My Musings – The concept of a zombie (reanimated dead body – the undead) apocalypse (an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale) was perhaps first popularized by the 1968 movie, Night of the Living Dead. A novel concept at the time, it has since proliferated into an entire movie and television genre “in which civilization collapses due to a large number of zombies overwhelming social, law-enforcement, and military structures. Typically, only a few individuals or small bands of survivors are left of the living. Basic services such as piped water supplies and electrical power shut down, mainstream mass media cease broadcasting, and the national government of affected countries collapses or goes into hiding. The survivors usually begin scavenging for food, weapons and other supplies in a world reduced to a mostly pre-industrial hostile wilderness (Wikipedia).”
The genre typically deals with the end of civilization, while in reality it had its “genesis” at the dawn of civilization. “Sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12, NIV 1984). Since that one act of rebellion, no one has gotten out of this world alive, and those still alive are all walking toward death. For “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV 1984). Of course there is an exception. “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52, NIV 1984). This is an event associated with the world’s real coming apocalypse, but that’s a blog for another time (maybe not soon, but imminent).
That “one man” Adam and his wife Eve were placed in a utopian paradise. Created good, without sin, for they knew nothing about evil. God provided everything they needed for their enjoyment. They lacked nothing. Only one thing was prohibited. Two trees stood in the middle of that garden paradise. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Only the latter was prohibited. But when it came to choices, they chose to know evil instead of having life. As a result, God banished them from the garden, cutting off their access to the Tree of Life, lest they eat its fruit and live forever in sin and evil. On that day, though physically alive, they spiritually died — becoming the “walking dead.”
Death came not only to them, but to God’s creation, as both man and earth have been in steady decline and decay ever since. Just read the headlines. Both marching to that inevitable coming apocalypse. And it gets worse. Jesus, when He spoke of the signs of the coming apocalypse said, “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:36–39, NIV 1984).
So, in a sense, life goes as before, the current COVID-19 restrictions and inconveniences notwithstanding. But how else was it like in the days of Noah? “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5–6, NIV 1984). Every inclination. Only evil. All the time. Quite an indictment. How could God not be grieved? How could His heart not be filled with pain? Days like that are coming again. Maybe we are at the beginning of birth pains even now.
And yet, it will still get worse. “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NIV 1984). What could be more terrible than to have “every inclination of the thoughts of [mankind’s] heart [filled with] only evil all the time,” the very essence of Godlessness confused and perverted into a “form of godliness?” When in fact, there is not a shred of Godliness when people are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Dead man walking. Spiritually dead men (and women) walking towards eternal death.
A hopeless situation and prognosis. And yet not so hopeless. For, “you see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless [dead in our sins], Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:6–9, NIV 1984).
The ungodly? That’s you and me, “for all have sinned.” Powerless? Yep, that’s you and me too. And what greater demonstration of God’s love than while we were still sinners (ungodly), unable (powerless) to extricate ourselves from a death of our own making, He sent His only Son to die so we might live? Taking our sin and death, through His sinless death, so we might live (“saved from God’s wrath through Him!“). “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18–19, NIV 1984). Shorthand version — consequently, He took our consequences. “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5, NIV 1984).
My Advice – “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5b, NIV 1978). Nearly 2000 years ago, there was a new dawn. The dawn of the dead made alive. For, “at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. [an] angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.‘” (Matthew 28:1, 5–6, NIV 1984). You cannot find life, true life, among the dead promises of this world. It can only be found in Jesus Christ, who conquered death and took away its sting to anyone who will believe in Him. And why can He offer this life to us? Because “He has risen.” “Look over yonder. What do you see? The Son has arisen. Most definitely.” (with apologies to Tommy James). He is risen indeed. Let the dawn shine on you.
Inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on April 19, 2020.