Last Enemy

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
~ Isaiah 25:8

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.
~ Hosea 13:14

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
~ Revelation 1:18

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
~ Revelation 20:14

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
~ 2 Timothy 1:10

Death Is an Enemy, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 1876.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
~ 1 Corinthians 15:26

Death is the child of our direst foe, for “sin when it is finished bringeth forth death” (Jam 1:15). “Sin entered into the world and death by sin” (Rom 5:12). Now, that which is distinctly the fruit of transgression cannot be other than an enemy of man. Death was introduced into the world on the gloomy day that saw our fall, and he that had the power of it is our arch enemy and betrayer, the devil. From both facts, we must regard it as the manifest enemy of man.

Death is an alien in this world: it did not enter the original design of the unfallen creation, but its intrusion mars and spoils the whole. It is no part of the Great Shepherd’s flock, but it is a wolf that cometh to kill and to destroy…Certain it is that as far as this present creation is concerned, death is not God’s invited guest, but an intruder whose presence mars the feast. Man in his folly welcomed Satan and sin when they forced their way into the high festival of Paradise, but he never welcomed death. Even his blind eyes could see in that skeleton form a cruel foe. As the lion to the herds of the plain, as the scythe to the flowers of the field, as the wind to the sere leaves of the forest, such is death to the sons of men. They fear it by an inward instinct because their conscience tells them that it is the child of their sin.

Death is well called an enemy for it does an enemy’s work towards us. For what purpose doth an enemy come but to root up, to pull down, and to destroy? Death tears in pieces that comely handiwork of God, the fabric of the human body, so marvelously wrought by the fingers of divine skill. Casting this rich embroidery into the grave among the armies of the worm, to its fierce soldiery death divideth “to every one a prey of divers colours, of divers colours of needlework” (Jdg 5:30); and they ruthlessly rend in pieces the spoil. This building of our manhood is a house fair to look upon, but death the destroyer darkens its windows, shakes its pillars, closes its doors, and causes the sound of the grinding to cease. Then the daughters of music are brought low, and the strong men bow themselves. This vandal spares no work of life, however full of wisdom or beauty; for it looseth the silver cord and breaketh the golden bowl (see Ecc 12:6). Lo, at the fountain, the costly pitcher is utterly broken; and at the cistern, the well-wrought wheel is dashed in pieces. Death is a fierce invader of the realms of life; and where it comes, it fells every good tree, stops all wells of water, and mars every good piece of land with stones. See what a ruin man is when death has wrought his will upon him! How is his beauty turned to ashes and his comeliness to corruption! Surely an enemy hath done this (Mat 13:28).

Look, my brethren, at the course of death throughout all ages and in all lands. What field is there without its grave? What city without its cemetery? Whither can we go to find no sepulchres? As the sandy shore is covered with the upcastings of the worm, so art thou, O earth, covered with those grass-grown hillocks beneath which sleep the departed generations of men. And thou, O sea, even thou, art not without thy dead! As if the earth were all too full of corpses, and they jostled each other in their crowded sepulchres. Even into thy caverns, O mighty main, the bodies of the dead are cast. Thy waves must become defiled with the carcasses of men, and on thy floor must lie the bones of the slain! Our enemy, death, has marched as it were with sword and fire ravaging the human race. Neither Goth nor Hun nor Tartar could have slain so universally all that breathed, for death has suffered none to escape. Everywhere it has withered household joys and created sorrow and sighing; in all lands where the sun is seen it hath blinded men’s eyes with weeping. The tear of the bereaved, the wail of the widow, and the moan of the orphan—these have been death’s war music, and he has found therein a song of victory.

The greatest conquerors have only been death’s slaughtermen— journeymen butchers working in his [meat market]. War is nothing better than death holding carnival and devouring his prey a little more in haste than is his common wont.

