Why do we have to die?

The Cure for Death

At the end of the last post I promised to tell you about the cure for death. I’d like to begin to do that today with this post by having you read the story below about a man with terminal cancer.

*

“Mr. Cohen is here, Dr. Kaplan.”

“Please put him in my consultation room, Denise.”

Noah Cohen was 77 years old. Prostate cancer had been diagnosed 6 years ago and was advancing in spite of treatment. Widespread metastases in the bones was causing pain.

“Hi Noah. How are you?”

“The pain’s getting worse Ben. I can’t sleep because of it.”

“Are you taking your pain medication?”

Noah had known Ben Kaplan since Ben’s medical school days. Noah’s older brother had been one of Ben’s professors. Their families had met and over the years had grown close.

Noah had never really accepted his diagnosis of cancer. He knew he had it but was unwilling to acknowledge the seriousness of it. His wife, Sarah, had passed away six months ago, suddenly. A few months before, she had accepted Jesus as her Messiah and Lord. This had caused quite a stir in the Cohen extended Jewish family and it upset Noah. There were no children.

“You know I don’t like to take pills, Ben. I admit the pain is getting worse. Do you think this cancer could kill me? I’m starting to worry about that.”

“Yes, Noah, it could kill you.”

“Ben, what do I have to look forward to? I’m afraid of dying.”

“I understand Noah. Fear of death is very natural. That’s why it’s so important to know that you will be with God for eternity after you die. With that knowledge comes peace,” said Ben.

“You’re talking about Jesus, right? You’ve told me about Him before, about the need for forgiveness of our sins. And you’ve told me that Jesus is my Messiah, the Jewish Messiah, right?” said Noah.

“That’s right. We’re all sinners Noah, we have all broken God’s commandments, and a righteous God can’t have us with Him in heaven unless we are righteous too. Only God Himself can make us righteous and He made that possible by providing the ultimate sacrifice for us, for you and for me. Our Hebrew scriptures talk about this: ‘My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities,’” said Ben.

“You told me about Isaiah 53 before and I read it. My Rabbi said that the servant in Isaiah 53 is Israel, not Jesus.”

“The Rabbis are not always right, Noah.”

“How can I know the truth Ben? I want to know. And I want to know if Jesus is really the Jewish Messiah, and if He is, how could He save me from death?” asked Ben.

“Noah, you say you believe in God, but you have no peace. Why not ask God to tell you if He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice for your sins? I believe that God will answer you.”

“I’ll do it Ben. Can we talk again soon?”

“Absolutely.”

*

Noah Cohen was looking forward to tonight. It was Friday and Susan, Ben’s wife, had invited him to the Shabbat meal. Noah drove down the tree lined street to their home. He always felt comfortable coming here. There never seemed to be pretenses.

“Hi Noah. Glad you could make it. Shabbat Shalom,” said Susan as she gave him a hug. “It’s been too long.”

There were just the 3 of them tonight. Susan lit the candles and said the prayer, ushering in the Sabbath. Ben said the prayers over the bread and wine.

“Dig in Noah. There’s plenty of food,” said Susan.

Noah’s appetite had not been good lately but this table laden with traditional Jewish food was appealing to him. The smells were wonderful and before he realized it, Noah was helping himself. After dinner, over coffee served at the table, Susan spoke first.

“Noah, tell me what’s going on in your life.”

“You know I have prostate cancer and it’s getting worse. The pain is really bad. What really worries me is the thought of death. Ben tells me that this cancer could definitely kill me. I feel like that time is getting close.”

“Ben did tell me that he spoke with you about Yeshua and spending eternity in heaven with Him. What are your thoughts about that?” asked Susan.

“I don’t want to die, at least I don’t want to be put into the ground and have it all end there. That would be just nothingness, a void for eternity. How can I know if there’s more, and if there is, how can I have it?” said Noah.

“Noah, our Scriptures say that one day the wolf will lie down with the lamb and that someone who has lived one hundred years will be a young person. The prophet Isaiah said these things. He was talking about the Messianic Kingdom. The New Testament tells us that it will last a thousand years, and then eternity starts. The soul never dies. The Jewish Messiah, Jesus, came so that our relationship with God could be restored and by accepting Him we will spend eternity with Him, with God. Sarah is with Him now,” said Susan. “Yeshua came to pay the ultimate price, to be the ultimate blood sacrifice. God told us in His word that there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood. Let me read to you from the New Testament, or New Covenant, also called the Brit Chadashah in Hebrew,” said Susan.

