Will we ever be done with death?
Will we ever be done with death?
One of the Old Testament Psalms pictures people being swept away “in the sleep of death”. Later they are said to be “like the new grass of the morning: in the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered” (Psalm 90.4-5). Vivid images of a life that is brief at best; of a death that brings it, all too soon, to a close.
On the anniversary of 9/11 it is inevitable that our thoughts should turn in such a direction. And it is good that they should do so. For death is not what we want to have to think about. We are very adept in fact at not thinking about it. We shut it out of our minds as much as we can. It generally has to come knocking very loudly at our doors before we give it our full attention. That’s what it did on 9/11 2001. And though its knock may be fainter now, fourteen years on, it is to be hoped that many still will listen, pause, and ponder.
The title of this article asks if we will ever be done with death. Perhaps it’s a question you’ve never dreamed of asking. Death is so inescapably a fact of life that it has never occurred to you that it might be otherwise. Alternatively, it may be a matter of absorbing interest to you. The ongoing conversation about eventually finding a cure for death is one that you follow with intense eagerness.
So how shall we answer it? Authoritatively? As follows. There are sobering and alarming senses in which people will never be done with death. But there is also a wonderful sense in which people can and will be done with it – once and for all.
We begin with the negative. As long as this world continues death will continue too. It is the curse that we have brought upon ourselves by our sin. Death is the penalty of sin. And until sin is purged from our world death will continue to reign. The current death-rate is 100% of humans. And it’s going to stay that way until Jesus returns at the end of the age. Don’t build your hopes on someone someday finding a way to cheat it. They won’t.
But there is more to it than that. Has anyone ever spoken to you about the second death? You can read about it in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation. It’s part of the vocabulary God uses when he speaks of Hell. Death is fundamentally about separation. First time round of the body and the soul. Then later, in the second death, of the whole person – body and soul together – from God. Sound desirable? Take it from God that it will be dreadful beyond words. And that there will be no end to it.
There is, however, another answer to our question. The same book of Revelation that speaks of the second death pictures for us a world without death: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”, it assures us, “for the old order of things has passed away” (Ch.21.4). You enter that world and you will be done with death forever.
Amazingly, it is someone’s death that stands at the heart of that hope. Jesus’ death. Why did Jesus die? So that through his death, those who believe in him might be done with death forever – and instead have everlasting life. Death need not have the last word. Nor will it if in your guilt and helplessness you look to Jesus for life.
Grace Baptist Church
777 W North Street
Carlisle, PA 17013