The Death of Buddy Holly – Ezekiel 18:24-32


Many of you won’t recognize the name in the title to this message. You are too young to know “Buddy Holly” and your music tastes have never run down the same path. That is all right, because for the sake of an introduction to this message, I’m going to enlighten you. Although it is debated, according to some people, Buddy Holly is the father of rock-and-roll music. But it is not in his music that I’m particularly interested this morning – rather it is in his death.


Charles Hardin Holley, eventually known as “Buddy” was born in 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. That was 9 months after my former pastor, Charles Ken Johnson, was born – also in Lubbock, Texas. In 1936 the population of Lubbock was about 25,000 – roughly the size of our own city at the moment. For 12 years Ken Johnson went to school with Buddy Holley – they knew each other quite well. Also, the Johnson family and the Holleys both attended the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Brother Johnson often told me that Buddy Holley made a profession of faith in Christ as a child. Wikipedia declares that he was a member of the Tabernacle Baptist church. And I have been told that Buddy Holley even professed a call into the gospel ministry.

While in high school, Buddy and some friends formed a small musical band. Buddy played the lead guitar and sang – the others played back-up guitar, drums and bass. After Elvis Presley visited Lubbock in 1955, Buddy and his friends grew more interested in their music. Two years later they recorded a song which went to the top of the popularity charts, both here – but more particularly in England. That ignited an 18 month music career with an unprecidented number of musical hits. “Buddy Holly and the Crickets” wrote and sang more hits in a year and a half than nearly any other group ever did in that same length of time. Buddy left Lubbock Texas, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Ken Johnson and even the Lord. He began touring the country singing his rock-and-roll songs until November 1957 when he several others chartered a small plane to fly from Iowa to Moorehead, Minnesota. In the midst of a blizzard the plane crashed, killing Buddy, Ritche Valens and two others. Ken Johnson, who went from Tabernacle Baptist Church to becoming a missionary in Canada, and then to Colorado, told me several times, that God killed Buddy Holly because he turned his back on the Lord.

Earlier this week, a relative texted a question to me. It went something like this:: “Does God ever take the lives of His own children, when they continue in sin against Him?” That led me back to Buddy Holly and then on to this message today.

God hates sin.

Jehovah, who is described as a God of love, hates sin. Despite foolish arguments which declare that love and hate are mutually exclusive, the Bible declares both. How MUCH does God hate sin? To answer that question – He has ordained that the penalty for sin is death. Let’s say that Mom promised to bake some of your favorite cookies – one for every member of the family. When you come home you find that your brother has eaten his cookie and yours too. You are very disappointed – you are angry. But are you justified in taking a stone and beating your brother to death? That is a lot of anger. God hates sin so much that when Adam stole some fruit from His tree, he was instantly killed. God hates sin so much that when the entire population of the world rebelled against Him, the Lord graciously saved eight souls and drowned the rest – perhaps millions of people. In the days of Abraham, certain cities of the Jordan Valley, began committing gross immorality, sinning against the revealed will of the most holy God, so Jehovah, who hates such sin, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from Heaven.

Solomon lists seven things which God detests, despises, loaths “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Jehovah hates even when we look like we are proud of ourselves – He hates pride – our pride. And He hates our lies and our plans to hurt other people – even our mischief; He hates our gossip.

Colossians 3:6 declares that God pours out His WRATH on the children of disobedience – sinners. God’s hatred of sin moves Him to judge sin and the sinners who commit them. He is of “purerer eyes than to behold evil, and casnt not look on iniquity,” and this is why He punishes sinners. He tells us, “let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.” God hates your unjust anger against your neighbor or sister; He hates your jealousy; God hates that you wished that someone would harm another person. “The way of the wicked as an abomination to the Lord” – wicked behavior disgusts Him.

God’s hatred of wicked deeds, spills over into hatred of those WHO DO those wicked things. When Adam sinned against God in the Garden, the Lord didn’t kill the tree which provided the fruit. And He didn’t wash out Adam’s mouth; He didn’t make him rinse his mouth with soap. Adam, the sinner, instantly died inside the moment he sinned. When the Lord’s patience ran out and the world-wide flood fell upon humanity, the water didn’t wash away the sinners’ wickedness, it killed those sinners – every last one of them. God hates sin, and therefore He judges sinners.

Because we are all sinners, polluted, blinded, rusted and corrupted by sin, we cannot begin to understand how much God hates our wickedness – sin in general and our sins in particular.

But, incredibly, God also saves sinners.

I say “incredibly” because it stands in such contrast to His hatred of our sins. Jehovah has sovereignly and graciously chosen to forgive a few sinners, regenerating them – giving them new spiritual life – and choosing to fellowship with them. Obviously, it is not because they have delivered themselves from their sins, because they haven’t and they can’t. Sin is not like a terrible suit of clothes which we can take off when we think they are suitably filthy. Sin is a part of our nature, linked to our souls – as much a part of every human being as our hearts and minds. Sinners can not choose to become saved, any more than a donkey can choose to speak English. Sinners can’t “unsin” themselves any more than sea slugs can live in trees and fly the friendly skies.

