Posted in Biblical Questions, Musings

Time to Kill a Snake: How Adam Should have dealt with the Serpent

A Little Dialogue Regarding a Nasty Snake

One of my favorite portions of the Bible surrounds creation week (Gen 1-3). Even when that is not a primary text that I have been studying, I will find my thoughts drifting back to the beginning of all things. I suppose I must give some credit to Answers in Genesis’ Ken Ham for the way his ministry has helped shape my own since the summer of 2005. I should also add that the work of Cornelius Van Til and his excellent pupil Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen has also added to my understanding of just how important the phrase “in the image of God” (Gen 1.26, 28) truly is.

God made mankind (male and female; a biological state that cannot be altered or maligned post conception) as the primary recipients of His grace. Yes, this was before the fall and all the nasty consequences of that event (Gen 3); things that we see evidence of all around us, as well as, what we must wrestle with in our inner being (post-salvation in Jesus Christ; cf. Rom 7.21-25) as we seek to live by the Spirit of God (Gal 5.16-17).

It is along this particular vein of thought that I would like to share—in writing—some of my musings over the past couple of weeks. No, no I’m not speaking about election results, questions of fraud, and the great push we are experiencing by the Media, Tech Companies, and those other elites that plague our society (well, not directly anyway). What I want to talk about is the Serpent in the garden and Adam’s lackluster response to it.

Where was Adam?…

Often I have encountered the curious student asking, “Where was Adam at when the Serpent was questioning his wife? Why wasn’t he near her? If he was near her why didn’t he speak up?” Well, the thing is Adam was with his wife when the Serpent questioned her as may be seen in Gen 3:6.

“When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate” (NASB; emphasis added).

The dialogue…

Adam and Eve were in the garden minding their own business when a Serpent came over for a conversation. Acting, oh so innocent, the Serpent seemingly starts up a conversation with the woman. He says to her, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Gen 3.1b). The woman replies ever so politely to this “beast of the field” (Gen 3.1a) “No, no that’s not quite right. You see the Lord only applied a restriction to one tree; the tree in the middle of the garden.” That’s a paraphrase of the text. The verse more accurately reads like so,

“From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Gen 3.2-3).

Some make a big deal about how she depicts her husband Adam’s words here, but since we weren’t there for the conversation it is likely that is how they understood God’s prohibition. For there is no question that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was off limits to our foreparents (cf. Gen 2.16-17). To not “touch it” seems a foregone conclusion. Why play with something you can’t have?

The Serpent quickly replies to Eve, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3.4-5). What is the Serpent saying here? (Understanding this will aid the reader in understanding my position about to be given).

First, the Serpent is saying, “God is lying.” Ironic really when you think about it for it is the Serpent who is sharing misinformation here, not the Lord God. But here we are reading about the Serpent saying that what God said was not right at all.

Second, the Serpent promises that the opposite will happen. To eat that fruit is not death but life. Moreover, if the fruit is eaten, then the eater will become like the Creator knowing (i.e., determining) good and evil.

And so, in verse 6 we are introduced to the thought process of the woman. In an attempt to ascertain the truth for herself she investigates more closely the fruit on the tree in the middle of the garden. She sees that like the other trees in the garden (which she is allowed to eat; see Gen 2.16) this tree is “pleasing to the sight and good for food” (Gen 3.6a; compare with Gen 2.9), and as an added bonus this one carries the possibility of “mak[ing] one wise.”

At this point we are told that she and her husband (with her) ate from the forbidden tree. The question is “Why?” Not why did they eat from that which God said, “NO!” But, why did Adam stand around playing with a blade of grass as his wife carried this conversation on with the Serpent? Why did he allow her to entertain the possibility that what their Creator had spoken was inaccurate, but what the Serpent was saying might have a kernel of truth?

“Well, what else could he have done,” you ask? I don’t know…KILL IT! He could have torn a branch off a nearby tree and started beating it to death! “But…but killing is wrong,” you say. “Taking the life of another one of God’s creatures is never permissible!” you incredulously exclaim.

A Brief Word Study…

Why was Adam in the garden? What was his purpose for being there? What are we told earlier in the text that helps shed light on this issue?

“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed…Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Gen 2.8, 15).

