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April 18, 2007 / beidson

War in the Graveyard (Part 1)

Dirt. Soil. Compost. Earth. It’s what holds multi-story, multi-ton trees in the ground. It’s what we use to grow food. It stains the clothes of our little ones when they play hard in the backyard. God commanded mankind to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28), and we do. We use huge earth movers to prepare solid foundations for homes and shopping malls and sky scrapers. We grow huge outdoor nurseries for trees and plants and food. We spend hours dressing up our landscape. We make vehicles that can maneuver on any terrain; we even make vehicles that can leave this terrain, and go to the terrain of the moon and other planets. And every day we get out of our beds, which rest on a firm foundation, and tread the ground, walking and driving wherever we go, proving that we have subdued the earth. But in the end, someone will dig a hole in the earth and put our dead body in it. In the end, the ground on which we stand will stand on top of us, and cover us completely. The earth will subdue us. Death and the grave will swallow us, and we will be put under the feet of our friends and family, and even our enemies. We will be subdued by what we were commanded to subdue. The irony of it all.

Yet the very same Scripture which tells us to subdue the earth, and the very same Scripture which warns us of death, doom and destruction for every person. . . this very same Scripture tells us of one person, one Man who did what no other man has ever done. He lived and died, and was wrapped in death clothes, bound from head to toe, and placed in a grave, which was sealed by a very large, immoveable boulder. But this very same man, bound by cloth and earth, was resurrected from the dead, and removed the cloth which bound his resurrected body, and moved the boulder which had sealed his fate, and stood again on the earth, outside of the grave which moments before held him in. In a very real sense, Jesus had subdued the earth, refusing to be bound by it, moving the stone out of the way, and standing on top of the very ground to which he had been committed. And in an even greater sense, Jesus proved his lordship over the earth by appearing and disappearing before his disciples, passing through the doors they were using to lock themselves in from their enemies. Nothing could contain him. He had risen from the grave, the grave to which all of his disciples were heading. He had subdued the earth; he had conquered death and the grave. And now he sits on a throne not made by any human hands, and not created by any earthly substance. He is Lord of heaven and earth.

So the next time you are driving along some country road, or busy city street, and you pass a graveyard, remember the battle that is being waged over that plot of ground. Remember that a war is being fought between cosmic forces of righteousness and evil. Remember that Christ is striking down sin and death by his resurrection power. He is conquering satanic armies and tearing down demonic strongholds in cultures throughout the world, even throughout the universe. He has promised that His church would be victorious in its battle against the flesh and this evil world system. And one day he will return to judge the earth, which he has subdued. He will return to judge sin. He will return to judge the grave.

Remember that Jesus Christ will finally subdue this earth on the last day, when he makes all things new. He will create a new heaven and new earth, in which righteousness reigns (2 Pt. 3:13). Of this future reality, John writes, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). He will put his foot down on the earth, and with one stroke of judgment wipe away every tear by wiping away sin and death.

So when you drive by that cemetary, remember that you are destined to end up there. You will die (unless the Lord returns first) and you will be buried. But Christ will raise the dead from their graves, the righteous to eternal life and the unrighteous to eternal punishment. “Then comes the end, when he (Christ) delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:24-26).
Death itself will be cast into the grave, and then the grave itself will be cast into hell. The resurrection doesn’t just mean that we will come out of our graves. The resurrection means that there will be no more graves. We will come out of our graves, as Christ came out of his. We will no longer be under the feet of our enemies, but will put under our feet our greatest enemy, death. We will subdue the earth that had subdued us. Amazing. The irony of it all.
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