The topic of natural revelation gravitates to those aspects of the natural world we love and enjoy so much. Sadly, we dwell in a world where all living things are irresistibly set on fixed timelines, the endpoints labeled birth and death. Our gorgeous flowers wither, the color drains from the sunset, our beloved grandparents lie in tombs.

Almost perversely, we call this the circle of life to cast this pall of death as some upbeat, happy outcome. Foxes die, their bones are picked clean by every critter that happens by, and the untouchable remains rot into the dirt. Later, a flower rises in its place, a bee hauls nectar to the hive, a bear feasts on the comb and, after its productive years are over, succumbs to age and returns to the dust from which it came. The circle of life.

Animals never give it any thought.  But people do, and people are supposed to think about life and death. We should conclude that something is wrong with the world. The seas, the sky, the land, the plants, the creatures, the stars, the pleasures of food, the adventures we have, surrounded by so much grand beauty—our existence is blessed beyond imagination. Yet, we can only, truly, drink the cup of this world for a brief moment, suffering often as we do, and then we are gone.

To Live Forever

Is it any wonder that our innovators are pursuing immortality through every promising technological marvel they can? As of 2013, an estimated 269 bodies were cryogenically frozen, waiting to be thawed in the future, hoping that in their revived state, future scientists will reverse their ages and heal their diseases. Some futurists believe it is only a matter of time before consciousness will be uploaded into supercomputers, giving eternal life in some far-flung, digital realm in the android body of your choice.

Almost 3,000 years ago, a king named Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. Even if you’ve never read the Bible, you’ve probably heard the verses, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” The whole book is hard like that, yet he made the statement, “God has put eternity into man’s heart.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  God put something in us that wants to live forever. Why would He do that? Doesn’t that just make death all the more painful?  (How many stories end with, “I don’t want to die?”)

It is time to say something true about our observation that the world is amazing yet cursed with death, death we flee, fear, and fight. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. There is enough good left in Creation to tell us that the original plan and design did not include death. We cannot even fathom that. We’ve got that circle of life mentality so ingrained in our hearts we cannot imagine that God’s intention was for all of Creation to be with Him and never taste death.  But it was. That’s what the first four chapters of Genesis explain.

Photograph of an abandoned, burned out farmhouse

Abandonment Led to Death

What happened?  Humanity abandoned God. We try to wriggle out of it by saying that God abandoned us or that He doesn’t even exist. Those are both lies. The truth is the first people rebelled against God and the last people will rebel against God, and those of us here in between are rebelling against God. Just as God promised, and as thousands of years have borne out, “the wages of sin is death”.  (Romans 6:23) Everyone sins: we dishonor our parents, lie, steal, murder, lust, and worship anything and everything that is not God. And even if we have not committed these acts in the flesh, we’ve thought them in our hearts. Jesus made it clear that even hating someone is committing murder in your heart. (Matthew 5:21-23)  To be honest, people commit such atrocities against God and one another that we’ve made this quite a Hell on earth.

All of this matters greatly and gravely. It matters because everyone has an eternal soul. That bit about God putting eternity into man’s heart means people live forever; their spirit continues after they die. After death, each person will face God in judgement (Hebrews 9:27). Why? We disobeyed and disbelieved God. If sin went unpunished, God would not be just. Everyone has sinned, and because of that, everyone faces judgement.  And after judgement, we face eternity in Hell, because none of us meets God’s perfect, sinless, standard.

Photograph of dogwood blossoms with drops of dew on the petals

Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man

If this is the outcome, the final word, what kind of god would let humanity live, suffer, die, and die again, forever in Hell?  The answer is, He is not that kind of god. Instead, God is perfectly just and perfectly loving.  John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” 

God’s only Son is Jesus, the same Jesus whose virgin birth is proclaimed at Christmas, whose crucifixion is mourned on Good Friday, and whose resurrection from the dead is celebrated on Easter.

Jesus came into the world as a baby, and lived a perfect, sinless life. He was both the Son of God and son of man. When he was around 30 years old, He began His public ministry. For three years, Jesus demonstrated His deity and power over creation through miracles, healing the sick, and raising the dead back to life. He taught about the Kingdom of God. He confronted the powerful, self-righteous, religious leaders of the Jewish people for their hypocrisy, because they burdened the people with man-made rules that kept them from knowing God. Ultimately, these leaders conspired and had Jesus executed on a cross by the Romans who ruled Palestine. Jesus’ dead body was laid and sealed in a tomb, and on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead.  After His resurrection, he appeared many times to His disciples before ascending to Heaven 40 days later.

Abandonment Led to Life

In the Gospel of Mark, we read:  “And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” (Mark 15:33-34)  Humanity abandoned God, but the only time God abandoned any person was when He put the sins of each and every person who ever lived on Jesus and punished Him on their behalf.  Jesus’ sacrifice was God’s plan from the beginning, and all the events of Jesus’ time on earth played out according to the Father’s plan.  Jesus, who is God in the flesh, died on the cross in your place for the forgiveness of your sins so you could have eternal life with God forever.

We all have wronged and abandoned God, yet out of His great love for all people, God has reconciled those who believe back to Him through His Son Jesus.  Everything you see and experience, even life and death, proclaims the Creator, who is Savior, and Lord.

Photo credits

“Abandoned Farmhouse”, Limestone, Tennessee (Cover Photo) and “Dogwood Blossoms” by Eric Jon Job