“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.” – Hebrews 2:14-16 NASB
The Tyranny of Death
As human beings, the black thread that ties us to one another in this fallen world is our mortality. The reality that the life we live will end. Death will come for us. We know that inevitably the final curtain will fall on the stage of our lives. Despite whether or not we’ve even made it to the second Act, we expect it. And we fear there will be no reprise and no encore and no curtain call for us. This fearful expectation echoes through the dark corridors of our minds and resonates within the deepest parts of our being. Probably as much as we’ve known death. We’ve seen death visit with its cold shadow upon our loved ones. We’ve found ourselves before, as it were, attempting to pay their ransom by the sum of our tears. If perchance death might spread its black wings thereby releasing our loved ones and fly away to stalk us another day. Death is that terrible dragon that obstructs the gate to humanity’s destiny, as it were.
Despite Death’s ubiquitous presence throughout creation, it has not always been. The Scriptures see death as an aberration, an intruder into the realm of creation. Like the raven in Poe’s narrative, the terror of death has swooped out of the darkness and into our hearts to cry out “NEVERMORE! NEVERMORE!” “IN ADAM ALL DIE! IN ADAM ALL DIE!” Death exists as the consequence and penalty of sin. “For the wages of sin is death”. God designed men to have dominion over the earth, and thus God’s glory would cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
After referencing Psalm 8 in the previous verses of chapter 2, the author of Hebrews reflects over Man’s destiny. “In subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Heb. 2:8). While death and sin persist in creation, man cannot fulfill his destiny as ruler over God’s creation. He is no longer master, but a slave. Death has power over him. And there is one who has power over death. Satan. As sin persists, death will follow, and Satan will reign through fear of death over fallen humanity. How can humanity reclaim their throne? Men are bound to sin and thus bound to die and face condemnation. All the while, creation travails with calamities. Suffering, disease, war, and fear all abound in this world. Justice is perverted, Beauty is distorted, and righteousness is hated. If the whole world lies in the power of the evil one, can there be any hope at all?
Arise, Redeemer, Arise!
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
– Genesis 3:15
When death was introduced in Genesis 3, a promise was made to the serpent that deceived our original father and mother. The promise was a Redeemer would arise as the “seed of the woman” and undo the devastation that snake incited by his treachery. This Redeemer would be inflicted with pain from the serpent, but would ultimately arise the victor over His foe. God’s promise was the hope of the prophets and saints of old, and the dread of that ancient serpent!
Turning to the pages of the New Testament, the Redeemer comes forth. Jesus of Nazareth, a man of lowly estate, a prophet rejected by his people, and now crucified to a Roman cross. Seemingly an insignificant life concluded by an ignominious death. Yet…
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5)
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Lord’s suffering servant, who would bear the sins of his people and suffer for them on their behalf. This Jesus, the despised prophet rejected by his people was the Son of God come to rescue his people from their sins. As he hung, bleeding, he suffered the death to undo death. As Jesus’ spirit left his body, the sword of God’s fulfilled promise was plunged deep into the skull of the serpent of old. The just wrath of God was meted out, the sinless Son of God accomplished the redemption of God’s people. Satan has been foiled. God’s people are FREE!
The Reign of Hope
As the dawn broke on that Sunday morning, the Lord Jesus arose with the power that shatters the chains of death. Resurrection. Given by the Spirit of God. Immortality burned and emanated throughout Jesus’ body. The tomb was opened and Jesus left death behind. You see, because of what Jesus has accomplished through His life, death, and resurrection, He is able to bestow eternal life to everyone who trusts in Jesus as Savior. That means death is not the final word for those in Jesus. Triumph, life, glory, and resurrection will be the song that wakes them from the grave on the Last day. On that day, the black cord of death that binds us to the curse of Adam will be abolished forever. We will be united by the red thread of Redemption, as we join the choir of the burning tongues of the cherubim, singing,
“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” – Revelation 5:9-10 NASB
Amen. Long live Lord Jesus, the King of Resurrection!