I hate death. I hate it with all my being. Those words may seem rather strong, but I really can’t write in words how strongly I do feel—the words I would like to use are rather coarse and might come back to haunt me if I ever decide to run for President. I don’t fear it; I simply hate it.
I hate what it does to people. Death separates and leaves so many questions unanswered. It confuses and produces chaos in families and friends. It leaves an aroma of helplessness and a taste of hopelessness in many. It turns life upside down and inside out. Death never builds up; it always destroys.
Death is not our friend. It is not the doorway to Jesus or the hallway to heaven. As living beings made in the image and likeness of God, death is our mortal enemy. It stalks us step by step from the time we arrive on this planet until the day we leave. Its appetite is insatiable—always devouring but never getting its fill. Death is not natural or supernatural; rather, it is strangely unnatural. Nothing about it mirrors the Artist who designed this creation.
God hates it even more than I do. He didn’t provide a place for it at creation, and it was never a part of His plan. I know there are some junior theologians who might want to argue that, but save your proof texts and your hypothetical hypotheses until God’s in town lecturing at the local cemetery…I mean seminary.
God never intended rolling hillsides to be populated with the graves of His precious ones or grassy green fields to be littered with solemn granite stones shouting long forgotten names etched above entrance and exit dates. It was never His intent that we gaze into a coffin or gather at a gravesite, or wear the drab black of mourning on a beautiful Fall day. He did not create it nor will He tolerate it forever.
Death’s genesis and the fuel that feeds it is sin—the sin of all of us from Adam down to this very moment. The road out of Eden for many seems to have become a dead end on death’s dark cul-de-sac, but it’s not. God has made a provision. He has built a road back from the grave’s empty abyss, paved with the blood of His precious Son, Jesus. All who walk that road pass from death into life. On that road, the specter of death becomes a powerless shadow without a light to sustain it. Therefore, in hopelessness there is hope—a confident expectation—that the end is not really the end. We may have to experience death, but we don’t have to accept it or even like it. It’s alright for me to hate it—God hates it too.
All those palatable phrases we use to describe death are strangely absent from the Scriptures. There, death is called sin’s paycheck, or my all-time personal favorite—the last enemy. Death is God’s enemy, a rebellious one, yes—but not a formidable one. There’s no doubt as to death’s final destination. God will abolish it, nullify it, and destroy it. Imagine that—the destroyer of life will be destroyed by the Living One, and we who have endured its sting will be able to watch that destruction as death is pitched headlong into hell, along with all its rowdy friends (the grave, the devil, and all his angels).
Don’t despair! Don’t give up! A day is coming when all those hillsides and field marked with cement crosses and granite stones will become subdivision lots for luxury homes in the kingdom of God. On that day you can join me as we taunt death with the Holy Spirit’s version of Rammer Jammer: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?”