In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God. Amen.
There is more to death than we usually think about. Death has been defeated by Christ and that is what we celebrate in Easter. But what is the purpose of death? Why God allowed it to happen? Why did He allow it to go on for so long before Christ came in? And why does it still happen to us after Christ came? What is going on with physical death?
If we read Genesis 3 very carefully, the story of Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, God is the one who hands humanity over to death. He does it for a particular reason not as punishment. It is not the death penalty. God speaks to His heavenly counsel and says man has become like one of us knowing good and evil. It is not good that he should eat the tree of life and live forever in this state.
What is in this state? It is not knowing good and evil. Knowing good and evil is a phrase that is used for wisdom and maturity all throughout the Old Testament. A Child gets to a certain age and they know good from evil, before that they don’t really know. He can’t live forever with this knowledge. There would have come a time when God would have given that knowledge but they were not ready for it. The state He is referring to is rebellion. Genesis 3 is the first spiritual rebellion.
The Serpent/devil is rebelling right there too. The devil and certain quantity of angels have rebelled against God. And there fate is sealed. Why? They don’t get to repent because they are immortal. Because they live forever. They can’t change or repent. So when God looks at humanity, after Adam and Eve have joined the devil in rebellion says it is not good to live in this state. He is saying it because He doesn’t want Adam and Eve to end up like the devil. They would have been immortal rebels against God just like the demons. God didn’t want that because He loves humanity. He also didn’t want that because that is what the devil was trying to do. The devil was trying to destroy humanity out of envy.
God wasn’t going to let the devil succeed. So Adam and Eve are cast out of Paradise into this present world, and their bodies change and they become mortal. Being mortal, they now are going to die. But this opens up this life in this world gives them an opportunity to repent. It is a gift God gives us that He didn’t give the demons. He gave us a chance to change, repent and turn back.
Both of the Parables of the Sheep and the Goat and in the book of Revelation it says the Lake of fire, the punishment “Hell” was created for the devil and his angels not for human beings. But if human beings refuse to repent of their rebellion and continued to side in their rebellion with the devil, they share their fate. This life in this world, and everything Christ did in the incarnation are is that we might not meet that same fate.
This is why even though Christ has defeated death, we still die. We still repent. In fact the message of the Gospel starts with “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. We still have this great opportunity to repent.
If we understand death in this way, that death gives us this mortal life and this mortal life is a gift that should change how we see death in the Scriptures and in our own lives.
Many times we see someone dying as the worst thing that could happen to them. Is it? Christ says not. Christ says don’t fear the person who can kill your body. We look at the Martyrs and say their death is glorious and beautiful. Why? Because their physical death marks the completion of their physical life of repentance and faithfulness. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints. Psalm 116:15 So in the case of the righteous, it is a beautiful thing but in the case of the wicked, it is the end result. Saint Paul says the wages of sin is death. The person had this opportunity and this life and they squandered it. They chose to hate God and continue to rebel against God instead of repenting.
When some one dies at a young age, Book of Wisdom refers to in the short time they have completed a long time because it is wisdom not gray hair that is the glory of a human being. Many times someone dying at a younger age is dying at a younger age because the work that God needed you do in their life is done. It is exactly what the Book of Wisdom is trying to tell us. Dying at a young age is not necessarily a curse. Dying at an old age sometimes could be a curse. This should be how we see death and this life is all about.