Death has done the work of an enemy to those of us who have yet escaped his arrows. Those who have lately stood around a newly made grave and buried half their hearts can tell you what an enemy death is. It takes the friend from our side and the child from our bosom; neither does it care for our crying. He has fallen who was the pillar of the household; she has been snatched away who was the brightness of the hearth. The little one is torn out of its mother’s bosom though its loss almost breaks her heartstrings; and the blooming youth is taken from his father’s side though the parent’s fondest hopes are thereby crushed. Death has no pity for the young and no mercy for the old; he pays no regard to the good or to the beautiful. His scythe cuts down sweet flowers and noxious weeds with equal readiness. He cometh into our garden, trampleth down our lilies, and scattereth our roses on the ground; yea, death spieth out even the most modest flowers planted in the corner, hiding their beauty beneath the leaves that they may blush unseen, and cares nothing for their fragrance, but withers them with his burning breath. He is thine enemy indeed, thou fatherless child, left for the pitiless storm of a cruel world to beat upon with none to shelter thee. He is thine enemy, O widow, for the light of thy life is gone, and the desire of thine eyes has been removed with a stroke. He is thine enemy, husband, for thy house is desolate and thy little children cry for their mother of whom death has robbed thee.

He is the enemy of us all, for what head of a family among us has not had to say to him, “Me thou hast bereaved again and again!” Especially is death an enemy to the living when he invades God’s house and causes the [ministers] to be numbered with the dead. The church mourns when her most useful ministers are smitten down, when the watchful eye is closed in darkness and the instructive tongue is mute. Yet how often does death thus war against us! The earnest, the active, the indefatigable are taken away. Those mightiest in prayer, those most affectionate in heart, those most exemplary in life, those are cut down amid their labours, leaving behind them a church that needs them more than tongue can tell. If the Lord does but threaten to permit death to seize a beloved pastor, the souls of his people are full of grief, and they view death as their worst foe, while they plead with the Lord and entreat Him to bid their minister live.

Even those who die may well count death to be their enemy: I mean not now that they have risen to their seats and, as disembodied spirits, behold the King in His beauty, but aforetime while death was approaching them. He seemed to their trembling flesh to be a foe, for it is not in nature, except in moments of extreme pain or aberration of mind or of excessive expectation of glory, for us to be in love with death. It was wise of our Creator so to constitute us that the soul loves the body and the body loves the soul, and they desire to dwell together as long as they may, else had there been no care for self-preservation, and suicide would have destroyed the race…It is a first law of our nature that skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life, and thus we are nerved to struggle for existence and to avoid that which would destroy us. This useful instinct renders death an enemy, but it also aids in keeping us from that crime of all crimes, the most sure of damnation if a man commit it wilfully and in his sound mind—I mean the crime of self-murder.

When death cometh even to the good man, he cometh as an enemy, for he is attended by such terrible heralds and grim outriders as do greatly scare us…None of these add to the aspect of death a particle of beauty. He comes with pains and griefs; he comes with sighs and tears. Clouds and darkness are round about him, an atmosphere laden with dust oppresses those whom he approaches, and a cold wind chills them even to the marrow. He rides on the pale horse; and where his steed sets its foot, the land becomes a desert. By the footfall of that terrible steed the worm is awakened to gnaw the slain. When we forget other grand truths and only remember these dreadful things, death is the king of terrors to us. Hearts are sickened and reins are loosened because of him.

But, indeed, he is an enemy, for what comes he to do to our body? I know he doeth that which ultimately leadeth to its betterness, but still it is that which in itself and for the present is not joyous but grievous. He comes to take the light from the eyes, the hearing from the ears, the speech from the tongue, the activity from the hand, and the thought from the brain. He comes to transform a living man into a mass of putrefaction, to degrade the beloved form of brother and friend to such a condition of corruption that affection itself cries out, “Bury my dead out of my sight” (Gen 23:4). Death, thou child of sin, Christ hath transformed thee marvelously; but in thyself, thou art an enemy before whom flesh and blood tremble, for they know that thou art the murderer of all born of woman, whose thirst for human prey the blood of nations cannot slake.

