Several weeks ago I was reading in Genesis 3 and was struck by an incredible thought. Death is a gift. Never in my life had I ever considered the blessings of death until that moment. Of course, there are times when you think that it was better for someone to die so that they no longer have to suffer with an illness or you console yourself and others with the knowledge that the deceased lived a long life and that they have gone on to a better place, but to actually see death as a blessing given by God was really shocking to me at that moment.
Genesis 3 begins with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden living in complete bliss and innocence. They walked with God in a physical manner every day and enjoyed their duties with a joy and fulfillment that no human being has experienced since that day. The chapter goes on to tell of the deception of Eve by the servant and the willful disobedience of Adam in eating the forbidden fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was the one thing God had instructed them not to do. He had given them free reign of everything in the garden with the exception of that one tree so that He might be glorified through their choices to continually submit to His will. And despite everything they had going for them, Adam and Eve chose to go their own way, followed by God responding in punishment and sacrifice for their sin. The chapter closes with verses 22-24. They capture for us the thought process of God, or in essence, God talking to Himself. I love that because I do it too. Not that I’m a triune, unfathomable Deity such as the Trinity, but because I’m scatterbrained and a little schizo. It’s a stretch, but I’m really good at justifying my strangeness. Anyway, verses 22-24 read:
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Do you see it? Death was a part of the curse. God’s original intention for man was to live in a perfect world and walk with Him forever, but sin ruined all of that. But God, in His wonderful grace and mercy, made it possible for a new beginning. Rather than risk Adam eating of the Tree of Life and living forever in his sinful, fallen state, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden so that they would eventually die and be reunited with Him in perfection once again.
For the Christian, death is a fresh start. Death is walking with Jesus side by side and talking to Him face to face. Death is living in a perfect world created by the Almighty Artist, full of beauty beyond our comprehension. Death is wholeness, and real living and inexplicable joy that we only get glimpses of here in our fallen state.
I know that death doesn’t feel like that and anyone that has experienced it in a personal way probably assumes that I couldn’t possibly say these things if I knew what it was like. But I do. That’s why these truths are so precious to me. I have grieved in the past, and expect to again in the future mourn the loss of those I love. And someday, at a time unbeknownst to me, I will face death myself, should the Lord tarry His coming. Yet, with all of the experience I have and uncertainties I face in death, I still have hope. I have hope that I will be reunited with those I love. I have hope that I will be able to touch and walk and communicate with my Savior. And I have hope that I will one day be rid of the sin that plagues me day in and day out as I walk this earth.
Can you imagine the utter torment it would have been if Adam had stayed in the garden and eaten of the Tree of Life? All of the horrific criminals that have ever lived would still be walking among us, all of the corruption we see in the world would be magnified, and we would literally be forever trapped in hell on earth. But God chose a better way. He chose death. Death for Adam. Death for us. And death for His Son.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11