The blessing of death?
I went to an Ash Wednesday service tonight. In it the minister started talking about the ‘curse of death’. I did a Bible search. Nothing. And he continued, focusing the purpose of the ashes on that, ‘the curse of death’ and tying in Genesis 3:9. In context:
14So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspringa and hers; he will crushb your head, and you will strike his heel.”
16To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
17To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The problem is this: death is not a curse. The serpent was cursed, the ground was cursed. Man was NOT cursed.
So why death? I’m not sure, but death is not only a consequence of sin, but a means to salvation. It is not a curse. It was Jesus’ death that lead to our repentance (dying to ourselves and our sin) that leads to our new life. The New Testament is full of symbolism of death, and none of it is negative. Even Paul’s statements such as “I die daily” and “to live is Christ, to die is gain” are positive. I believe this was part of God’s plan from the beginning–he made us mortal. He removed us from the garden and put an angel to stand guard of the tree of life:
22And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Why? Not because God was cursing us. Because he was protecting us from something much worse than physical death-which was merely the consequence of sin. Eternal life in a sinful state, separated from God, this would have been worse. This is what the fallen angels experience. If Adam and Eve had eaten that fruit (of life) there would have been no sacrifice, no blood, no savior.
And so death is not a curse. It’s our redemption, through Jesus.
Happy Lenten season. May you find life even in death.