If you think for a few moments of this enemy, you will observe some of his points of character. He is the common foe of all God’s people, and the enemy of all men: for however some have been persuaded that they should not die, yet there is no discharge in this war. And if in this conscription, a man escapes the ballot many and many a year until his grey beard seems to defy the winter’s hardest frost, yet the man of iron must yield at last. It is appointed unto all men once to die (Heb 9:27). The strongest man has no elixir of eternal life wherewith to renew his youth amid the decays of age; nor has the wealthiest prince a price wherewith to bribe destruction. To the grave must thou descend, O crowned monarch, for sceptres and shovels are akin. To the sepulchre must thou go down, O mighty man of valour, for sword and spade are of like metal. The prince is brother to the worm and must dwell in the same house. Of our whole race it is true, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19).

Death is also a subtle foe, lurking everywhere, even in the most harmless things. Who can tell where death has not prepared his ambuscades? He meets us both at home and abroad; at the table he assails men in their food; and at the fountain, he poisons their drink. He waylayeth us in the streets, and he seizeth us in our beds. He rideth on the storm at sea, and he walks with us when we are on our way upon the solid land. Whither can we fly to escape from thee, O death? For from the summit of the Alps, men have fallen to their graves; and in the deep places of the earth where the miner goeth down to find the precious ore, there hast thou sacrificed many a hecatomb of precious lives. Death is a subtle foe and, with noiseless footfalls, follows close at our heels when least we think of him.

He is an enemy whom none of us will be able to avoid, whatever bypaths we may take. Nor can we escape from him when our hour is come. Into this fowler’s nets, like the birds, we shall all fly; in his great seine must all the fishes of the great sea of life be taken when their day is come. As surely as sets the sun, as the midnight stars at length descend beneath the horizon, as the waves sink back into the sea, or as the bubble bursts, so must we all early or late come to our end, and disappear from earth to be known no more among the living…

Such things have happened as for men to die without an instant’s notice; with a psalm upon their lips they have died; or engaged in the daily business they have been summoned to give in their account. We have heard of one who, when the morning paper brought him news that a friend in business had died, was drawing on his boots to go to his counting-house and observed with a laugh that as far as he was concerned, he was so busy he had no time to die. Yet, ere the words were finished, he fell forward and was a corpse. Sudden deaths are not so uncommon as to be marvels if we dwell in the centre of a large circle of mankind. Thus is death a foe not to be despised or trifled with. Let us remember all his characteristics, and we shall not be inclined to think lightly of the grim enemy whom our glorious Redeemer has destroyed.

It is a solemn thing to die. Death is a solemn parting of two near friends: soul and body. Remember, all other preparations are to no purpose, if a man be not prepared to die. What will it avail a man to prepare this and that for his children, kindred, or friends, when he hath made no preparations for his soul, for his eternal wellbeing? As death leaves you, so judgment shall find you. If death take you before you expect it and are prepared for it, it will be the more terrible to you; it will cause your countenance to be changed, your thoughts to be troubled, your loins to be loosed, and your knees to be dashed one against another. Oh, the hell of horrors and terrors that attends those souls that have their greatest work to do when they come to die! Therefore, as you love your souls and as you would be happy in death, and everlastingly blessed after death, prepare and fit for death. Look that you build upon nothing below Christ. Look that you have a real interest in Christ. Look that you die daily to sin, to the world, and to your own righteousness. Look that conscience be always waking, speaking, and tender. Look that Christ be your Lord and Master. Look that all reckonings stand right between the Lord and your souls.

Look that you be fruitful, faithful, and watchful, and then your dying day shall be to you as the day of harvest to the husbandman, as the day of deliverance to the prisoner, as the day of coronation to the king, and as the day of marriage to the bride. Your dying-day shall be a day of triumph and exaltation, a day of freedom and consolation, a day of rest and satisfaction. Then the Lord Jesus shall be as honey in the mouth, ointment in the nostrils, music in the ear, and a jubilee in the heart.—Thomas Brooks