at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever. Ecclesiastes 1:3-4
I have experienced death many times throughout my life. I have lost friends and family, youthful and elderly. A wise friend recently told me that it doesn’t matter how long someone lives, losing them hurts. Death is the ultimate sign that we live in a broken world. We try to find meaning in it, but the truth is that death wasn’t meant to be.
The Way Things Once Were…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature... The tree of life was in the midst of the garden… Genesis 2:7&9
Once upon a time man did not experience the sting of death. We walked with God and experienced a complete and perfect relationship with him. We had access to the Tree of Life which was all we needed to sustain us. “According to Augustine, Adam in his original state of creation was free, but he was nevertheless still dependent upon divine grace. Augustine saw human beings as utterly dependent upon God’s unmerited favor at every stage of their life and being. Though Adam was created immortal, he was not impervious to death, but he had the capacity for bodily immortality.”(Reasons to Believe). Then with a few twisted words our lives headed down a different path. A path away from God.
The Way Things Are NowBy the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19
We made a choice. The choice to take control of our own destiny and to live by our own rules. The problem is that it cuts us off from God. It cut us off from that one reason we were created. Sin enters the story. The path with God leads to life and the path apart from God leads to death. Sickness, suffering, greed entered our hearts calling to us and drawing us away from the love of the Lord.
My grandmother passed away after a 6 year fight with cancer. She was loving, she was caring, she was patient with me. Many of my values that I stand on and make decisions on today are because of her influence on my life. That relationship has been broken. Many try to hang on to it and find ways to maintain it. Relationship is what God designed us for and death painfully severs it. That is why death stings so much when a young child dies and when your grandma dies. She taught me a lot and in one sense lived a good life, yet when she died my heart knew that things were not the way it was meant to be.
The toil of my hands is meaningless if the Lord is not in the work, “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Many men and women have toiled away and done good works, yet Jesus said “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Without God our work is the same as Adam’s.
Preparing The Way
John the Baptist said he was the one preparing the way of the Lord, for the one who would make things right again. He called to those who had wandered off the path and prepared hearts to receive the saviour of all mankind, the one who could fix the brokenness of all creation. It is through Jesus Christ that the sting of death and the victory of sin is crushed. No one else has the ability to take on death and win.
In the movie Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade Kazim, the guardian of the Grail, asks Indy “My soul is prepared. How’s yours?” Kazim asks this as they both face certain death. His motives and intentions where perhaps not exactly correct at the moment he asks the question, however it is one we all must face for all of us face death. We must ask which path will we walk, will we walk with God down the path he has designed us for?
Paul calls Christ the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). On the Cross he completed the work and restored what the first Adam lost. “Jesus stretches one hand toward the Garden of Eden, the other toward the eternal Garden. The immortality the first Adam could no longer reach, the Second Adam touched in his place.” (Equip.org). Christ was obedient when Adam was not. “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” (Romans 5:12-14 ESV). Christ restores what Adam lost.
The Way Things Will Be
Doom and gloom is not the way it ends for hope is rising. Like the morning sun appearing on the horizon slowly ascending into the sky, offering life to a new day. Christ’s death and resurrection offer new life and a restored hope. A second chance to walk with the Lord in the cool of the day. Paul tells us “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our hope comes from God and keeping today in perspective with eternity and Christ’s work.
In the song When I Leave the Room by Natalie Grant she sings “You want me to fight but I tell you I’m ready.” When the Lord calls me home I long to be in that place where I know my soul is prepared to walk through the door into eternity. Through Christ death has lost its sting. My relationship to God that was once broken has been restored. We were not designed to be a part from our creator, our heavenly Father. He loved us so much that when the relationship was broken he entered the world and became like us. Christ calls to us “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). Like the Father in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) he welcomes us with open arms. Death no longer is the victor for those who chose to walk the path with Jesus.When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
We mourn at the relationship lost, yet have a hope since Christ conquered death and will restore all creation.