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THOUGHTS ON DEATH

Not many individuals relish a conversation on death, and not very many choose to reflect on death in the midst of life. But it is profitable to force one’s mind to be so preoccupied. In life death should be considered especially since at the conclusion of life death is the final event of life.

Death is certain, which means that death is set: “It is appointed for men once to die” (Heb. 9:27). At the time of birth the time of death is determined (see: Theistic Determinism); it is inevitable and will not be adjusted—a single thought that should be sobering.

Each individual will live for the number of days allocated to him by God. Scripture informs that the days have been mandated and are even written in a book: “And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:16). Not only where we live but how long we live is His determination: “He . . . has determined their allotted times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26). From the moment of birth man is destined for death.

Death is uncertain. Though the day of death is determined, the date is unknown. It is only know by the One who gives and takes life. Death may come suddenly and unexpected. Or, there may be some sort of anticipation that it is approaching, but the precise moment is indefinite.

Some die young; some die in the middle of life; some die late in life. But the length of life and the time of death are mysterious.

Death is the doing of God—life is from God and death is from God. The Scriptures are unmistakable: “The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up” (I Sam. 2:6); and there is the confession of Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Some may think it wise to disassociate God from death, attributing death to sin and thereby removing God from the arena of death. But this cannot be done. While death is the judgment of sin on every individual, the time of the execution is of God. So death is His determination—it is His doing.

It is so much the doing of God that the Scriptures assert that the day of death has been set: “And as it is appointed for men once to die” (Heb. 9:27). The time of death, the manner of death, and the length of the dying have all been determined. Chance does not rule, neither does luck; and certainly not Samsara. It is the Lord who is Sovereign (see: God is Sovereign).

Death terminates earthly existence. Relationships and opportunities come to an end. A void is left, and those who remain must weep and continue with their lives.

With this drastic termination of life the potential that coincides with life is left unfilled. Plans, if there are any, do not materialize; hopes are ended with a finality that cannot be swayed by sympathy.

Death is the result of sin. Both original death and coming personal death flow from the act of Adam and the sin of each individual (see: By One Man). The inescapability of death is because of the inheritance that every individual has from him. We are born in a state of sin and we commit sins—and the wages of sin is death. We will die because we are sinful and because we do sin. Every death is a punishment, a punishment for sin; and in this sense death is a judgment (see: Death).

Death is an enemy. It is not our friend; it is against us; it bring us to an end that means the end of life. From one perspective death is the necessary experience prior to eternity, and it is for us according to God’s plan. But from another perspective death is our adversary; it is an unwanted invasion that brings with it loss, suffering, and sorrow. It is alien; it is a curse, an enemy that is feared:
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (I Cor. 15:25-26);

. . . and delivered all those who through fear of death were subjects to lifelong slavery (Heb. 2:15).

Once the enemy has a hold on the individual it will not let go, and no human ingenuity can reverse the work of the enemy. For that to be accomplished requires supernatural intervention—the work of God. And that means the coming resurrection (see: The First Resurrection and The Second Resurrection).

Death is tragic.

On a summer day I put down a sick kitten with a blow to the back of the head in the sight of my late wife. She wept profusely. In a few weeks she also died and I wept. In a short time you and I shall shut down all operations and leave behind all our possessions. The place that knew us shall know us no more. Those who love us shall weep. Tragic, is it not? (Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology, 1025).


See: Reflections on Physical Death

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