Have you ever wondered why death has an element of surprise in it? We may even see death coming, for a long time, and then when it happens, there is still part of you that can’t believe it, that is surprised by it. Maybe just by the fact that it actually happens.
I want you all to know that I tread very cautiously here. I know some of us may be looking at death straight in the face today, or might tomorrow. I want you to know I am simply taking a quick look at the nature of the phenomena, rather than making any other sort of statement. You’ll see where this is going in a moment.
Let me try to say it another way. We live, knowing one day life on this earth will end for us. As my dad says, “We’re ALL dying.” BUT, there is nothing that seems more UNNATURAL than life ending. While we can’t wrap our minds around the concept of eternity or living forever, we can’t wrap our minds around life ending either. We feel as if we must go on. We FIGHT so that life goes on. Even if only for a short while more. And we should! We innately feel it is not supposed to end! We know it must, but it doesn’t feel like it should.
What is up with that?
The Bible gives us an answer for these questions. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “…he has put eternity into man’s heart…” Did you know that when God created us within our mothers, he created us with eternity written on our hearts? In other words, we were all created with a natural longing and innate (inborn, natural) knowing that life is supposed to last forever. That is why it feels so unnatural that life would end.
Does this all seem so morbid? Or maybe are you skeptical of this idea? Aren’t I still supposed to be working within a series on love? (This is the last piece in the series, by the way.)
Well, this God who “put eternity into man[kind]‘s heart” also told us in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that, “Love never ends.” Don’t we sorta respond the same way when love actually does end? Aren’t we surprised? Shocked? Devastated? Don’t we feel as if we might as well die? The Song of Solomon book in the Bible says that “love is as strong as death.” Surely, we know this is true! The same verse says, “Put me like a seal over your heart, Like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death…” (S.o.S 8:6) The writer is asking for a promise of love that cannot be broken. A seal that seals their love forever. For he knows that if it is broken, the devastation and loss and trauma will be as strong as that over death. We also know that the commitment in love is supposed to be as complete and final as death is over life.
We don’t use language about “seals” anymore, do we? But do you remember how envelopes used to be sealed shut with a wax imprint? My mom had this little wax seal kit from the 60s or 70s that she’d let us use from time to time when we were kids. She showed us how to melt the wax with a match onto an envelope, and then we’d press the stamp into it and let it harden. Then she showed us how the wax broke if the envelope was opened. If it the wax was unbroken, the recipient knew that it had not been read. The symbol on the seal would also indicate who the letter was from. In the New Testament time of the Bible, seals were made of wax, clay, or various kinds of soft metal that would signify either ownership or authentication of an item or a document. So same kind of concept, only applied to something like a document. Think of the sticker on your diploma. Only imagine it being made of something more ancient than paper, foil, and adhesive. It shows the diploma is real. A seal could also show who the owner is of a certain item.
We could compare a seal of love to a wedding ring. It is a symbol of commitment. “Ownership” if you will.
Well, in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, we read, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
What does all that mean?There are some big words and concepts we don’t necessarily grasp here without some in depth study and research time here. What I want to pull out of this text is three-fold. First, we are established with God in Christ. Another way to say it? We make our eternal peace with God by believing in His Son Jesus Christ. No good behavior can do that. Just simple belief in Jesus. Second, if you have done this and believed in Jesus, God has put His seal on you! That’s the main part I want us to see! Somehow in the heavenly realms that are invisible to our eyes in the earthly realms, a believer in Christ has a seal placed on her or him. As my commentary said, she has a symbol of ownership on her or him. We have made the choice to become God’s, and He seals the deal, so to speak!! He makes it official! Only, in this case its like, instead of putting a wedding ring on our finger to symbolize the commitment (that can too easily be removed—as long as our fingers aren’t swollen), its like doing open heart surgery to put a symbol of commitment on our actual hears that, once placed there and closed back up, cannot be removed. It’s permanent. Once its on, its on.
Can I just interrupt and say something here? When God seals a deal, He ALWAYS follows through. The Bible tells us that it is impossible for God to lie (Heb 6:8)! So when He says “Your mine, and I’m yours forever”, He ALWAYS means it!! When He makes a promise, He means it and it is a guarantee. It WILL be done. So if you are sealed, you are FOREVER secured in God!! Your eternal life living with Jesus begins now! Not when you die, but now!
And finally, the third thing I’d like to draw from the boldface passage above is that when we believe in Jesus, God immediately places His Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee. The NASB version says He “gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” The NIV translates the original language this way: “[God] put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
When I brought my son to the surgery center last summer to have tubes put in his ears, the receptionist asked me to make a downpayment on the surgery. I gave her $200 to guarantee that the surgery could be done and that I was agreeing to pay for it in full. When the Holy Spirit is placed into a new believer in Jesus, it is like God put a downpayment on you, guaranteeing that He’ll finish what He’s started. He’ll take you to heaven when this life is over. It’s guaranteed.
That is the way God loves us! It is an all out, unabashed, completely committed 100% guarantee that it will last forever!!! Rather than the traditional wedding vows (“in sickness and in health, till death do us part…”), think of this verse as God’s commitment vow of love to us who believe in Him, ” For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). When He signs the marriage certificate, He means “not even in physical death do we part”!!
You and I were created with an innate (inborn, natural) longing to live forever. When we believe in Jesus, He puts His seal on us, not only guaranteeing that our life will never end (we step out of this life, immediately into the next more glorious life), and that WE. ARE. WONDERFULLY. HIS, but also guaranteeing His everlasting love for us!! “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness…” Jeremiah 31:3. We don’t only long to live forever, we long to be loved forever. We do not wish that anyone’s love for us would cease. But, so tragically, at times it does. When we believe and are sealed for the “day of redemption”, we are also guaranteed His everlasting love!! IT. WILL. NEVER. END! That guarantee has been signed in blood, sealed by the Lord Himself, and will never cease being delivered!
“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.” Song of Solomon 8:6, ESV)
P.s. If you’ve made the decision to believe in Jesus as your Savior today, be sure to download this illustration, date it, and hang it on a wall to remember and commemorate your life changing decision! If you’ve simply decided to start actually believing how much He loves you, do the same!! What a neat way to reminder this will be!