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22

“But Susan, that’s from the New Testament. Our people don’t believe the New Testament,” said Noah.

“Ben and I are Jewish and we believe it. So do many other Jews. Sarah believed it. We also believe that the Old Covenant, or Old Testament, and the New Testament, together make up one book. Together they are one complete Bible. But there is something else that you have to know also and that is that God made it clear in the Old Testament that the forgiveness of sins requires the shedding of blood,” said Susan.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Leviticus 17:11

“But Noah, you must also know that all of the bulls and goats and other animals that were sacrificed in the days of Moses, and afterwards, never provided permanent forgiveness of sins. If they did these sacrifices would not have had to be continually repeated,” said Susan. “That’s why Jesus had to shed His blood and die. Because He is God, the shedding of His infinitely valuable blood once provided permanent forgiveness of sins.

“I never really understood that before, Susan. What you are telling me makes sense.

“Susan, my parents and grandparents never accepted Jesus. Does that mean they’re in hell? How could a loving God send people to hell?” asked Noah.

“Noah, only God knows if your grandparents are in heaven with Him. He gives everyone an opportunity to accept Him. He doesn’t want anybody to perish, to spend eternity separated from Him, to suffer eternal death. God loves you and wants you with Him forever but that can only happen if you are holy and pure, because He is holy and pure. Jesus came to make you holy and pure, righteous in God’s sight, but you have to accept Him for that to happen. It’s a free gift but you have to accept the gift,” said Susan.

“Susan, what do I have to do to accept Him? I want to know that God will accept me now,” said Noah.

“Noah, sit down next to me. Ben, please join us,” said Susan.

The three of them, Noah in the middle, were seated on the sofa, hands joined. Susan explained to Noah how to ask for forgiveness and salvation and Noah prayed on his own.

“Father in heaven. I understand now that I’m a sinner and that I need forgiveness and cleansing. I know that you sent Yeshua to shed His blood and to die for me on the cross to pay the price for my sins. I know that according to your Law, I should die and spend eternity separated from You. Please don’t let this happen to me Father. I accept what You and Jesus did for me. Please accept me into Your Kingdom that I might have eternal life with You. Thank you Father. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen,” said Noah.

After Noah’s prayer Ben wept.

“Susan, I’m going to spend eternity in heaven with God,” said Noah. “It seems too good to be true.”

“You’re right Noah. It does seem too good to be true. But it isn’t. We serve a God who is unbelievably gracious,” said Susan.

“Baruch Ha Shem! Bless the name of the Lord!” said Ben.

Posted by Art in Eternal Life

The Cause of Death

Have you ever been afraid of dying? We all know that everyone dies at some point. There are no exceptions. But is there anything that we can do about Death? I’m quite serious. Is there anything that can be done to forestall this problem of Death or is it just a foregone conclusion that we will all die and that that’s the end of it, the end of everything? Have you ever been to a funeral and heard a visitor say to a bereaved family member “He’s in a better place now”? What could that possibly mean? And did the person who said it have any idea what he was saying? Frankly, I very much doubt it.

If we want to “get a handle” on Death does it not make sense that we must know the cause of Death? We must find out the etiology of Death, what the underlying cause is, if at all possible, because then we might be able to find an effective treatment for Death just as we would for any other illness or condition. So, can we get to the root cause of Death itself? Can we uncover the fundamental reason for Death?

It seems to me that it is reasonable to say that Life and Death are connected even though they are, in a sense, opposites. So could it be that if we found the cause of Life that that might help us to find the cause of Death? To my knowlege no scientist, including experts in the field of evolutionary biology, has ever been able to find the ultimate cause or origin of Life. So could it be that we need to look outside the field of Science for answers to the questions of the underlying causes of Life and Death? I believe that the answer is an emphatic yes. Now we want to be entirely reasonable here. We don’t want any fantastic explanation or explanations used to explain the origins of Life and Death. We want to deal in facts. At this point, I think we definitely have one fact that we can hang our hats on. Here is that fact: Science cannot explain the ultimate origin of Life and of Death.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I know that cancer can kill, I know that a blocked coronary artery can cause a heart attack that can kill, and I know that a major car crash can kill, and I know that Science can sometimes help with these things. I know that well because I practiced medicine for 46 years. But I’m talking about Death on a much deeper level, a level that transcends all of these things that unfortunately happen every day in our world. If we must seek answers outside the realm of Science for the ultimate cause of Death, from what realm should we seek the answers? And is there a realm that might provide a narrative that clearly explains things and that clearly provides a solution to our problem? We need a practical and an understandable answer, and a solution, to the problem of Death.