Adam’s purpose in the garden was 1) “to cultivate it,” and 2) “[to] keep it.” Okay, what does that mean? John H. Sailhamer points out some of the faults with English Versions of the Bible when translating from the original Hebrew is that the text reads this way, rather than “to worship and to obey.”1 He notes that given the context following v. 15, in vv.16-17, this prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge’s fruit makes more sense, while also removing some of the exegetical difficulties that some readers face.2

Looking a little closer at the original Hebrew we find that “cultivate” (abad) shares “several Semitic roots, e.g. the old Aramaic root which means ‘to do or make,’ and Arabic root meaning ‘to worship, obey’ (God) and its intensive stem meaning ‘to enslave, reduce to servitude.’ This service may be directed toward things, people, or God.”3 When we get to the Hebrew term for “keep” (shamar) we find that it carries various connotations that stress: to keep, to guard, keep watch and ward, protect, to act as a watchman, or to save one’s life.4

Adam’s Purpose…

So, what do we learn after this brief word study? That God had placed the man in the garden for a specific purpose and it wasn’t picking weeds. He was expected to exercise godly dominion (Gen 1.26, 28) by serving the Lord in his day to day activity and this means Adam was required to listen (obey) God’s word. He was responsible not only for his own personal self-government, but also in leading his wife in the way of truth. Keeping guard over what the Lord had given him.

Did he do that? No. Rather than listen to God’s voice, His creator, he listened to the creatures voice (Gen 3.17); which, was by extension the voice of the Serpent.

Time to Kill a Snake: Why?

“Okay, but why do you say he should have killed the Serpent. I get what your saying up to that point, but killing anything seems to be a violation of God’s Holy Word.”

Here’s my response: As the writer of Ecclesiastes pointed out,

“There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven…a time to kill and a time to heal…a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace” (Eccl 3.1, 3a, 8).

Do you not know that God praised the action of running an Israelite man and Midianite woman through with a javelin in the middle of their copulating (cf. Numb 25.1-8)?

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Phineas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My Jealousy” (Numb 25.10-11).

Quick history lesson…

Phineas was blessed by the Lord for his faithfulness, and his family inherited that blessing (Numb 25.12-13). What blessing might Adam and his offspring have experienced if he had walked in a similar fashion to Phineas? What might the Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, said to His creature if he had been as jealous for the Lord’s glory?

Adam should have run the Serpent through in the garden. He should have stood for the Lord, for his wife and his children. Either way death was going to enter in through the test in the garden. Unfortunately, for us the death that entered was the curse of sin (separation from a right relationship with our Creator), rather than its destruction (i.e., killing of the Serpent).

A Reminder for us all…

Thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Christ Jesus the one who refused to compromise (think in the wilderness, Matt 4.1-11; in the garden, Luke 23.39-46; before the cross (John 19. ). We are called to do the same. There is no room for compromise. That is where Adam and Eve failed. She compromised with the Serpent over the knowledge that she had received from God via her husband (helpmate). He compromised with his wife over the truth he had been told by God. And we are guilty of how many more in our lives?

Let us put to death sin in our lives. Let us put to death false notions of goodness and righteousness that have an appearance of holiness, of goodness, of love, but are false standards established by wrongheaded people. Let us put to death compromising our faith in favor of false peace. That last one is ripe with meaning in our day and age, but if we know our history this is not the first time when we have been promised false peace, safety and security at the hands of sinful people. Better to trust in the Word of the Lord, than the word of men (perhaps a not so indirect reference to our current sociopolitical climate here in the United States).

ENDNOTES:

1John H. Sailhamer, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Vol. 2, Edited by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1990), 45.

2Compare the reading of Gen 2:16-17 with the later promise given in Deut 30:15-16:

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.”

And Deut 30:19-20:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live….”

3James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995), sv. Abad (cultivate or serve), Logos 8 Bible software. Stephen D. Renn writes “abad is a common verb found about three hundred times with the predominant sense of ‘serve,’ but it occasionally indicates the associated meaning ‘worship.’” Stephen D. Renn, ed., Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 1066-1067.

