Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Death is a topic with which we don’t feel comfortable by nature. Death forces us to live with painful separation from people we love. Even when we know that God will raise us again, the prospect of our own death can fill us with frightful uncertainties: Will the experience hurt? Will those we leave behind be taken care of? Death is still the wages of sin.
But death also has a way of sobering us up and restoring a proper perspective on what is important. Samuel Johnson once said, “I know of no thought that so wonderfully clarifies the mind as the thought that I shall hang tomorrow morning.” When we come face to face with our own mortality, wisdom comes flooding in. We stop filling our consciousness with trivia from TV. Suddenly tiny things like economics, and technology, and politics don’t loom so large. Enormous things like God and religion don’t seem so thin and far away. Nothing impresses the need for God on us like the fact that we are sinners who are going to die.
More importantly, death is the getaway car God uses to speed our souls away from this world to everlasting life. Daniel says that the multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake. Death isn’t the end of all things. It is a transition. Those of us who believe Jesus has made us holy in God’s eyes by his life and death, and promised us life by his resurrection, will wake up to a new morning of eternal life.
This is what we will escape to: eternal life. Do you find that hard to appreciate? We carry the symptoms of death around with us at all times– physical illness, unhappy relationships, broken dreams. These things make it hard to look forward to a life that goes on forever. Sometimes we want nothing more than an end to it all.
But the phrase “eternal life” does not stress only duration–life that goes on forever. It also stresses quality–this is life beyond death with all of its symptoms. This is life truly worthy of the name. From our side of eternity it is easiest to say what eternal life is not. It knows no pain or sadness. It is never spoiled by boredom or monotony. It excludes all worry or anxiety. It never sees frustration or anger. It suffers neither danger nor injury, failure nor fatigue.
Why should the owners of mansions consume themselves with thinking about how to decorate the hotel room they will check out of tomorrow? Why should citizens of heaven be consumed with their temporary accommodations on earth? God promises to wake us from our long night’s sleep in the grave. Better things are waiting for us in eternity’s new day.