You may have never heard the name of Sir Isaiah Berlin. When he died in 1997, Arthur Schlesinger eulogized him in Newsweek as “very likely the most sparkling man of the 20th century.” Born in Latvia, Berlin eventually became an Oxford professor and was noted for his extraordinary academic achievements. He was admired by people from every level of society.
Ironically, in that same issue of Newsweek Sir Isaiah was quoted as saying, “I’m afraid of dying, for it could be painful. But I find death a nuisance. I object to it . . . . I’m terribly curious. I’d like to live forever.”
In candidly expressing his feelings about death, that famous thinker admitted he was no different from ordinary people. All his learning could not free him from our common abhorrence. Like all of us, he was held in bondage by the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15).
Simple faith in Jesus Christ can do for us what great learning cannot. When we believe in Him and His death-conquering resurrection, the dread of death vanishes. We can be certain about heaven because our Savior guarantees us eternal life (Jn. 11:25-26). Because He lives, we who trust in Him will live forever in the joy and glory of His fellowship! (Jn. 14:19).
So when my latest breath
Shall rend the veil in twain,
By death I shall escape from death
And life eternal gain. —Montgomery
Only the fear of God can remove the fear of death.