So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54.
How precious to those who are losing their loved of this world are their faith and hope in the promises of God which open before them the future immortal life! Their hopes may fasten upon unseen realities of the future world. Christ has risen from the dead the first fruits. Hope and faith strengthen the soul to pass through the dark shadows of the tomb, in full faith of coming forth to immortal life in the morning of the resurrection. The Paradise of God, the home of the blessed! There all tears shall be wiped from off all faces! When Christ shall come the second time, to be “admired in all them that believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:10), death shall be swallowed up in victory, and there shall be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more death! A rich promise is given to us: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). Is not this promise rich and comforting to those who love God?
The resurrection of Jesus was a sample of the final resurrection of all who sleep in Him. The risen body of the Saviour, His deportment, the accents of His speech, were all familiar to His followers. In like manner will those who sleep in Jesus rise again. We shall know our friends even as the disciples knew Jesus. Though they may have been deformed, diseased, or disfigured in this mortal life, yet in their resurrected and glorified body their individual identity will be perfectly preserved, and we shall recognize, in the face radiant with the light shining from the face of Jesus, the lineaments of those we love.
The Life-giver will call up His purchased possession in the first resurrection, and until that triumphant hour, when the last trump shall sound and the vast army shall come forth to eternal victory, every sleeping saint will be kept in safety and will be guarded as a precious jewel, who is known to God by name.
That I May Know Him p. 362
—– Please pray for my dad. His cancer seemed to be under control for a while, but now it may be coming back. Mary
One year, around 1900, the conditions were right in Pennsylvania for an extra amount of poisonous snakes to survive. They were everywhere. Many people were bitten, which, in those long-ago days, was usually fatal. People were getting desperate. They were killing snakes “right and left” and still there were more.
One day, my grandfather, Edwin Harmon, who was about a teen at the time, took his rifle and walked along the river to practice his marksmanship. Large trees grew on each side of the river. Their branches hung over and nearly touched the water. My grandfather saw many snakes along the way. As he came around a bend in the river, what he saw amazed him. There was an old, abandoned, wooden tower of some sort standing at the water’s edge. Countless numbers of snakes were slithering out of the glassless windows and onto the nearby trees. The place was literally writhing with snakes.
Deciding to use them as targets, he began to fire. Soon dead snakes were falling into the water. Over and over again he killed the snakes, but it seemed that the more he killed, the more there were. He was amazed. Finally, he tired of his little target practicing “game” and went home. Yet, the memory of that experience would stay with him forever.
The Bible speaks of a serpent more deadly than those poisonous snakes that my grandfather shot. It tells us of a serpent that we are helpless to conquer in our own power. John speaks of him, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Rev 12:9 This old serpent goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Indeed, it is the very serpent Eve listened to in the Garden. (Gen 3)
When the Children of Israel were wandering in the desert, they murmured against God many times. Often they had to be punished in order for them to turn from their rebellion. In one of those rebellious times, their Great Protector withdrew His protection and there came “fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” Num 21:6-9
Looking at a brass replica of the serpents that were causing all of their trouble seemed a very strange thing to do. There must have been some who refused to look and as many as refused, died from the venom. How many there are today who do the same. In God’s Holy Word, we find the way of salvation, yet how few there are who will “look and live.”
When Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, Jesus used this very experience to help this member of the Sanhedren understand His coming sacrifice. He explained, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:14-17
That serpent on the pole represented Jesus, Who would come and die for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2) We, as they, must have faith to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2
May we look in faith to God’s Great Provision that we may be healed from the serpent’s bite of sin. May we accept His free offer of grace while there is yet time. May we share His good news of salvation with those around us, that they, too, may look and live.