THE REIGN of DEATH
The New Testament brings out clearly something that was comparatively hidden in the Old Testament, i.e., that death reigns. This fact of earthly existence was present awaiting a bursting forth way back in the Garden of Eden. As I've written before, death was present in the soil of the earth and in man's earthenness in its latent form: mortality. It is inherent in creation, in all creaturehood, given the disconnect inherent in the suffering incurred by Spirit's/spirit's experience of that metamorphoses involved as the spirit substance of all creation undergoes time-space forming, molding and shaping. Though infinity is within the substructure of the spirit-essence of creation, it is hedged in, circumscribed, squeezed into a form alien to its eternal state, and subjected to frustrating limitation. Infinity was afflicted by finiteness by the very act of creation, which is at the heart of creation's subjection to futility. This is of God. God saw this whole condition as good, and finally, with the creation of man, as very good. It is upon that condition, that all have sinned.
A parallel explanation of the above calls it "The authority of darkness." in the New Testament. There is light and life, and there is darkness and death, both co-existent until God becomes all in all. When I say "co-existent," I am not at all implying equality. Light and life reign transcendently, but within that infinitely greater reign is the encapsulated existence of darkness and death, or the darkness which is death, as it is so with the life which is light.
Reckon with it, saints. Death has a reign. It was given an authority, a right, by God Himself. Deal with it. Watch out for that theology that dismisses death and darkness as the mere product of wrong thinking. God, Himself, thought up death's existence. Death reigns under life's reign. We shall "reign in life by One, Christ Jesus." Death reigns only by life's permission, the former subservient to the latter. Death has been given the place of a rebellious kingdom within, and under the control of, the kingdom of God. In the Book of Job, we're given a very vivid picture of death's right to act when released by God. Death, personified by Satan among the sons of God appearing before the Lord is---as we might say it---straining at the leash to be allowed to carry out it's rightful administration within the administration of God. Satan did not enter Job's life as a loose cannon, as one preacher put it so well. He/It is the servant of the Almighty, seeing that death's destructiveness be the preparation for all things being made new. Why such a process? Why should eternal newness suffer the oldness of death? It would seem that there is no gain in this plan of God, if all things simply return to what they were eternally.
Ahh, but there is a gain, and God is the God of gain; God is the God of profit, as Jesus' parable of the talents reveals. God purpose is always to end up with more in all His workings and dealings. For you see---as hard as it is for the natural mind to grasp---there is always more of God to come forth out of the midst of God. That's what makes God so always new and fresh. He IS the well of water springing up into eonian life. Death calls forth life, and that more abundantly out of the Divine depths. God, if I may dare say it in such a way, puts the squeeze upon Himself, challenging Himself by that which is alien to all that He is, and by so doing, calls forth out of Himself, more and more or all that He is within the infinite, inexhaustible life-spring of His nature.
So death is both the last enemy, and also the greatest negative servant. Death sees to it that the grain of wheat shall not abide alone, but will bring forth that Pauline "much more" which is so characteristic of
We are on the threshold of a necessary revisiting of all the various theological theories about escaping death. What about,
A question for those who expect to be numbered among a spiritual elect who will escape death: Would you be overjoyed that your grace-granted resistance to death, a resistance not shared by the majority on this side, result in the many, who were less spiritual than you during their time on this side, rising before you? Will you welcome that priesthood that stands in the waters of Jordan while the greater company crosses first? Will you welcome death working in you that life may work in others? A day of much rethinking of such matters is upon us.