Ever read through those passages of Genesis, and get tired of all those people who are introduced, only to die in the next line?
“So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.”
“Jared lived a total of 962 years, and he died.”
“Lamech lived a total of 777 years, and he died.”
“Kenan lived a total of 910 years, and he died.”
It even continues later in the Bible, as in the book of Judges:
“He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died.”
The repetition. The focus on death. The pointlessness, at times, of including so many people who are born, live for a while, and die. It’s recorded for a reason. The lives, of course, are recorded for reasons of posterity, genealogy, history. But the death part? I think it has its own reason for recurring, and not just because people die. But because I think the Spirit of the Word is trying to remind us that death is very real, and that it traces its way back to the beginning.
When we talk about tracing genealogies, we always talk about tracing the bloodlines. It is important to trace the Messiah back to David, back to Abraham, back to Adam.
But the Messiah came to save us from something, and that something is the wage of sin. This is death we’re talking about. Death was here from the beginning.
In the beginning, God made the world out of nothing. And then he made us. He called it all “very good.” And however long Adam and Eve enjoyed that garden, this touch of eternity seemed but a moment until temptation entered and sin followed. God told Adam and Eve that they would surely die. Satan said that they would not surely die. They ate the fruit. They didn’t die. Not immediately, anyway.
But read on. In fact, read through the entire Old Testament. “And then he died…and then he died…and then he died.” Starting with Adam. But then again, Adam doesn’t even die himself until after his own son dies. It starts with Adam, not with his physical death, but the death of his innocence, in leaving the garden, and the death of his own son, by the hands of his firstborn. Eventually, Adam faces the same fate, as does every single person to ever live, with enough recorded exceptions to count on one hand.
All of Adam’s descendants are destined to die.
Trace the bloodline. It happens again and again. It’s a sickness. It’s a curse. You’re a part of it too. You’re destined to die.
A life is recorded, whether it’s Lamech, Methuselah, or Saul—”then he died.” It’s a final note. You’ll have one too.
But wait. There’s more to the story. Read on.
God injected Christ into he bloodline of man like an inoculation. He did this by letting his own son die, and come back. He defeated death, and by doing so, defeated it for all of us. Not by preventing everyone from that fate we are all ascribed to, but by saving us from the hold of death, from the fear of death, from the finality of death.
Because of Christ, I do not have to fear death, because it is not the end, and in him I can survive it. Because of Christ I am not bound by death, because I am baptized in him and participate in his Gospel so that I live on as have the saints before me. Because of Christ, death is not the end, and so it has no real power over me.
And so I’ll die.
And that is not the end.