4F. Brown, S. Driver and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Reprint 1906 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2010), 1036, sv. Shamar (keep). Stephen D. Renn writes, “This common verb form occurs around five hundred times and is translated ‘keep,’ ‘guard,’ ‘protect,’ as well as a number of related meanings. In about twenty places, however, shamar is used nominally to indicate a ‘keeper,’ ‘guard,’ or ‘protector.”” Notably, Renn adds that this Hebrew verb “also has the sense of ‘obey,’ primarily with reference to keeping God’s law and statutes.” Renn, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, 553, 549 respectively.

Posted in Isaiah 66:24

Worm or Worms? Isaiah 66:24 and the Prophesied State of the Final Judgment

I’ve been a bit busy trying to catch up on some needed reading. I finished Robert A. Peterson’s book entitled Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment. I am currently reading a book published by InterVarsity Press where Peterson and Edward Fudge debate the issue of Conditionalism/Annihilationism versus what is often labeled the Traditional view of Hell, entitled Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue. Fudge’s book the Fire that Consumes is forthcoming, and I will probably be adding Chris Date’s Rethinking Hell to my list of need to read.

As I’ve said in the past the issue is a linguistic one. Both sides attempt to argue from Scripture. Both sides claim orthodoxy (right opinion). Both sides have governing presuppositions that direct their interpretation of certain words, phrases and concepts spoken of in Scripture. What the Conditionalist like Fudge wants his readers/hearers to do, he says, is understand the biblical terms in their plainest sense. At one point he even argues that “we should not look for hidden meanings in these words, different from their common, ordinary usage.”[1]

Common Ordinary Sense…

What is meant by the “plainest sense?” The short answer is that Fudge and others who share his position imply that their understanding is the plain one, all others are therefore seemingly extraordinary. One of the first posts on my site was entitled Worldview Lessons from Grandpa. In that post, I highlighted an overarching assumption that people have in regards to what is referred as “common sense.” It was my grandfather’s position if you didn’t know something he knew, or if you didn’t think the way he did about a given subject you lacked what he called “common, ordinary sense.” But here’s the thing “common sense” is never “common or ordinary” it is always learned.

As we age, we gather bits of information from a variety of sources that help form the presuppositional lens that guide our minds. This is why I hate the popular idea that you can merely “follow the evidence where it leads.” Evidence or facts must be interpreted. They say nothing in and of themselves. Rarely have I run into an individual that thinks these things through.

Let me provide a quick example.

Popular Christian apologists that adhere to an evidentialist/classical method will often lynchpin the entirety of the Christian faith on the historical reliability of the resurrection of Jesus. Much of the historical data that they gather, even some of the conjectures that they form, are very helpful to members of the Christian faith. For instance, I find Lee Strobel’s book the Case for Christ very compelling. But the reason I find it compelling is because I view the evidence for the Lord Jesus Christ in light of biblical presuppositions. A person who does not share those same assumptions/biases or axiomatic thoughts will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from the dead (Luke 16.31). That is to say, faith is not built upon evidence, faith is built upon God’s Word (Rom 10.17) as the Holy Spirit opens the heart (mind) of the individual in question (e.g., Acts 16.14).

Presuppositional Necessity…

Historic evidences for the resurrection are wonderful gifts of encouragement to the believer. They do offer some backing to the Christian apologists’ arguments for the faith-system known as Christianity. But one cannot make sense of a man from Nazareth dying on a Roman cross in 1st century Jerusalem without biblical presuppositions. Common sense will never lead one to Christ. It is not through worldly wisdom, but godly wisdom that such things stop being appearing foolish and act as a stumbling block (1Cor 1-2). Even the titles attributed to Jesus (including His name which means Yahweh saves), such as Christ/Messiah/Anointed One, Son of God, Son of Man, Seed of David and Abraham, etc., are not comprehendible apart from the Christian worldview found/taught in the inscripturated Word of God.

Come Back…!

Now if I’ve lost you to this point, I apologize, but what I am getting at is this: Understanding biblical terms, phrases, and concepts is anything but “plain.” You need to define what “in the plainest sense” means first. For the Conditionalist/Annihilationist the plain sense is “dead means dead” like we understand it now. “Fire means fire” like we understand it now. “Consume means consume” like we understand it now. “Destruction, perish, punishment, etc. means what we understand them to mean now.” That is the argument presented, and this appears to me to be the manner in which the push forward their agenda.

