Death - A Bible perspective on life and death
My Grandad died the day after my fifteenth birthday. We’d spoken on the phone just the day before, he seemed his normal self and it never occurred to me that I would ever have a ‘last conversation’ with him.
It was my first memorable experience with death and I didn’t quite know how to process it. Watching my family react really made me understand the finality of it, and I quickly realised that phone conversation had been our last.
Death is something we all have in common. Even before we die, death will inevitably touch our lives in some way. The Bible confirms what we already know; death is part of life for all living creatures. In Ecclesiastes 9:5 we read, “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing” (NIV) In other words, death is the end. If you stop reading there, it sounds pretty hopeless. But the Bible doesn’t stop there. Let’s have a quick look at what the Bible actually says about this topic of life and death.
From the beginning of the Bible’s account of human history, death is introduced as a punishment for sin; we read in Genesis 3:19, “…dust you are, and to dust you will return” (NIV). God said this to Adam and Eve as a direct result of their choosing to step away from God through their choices.
We all have to make choices every day, and when we reflect on these choices sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad. We are told that when we make bad choices, there is a consequence. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death” (NIV). When we choose to step away from what God wants we demonstrate our human nature, and the Bible says that having human nature will result in death. So as Christians, what are we so hopeful about? If all life ends in death (because we all have human nature), what are we looking forward to?
One of the most pivotal characters in the Bible is King David, who God described as “a man after my own heart” Acts 13:22 (NIV). So we can assume David was a devout religious person! That’s what makes this account from the Bible so fascinating… and even David died! Acts 2:29 says, “ David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day” (NIV).
This account of David goes on to say that David didn’t die without hope. So what was King David’s hope?
That thing that Christians and King David are hoping for, is written about in the Bible, and has everything to do with Jesus. In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (NIV). If you look in 1 Corinthians 15 we are told that like David, Jesus died and was buried. The difference was that as the son of God, Jesus was raised from the dead. The Bible often likens the contrast between life and death to ‘light and darkness’. So when Jesus says he is the light of the world, he means that he is the hope beyond death.
The Biblical perspective on death is pretty simple; we can be ‘saved’ by Jesus. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (NIV). What this means for us is that we have a choice. We can choose to live our lives away from God, in darkness; or we can follow Christ’s example, and share the hope of the light that he offers.