In J. R. R. Tolkien’s story The Hobbit, in The Battle of the Five Armies, one of the great characters, Thorin Oakenshield, King under the Mountain, plays a noble part in the concluding battle:
Suddenly there was a great shout, and from the Gate came a trumpet call… Out leapt the King under the Mountain, and his companions followed him… they were in shining armour, and red light leapt from their eyes.
But in his bravery and determination, he receives mortal wounds and lies dying at the camp after battle. Bilbo is called to exchange final Good-byes. And here are Thorin’s words:
I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed… I leave now all gold and silver… Farewell!
There is a lot of biblical depth in those words, for often the Bible talks about death as being gathered to one’s fathers. Where do you expect to go after you die? Christians do not have to grieve as others do, who have no hope. Even if you turn to the Lord late in life, as a thief did shortly before he died on a cross next to Jesus’s cross, you have the same promise as he was given: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
When a Christian dies, he goes to be with Christ and all God’s children, there to wait, like Thorin in the “halls of waiting” of The Hobbit, till the world is renewed.
And the world will be renewed. At the end of the age, the Day of Judgement comes and is followed, for all who have put their trust in Jesus Christ in this life, by the reuniting of soul and body at the resurrection, which is the very reversal of death. The world is renewed, in which heaven and earth are united, and life is eternal. For all who are there, God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more.
Thorin said he had to leave all gold and silver – and so must we. Naked we came from our mothers’ wombs, and naked we shall return. You take nothing with you when you die except what you have become, and the deeds you have done. That is the problem, for we have all said and done too many wrong, sinful things that block our entrance into that promised world. What can we do to be saved?
The solution is, to believe firmly and from your heart in Jesus Christ, because he took upon himself the sin of the whole world when he died, and having taken the penalty for all your wrongdoings, he vanquished death itself, rose in a glorious resurrection body, and promises that all who follow him to the end will be like him.
You feel it’s too bad for it to be for you? Never! If you are truly sorry, and willing to make a new start with God’s help, Jesus says that he never turns away anyone who comes to him.
Here is my friend Tim at the grave of C. S. Lewis, friend of J. R. R. Tolkien. Tim is a great lover of the writings of both those authors, and here at Lewis’s grave he quoted to me some words from a hymn by Isaac Watts (as found in Gadsby’s Hymns #473):
My flesh shall slumber in the ground,
Till the last trumpet’s joyful sound;
Then burst the chains in sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour’s image rise.