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Fellow ship > John F. Kennedy, Jr.: America's Departed Prince

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John F. Kennedy, Jr.: America's Departed Prince

by Tom Stewart
July 21, 1999

A small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr., carrying his wife Carolyn and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, crashed off the shores of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts [USA] on the evening of July 16, 1999, killing all aboard. "5 ...Because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the Earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God Who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:5-7). Only occasionally does America take such notice of the death of a young man, who was distinguished not so much for what he had personally accomplished, but for whose son he was. "6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes" (Psalm 82:6-7). John's father was tragically murdered in office as the 35th President of the United States on November 22nd 1963. "Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people" (Exodus 22:28).

In Old Testament Israel, the God-like power of life and death was given to secular judges; and thus, the appellation of
"gods" (Psalm 82:6) was understood to be theirs-- without any sense of blasphemy. Asaph's authorship of the 82nd Psalm, was a protest against wickedness in the judges of the government of ancient Israel. "1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?" (Psalm 82:1-2). The close of the 82nd Psalm placed the godhood of Israel's secular judges into perspective, with a statement of the preeminence of the Almighty. "Arise, O God, judge the Earth: for Thou shalt inherit all nations" (82:8).

C. H. Spurgeon's "The Treasury of David" explains the usage of the term
"gods" for secular judges: "[Psalm 82:6- 'I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.'] Verse 6. -- 'Ye are gods,' etc. It is of course, to civil governors, especially those entrusted with the administration of justice, that the prophet addresses this stern admonition. He calls them 'the gods' [v. 1], and 'the sons of the Most High' [v. 6]. To the people of Israel this kind of appellation would not seem over bold: for it was applied to judges in well-known texts of the Law of Moses. Thus, in the code of civil statutes delivered at Sinai, it is said, 'Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people' (Exodus 22:28). Nor is that the only instance of the kind. In two other passages of the same code (Exodus 21:6 ["Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever"] and Exodus 22:8, 9 ["8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour's goods. 9 For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour"]), the word which our translators have rendered 'the judges' is in the Hebrew, 'the gods,' or 'God'" (remarks by William Binnie on "Psalm the Eighty-Second" from C. H. Spurgeon's "The Treasury of David").

The mortality of a nation's better known son is sobering, because it reminds us that man is appointed to death.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Wealth, fame, breeding, or background do not affect the fact that all men are appointed to die. "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?" (Psalm 89:48). God's Providence ordained the timing and circumstances of the brief flight that killed the three occupants of that small plane. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29). Panels of experts may theorize over the precipitous descent of Kennedy's plane, and pundits may assert that they would not have chosen to make such a flight; but, in the end, our living or dying is in the LORD's hands. "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

All men know, in theory, that they will eventually die; but, only a wise man lives his life like he must eventually stand before the Judgment Seat of God.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Whatever the eternal destiny of John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law, it is certain that they would all now agree that the most important thing in life is that a man ought to trust God, i.e., "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). The LORD Jesus Christ illustrated the Truth that men should not trust in "uncertain riches" (1Timothy 6:17) by telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man was rewarded with eternal torment for not trusting God. "29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:29-31).

We have such short memories. In order for any particular event to have much impact, we must act quickly, when the memory is fresh.
"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14). The picture of that small son of a fallen president standing at attention, saluting his father's passing casket, ought to remind us to trust God. "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17). The best time for Saint or sinner to seek God, is now. "Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6). Cultivate now an active faith in God. "We trust in the Living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe" (1Timothy 4:10). "Seek ye out of the Book of the LORD, and read" (Isaiah 34:16) for the substance of your faith. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

May the memory of the present events cause us to seek God.
"And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).


Tom Stewart

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