THE MEANING OF DEATH
“(T)he dust returns to earth, as it was,
and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
Many of us, alive today, fear death. Why is that? Why is there such a fear of what is an inevitable point of passage in our lives?
Our societies have created our prevailing image of death as the final event in our timelines. Thus, we have been indoctrinated into believing that there is a finality to life, with nothing to follow. But, is that really what death is about?
Those who call themselves believers in Adonai Yahveh, our Lord God, have been taught that death is not the final stage of our being. Yes, there is a separation, which occurs at death, and it is this separation which is not well understood. I believe it will be advantageous for us to examine what this separation means.
First, there is physical death. When our bodies die, as we are told in Ecclesiastes 12:7, our physical body returns to dust and our souls return to Yahveh – “(T)he dust returns to earth, as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.”
Then, there is spiritual death. Again, we have a separation occurring. In Isaiah 59:2, we read of the separation of our spiritual lives between man and Yahveh: “it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he doesn’t hear.” As we know, Yahveh does not allow himself to be with sin; thus, when we live sinful lives, we separate ourselves from our Holy God. We, in effect hide ourselves from Him, and He does not hear our pleas for help. This separation collapses, when we renounce our sinfulness and return to His fold.
Another separation occurs at the moment of the second death. We may read of this point in Revelation 21:8 – “But as for the cowardly, the untrustworthy, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those involved with the occult and with drugs, idol-worshippers, and all liars — their destiny is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, the second death,” and Revelation 22:14,15 – “How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those involved with the occult and with drugs, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” From these passages we may see the existence of the ‘second death’, the death of the soul. This will occur to those who have not been following Yahveh’s commands, in Torah, and similar commands from Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, as outlined in the Apostolic Scriptures.
The fourth separation, death to sin, occurs at the moment we have renounced our sinful lives and have committed ourselves to follow Yahveh’s teachings, as found both in Torah and in the Gospels. We read of this in Romans 6:2,3 – “How can we, who have died to sin, still live in it? Don’t you know that those of us who have been immersed into the Messiah Yeshua have been immersed into his death?” Then, in 1 Peter 2:24, we find the second witness to the notion of death to sin – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness — by his wounds you were healed.”
Similarly, we find separation in our death to lawlessness, that is the mindless interpretation of Yahveh’s ordinances found in Torah, as the way to salvation. Rav Sha’ul wrote about this often, in his many letters. For example, in Romans 7:4, we find – “Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God.” This passage has been used by many who favour dispensationalism, or replacement theology, to support their rather supercilious positions. As Sha’ul writes about this many times, he is referring to the obligation to follow Torah, in order to be saved, rather than to obedience following rebirth. In 1 John 2:3-5 we may read – “The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands. Anyone who says, “I know him,” but isn’t obeying his commands is a liar — the truth is not in him. But if someone keeps doing what he says, then truly love for God has been brought to its goal in him. This is how we are sure that we are united with him.” Both Paul and John, amongst many of the Apostles, support the notion of following Yahveh’s ordinances and teachings through obedient love, following the receipt of the promise of salvation.
Beloved, throughout our lives, both the physical and the spiritual, we may see these four moments of separation. These are touchstones in our journey towards and with Adonai Yeshua and Yahveh, our Beloved God. Each one of these separations brings with it a cause for celebration. Rather than be mournful, we may be joyful; rather than be discouraged, we may be delighted and encouraged. How we approach these moments of separation all depends on our perspective. If we perceive ourselves being Yahveh’s children and the bride of Adonai Yeshua, then we will enter these passages with positive attitudes, welcoming what they bring to us.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.
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