Clear Thinking in the OT

Take for example, one of only two clear passages from the Old Testament (Tanakh) that teach something about the final judgment; namely, Isaiah 66:24; Daniel 12:2. I say “clear” in about as muddy as a sense as I may. I do think there is clarity in what is being argued in those texts, but I think overzealousness to prove a point hinders what ought to be seen.

  • “Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind” (Isa 66.24)
  • “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12.2).

In both passages there is a comparison between what the righteous will experience, and the unrighteous will endure. For the sake of time we shall only look into the passage of Isa 66.

Isaiah 66

Those who hear and those who do not…

The comparison is found in two types of people. Those that are broken in spirit and mourn in a sense before the Word of God, which He has spoken through the prophets. The Lord says,

“…to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and trembles at My Word (Isa 66.2).

To those others who serve as an antithesis to the former mentioned God says,

“…they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations, so I will choose their punishments and will bring on them what they dread. Because, I called, but no one answered; I spoke, but they did not listen. And they did evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight” (Isa 66.4).

The Future Outcome of the Hearing and Non…

In the later part of the same chapter the Lord God, through His prophet Isaiah, puts a spotlight on the two different outcomes for the two different types of persons. To the one who listens to the Lord and serves Him fearfully (lovingly) the Lord says,

“Behold, I extend peace like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.’ Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad, and your bones will flourish like new grass; and the hand of the Lord will be made known to His servants” (Isa 66.12-14a).

**This applies first to the elect of Israel, but later includes the elect of the nations.

“…the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come to see My glory…For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘So your offspring and your name will endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,’ says the Lord” (Isa 18b, 22-23).

On the other hand, a different fate awaits those who refuse to listen to God in rebellion. With this latter group the Lord states that He

“…will be indignant toward His enemies. For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. And the Lord will execute judgment by fire. And by His sword on all flesh, and those slain by the Lord will be many” (Isa 66.14b-16).

The judgment of both parties will be exercised at the same time…

“Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, will come to an end altogether,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I know their works and their thoughts…’” (Isa 66.17-18a).

One group identified by purity and sanctity, those who are granted entrance in the garden(s) of God—His sanctuary, a blessed state where God will dwell with His people forever and ever (cf. Isa 66.23). The other group identified by all things unclean, impure, unholy. That which has been defiled by sin will reap the benefit of their sin.

Their end will be a memorial. Their shame will be eternal. “Their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched.”

Worm or worms?

The Hebrew term translated worm (tôlā) in Isaiah is in the singular and not plural form. In a creaturely sense it refers to a maggot, or larva, or worm (certain types are used in the making of red dye), that feeds upon the dead and/or decaying (cf. Exod 16.20; Isa 14.11).[2] Those that cling to the Conditionalist/Annihilationist view say this is the way we need to interpret it is to focus on the worm, not the individual. “How could it, they are dead?” They argue that it speaks of the finality of shameful fate of those who rebel against their Maker. They…just…die, that’s it.

As I read and listen to their side of the argument I continually hear “worms” being presented.[3] “It’s just talking about worms that feed on the dead.” They do the same thing with Jesus statement in Mark 9. Here the Lord appears to quote from Isaiah’s prophecy:

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire…If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having two feet, to be cast into hell…If you eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.” (Mark 9.43, 45, 47-48; emphasis in original).

Personally focused…

Jesus only speaks of “worm” in the singular sense, just like Isaiah. Neither the former prophet or the premiere prophet of God speaks of “worms,” just “worm.” Also notice that the worm spoken of is personalized. It refers to specific persons.

Each person who is condemned to hell, who is cast into Gehenna, is said to have “their worm not die.” One person, one worm. My question when hearing the argument that the worm only refers to maggots that feed on corpses is, “Is that is the only way the Bible speaks of the worm? A flesh eater?” What then, about Job 25.6, Psa 22.6, and Isa 41.14? They use the same Hebrew word in the singular sense for “worm.”

  • “How then can a man be just with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of woman…How much less man, that maggot, and the son of man, that worm!” (Job 25.4, 6; cf. 14.4).
  • “But I am a worm and not a man, a reproach of men and despised by the people” (Psa 22.6)
  • “‘Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel’” (Isa 41.14).

