and she is no longer a world power. It is this king who once was the mightiest of kings on earth who now bends his knee before the power of the grave.
King of Pop Music – MJ was a king in the sense that he had loyal subjects (fans willing to obey the message of his music), a kingdom (Neverland Ranch - 5 square miles, valued over 120 million dollars a zoo and a theme park, with a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, zipper, spider, sea dragon, wave swinger, super slide, a kiddie roller-coaster, and bumper cars) and
B. There is no preferential treatment in the grave. (v.10)
V. 10 is considered by many to be a song of taunting. “How could one who was so highly exalted on earth be brought down so low?” Today children taunt each other by singing in a whiny voice, “Na-na-na-boo-boo.” “This once mightiest of kings has now become like all the rest!” Death, the great leveler, has brought this about.
No one of these departed kings will miss the opportunity of addressing the new arrival. With no exceptions, all will take up the taunt. “Thou, even thou,” they will say. “Thou hast been brought down from strength into the condition of weakness, like ourselves.” What a contrast! From the peak of the development of power to the weakness of shadowy life—there lies the history of the enemy of God’s people. Thou hast become like us!
C.The grave strips away all earthly accomplishments and status. (v.11)
Job 24:24-They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low...
Compare these sentiments: I loved the man and his music and will forever. May we never ever forget the man that was Michael Jackson. His legacy will live on forever." --Keitha Lynch-Smith, Barbados...with Job 24:20: The womb shall forget him; the worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered...
Men still exist in this place, but they have been reduced to the consistency of shadows. There is nothing of earthly accolades to show for in death. The champion will be without his trophy, the king without his scepter, the writer without his pen, the orator without his manuscript, all hands will be empty in the grave.
V. 11 is revolting picture. It speaks of decomposing bodies in the grave. At one time there was a variety of coverings, rich and varied garments for this king of Babylon. Now his covering consists of worms (maggots). The lesson is that a life given to popularity, fame, and pride will not lead to God, but to worms.
II.Those who live to find fulfillment in this world only will one day be ashamed (14:12-19)
Motivation behind the king/There is a reference here to the fall of Satan.
Shame is becoming a precious commodity in our society. It is as though people have forgotten how to blush over personal indiscretions. Have you noticed a disturbing pattern over recent years that the more vile a celebrity’s or athlete’s behavior, the less he feels shame? There were several shameful episodes in his life, but he did not seem to feel shame - e.g. his most recent court appearance when the state was seeking to charge him with child abuse…He was waving to the crowds, smiling, even stood upon a vehicle to perform a little dance for his fans.
People whose pride insulates them against feeling shame now, will one day experience the deepest shame possible.
Turn to Rom. 9:33; 10:11 – “confounded = ashamed, to be disgraced, to blush with shame.
APPLIC: What are you living for? Popularity, fame, wealth…
Col. 3:2; I John 2:17 Christians are exhorted to not build empires on this earth.
III.There is only one path to eternal life, not many.
Acts 4:12; Matt. 7:13-14; John 14:6
It appears that Mr. Jackson failed to accept this fundamental truth. He was raised as a Jehovah's Witness but in 2007 he converted to Islam. Both religions reject the deity of Jesus Christ.
Last Sunday night we looked at I John 4 and saw that one of the tests that we need to put to religious teachers or groups in order to determine their legitimacy is, “What do they say about Jesus Christ?” If they deny that Jesus is God, they are not of God and must be avoided. The deity of the Son of God is one of the nonnegotiable tenants of the Christian gospel.
John 8:24 – “I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”