THE MEANING OF DEATH
To Mankind in General
- An Inevitable Experience
- A Deep Mystery
Job 3:21 - Hoping for death, but it is eluding him.
Cf. Andrew Lang - "Modern Mythology"
"Men everywhere think man by nature is immortal and this needs no proof; but death is a mystery, which must be explained."
- The Great Enemy
enemy to God and to men. 1 Cor. 15:25-26 "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Strong has some excellent material right here. Life is not fuel, but fire. No reason in the human frame why a man should ever die.
Cf. Walt Whitman "O Captain! My Captain!"
O Captain, my Captain, our fearful trip is done,
The Ship has weathered every rac, the prize we sought is won.
The Port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O Heart, heart, heart.
O the bleeding drops of red,
Whereon the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain, my Captain, rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up, for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths - for the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain, dear Father.
This arm beneath your head.
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O Shores, and ring O bells
But I with mournful treat
Walk the deck my Captain lies
Fallen cold and dead.
To the Unsaved
- Loss of all they call Good
Eccl. 5:15-16 Man under sun sees only the material side.
- Escape from Intolerable Evils of Life
Rev. 9:6 "Shall seek death"
Lucretius said - "You can do one thing no God can do, you can die." But he was wrong.
- Precursor of Divine Judgment
Luke 17:1-5 In some sense death is the harbinger of final judgment.
To the Old Testament Saints
- In General, a Gloomy and Dreadful Experience
Job 10:20-22 "Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."
Psa 6:1-6 "To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David. O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears."
Cf. Heb. 2:15 "And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Question: Why this attitude in Old Testament?
- Israel's blessings generally connected with earth. Cf. Isa. 38:11 "I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world."
- Consciousness of sin aroused by the Law.
- Lack of revelation concerning intermediate state.
Job 19:25-27 - "My Redeemer liveth"
Psa. 16:8-11 - Anticipation victory over death
Isa. 25:6-8 - This is still future, and refers to the resurrection
Hos. 13:14 "I will ransom thee from the power of Sheol."
Note: Specific nature of Israel's hope? Entirely Earthly
To the New Testament Believer
- Death no Longer Feared. Why?
1 Cor. 15:56-57 (Best) Sting has been taken away. "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Heb. 2:14-15 "Destroyed Satan's power to accuse"
2 Tim. 1:10 Abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel
Rom. 8:38 Neither death 1 Cor. 3:22 - "All things are yours . . . death" - Death has now become a slave. All it can do is take the believer to Christ.
---Some still in bondage - why? Voluntary or involuntary ignorance concerning what Christ has done.
- Death Robbed of its Mystery. Why? Nature of the intermediate state has been revealed to us.
Rom. 8:38, 39 "Death …..shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus."
- Death Becomes Door into Presence of Christ
- Death Sometimes is used as Iinstrument of Fatherly Discipline
- Yet Even the True Believer Naturally Shrinks from the Experience. Why?
Phil. 1:21 "And to die is gain" - The experience of dying is the means by which the believer can get the principal and the interest.
1 Thess. 4:12 - "We sorrow not as those who have no hope."
- Best of all, Death is not Inevitable to the Christian