The Old Testament celebrates life. Life is an unqualified good, a gift from God ( Gen 2:7). Wisdom holds in her left hand wealth and honour, but in her right hand long life ( Proverbs 3:16). All that one has one will give for one’s life ( Job 2:4). “Anyone who is among the living has hope – even a live dog is better than a dead lion” (Ecc 9:4)
This strong profile attitude can not be divorced from the biblical view of death. Only in extreme circumstances would a Hebrew person extol death (Job 3:17-26). The dead are not able to praise the Lord ( Psalm 115:16-18). They neither remember him or give him thanks (Psalm 6:5). They are cut off from his hand (Psalm 88:5).
Our culture with its materialistic view of death as the natural end of life ( and paradoxically a flourishing belief in the immortality of the soul, “out-of-body” and “near-death” experiences) many times sees death as a friend. Whereas life for the aged, the unborn, and the severely disabled is regarded as a burden. Our culture has increasingly become a ” culture of death”.
The conditionalist view of death is seen as harsh. Not much to look forward to in comparison to “going to Jesus”. But death is a sobering reality. Death whenever it comes is still as enemy (1 Cor 15:26). We look forward to Christ’s coming to vanquish death. But in the meanwhile let us celebrate THIS LIFE whatever else it brings, as a God given opportunity to praise him ( Isa 38:18-19) and to share Jesus who is the life ( John 14:6) with those who do not know the true meaning of life (John 17:3)