This past Monday, October 5th, saw the death of perhaps the most influential and commercially successful guitarist in rock history, Eddie Van Halen. Of course that statement can be debated, but I know a little something about the pop culture over the last 70 years. Though I essentially left the secular music scene over two decades ago, I have seen and heard most of the so called “greatest guitarists”. Being a musician myself, I have kept up with guitar innovations. Eddie Van Halen rivaled the influence of Jimi Hendrix, if not surpassing it, in both areas.
What I am about to write is not coming from a fan boy perspective, but is a call to discernment and holy action, for the purpose of dispelling false information about those who die outside of Christ. Below is a short video of some of his playing. For the context of this article take a quick look.
Let me begin with a little nostalgia. On March 16th 1984, my mother bought me my first full album on cassette. It was the multi-platinum Van Halen album “1984” (pictured to the left). With a cover like that to the left, I question my Mom’s discernment, but to say I was blown away, addicted, and totally overcome, is an understatement. My life over the next 13 years, until being saved in 1997, was marked by my life in baseball and the music that held me together. The latter actually being more important. I would purchase every Van Halen album until 1998. They were a mainstay in my musical training and enjoyment.
That being said, lets examine the response to Eddie Van Halen’s death.
After finding out of this man’s passing, I had my own response. A bit of sadness welled up in my heart. Let’s face the facts, Eddie Van Halen’s music was sort of the sound track of my life, or how I wanted it to be before I knew Jesus; even though I grew up around church. That sadness turned to grief, over the death of another soul, who was very talented, but wasted his youth and health partying it all away. Though he had money, a talented child, and all the influence anyone would ever desire, he died of cancer, the same as over a hundred other souls everyday; many who are as lost as Eddie Van Halen.
One might say “Well Mike, you’re judging”. Well, not really. Jesus declares that we are known by our fruit (Matthew 7:219-23). This fruit is generated by the Holy Spirit in those who repent, walk in faith, and leave the world behind (Galatians 5:22). As much as I can say with confidence that this man’s talent was supreme, his talent was wasted. Think with me for one moment of the sway he had over the crowd above, while shredding on a guitar. That charisma is the gift of God, I believe that no matter what he would have done, that gift of leading was his to use for God’s purposes. Sadly, he did not use it for Christ. That to me is very sad.
What is even more saddening is the responses of other rock-n-roll stars and celebrities. Make no mistake, these people and their comments drive what the masses actually believe when it comes to the after life.
“I’m just devastated to hear the news of the passing of my dear friend Eddie Van Halen. He fought a long and hard battle with his cancer right to the very end. Eddie was one of a very special kind of person, a really great friend. Rest In Peace my dear friend till we meet again.”
Tommi Iommi “Black Sabbath”
Just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, I hear Eddie Van Halen has passed. So shocking- One of the nicest, down to Earth men I have ever met and toured with. A true gent and true genius. RIP“
Geezer Butler “Black Sabbath”
“Feeling deep sadness and overwhelming appreciation. The appreciation and love for him is bigger though. Let’s take a minute and try to imagine our world if he never showed up. It’s unthinkable. Thank you King Edward.”
There will be many words written and spoken about Eddie Van Halen over the next few days, months, and years. Those words will never come close to expressing what he meant to rock music, what he meant to guitarists, and what he meant to the guitar itself. Rest easy sir
Steve Gorman “Black Crows”
RIP Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen were a tremendous influence on both Vinnie & Dime & Pantera. Hopefully they are all rocking out together now!
Whether you were blessed to have known him or not, He was a kind and gentle soul… His impact on ALL our lives was immeasurable! His music, eternal! My deepest sympathies to the Van Halen family… Love you Ed
Gary Cherone “Extreme” “Van Halen”
Can’t believe Eddie Van Halen is gone. He was born to be great! There’s a huge band somewhere in Heaven and I think I know who’s playing lead.
Tom Hamilton “Areosmith”
In reading the above tweets we have “rest in peace”, “till we meet again”, “hopefully their rocking out together”, “There’s a huge band in heaven and I think I know who’s playing lead”, “His music is eternal”, “Rest easy sir”, and “Thank you King Edward”. Someone suggested in a tweet that Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix are playing an enteral solo together. I would ask, for whom? None of their music was remotely in line with God’s glory or holiness. I would know. No, they are not playing guitar together.
It would seem these rock stars either ascribe to the school of everyone goes to a better place or AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” lyric… “Go’in down, party time, my friends are going to be their soon”. Both are wrong, but both are very popular ideas among our neighbors and friends, even many who claim to be Christians. To me this is maddening.
In the first place, eternity with Christ is about being with Christ, not getting your rock star vibe on forever in the clouds. We must remember that…
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
For those who truly follow the Lord Jesus Christ, our judgment happened for us in His cross, where “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (II Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, for those who die in Christ, “absent from the body is present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8). I’m pretty sure those commenting above are not referring to this truth when they proclaim “Rest easy sir” or “R.I.P.”
In fact, what is the state of those who are outside of Christ, whether they be atheists, good moral religionists, hard partying rock stars, Satanists, or those who simply are living their life just trying to get by? Jesus tells us they are in Hades, a temporary place where they are conscious, but not in comfort. Jesus’ revelation of this truth occurs in (Luke 16:19-31).
In what some deem a parable and others an actual account, we find a beggar who possessed faith in Abrahams bosom. Abraham’s bosom was the place where the Old Testament saints, who believe in the Messiah to come and trusted in God, were kept until Jesus was raised from the dead. They were in comfort, but awaiting Christ. When Jesus rose from the dead, they went to heaven with Him, as do all those in Christ now immediately.
Those who did not trust in God, like the rich man, were kept in another part of Hades. Scripture assures us there is nothing pleasant about that place, as they still are awaiting final judgment.
Luke 16:24-31 (NKJV) “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'”
For those awaiting the final judgment there is no music, no party, no comfort; just a conscious existence in regret awaiting their deserved punishment for not obeying the Gospel of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 (NKJV) in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
So there is no peace, no rest, and no remembrance in the material world (forever as they say) or in the place of the dead, of what made them so great upon the earth.
Psalms 34:16 (NKJV) The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
Proverbs 11:7 (NKJV) When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, And the hope of the unjust perishes.
The reason I have written this is because even Christians get caught in useless sentimentality at these times, rather than speaking the truth in love. Consider comments made by Michael Sweet of the Christian band Stryper..
No words can express what the world has lost. Eddie Van Halen meant more to me than I could ever express and I’m absolutely devastated by the news of his passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Van Halen family and I wish them all peace and healing. There will never be another, ever. RIP- Eternal Love & Respect
Honestly, I like Michael Sweet and his band’s music, a lot, but he behaves as if losing Eddie Van Halen is devastating to a world on fire, with sin, death, and loss of hope. Consider his statements in light of a sister in Christ I had the privilage to pastor for 6 1/2 years.
In this woman, I was amazed to see God heal her and transform her into a walking, talking, loving, joyful Jesus machine. As she has struggled to live with cancer, which has now progressed to almost taking her life, she has continued to share her love for God, in Christ Jesus. In the times we are living, or any time, the loss of a saint, like my sister in Christ Raylene, is a devastating loss to the world and to the church. But alas, when she finally closes her eyes in this life, she will open them to the face of Christ.
May Eddie Van Halen’s death awaken the church to speak the truth in love about what is coming to those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us have His truth to speak and change the conversation from “How sad it is about Eddie” to “ESCAPE THE WRATH TO COME! Repent and follow Christ, who alone is the guarantee of eternal life.