So what realm do we search in, if not Science? What other realm do we look to that will still keep us dealing with facts and will keep us thinking in a logical and practical manner? I believe that we need to search for answers in the field of philosophy, specifically in the field of metaphysics, which deals with fundamental or first principles. But where would knowledge of first principles come from? My dear reader, knowledge of first principles comes to us from the Bible which is the word of God.

Are you now going to tell me that you don’t believe the Bible? Perhaps we’ll talk about the reliability and infallibility of the Bible another time but for now please permit me to ask you one question. Do you have a better source of knowledge to tell us the ultimate cause of Death? Perhaps you’d like to wait just a bit before you answer, until after I show you what the Bible has to say on this subject.

There is a verse in the Bible that can shed light on the fundamental cause of Death. It’s from the New Testament.

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

What is this verse telling us? It’s telling us that Sin caused Death. It, Sin, came into the world through one man. That man was the first man, Adam. Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden by disobeying God.

Let’s read from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Genesis has something to say about first causes.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (emphasis mine).

Please note that God commanded Adam not to eat of the specified tree and God told Adam that if he broke this commandment he would die that very day. We know that Adam did not die physically the day he broke this commandment. The death he experienced that very day was spiritual death. He became separated from God. He and Eve had to leave the Garden.

Did you know that ancient rabbis even taught that there is no death without sin? The following is an excerpt from the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 55B: An objection was raised: Said the ministering angels before the Holy One blessed be He, “Lord of the universe, how come you have imposed the penalty of death on the first Adam?” He said to them, “I commanded him one easy commandment, but he violated it.” They said to him, “But isn’t it the fact that Moses and Aaron, who kept the entire Torah, also died?” R. Simeon b. Eleazar says, “So, too, Moses and Aaron died on account of their sin: ‘Because you didn’t believe in me … therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’ —lo, if you had believed in me, your time would not yet have come to take leave of the world.”

Please observe that we know that Sin entered Adam because the verse in Romans tells us that this happened.

Adam consciously and knowingly sinned by disobeying God, and Sin entered into Adam and became part of his constitution, part of who he was. We, Adam’s posterity, all sinned because all of us were literally in Adam, in an inchoate form. We came from Adam. And all people yet to be born, future to the time of this writing, also were in Adam. We were all in Adam when he sinned, so we sinned then too and since Death comes through Sin, we will all die. Even a seemingly innocent baby sinned in Adam because every baby was in Adam when he sinned. That’s why even babies can die.

Now you might not like what I’m telling you here. But God, speaking to us through His word, is telling us that we were all in Adam when he sinned and therefore we also sinned, including even Moses and Aaron.

There’s something else that I want you to know. Because Sin became part of Adam’s constitution after he sinned, and because each and every one of us is descended from Adam, Sin is part of our constitutions too. Because of that we all have a rebellious and sinful nature just like Adam did, and just like Moses and Aaron did, and because Sin is part of each one of us, we are all born spiritually dead. There are no exceptions. At birth, we are by nature rebellious and antagonistic to God.

Is there anything that can be done about this? Yes! Most emphatically yes! We now know what the root cause of Death is. It is Sin. Knowing this we can now seek a cure. We must be born again. We must be born spiritually alive. We must be brought from Death to Life. How can we do this? We can’t do this but God can. That is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross and we can now seek a cure for Death from God. We can ask Jesus to save us. You see, Jesus conquered Death. Please read what He, Jesus, said to Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin and a famous Jewish teacher.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

You see, we are talking here in eternal terms. Eternity is forever. Wouldn’t you like to have eternal life?

What to do? Please read the next post.

Posted by Art in Eternal Life