With these texts in consideration am I then saying that Jesus and Isaiah meant that the worm that does not die is really the person in question? That, though many identify Jesus’ saying in the gospels with Isa 66:24, what He really meant was these texts? No…that is not what I’m saying. That isn’t my argument.

My argument is…

First, to acknowledge that the fallen sinner is sometimes identified in Scripture as a creeping thing rather than what he was originally created to be (i.e., upright before God) due to the corruption of his/her inner self, a consequence of the judicial judgment of Adam (see Rom 5; Eph 2). Such a person in sin, or the one taking on our sin as the Messianic Psalm identifies Jesus (Psa 22.6; see Matt 27.46; cf. Gal 3.13), is comparable to a worm; a dirty, unclean thing that feeds on the carcasses of decaying matter, a picture of contrast with that which is holy (i.e., clean).

Second, to acknowledge that both Isaiah and Jesus were well aware of this fact. Isaiah told by the Lord as his prophet. Not to mention being impressed with his own impurity before God at the initial stage of his prophetic calling (see Isa 6). Jesus being the Lord in the flesh “knew what was in man” (John 2.25) understood the corruption of our nature better than we know ourselves. It is His Word that “cannot be broken” (John 10.35).

Third, to acknowledge that both Isaiah and Jesus use the singular number of the noun in order to identify individuals—both the worm that torments them, reminding them of the worm that they are—who are experiencing the frightful fiery judgment of God. I think it is fair to say that the immediate worm is to be identified with the scavenger of flesh that devours the dead, but I also believe it is fair to see that in this image is a reminder of who the man or woman is that suffers this fate.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Edward William Fudge and Robert A. Peterson, Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 61.

[2] “All three forms of the word [tôlā‘, tôlē‘â, tôlā‘at] mean ‘worm, maggot, larva’; two of them (tôlāʿ and tôlāʿat) also mean ‘scarlet, crimson.’ The worms referred to are probably the larvae of certain kinds of insects, primarily flies, moths, and beetles. In the OT they often [not always] symbolize the weakness and insignificance of man…a type that devour decaying matter…including corpses….” Ronald F. Youngblood, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. (Chicago, IL: Mood Bible Institute, [1980], 2007), 972, WORDsearch Corp.

[3] Fudge writes under the heading “Food for fire and maggots” the following: Discarded corpses are fit only for worms (maggots) and fire—both insatiable agents of disintegration and decomposition. To the Hebrew mind, both worms and fire also indicate complete destruction, for the maggot in this picture does not die but continues to feed so long as there is anything to eat.”  Edward William Fudge and Robert A. Peterson, Two Views of Hell, 32.

It should be noted that Fudge eventually, after a few paragraphs of dialogue finally refers to the “maggots” in Isa 66:24 as “maggot.” However, unless one is a careful reader you would assume that Isaiah was speaking about maggots devouring the flesh of God’s adversary, not a maggot in a singular sense for specific individuals in question. While there will be multitudes on both sides of the aisle in the final judgment, the judgment is not limited to a group but a group made up of individuals. Individuals that either humbled themselves before their Maker or individuals that absolutely refused.

Posted in Beliefs

Time: Whose Side is it On?

For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them” (Eccl 9.11)[1]

The signal was given by the tour guide to his assistant. Immediately the vast cavern was encased in darkness, after a hidden a switch was flipped. The lack of light was palpable, almost weighted if you will. Not sure how one feels the darkness, but feel it we did. At that moment the opened eye was straining to gather in all the light that it could, but to no avail.

It only lasted for a few moments, but time appeared to stand still.  Several things rushed through my mind all at once. Wave after wave of thought hit me. Sorrow, loneliness, separateness, and other such emotions seemed possible for the one found trapped in such a situation. As I mulled over such things, I murmured to myself, but slightly louder than I had intended: “This must be close to what it feels like….”

The lights were turned back on…the sensation of light coming out of the darkness forcing the separation between seeing and unseeing, and I finished my musing “…when a person is cast into outer darkness. The source of their gnashing teeth….”  The comment came to my listening ears, “Oh my…the doctrine of death!” This from my sister Rachel whose family was on vacation with my own in Arkansas last summer (2019).

