Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?
Not a year passes away, hardly a week or a day, without some striking monition of our uncertain tenure of earthly existence.
1. These inquiries of the text seem to furnish a strong intimation of the mortal character of our present existence. The prophet bade the Jews look back, and consider what had become of their fathers. The great and the good, the noble and the mighty, the teacher and the taught, the prophet and the people, have "gone the way of all the earth." There is no exception of age or station, of occupation or condition, to this appointment of the Most High, in consequence of the transgressions of men. There is something painfully affecting in the ravages of death. The fact is painful and humbling, more especially as it is the undeniable proof of the fallen character of our race — of that native corruption which has descended from Adam, who, though created "in the likeness of God," "begat a son in his own likeness," and that a sinful and degraded one.
2. But is the contemplation of death only painful and humiliating? Is there not a light to irradiate the tomb? May we not regard the inquiries of the text as the language of faith and hope? Surely the dark valley will open into the brightness of eternal home. We "sorrow not" as those "who have no hope." A glorious prospect is opened beyond the tomb. Those who have departed in the Lord are in His safe keeping. Our fathers are not taken away forever. They are only removed before us, and anticipate us in the enjoyment of the Lord's presence. The hope of immortality has cheered many a believing soul amid the pains of life and the sufferings of death.
3. Looking back upon the Christian life of our fathers, we should follow their faith, and act up to their teaching, and pray that a double portion of their spirit may rest upon us. We are responsible for the teaching of Divine truth with which we have been blessed.
(John S. Broad, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?