Hope After Death

With the Corona pandemic, many of us have experienced the deaths of friends and family members. Some of these died from Corona, some from other causes that may have caught us by surprise, absorbed, as we were, in the strange and isolated world which COVID has foisted on us.

This may be a time to look at what God says in His Word about death.  I will look mostly at the Psalms, the prayer-book and hymnal of believers for the past 3,000 years.  Yes, I said 3,000 years. From King David until the band Hillsong, believers in the one true God have prayed and sung the psalms.  Think of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:27), the early church (Ephesians 5:19), monks and other believers though 20 Christian centuries, Charles Wesley, modern revivalists like Billy Graham, etc.

Some of us today, possibly reading one-sided commentaries, may think the psalms’ view of life after death is the gloomy, shadowy, miry, joyless place called Sheol, such as Psalm 88:13 describes: “Are your wonders made known in the darkness, or your justice in the land of oblivion?” This picture is not too different than the pagan views of Hades, guarded by the river Styx with its blue-skinned boatman Charon.

But something different began to emerge in the psalms in ancient Israel.  They began to show a different belief.  Eternal life was not the only the gloom of Sheol.  For those who loved God, eternal life would be life in God’s presence. God conquered the realm of death.

You will not abandon my soul to the nether world, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption you will show me the paths of life, fullness of joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever (Psalm 16:10-11)

God will redeem me from the power of the nether world by receiving me (Psalm 49:16)

In the end you will receive me in glory (Psalm 73:24)

In justice I shall behold your face, on waking, I shall be content in your presence (Psalm 17:15)

God draws those who love Him to be with Him in heavenly joy.  There is hope for eternal life after our earthly death – which all of us must face. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

We sometimes despair of those who have refused repeated invitations to return to church, many for reasons we can only glimpse or guess at.  We do not understand how, but God’s mercy is unfathomable.  We may judge friends or family members unfairly, but when we die, many of them may be waiting for us in heaven with higher places and in bigger mansions than ours.   

Let’s keep hopeful and joyful through these difficult times.  God is still in charge, still seated on his heavenly throne, and He cares about every one of us, in every one of our situations, and in every one of our social networks.  Give praise to Him forever!