What Prince’s Death Reminds Us About God

Posted on April 22, 2016


By David Ettinger

A Very Tough Year
Prince.jpgThe year 2016 has been a tough one for the rock-music industry.

The string of calamities began with the death of iconic glam-rocker David Bowie. Eight days later, co-founder of the legendary band The Eagles, Glen Frey, left us. On March 8, George Martin, the brilliant record producer of the Beatles, made his exit from this world. Two days later, my first and only music “icon” (I was 15 at the time), the masterful Keith Emerson of the progressive-rock band Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, took his own life. And most recently (at the time of this writing), the amazingly gifted Prince died at age 57.

Note the adjectives used to describe these rock luminaries: “iconic”; “legendary”; “brilliant”; “masterful”; “amazingly gifted.” There is no exaggeration here. By human standards, these are apt descriptions of those who have passed, and some may even be understated.

Other artists leaving us in 2016 include actors Alan Rickman, January 14; Garry Shandling, March 24, and Patty Duke, March 29; country-music heavyweight Merle Haggard, April 6; and To Kill a Mockingbird author, Harper Lee, February 19.

Though rich, famous, powerful, and adored by millions, they all died in the same way as the most obscure of human beings, thus reminding us that “God is no respecter of persons.”

More Precisely …
hold handsThis phrase is from Acts 10:34: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” This revelation by the great apostle was made following a vision he had of a sheet filled with food; “unkosher” (ceremonially unclean) food God ordered him to eat. Peter objected; God insisted. God’s objective was to teach His strong-willed servant that under the New Covenant, Jews were no longer to despise Gentiles but that in Christ, all are equal.

But what’s with the word “respecter”? This verse makes it sound as if God has no regard for anyone. “Respecter” is not a bad word, and was no doubt ideal for the 1611 King James Bible, from where this version of the verse was taken. More modern versions render the phrase this way: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (NIV); and “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality” (NASB).

This gets more to the heart of the matter. Rather than being cold and unfeeling, this verse tells us that God is not swayed by human achievement. People may fawn, drool, and pant over movie, music, and political stars, but God has no such inclination. To Him all people are the same in that their physical matter is constructed of fragile, temporary, and very vulnerable “material.” Skin, bone, and muscle have a very short shelf life.

Equal in God’s Eyes
Because humans are finite beings, the infinite God shows no favoritism to one over the other, or is partial to the deeds and accomplishments of one over the other. All of David Bowie’s and Prince’s considerable talents merited nothing with God. They died at relatively young ages and, as the classic Kansas song “Dust in the Wind” profoundly states, “all [their] money won’t [and did not] another minute buy.”

creationGod makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments. Even the pagan Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar came to learn this. He said: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He [God] does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.” Likewise, the prophet Isaiah tells us: “Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. … He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing” (Isaiah 40:17, 23).

On the other side of the coin, God’s impartiality means generosity for all men and women: Jesus teaches us: “… your Father in heaven … causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). The same rain that fell on Prince, also fell on the homeless drunkard. The pleasant sun’s rays that warmed David Bowie on a cold London day also brought comfort to the shivering beggar whose only pair of tattered garments was ravaged by holes. God gives life to the famous as well as the obscure.

The Bottom Line
But neither the famous nor the unknown escapes the fate of all human beings: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27); and “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8).

Death comes to all; it is inevitable. This was again illustrated by the passing of Prince, and this despite his soaring talent, abundant wealth, and worldwide fame. There is no being sunset-cross-2-1478642“saved” from this world; we all must leave it. And when we do, we go to one of two places: eternal separation from God in Hell, or to live for eternity in Heaven with Christ (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-12).

However, though there is no “saving” from this life, there is “saving” from Hell. Scripture tells us: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31) and “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

And because God is no respecter of men, salvation is offered to all who ask for it: the famous and obscure; the mighty and the weak; and the wealthy and the destitute.