Who dies? And what is it?
The simple answer to the first question is - everybody. But that answer brings up more questions on its own. Why does everybody die?
There were two people who, according to the Bible, escaped this life without death - Enoch and Elijah. We are told that both of these men were simply - removed - from life.
For the rest of us, however, death is pretty much a guarantee. In spite of that, we still don't like to talk about it, think about it, or even consider that it could happen. But it does. We know that. But . . . what is it?
Science and medicine have moved the line of death over the years. In ancient times, death was when breath stopped. The Bible's most used term for death is something like, "he breathed his last." Even up until the middle of the 20th century, that definition was the standard.
But then they discovered that you can be revived if you stopped breathing. And the line moved. Now, death was when your heart stopped beating.
But then, toward the end of the century, they discovered that you can be revived if your heart stops. And the line moved. Now, death was when the brain stopped working.
But now they've begun to fudge on that definition, too, because science is working on bringing life back even after the brain has stopped functioning.
So, what does it mean to be dead? The official definition, (it's a law!), is that when the heart stops beating and the brain stops functioning and these are irreversible, that's when it's death.
You can tell, even from that definition, that the whole thing is not as black and white as we often think. Instead of death being "you're here, and then you're not," death has become a process. Real death can take place in an instant, but it can also take days, weeks, even longer.
All that is about physical death. But what does the Bible say about death? The Bible doesn't offer us a tidy, one-liner definition. But it talks a lot about what death is. Death is . .
Something we usually fear.
Something that is the result of sin.
Something that happens to all of us.
Something that is powerful.
Something that is tied to, and under the service of, the devil.
Something that should be avoided. But can't be on our own.
Something Jesus came to conquer, and he proved it by his own resurrection.
Something to help us evaluate our lives.
That last one is a recurring theme in scripture when it comes to how we look at death. Here's a sample:
Psalm 90:12 - Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:2 - It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
Hebrews 9:27 - . . . it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment . . .
Death is an analytical device - a sponsor of serious evaluation. Death, confronted properly by the living, can help us think soberly about how we live.
So, if you knew you were going to die, what would you change? How would you live differently?
You are, you know. You should, you know.