If we think about our own humanity compared to God’s own lordship over all things, we know that He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. In contrast to the agelessness of God, there is brevity to a human life. If we look at Psalm 90, written by Moses, it discusses the brevity of time and the sureness of eternity. Moses compares human lives to grass, saying, “In the morning they are like grass which grows up: in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers.” (Psalm 90:5b-6) This life is sown, grown, blown, mown, and then gone from the earth. Other parts of the scriptures contain a similar concept. Job also says that life is like a weaver’s shuttle that comes and goes incredibly fast. He says, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle…Oh, remember that my life is a breath!” (Job 7:6-7) David speaks of this fleetingness of life and also exclaims in Psalm 144:4, saying, “Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Bildad, one of Job’s comforters, similarly claims that, “we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.” (Job 8:9) Both Job and Isaiah use the illustration of a leaf to describe human life as fragile, frail and fading. Isaiah says, “we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6b) Job, referring to his frail and suffering self, asks, “Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? (Job 13:25) The classic hymn Life at Its Best speaks to this aspect of human life as well: “Life at best is very brief, like the falling of a leaf, like the binding of a sheaf, Be in time! Fleeting days are telling fast that the die will soon be cast, and the fatal line be passed, Be in time! Life at best is very brief.”
We know our lives are fleeting, and that we all will pass away from this earthly life eventually. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.” The author of Hebrews teaches us, “It is appointed for men to die once...” (Hebrews 9:27) James similarly teaches, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) Despite this fleetingness of life, however, we have promise and hope in the resurrection of Christ, for “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14) There will be a resurrection of believers, and the last enemy to be destroyed will be death, who is swallowed up in victory. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “O Death, where is your sting...The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We do know that life is somewhat of a mystery to most. What are we here for and why? What is the purpose of life? As Christians, we know that life is really a time of preparation for eternity and meeting God at last. Both saints and sinners alike will meet God in eternity. When we are swept away in the sleep of death, when we finish our years with a moan or a sigh, life does not end, but rather it really is just beginning! The believer passes into a new dimension. When the Spirit leaves the body of a believer it bursts through the portal of death into a new and exciting heavenly life, where the believer will be at home with the Lord. Not only will we meet our Savior here, but also we will be able to meet all of our loved ones and other saints in the Christian faith from history! Paul expresses the desire that all believers should share in “going home” to our Lord: “I would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord… For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” (2 Corinthians 5:8 and Philippians 4:23)
Fanny Crosby, the famous prolific hymn writer, wrote in one of her hymns, My Savior First of All, “O the soul-thrilling rapture when I view His blessed face, and the luster of His kindly beaming eye; How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace, that prepare for me a mansion in the sky.” While we cannot visualize the glories of heaven, we are assured that they far exceed the thoughts of our mortal minds. Paul, who visited these heavenly glories, quotes Isaiah saying, “But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) We know that we are assured to be with the Lord ultimately, regardless of what heaven will be or look like. John reports in Revelation 14:13, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor..." Daniel 12:3 also gives us confidence that we are precious in the Lord’s sight even when we die, and that His saints will be resplendent in eternal glory. It says, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
Our earth could be named the “sobbing planet,” because it is filled with heart broken cries of pain and agony, suffering, wretchedness, broken heartedness, grief, moans of the dying, and tears and sobs of the bereaved. Yet in heaven we have the promise of the Lord coming to make all things new. John the apostle was given a revelation of the ideal conditions of heaven, describing them in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Later, John describes this new city when the Lord comes, saying, “the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” Beloved, let us look forward to this day when not only is there no more death, or growing old, or pain or sorrow, but the Lamb will be all the glory of Immanuel’s eternal reign in His kingdom!