However God has chosen to love and save a few of those wretched sinners, just as he did Noah out of the millions of wicked humanity in his day. He saved the idolater Abraham, out of the thousands of idolaters of the Chaldees. and the Lord delivered Saul of Tarsus, when he was determined to continue in his sins against Christ Jesus. The love of God stands out like a laser beam on the darkest of nights, because it stands in such sharp contrast to His hatred of sin. The two SHOULD be mutually exclusive, but the Lord has ordained that His gracious love defeat His hatred in the case of those whom He has chosen to save.

But may it never be forgotten that God’s hatred for sin will ALWAYS be vindicated. There was only one way for the sinner to be forgiven – the wrath of God had to fall on another. So it was decided within the Divine Trinity – long before the creation of the first man – that God the Son would bear the hatred of God-head toward sin. The sinless Lamb of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, felt the incredible fierceness of God’s wrath against sin. It was declared earlier in Ezekiel 18 “the soul that sinneth it shall die.” But Christ Jesus, with the approval of the Father, became the substitute for those whom they chose to save. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:” “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

God, who has never ceased to hate sin, had to deal with His hatred before He could save a single soul. He did that by pouring out His wrath on His only begotten son. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

Despite saving a few of the sinful children of Adam, God STILL hates sin.

And now that you are calling yourself a “Christian” – a saint – a child of God – don’t think for a moment that God no longer hates your sins. Don’t think that because you have been redeemed God now hates your sins any less. The fact that you are a Christian makes your sin all the more hideous. We might expect a drunken criminal to swear and to use foul language, but when the same kind of language flows from the lips of a professed saint of God, it is infinitely more out of place and awful. The same is true of each and every kind of sin.

God still hates your sin despite the fact that He saved your soul. And for this reason Christians are told to hate sin – even their own sins. “Ye, that love the Lord, hate evil Psalm 97. God’s people, when their hearts are right testify of their hatred of sin. “I will set no wicked thing before mine yes; I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me” – King David. “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee: and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Christians are a chosen, royal, peculiar, holy people called by God out of sinfulness and darkness to live above and beyond sin.

That is our calling, but only for short periods is it our reality. We remain sinful creatures and worthy of God’s wrath. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Thank God we have mediator between us and God with all His hatred – the God-man Christ Jesus.

God rules over human life AND human death.

The keys of death and hell hang from the waistband of Jesus Christ. The Son of God has said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,” and so when He isn’t giving life, He is Governor of death. He judges what is true, He determines the way, and he dispenses and withdraws life.” SATAN has never taken a human life without the permission of the Son of God who maintains life. No one has ever inflicted death on another person without the permission of the Son of God who holds the keys of death and hell. Even though it is sin, no one has ever committed suicide to the surprise of God.

And what has God declared is the catalyst of death? It is sin. Adam, in the day you sin against me “thou shalt surely die.” “The wages of sin is death.” “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” “when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”. “As righteousness tendeth to life; so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death.” “Behold, all souls are mine” saith the Lord, the soul that sinneth it shall die.” There has never been a human death – from Abel to the man who died two seconds ago – who has not died because of sin. And there has never been a human death over which the Lord has not been the sovereign overseer. When Buddy Holly died, God was in control of the blizzard, the plane, the pilot, those who got on board that day as well as those who wanted to fly but didn’t because the seats were all taken.

And with that we come back to the question which prompted this message.

God may take the life of the Christian sinner at any time of God’s choice.

God hates sin, and if sin is committed by a Christian, God may judge that Christian sinner with death. The Lord Jesus once presented a parable for us to consider. “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” Most Bible scholars believe that Jesus was referring to God the Father, as owner of this vineyard. They are divided on the dresser of the vineyard as either God the Son or His pastors and evangelists. In either case God came to His own garden and demanded fruit, but the fig tree was barren – figless. It was the will of God to cut the tree down, and eventually it was so. The application is that God wants His people, Christians, saints, to produce fruit to His glory. If that does not happen then He is not so filled with love not to order a death sentence.

In another parable – this one found in Matthew 7– the Lord tells a slightly different story with the same result. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

In Luke 13 we are told that God wants Christians to produce fruit. In Matthew 7 we are told that when a tree produces BAD fruit, it will be cut down and used as firewood. It matters not if the root of the tree is rotten and unredeemed, or if it has been saved and restored. If the fruit is bad, the Lord will eventually call for the removal of the tree “kill it” He says. Once again I Peter 2:9 says to Christians, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

When I take the testimony of Pastor Ken Johnson and what I read in the biographies of Buddy Holly as true, then I am talking about someone who was a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus. But that Christian chose a path which did not bring glory to his Saviour. In fact it was a path which brought shame to the name of Christ. Buddy Holly surrendered to the pleasures of the flesh and the world – and he did so before the eyes of the whole world. He might have told people that after a few years in music he would return to the call of God and the preaching of the Word, but he wasn’t given the time. Christ said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”And when there was no service for God, the life of that man who was trying to serve two masters, was

taken by God.

I will finish with the scripture with which we began – Ezekiel 18. “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”

I am not in a position to say when a Christian sinner has gone too far. I cannot say that this sin or that sin is more worthy of death. But I can say that no sin is worth the risk. God hates your sin, so repent and turn – or return – to the Saviour.

Ezekiel 18 tells us that God hates sin – even the sin of His own people. He exhorts us to repent. He has no pleasure in the early death of the Christian, but if that sinful saint does not repent, His life could very well be taken. Ask yourself this morning, Are you ready to face your Saviour? Have you been saved by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is Jesus Christ truly your Lord?