“The Last Enemy” Will Be Defeated!
WHEN you were a child, you may have been afraid of the dark. Horror stories and even some fairy tales may have filled you with anxiety. How reassuring it was when your mother or father left a lamp lit while you tried to fall asleep!
Death likewise frightens many. Yet, it need not do so. Why? Because of what death really is.
Know Your Enemy
Wise King Solomon of ancient Israel declared: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) According to this divinely inspired thought found in your own Bible, death is simply the opposite of life. The dead have no conscious existence.
Referring to death in an illustrative way, the Christian apostle Paul writes: “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” What is the sting that produces death? Says Paul: “The sting producing death is sin.” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 56; Hosea 13:14) What, then, is the origin of this lethal sting? Elsewhere in the Scriptures, Paul states: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) The apostle leaves no doubt about the identity of that “one man” when he says: “In Adam all are dying.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) Yes, through the disobedience of our first forefather, Adam, all of us are susceptible to death’s sting.—Genesis 3:1-19.
With good health and a loving family in pleasant surroundings, none of us would choose to die. As the Bible shows, however, “time and unforeseen occurrence” may rob us of life. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In fact, we do not know what will happen to our life tomorrow. (James 4:14) One thing is certain—all of us have inherited sin and death. Therefore, death stalks us and strikes as an enemy.
Coping With the Death of a Loved One
Death is especially an enemy when it strikes a loved one. “It will be worse for you,” said a terminally ill wife to her husband as she contemplated death. Why could she say that? Because the Bible says: “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol [the common grave of mankind], the place to which you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) The dead suffer no more. But the burden of grief falls on surviving relatives and friends. Can anything be done about such suffering?
The pages of God’s Word, the Bible, contain many words of comfort. For example, reading and meditating on the psalms surely is one source of consolation. Comforting, indeed, are such words as these: “Blessed be Jehovah, who daily carries the load for us, the true God of our salvation.”—Psalm 68:19.
Another source of comfort is the Christian congregation. In the first century C.E., the apostle Paul wrote: “Honor widows that are actually widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren [who can care for her materially], let these learn first to practice godly devotion in their own household and to keep paying a due compensation to their parents and grandparents, for this is acceptable in God’s sight. Let a widow be put on the list who has become not less than sixty years old, a wife of one husband, having a witness borne to her for fine works, if she reared children, if she entertained strangers, if she washed the feet of holy ones, if she relieved those in tribulation, if she diligently followed every good work.” (1 Timothy 5:3, 4, 9, 10) Jehovah’s Witnesses today likewise help and comfort such fellow believers.
Often the greatest adjustment the bereaved have to make is emotional. “I loved my wife dearly,” wrote one man whose mate died two years earlier. “This is the saddest event in my life, and I find it difficult to endure.” A person who has been married for some time has shared his or her life in the most intimate of human relationships. When a marriage mate dies, the surviving partner naturally feels a great loss. To whom can that one turn for help?
In such circumstances, good Christian associates can be upbuilding. “A true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress,” says a wise proverb. (Proverbs 17:17) A widow or widower needs help—companions who give real support. Wise friends encourage the grieving one to talk, even if doing so brings tears. Perhaps a Christian who has already experienced the pain and heartache of losing a mate can offer some kindly help. “Speak consolingly to the depressed,” counsels the Bible. (1 Thessalonians 5:14) But remember that widows and widowers miss their marriage mates. Therefore, the bereaved should confide in others only under circumstances that enable all to maintain chaste conduct.—1 Peter 2:12.
The best antidote for the pain that death inflicts is to keep busy helping others—quite a challenge for those who believe they are the ones in need of help! Here is where unselfishness plays a part. Unselfishly doing things for others helps to banish sadness and grief, for Jesus said: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Victory Over Death
A bee sting can be very painful, even fatal. Usually, though, removal of the insect’s stinger embedded in your skin will help bring relief. But what prospects are there for relief from the sting producing death?
After explaining that sin is the sting producing death, Paul exclaims: “Thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:57) How is victory over death associated with Christ? Jesus showed that this is the case when he said concerning himself: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Yes, for those exercising faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the ransom sacrifice that Jehovah has provided through him, the death inherited from Adam will not result in permanent nonexistence.—John 3:16.
Heartening indeed are Jesus’ words: “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.
Centuries earlier, God’s prophet Isaiah had foretold: “He [Jehovah God] will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8) Again, at Revelation 21:4, the Bible presents this marvelous prospect: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” Fortified by this Bible hope for those sleeping in death, bereaved ones need not “sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.”—1 Thessalonians 4:13.
Try to visualize what God has in store for mankind, as revealed in the Bible. The imminent “great tribulation” spells doom for the present wicked system of things. (Revelation 7:14) Those practicing false religion meet their end. Gone are the greedy political and commercial elements that contribute to famine and warfare. Jesus Christ proceeds to abyss Satan the Devil, who has caused so much human death. Then Christ begins his Millennial Reign, during which he applies the value of his ransom sacrifice to mankind. The dead return in the hoped-for resurrection, and the light from God’s Word shines so brightly that superstitious views about death, mankind’s enemy, no longer exist. All then alive have the opportunity to learn God’s ways and conform to his righteous standards.—Proverbs 4:18; Acts 24:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Revelation 18:4-8; 19:19-21; 20:1-3.
‘Next, the end,’ says Paul, ‘when Christ Jesus hands over the kingdom to his God and Father. For he rules as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is brought to nothing.’ (1 Corinthians 15:24-26) Every disability resulting from Adam’s sin is gone. A final test takes place, and lovers of God come through it in faithfulness. (Revelation 20:4-10) Restored to perfection, these obedient humans live, not for a mere three score years and ten or even for five score and ten, but forever. What a gift from God through his beloved Son!—Romans 6:23.
So, then, how long can you live? Your life span can stretch out for all eternity. Living as you do in this world’s “time of the end,” you may never die at all. (Daniel 12:4; John 11:25, 26; 17:3) If you do the divine will, you may live right into God’s promised new world.—2 Peter 3:13.
If you are well along in years, however, you realistically need to consider the possibility of dying. Surely, the resurrection hope brings joy. But you may wonder how Jehovah will arrange family life in that new system of things. Do not let such matters concern you, for Jehovah will see to the lasting happiness of those forever faithful to him.
As these critical “last days” of Satan’s wicked system run their course, do not let the fear of death rob you of the privilege of serving Jehovah right now. (2 Timothy 3:1) If you lose a loved one in death, console yourself with the temporary nature of its hold. (Revelation 20:13, 14) Trust in the resurrection hope. Then, whether you gain entry into the new world through survival of the great tribulation or by means of a resurrection, be assured of the inspired guarantee that death, the last enemy, is to be brought to nothing.—Revelation 7:9, 14.
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Good Christian associates can build the bereaved up spiritually
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Keeping busy helping others lessens the grief caused by the death of a loved one