“Death Will Be No More”
ONLY those who have had someone dear to them taken away by death can know the frightful emptiness, the terrible sense of loss, the heartbreaking sorrow that death leaves behind by its unwelcomed visit. For such ones death is not a friend. A friend would not cause such anguish or inflict such deep, long-lasting wounds. Instead of being a friend, death is a formidable enemy.
Trying to convince yourself that death does not actually exist but is merely a door to a new life does not change the hard reality. It cruelly cuts short the cherished existence of young and old. The very absence of a loved one taken by death and the shocking realization that he or she will never again come into the house and lovingly embrace you and talk with you makes its existence and the awful finality of it continually felt. Death is very real, and it leaves painful scars upon the hearts of the living.
The desire of all normal persons is to escape the clutch of death as long as possible as well as to keep their loved ones. Think what it would mean to see a time when death would be no more! Never would you have to go to a cemetery and mourn the loss of someone you loved. Never would you experience the heartache of looking at a marker that tells where your loved one is lying in the ground beneath your feet. Instead, your loved ones would always be with you in the land of the living.
That such a time will come is not empty imagination. It will be a reality as surely as the sun rises every morning. It is a dependable promise, given by the only One capable of fulfilling it. The promise is found in his Word at Revelation 21:4, which says: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.” It is also given in the book of Isaiah: “He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.”—Isa. 25:8.
The fulfillment of this wonderful promise will come when Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ has wiped out the present wicked system of things and replaced it with a righteous new world. Under the rule of that kingdom the death that has been inevitable for all mankind because of Adam’s sin will no longer exercise power over man. It will cease to be, because the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice will then be applied toward obedient humans that want earthly life.
This does not mean that animals, birds and fish will not die. No such promise has been given to them. They die, not because of Adam’s sin, but because it evidently was not God’s purpose for them to live indefinitely. His Word speaks of unreasoning animals as being “born naturally to be caught and destroyed.” (2 Pet. 2:12) The promise that “death will be no more” can apply, therefore, only to man.
What if a person should become rebellious when death is no more? Will there be no way to end his life? Yes, there will. The end of death does not mean that if any person should become wicked he would be safe from destruction. The Bible says: “Death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14) It is evident from this that the death symbolized by the lake of fire will always be possible for man, but not inevitable. As long as a person remains obedient to the Supreme Sovereign he will not experience it. The death that has come automatically to all humans because of Adam’s sin is the death that is destroyed by being cast into the lake of fire. Anyone that dies in God’s new world will die because of his own wickedness, not Adam’s. It is the death that is inherited from Adam that is referred to when the Bible says: “As the last enemy, death is to be destroyed.”—1 Cor. 15:26.
The destruction of Adamic death will also mean the end of Hades, or the common grave of mankind. No longer will it be the inevitable future for all who are born. Not only will it cease to take people in, but it will cease to hold those that are there. By resurrection multitudes that have gone into the common grave of mankind and have been retained in God’s memory will return to human life. Jesus promised this when he said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28, 29.
This comforting promise gives hope to those who mourn. It removes the awful feeling of finality that death brings and gives hope that loved ones that have died will live again. Until the time arrives for the dead to be raised by God, they will continue in an unconscious state that Jesus likened to sleep when he said: “Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am traveling there to awaken him from sleep.” (John 11:11) As he awakened Lazarus and brought him back to conscious existence, so will he awaken multitudes during his 1,000-year reign. If any of these resurrected ones should choose a course of rebellion and be adversely judged by God, they will die again. It will be a second and final death for them. This is the eternal death symbolized by the lake of fire.
Because the end of Adamic death will mean that humans will be able to live indefinitely as long as they are obedient, we must not conclude that the earth will become overpopulated. The One who can bring an end to death and raise the dead is capable of preventing mankind from becoming too populous. We can look forward with absolute confidence to a time when death will be no more, because the One who promised it cannot lie. That time is within the life span of people who are now living.