SACRED JOURNEY: PART 10

By Pastor Jack
 
EXPLORING THE KNOWLEDGE THAT REVEALS GOD’S CULTURE

Isaiah 40:6-8

6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
 
“Our conscious mind seeks to understand structures of meaning.”
Neil Gillman, The Death of Death, pg. 38. 
 
Man (or humanity) has within his conscious mind an understanding that everything that has come into being, has purpose. It has been argued that some, or all things, happen randomly, or are meaningless, without purpose or explanation. Those people would be considered “the fatalists”—and they are the minority. Even atheist scientists look for the reason and purpose behind everything. If purpose or reason are not found in the universe, everything around us would be acting in random or inconsistent manners. Science would be undone. It would not be able to create theories on anything without constant structures that yield stable outcomes as predicted. This ‘stability’ allows us to put forward the “laws of nature” and not the “anything goes” of nature. How would we cope if gravity would only operate occasionally? As humans, we have been created in His image and have been placed within His creation. The stability of the universe is attributed to God.
 

Genesis 2:7-8

7 “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.”
 
Man is on a quest for meaning. The question needs to be asked then: Is it innate within man or is there another influence(r)? If man rationalizes that there is meaning, he is confessing that the universe is constant, and therefore, knowable. If he rationalizes that there is no meaning, he is confessing that the universe is inconsistent, and therefore, unknowable. But to confess the latter is to say that we have no way of knowing—so we know nothing. This means, that we have no way of knowing anything, making that statement nonsensical. The only truth statement is that the universe is constant and knowable. Implicitly everything has meaning.
 
God has placed meaning into everything, whether or not we believe this.
 
But we do believe this and are naturally asking the ‘why questions’ about everything.  Even if we do not, or presently cannot find a satisfactory answer, doesn’t negate the truth that everything has meaning. That is why we ask this hard question: “why is there death?” Or harder still: “Why does God allow death and his creation, man, to die?”  Or even harder still: “If death is God’s will what is its purpose and meaning?” Death wasn’t a part of the creation story of Genesis 1 but was introduced indirectly in Chapter 2 and directly in Chapter 3.
 
In Chapter 2, God intends part of His creation to provide for the physical needs of other parts of His creation. Man had to eat, which means that other parts of nature had to die (given up or ‘sacrificed’) so that man could live. Man couldn’t eat everything, though. Something would be denied to him.
 

Genesis 2:16-17

16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
 
Death was permissible, even advantageous, but came with a cost. For one thing to live another had to die. Death was purposeful but not intended for everything, especially man. But for death not to come to man there were things he must do and things he mustn’t do. But man chose to do what he was not to supposed do and therefore mankind began to die.
 

Genesis 3:17-19  

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
 

Death has now been given a second purpose, judgment for disobedience to God’s Will.  So, we have the answers to the meaning of death.

  1. Some life is yielded up (death) so that other life can be sustained (live).
  2. Death is the punishment for the disobedience to God’s Will for all of creation including man.
But scripture (revelation) lets us know that death is not the final word on life.
 
Death originally had a purpose to sustain life, but now it has the additional purpose of penalty. The first was God’s perfect will, the second was in opposition to God’s perfect will. The second now must be the redeemed means by which God’s perfect will for His creation and man is to be restored. One question leads us to the unveiling of what was once a deep mystery. “Death must die for man to live!”  Is this an oxymoron?  Is it an enigma?  Presently, in the natural, we know that to live is to die. But through the revelation of scripture we know that to die is to live.
 
Let’s unpack this considering our Sacred Journey. Death, which is our current enemy, was never intended to be so. Sin or disobedience to the Will of God, unleashed death as a judgment upon all creation including mankind. Sin separated us from God who created us to have life without death but now was cursed, separated from the Will of God and sentenced to death. But death is not all-powerful, it has an Achilles’ heel or is under the heel of another.
 

Genesis 3:15

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
 
For us, God makes death a means of restoration and life. It may sound strange, but even death needs restoration and God removes its sting upon mankind. The death of man was a perversion of the original intent of death. Death was a temporal means to bring about the preservation of life. The purpose of Death was corrupted by sin and now became a means of both natural and eternal death, life without God. So, a new law came into existence that man would die because of his sins. But the same God, who created death, which had become a curse, had the power to undo the curse. How? By doing the unthinkable, dying Himself.
 
Galatians 3:13
 
13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
 
This next passage of scripture we normally understand it as applying to man. And this is a proper interpretation. But it can also be read as a statement concerning the first revelation, the first fruits, the first resurrection…the Messiah.
 

1 Corinthians 15:54

54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
 
And just to drive home the point: 
 

1 Corinthians 15:55-57  

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  
 
Our Sacred Journey is not victorious because we have answers to the deep mysteries about ‘Why do we die?’  We are victorious because we not only know how death is defeated, we know the one who destroyed the power of death.
 

Philippians 2:8-9   

8 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”
 
We also can embrace the idea of death because when given over into the hands of God, death is the means to life everlasting.
 

Philippians 3:10-11 10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”


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