Immortality - The Reverse of the Curse

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 6, 2012 0 comments

If you are into sports even half as much as I am, you know that being a fan (short for fanatic of course) makes people think, say, and even do things that seem reasonable to them but would be considered ridiculous in any other circumstance. Possibly the most well-known example of this in the last 20 years has to do with two baseball teams I cannot stand - the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. They are two of the oldest, wealthiest, and most successful franchises in baseball history. The Yankees have won a record 27 World Series titles, which is more than double their next closest chaser on the list. The Red Sox are third on the list with 7 titles, including 2 since 2004, but the large majority of their history has been defined by one word that their fans literally began to think actually had power over the team - "curse". The team had won 5 titles between 1903 and 1918, but did not win another one for 86 years until 2004. Their fans came to believe in "the Curse of the Bambino", referring to the nickname for the great Babe Ruth. Baseball lore has it that Babe Ruth played for the Red Sox until 1920, when their owner decided to sell him to the Yankees for cash, which the owner then invested in a Broadway play that never amounted to anything. He sold one of the greatest baseball players of all time for cash to finance a play! Thus began what Boston fans believe was a curse preventing them from winning. Over those 86 years, they have had good teams that lost on what seemed like fluke plays, which only served to strengthen this nonsense about a curse!

Fortunately, sports lovers don't have to hear about it anymore because the 2004 Boston Red Sox "reversed the curse". They were down 3-0 in the series against the Yankees and won 4 straight to win the series and then went on to win the title. Due to their irrational belief in a curse, Red Sox fans viewed the 2004 team as heroes who undid something that no other team could undo in 86 years. A movie, Fever Pitch, was even made about the team and its fans. While these sorts of things make for a good story in sports entertainment, I find it hilarious that no one even talks about that curse anymore, and no one talks about the 2 recent World Series titles either. All that fans of the Boston Red Sox care about at this point is the fact that this year, their team has been a disgrace, the players complain and have no unity, and their manager is probably going to get fired soon. So, for all the hype about reversing the curse 8 years ago, the franchise is a mess today!

This otherwise unimportant story about the Boston Red Sox and their fans made me think about this week's word. We know that it is recorded in the Bible that Adam and Eve were the first human beings and were the first to sin. The consequence of their sin was a curse. However, this curse wasn't believed to have been from a mere man who happened to be a great baseball player, it was directly from God himself! Now, I'm not talking about the curse of pains in child-bearing for Eve or the curse of the ground and painful toil required to work it given to Adam. I'm talking about the greater overall curse of death for them and their entire human race. There were 2 trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). The command was clear: Adam and Eve were allowed to eat from any tree, including the tree of life, but not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To eat from this tree would "surely" result in death (2:17). Genesis 3 tells us of the serpent's deception, Adam and Eve's decision to sin, and their subsequent banishment from the Garden of Eden, which meant they no longer had access to the tree of life. While God showed them grace and they did not die right away, we know that Adam and Eve eventually died. In Genesis 6:3, God says, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years".

Webster defines "mortal" as "eventually dying, certain to die". I spent over an hour earlier today just staring at this one verse of Genesis 6:3 and reading various translations and commentaries to try to find out what it means, since humans lived much longer than 120 years both before and after the flood. To be honest, there was a wide variety of opinions, but nothing concrete. Some believe that God was referring specifically to Adam and giving him 120 years from that time to repent, some believe it was a reference to the "normal lifespan" from that point into the future, and others believe it was the amount of time left before the flood. Since there is no real clear meaning of our English translation, we'll just have to leave it as a declaration of the consequence of sin and accept that we can't know for sure what is meant by the 120 years. What I do find interesting about the verse is that the Hebrew word for "mortal" can also be translated as "corrupt" or "of the flesh". That means that regardless of the exact meaning of the 120 years, we can be sure that our mortality is synonymous with our corruption. So that leads me to believe that it isn't simply a punishment given by God as much as it is the curse of our corruption according to the natural order that God set up from the very beginning.

Further strengthening this view is something I heard my pastor preach along time ago, that the human body is designed in a way that there should be constant regeneration and no death. He preached that medically-speaking, the only explanation that human beings deteriorate is "some outside influence". Now there may be some readers out there who are much smarter than me and can confirm or deny this from a biological standpoint, but I will simply say that it makes sense from a Scripture standpoint. We were created with immortality and had access to the tree of life, but the sins of the flesh caused us to become corrupt, and therefore mortal. Because of sin, we brought the curse on ourselves and were destined to die unless someone could help us "reverse the curse".

The Apostle Paul explains that God has indeed reversed the curse for us in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. I strongly urge you to read this great theological passage for yourself. He states that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (v. 50). He later states that "when the mortal is clothed with immortality", the saying from Isaiah 25:8 will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (v. 54). Finally, Paul declares that God is the one who will clothe us with immortality and has given us assurance of this victory through Jesus Christ (v. 57). His theology is consistent with what we read in Revelation, that the last thing that is thrown into the lake of fire before the new heaven and earth are created is death itself (Rev. 20:14). In chapter 22, the last chapter of the entire Bible, we read in the description of the new heaven and new earth that there is a "river of the water of life" and that the "tree of life" stands on each side of it (vv.1-2). The very next verse makes it all come full circle: "No longer will there be any curse" (Rev. 22:3a).

Friends, this is the only way to immortality, to believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins and to live in a way that worships him and brings him glory. While we will still die physically if he has not returned before that point, we have the blessed assurance that such physical "death" is really just moving us into the phase of eternal life. As TV pastor Jon Hagee likes to say, "My last gasp here will be my first shout there!" There may be times on this earth when you feel like everything is going well and you are untouchable, but God can take the breath from you at any moment and real immortality will only come through belief that Jesus Christ is your Savior. I know that once my life here has ended, I will be immortal forever thanks to Jesus. I hope you'll be joining me!