Death No More

“Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation‬ ‭20:14-15‬ ‭NLT

The lake of fire is filling up. We already have the devil, the beast and the false prophet sent there. Now we find out that death and the grave have been thrown in there as well. How do we picture death? A man wearing a monk’s habit with a hood covering his head, and carrying an old fashioned scythe? You know, the “Grim Reaper” that accompanies jokes about men catching a cold? But however we imagine the concept, or state, we call “death”, it is far more serious and significant than that. And the fact that “death” was to be no more restores God’s original order back to His creation.

When mankind was created, his sinless state meant that he would have the opportunity to live forever. In Genesis 2:9b we read, ” …. In the middle of the garden he [God] placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” And in Genesis 3:22 we read, “Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”” The sin Adam and Eve committed resulted in them being cut off from the fruit of the tree that would provide eternal life. The result of that sin was mankind’s eventual physical death. So death was spawned in Eden through what has become to be known as the fall of man. And now death was being eliminated and consigned to the fiery lake. 

Now that death was, well, dead, there was no more use for the grave. Obvious really. No dead bodies, so no need for graves. So the entity John saw, the grave,  ended up in the fiery lake as well. So in our minds we have perhaps conjured up our own images of the Grim Reaper and a gravestone flying through the air and disappearing below the surface of the lake full of burning sulphur. 

It is a strange concept for us pilgrims that one day we will be resurrected and will live forever. In God’s company as He originally wanted. But some people in society cannot wait until they die. They find life so hard that they just have had enough. Sadly, some accelerate the process and end their own lives unnaturally. And we also have the frequent debate promoting euthanasia for those suffering from incurable or debilitating diseases. In the forefront of the news just now is the sad story of a poor girl in her early teens who committed suicide, her mental health challenges exacerbated by negative social media posts. The debate around the length and quality of our lives seems constant. But Jesus came to give us life, both here in this physical realm, and forever in the age to come. In John 10:10 we read, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My [Jesus] purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Regardless of our circumstances, we can enjoy a wonderful life with Jesus.

So one day there will be no death. All those who have chosen to live God’s way, in a loving relationship with Him, will transition from this life to eternal life in Heaven. In a conversation with Martha, the sister of Lazarus, Jesus said to her, “ … I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Jesus came to this life, walking the highways and byways of the Palestinian countryside telling people about God’s wonderful Kingdom. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. To Jesus, death was no obstacle. Paul wrote to his followers some comforting words about death. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:53-55, “For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”” Paul ends this section with these words, “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That was why Jesus came. And through Him we really do have the victory that will enable us to once again enjoy eating from the Tree of Life.

Dear Heavenly Father. Once again we fall to our knees in worship. You are the living God, the true Life. How wonderful You are. Amen.

Soaring

All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! 
He is your helper and your shield. 
He will bless those who fear the Lord, 
both great and lowly. 
May the Lord richly bless both you and your children.
The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord, 
or they have gone into the silence of the grave. 
But we can praise the Lord 
both now and forever! 
Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭115:11, 13-14, 17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

After expounding the attributes of God, answering the question he had obviously been asked by those around them – “Where is your God?” – the Psalmist continues by contrasting idols, inert lumps of precious metal, with the vibrant wonder of God. The Psalmist lists the qualities of idols, or rather the lack of them, and then finishes this section with the thought that the makers of idols are just like them, lifeless. So when the reader gets this far in the psalm, he is presented with the stark contrast between the living God and lifeless idols, and the pointlessness of putting trust in dead and immovable objects. 

But the Psalmist wastes no further time in the discussion, desperately impatient to focus and expound on God being the Helper and Shield, the totally trustworthy Creator God. In effect the Psalm itself comes to life, abandoning further talk of idols and preferring to focus on God Himself. It’s almost as though the world and its focus on worldly objects is left on the tarmac as our spiritual airliner takes off into the God-void above, where God rules and determines our environment. Those left on the tarmac missed the flight. They didn’t even know that there was one. But God’s people were on board the airliner and soared into the blessings above. Soaring on wings like eagles, effortlessly supported by the wind of God’s Spirit. 

The Psalmist briefly dips back into the thought that, like their idols, those that make them are heading for a silent grave. A grave where singing praises to God is not an option. But those soaring above continue to praise God eternally. Of course, we know that one day the graves will give up their dead and those within them will have a brief encounter with God before heading to their eternal home, a home especially built for idolators. But God’s people will continue to soar in the multi-dimensional environment where God lives. What else can we do except “Praise the Lord!” O, and by the way, the precious metal used to make idols on earth, is used for covering roads in Heaven. Hmmm..