Over the years I have noticed—this is not unique, I am sure—that we go to great lengths avoiding the subject of death. I watched a clip the other day where Keanu Reeves was asked on a late-night talk show what he thought happened when we die. His response avoided the question altogether. He said that people who love us will miss us. The host shook his hand and the studio audience oohed, awed and offered their applause. (As seen below.)

We don’t like thinking about death. To think that our lives are short, that they are as prominent as the dew in the morning or the fog upon a lake when touched by the sun’s rays, is troubling. It disturbs us to consider that our lives can be snuffed out in an instant…without a moment’s notice. And yet, the reality is this:

“Man[kind] is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psa 144.4)

Though my sister was teasing me for what I suppose she thought was a melodramatic moment, the reality is our days are numbered. And, nothing we can do will add another moment to the time afforded to us. For it is God who as established them:

“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12.10).

“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you [O God], and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job 14.5).

We are prone to forget such things. We want to forget such things. And our adversary the Devil surely does not want us to recall the brevity of our lives. Rather, he is pleased that we fool ourselves into living for the moment with no consideration of what the day might bring. It is no wonder that, we like Mr. Reeves, would rather subvert the question being daily asked of us.

“Daily?” you say. “How so?”

Have you truly looked at the world around you with closed eyes? Is it possible to miss the message painted throughout all of nature? Every summer I am reminded of the horror of death as my nostrils are filled with ripened road kill. Our property’s little forest is littered with decay; fallen trees, rotting leaves, and withered flowers. How many loved ones, how many friends have gone before us into the brink?

Often times you will hear statements like “you can’t outrun death,” or “time will eventually get you,” “you will feel its cold bite.” How easy it is to give death and the grave life like qualities. Though some might argue that this is mere poeticism, I disagree. It is the way that we sinners want to massage our troubled consciences. It is not “time” or “death” that comes for you, but your Creator. He will have His day. There will be a reckoning.

Such thoughts are too troubling. Who can accept them? Better to believe our lives are accidents born of purposelessness, utterly meaningless, than to face the reality of our having been created. Better that than to think of accountability, of responsibility, for how we have spent our lives on this earth. Jesus said something to this effect as well:

“…I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God [says]…, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12.19b-21).

Now you say to me, “But this is a warning to the rich man, to the selfish, to those who only care about themselves. You are taking it out of context to apply this to anyone else.”

In response I would ask the following: “Who do you consider with the time allotted to you? Do you think of HE who created you, who gives you breath, who provides you wealth and time? Where are your treasures? Are they in Him or they in yourself? Are you merely a fatted calf being readied for the slaughter? Do you see life as a pleasure cruise that is meant to give you every delectable that your little heart can muster…or do your thoughts, words, and actions lend credibility to the contrary?”

Sadly far too many people are too self-absorbed to be worrisome about whether or not they are pleasing the Lord of Glory. God says, “Be fruitful and multiply,” and unbelieving thought says, “I can’t have children, I still want to live.” As if having children hinders living; rather than making it more robust. God says, “Be content with what you have received,” and unbelieving hearts are never satisfied constantly desiring more.

Do I say this pridefully? Do I look at the rest of humanity and say in my own “self-righteousness” tsk, tsk, tsk.  No, the reason for my comments in the darkened cavern and in this post are the same—concern.

I appreciate the reminder of death around me, because it keeps me humble. These reminders point me to one who can give meaning to my life even in death. Such reminders, prick me in my wayward heart to be concerned about the things of God…about His Glory, and not my own. Likewise, being reminded of death emboldens me and drives my passion for that which is lost.

My life is a blessing, because I am aware of the reality that awaits us all. Each day is a gift. Each breath, a miracle. Each relationship, a blessing. Each sample of food and drink, and other leisure activities that I might participate in after a hard day’s work, a pleasure. I am content with the life I have been given, and I try to be mindful of thanking my Creator, my Lord and Deliverer, each and every day. I am confident that He who delivered me from my sin is also able to deliver others, but my heart goes out to those who live in and love their deception for in the end the sorrowful torment of darkness awaits.

I am the resurrection and the life,” said the Lord Jesus, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26).


[1] This post uses the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible throughout.