We have a conflicted psyche regarding aging: we want to live a long time while being exempt from growing older. Medical science, meanwhile, promises extended lifespans—though in such small increments we don’t yet equal the 70-80 years of Psalm 90:10.
In Part III God declared the death of his people a blessing, as in “blessed are the dead” Revelation 14:13. Consider the beatitude sequentially.
Blessed the dead who die in the Lord. Because they inherit the promise of Christ’s own resurrection. As Hebrews 2:14-15 declared, since humanity feared death, Jesus died to prove death a hollow shell, with no substance; a bully with no punch; a braggart with no arms.
Success by dying...a strange inversion. Drunkards don’t destroy taverns by drinking, gamblers casinos by gambling, or smokers the tobacco industry by smoking. But Jesus proved death an interloper in humanity by falling asleep in its arms on Friday afternoon and being secured behind the stone in his grave. Then, by the invincible power of his Deity he snapped the bars in Hades and roared alive!
Satan’s fearsome power over humanity imploded from within the tomb of Jesus Christ. The stone’s removal by the angel simply let the Roman guard be first to see Christ ALIVE! The open tomb didn’t raise Jesus, and the empty tomb didn’t prove he lived again. Had the angel opened any other tomb, the corpse inside would have remained there.
And...in another God-inspired irony, the resurrection of Jesus proved SO absolutely inevitable that the instant of his DEATH broke open tombs in Jerusalem’s hills, freeing the bodies of “many holy people who had died.... they came out of the tombs and, after Jesus’ resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many people” Matthew 27:52-53.
Remember however. It’s only those IN THE LORD who receive the benediction. Only they face death with the confidence that they shall rise from its depths to live in NEW BODIES!
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors.” Rest...task finished, work done, race run, victory achieved, goal reached, God’s encomium bestowed. An encouragement for us to let our departed loved ones enjoy their disembodied state fully conscious of the victory won through Christ. Let us not expect them to have an interest in our lives. That’s the purpose the “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11 serves. Their vast concourse of victorious lives cheers us on in ours.
Their Deeds Will Follow Them. Our present dead in Christ challenge us to be faithful till our death as they in theirs. Their example can cheer us as we presently submit our lives to the Spirit of God, who “began a good work” in us and “will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6. God wills his truth to triumph through us. Christ shares his Resurrection victory with every faithful disciple. End Part IV