“He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.”
It is a great comfort to know that our God is the God of Salvation. He is the way, the truth and the life, in Him is life, He is the life giver. So how is it then, the scripture says to God belong the issues of death?
If you will remember, it was God who introduced the whole idea of death when He warned Adam, “In the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall surely die.”
So to understand this verse, we need to examine what it is to have an ISSUE. Webster says an Issue is an important topic or problem for debate or discussion, or the action of supplying or distributing an item, such as a newspaper.
When Adam and Eve willfully disobeyed God, they introduced an Issue which needed to be resolved. In love for His fallen creation, God began to deal with this Issue. From the first blood sacrifice, in which He slew a lamb and covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness, until the Cross of Calvary, there has been an ongoing controversy. And it will only be resolved at the end of time; but until then, God has an Issue.
There is the Issue of the Certainty of Death
God said, in the day you eat you shall surely die. Scripture tells us, “It is appointed unto man, once to die.”
Someone once said, death is the only way out of this world. Face it, except for the rapture, we’re all going to die. “As in Adam, all died.” The question which remains is when. I think about the man on death-row. At least he knows when he will die and can prepare for it. We, on the other hand, are left to face the inevitability with no warning.
There is the Issue of the Creativity of Death
I’m sure Adam didn’t understand what God meant when He said “In the day you eat, you will surely die,” but we now know he died spiritually and later died physically. In either case, death means separation.
First it is separation from God. Secondly it is separation from the living.
“As in Adam, all died,” but how we die is always a mystery.
There is not only the certainty of death, but there is the creativity of Death. There is natural death, accidental death, premature death, self-inflected death, voluntary and involuntary death.
There is an infinite number of ways to die. It would be impossible to count all the diseases and their mutations, and different ways of murder, etc. A reliable source once estimated there are “6 million ways to die, choose one…”
There is the Issue of the Personality of Death
Over the centuries, society has assigned a certain persona to death. He comes in the form of the Grim Reaper, a wraith with a long sickle. In Norse mythology, it was a Valkyrie, a winged female figure who chooses who would die in battle and who would live. Other cultures have Brunnhilde and Odin the Destroyer. In every instance, death is the one who takes its victims at his will. Of course we know Satan has come to kill, steal and destroy.
2 Timothy 2:26 – “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
The bad guys on TV and in movies always threaten their victim with a gun at their head and say, “If you don’t give me the money, I’ll blow his head off.” To which a missionary in a similar situation replied, “You can’t frighten me with Heaven.”
There is the Issue of the Calamity of Death
Like a predator swallowing a Pufferfish and then realizing its mistake, so Death swallowed the Prince of Life and found he couldn’t hold Him.
Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord.
Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose the victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with the saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ Arose.”
Acts 2:24, 27, 31 – “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be held by it. He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
There is the Issue of the Destiny of Death
One day there will be no more cemeteries, no more road-side memorials, no more wakes, no funeral services, no grave-side committals because God will wipe all tears away and death will be no more.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 – “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
Revelation 20:14 – “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
1 Corinthians 15:52-57 – “… For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality … then shall be brought to pass the saying, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The rich man died and in Hell, he lifted up his eyes in torment, but when Lazarus died, the angles carried him to Abraham’s bosom. What a picture of that passage. David said it like this, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, … thou art with me.” That’s a comfort the world does not have, but we who know the Lord can carry it to the grave … and beyond.
One day the Lord will finally deal with the issue of death. But until then, for the believer, death is nothing to be feared. It is a passage, a door, an entrance into the presence of God. “Absent from the body … present with the Lord,” there to dwell for all eternity with those who’ve gone before us.