Devotional Thoughts for Today
“Something Worse than Death”
1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “they will bring out the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from their graves. 2 They will spread them out to the sun, the moon and to all the host of heaven, which they have loved and which they have served, and which they have gone after and which they have sought, and which they have worshiped. They will not be gathered or buried; they will be as dung on the face of the ground. 3 And death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family, that remains in all the places to which I have driven them,” declares the Lord of hosts.
The past couple of weeks, my wife’s nephew and her family were in town. He’s only 4 years old and still trying to wrap his mind around what it means that I am his aunt’s husband. First he had to understand my wife’s relationship to his grandmother, and then from there, my wife’s relationship to me. He then turned to my father in-law and asked him who his mother was, to which he responded,
“She passed away.”
“Why did she pass away?”
“She was really old.”
“Oh, but I don’t want to die.”
It’s pretty cute when you think about a 4 year-old’s concept of life and death, but in reality, all of us can probably relate to his sentiment—I don’t want to die. And I think that’s a natural thing.
In today’s passage, we continue to see the consequences of Judah’s outright disobedience to the Lord. The section we read today can be portioned off with 7:32-34, as it talks about incoming Chaldean destruction upon Judah, where the voice of joy and the voice of gladness will be made to cease. Jeremiah goes on to describe the scenes where those who are killed but not be buried (a great tragedy in Jewish culture); not only that, in verses 1-2, he describes how the bones of even the most revered of Judah will be dug up—a great sign of disrespect and dishonor. In other words, the people of Judah, because of their sins, will face such tragedies that death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant. And despite this human tendency to fear death, the suffering they face will be so great that they would rather choose death than life.
If we can take a step back on what is happening, there is a greater spiritual principle being laid out here. There is, what some commentators say, a shifting of the position of death in this passage. Death is no longer the end. What is at the end is the judgment of God.
When death is no longer ultimate, we begin to see a greater spiritual reality in which we live. When our finitude is no longer the edge of our reality, we start to see that there is the Divine. In other words, confronting death in a way where it is no longer the ultimate end to our lives, causes us to see that there is more to life than this. And this is why Christ came to die on the cross for us. This is what has been revealed to us when Christ defeated death.
For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain is the correct posture in which those who are walking in a relationship with God are called… are blessed to have.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You are greater than death. For us who make death the ultimate end, You have revealed to us that there is something beyond death. And You have revealed to us through Your Son what it means to be with You for throughout eternity. Help us to walk in a manner worthy of that calling. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 10:26-33
26 “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Questions to Consider
- Take a moment to skim the passage before this section. What is the context in which Jesus is teaching these things?
- What do you think Jesus is saying in verse 28? How does this relate to verses 29-31?
- In light of today’s devotion and study, what is your perspective on death and does it align to the kind of perspective God wants us to have about death?
- The context of this passage is in the middle of Jesus’ warning to the disciples of what they are to face if they follow Him, as sheep in the midst of wolves. And despite the persecution they will face, Jesus is calling them to be faithful to their testimony and promises that the Holy Spirit will be with them.
- Jesus is pushing the disciples to see a greater reality than what is before them and their present sufferings. It is in some ways minimizing the gravity of death for there is something greater: obedience to the One who can destroy both body and soul. And if we walk in obedience, God, who values us more than sparrows, will protect and keep you.
- Personal reflection.
I understand that thinking about death throughout the day isn’t the most enjoyable topic to think about. However, as you close off this day, think about the things that you do that makes death the ultimate in our lives. But more than that, take a moment to also reflect upon the hope that we have, knowing that death is not the ultimate—our eternal relationship with the Father is the ultimate.