Reading own obituary, The story behind the Nobel Prize

Alfred Nobel.jpg

Alfred Nobel

It is that time of the year again when we hear about Nobel Prize awards. The story behind the name “Nobel” may interest you. Actually, it has an important lesson.

It all goes back to the 1860s when the oil industry was developing in Russia. But before that, there was a Mr Immanuel Nobel, a Swedish inventor who migrated to Russia in 1838. He had a family of intelligent children, among them Ludwig and Alfred.

Ludwig rose to great prominence in the oil industry. Renowned as the “Oil King of Baku”, he “harnessed science, innovation, and business planning to efficiency and profitability”, making the Russian Oil to surpass American Oil for a time. Alfred on the other hand was a chemist, engineer and inventor. He invented dynamite and was known to have made a fortune out of the business of inventing munitions.

When Ludwig died, the media got mixed up on the names of the Nobel brothers and instead reported that it was Alfred who had died! Alfred had the opportunity to prematurely read his obituaries! They were terrible. People condemned him as a bad man who made a fortune out of an immoral business of making equipment for killing people. He was denounced as a merchant of death. The obituaries so much distressed Alfred that he rewrote his will, directing that his money be used to give prizes to outstanding contributors to humanity. Alfred desired to be remembered for something good!

Well, that’s how the name “Nobel” has lived on today. None of us may have the privilege to prematurely read our obituaries so as to be able to rewrite our history. However, in a sense, the present life we are living is actually the writing of an obituary. We are either writing a story that only satifies our selfish interests or one which fulfils the will of God. Concerning the Lord Jesus it was foretold saying, “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psa.40:7). And when he came he declared saying, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

Our daily life is a writing of a story book, and one day “the books will be opened” for judgement (Rev.20:12). So we either put ourselves in condemnation or righteousness by the manner of life we live. If we sin our judgement has already been stated in Scripture, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor.6:9). And if we live right, these words await: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Mat.25:21). Therefore, “today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb.3:15).

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