Learn the truth about death



The Origin of Death

The Origin of Death
Death is nearly as old as life itself on this planet, and its roots are from even earlier. The Bible records the origin of death on earth and also the events that happened elsewhere that allowed for death to exist in the first place. The Scriptures are perfectly clear that death is an abnormality and was never meant to exist at all.

To understand why everyone on this planet is subject to the strange mystery of death, we must first travel elsewhere in the universe, to a place the Bible calls heaven.

Heaven is where God dwells. It is the headquarters of the universe. Long before there was life on earth, there was life in heaven. The Bible tells us that creatures we know as angels existed there. There were many angels, “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands and thousands” of them, a number so high they are essentially “innumerable” (Revelation 5:11; Hebrews 12:22). These beings lived in perfect harmony with each other. They served God and each other. There was no death. God’s perfect creatures were made to live forever, living ever more abundantly as time went on.

But something went wrong in this heavenly paradise. The Bible tells us of one of these angels who was “perfect in [his] ways from the day [he was] created, till iniquity was found in [him]” (Ezekiel 28:15). In other words, the seed of sin festered in this angel’s heart until it finally erupted into a full rebellion.

Unfortunately, this was no ordinary angel. He was the “anointed cherub who covers;” he ministered “on the holy mountain of God,” walking “back and forth in the midst of fiery stones” (Ezekiel 28:14). He had the highest position of all the angels, ministering directly to God. As such, there was no one in heaven with more power, authority, or influence than this angel, except for God Himself.

What was the nature of this angel’s sin? The Bible says: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). His sin was pride. As a perfect creature made by God, his beauty was remarkable and his wisdom was splendid. However, rather than give glory to God for these gifts, he became proud because of them. He saw them not as gifts but as self-earned attributes.

The Bible gives more details still. This angel’s name was Lucifer, we’re told in Isaiah 14:12. He became so prideful that he began to covet the worship the other angels gave to God. He desired to usurp the throne of God and take His place. The Bible declares of Lucifer,

“You have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:13, 14).

Because Lucifer could not declare open rebellion against God without help, he gathered the support of many of the other angels and, eventually, a “war broke out in heaven” (Revelation 12:7). Lucifer, now renamed Satan (the accuser) because of his rebellion, lost this war, and he and his followers were banished. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).

And so this sinful angel came to earth. We can reasonably infer from the Bible that this drama occurred before God created life on earth, because Satan was already present on the earth at the beginning. God gave the first man and the first woman free reign to explore, to do and eat anything they desired in their original, perfect home … except for a single thing. God made one tree off-limits to them as a test of their loyalty, and Satan was ready to do what was necessary to make them fail that test.

Let’s stop for a moment to consider something important: Why did God not destroy Satan in the beginning? That would have prevented him from coming to Earth and spared all of us from sin and death. Why did God permit Satan to live when the rest of us must die? This question is of the greatest significance, and it gets right to the heart of who God is and why we should learn about Him.

The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). The Bible also says that love is not provoked but rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Just as we are free to make our own decisions each day, so too are the angels. Satan accused God of being unfair, of hoarding to Himself power and worship that rightly belonged to others including Satan himself. If God destroyed Satan immediately as a result of his rebellion, the remaining angels would see that God was easily provoked and might be afraid of Him. They might serve Him out of fear and not love. In order for God to demonstrate the truth about His character of love, He must allow Satan’s rebellion to reveal its own results. God wants His angels and people to serve Him because His way is righteous, just, and leads to life, happiness, and prosperity—not out of fear of destruction if they rebel. When Satan’s rebellion in heaven and on earth reveals that its results are death, disease, destruction, heartache, divorce, starvation, torture, war, homicide, suicide, genocide, and “all kinds of evil,” all created beings will see for themselves that God deserves our worship and is, truly, love (1 Timothy 6:10).

Satan chose earth to continue his rebellion and determined to cause the first man and woman to disobey God’s only prohibition. Genesis 2:16 records God’s instruction to the man regarding this boundary. It says,

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

The instruction was plain. Eating from the forbidden tree would result in death. Death did not exist at that time, and would not have ever existed on earth if the man and woman had obeyed this simple command.

We must ask ourselves why the penalty for this small infraction was so severe. The answer is simple. The Bible is clear that God “alone has immortality” and that “the gift of God is eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:16; Romans 6:23). So immortality can only exist through a connection with God. If that connection is severed, immortality ceases and death ensues. The Bible uses the word “sin” to describe this separation from God; though it is used to label specific actions that are contrary to God’s will, such as adultery and murder, God sees sin as a much bigger problem because it severs His children from Himself and makes them subject to death. Sin is a state of being apart from God. Therefore, even a small act of rebellion separates the sinner from God and results in death.

Satan succeeded in tricking the first woman into disobeying God, and she in turn caused the situation in which the man chose to disobey as well. Taking the form of a talking serpent (which would baffle and amaze just about anybody, wouldn’t it?), Satan claimed that disobeying God would not result in death, but would instead give them powers and understanding beyond what they currently possessed. The Bible records this deception in Genesis 3:1–5, which reads:

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Satan told the woman that her disobedience would cause her to be like God. This, we remember, was Lucifer’s original sin. Like Lucifer, the woman fell victim to this temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 tells us, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

Since the man and the woman had sinned, they now knew the nature of evil. God is good; God is love. To be separate from goodness and love is to be joined with badness and evil. Evil cannot inherit immortality, for God alone is immortal and God is not evil. God declares, in Genesis 3:22, 23,

“‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.”

The man and woman eventually had children, and every person ever born is ultimately descended from this original pair. Everyone born since that time has been subject to death.

This sad tale has affected everyone who has ever lived. Through no fault of our own, we were born into a world that is separated from the God who created it, and as such we all must face the day we must eventually die. But there is hope! The same God who made mankind “in His own image” cares too much to allow us to die in despair (Genesis 1:27). Through Jesus Christ, we have the hope of immortality restored to us.

Humanity cannot overcome death by itself. The Bible tells us plainly that “the wages of sin is death,” so death is the penalty we all must pay (Romans 6:23). But God chose to pay our ultimate penalty for us. Jesus Christ, who is God in human flesh, lived a life free from sin yet died anyway. He took the sins of the entire world upon Himself and suffered our consequence so we might live eternally according to His righteousness. The mystery of salvation is greater even than the mystery of death, yet the truth of the matter is that God loves each person so much that He chose to impart eternal life to sinners even though they don’t deserve it, and the only thing He asks in return is faith that He has done this remarkable thing.

To all who understand this, God freely imparts the promise of eternal life in paradise, where they will never be subject to death again. The Bible declares triumphantly, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). The mystery of death will become the memory of death, and its horror will disappear from reality forever.

Until that time, however, we must live with the reality of death, and there has been much confusion and misunderstanding over the issue. Even Christian churches throughout time have stumbled over this topic. We believe, however, that a thorough and honest study of the Scriptures reveals the true nature of death and the beauty of God’s solution to it.


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