13. The Shadow of Death: the inevitable rendezvous
In Israel there is an actual valley called the shadow of death. Pastor Adrian Rogers description continues, "Even in high noon, it’s always full of shadows. And there are caves there, and shadowy places there. And in Bible times there were bears there, and hyenas there, and leopards there, and there were robbers, and there were steep places where sheep might fall and it was a frightening place with grotesque shadows on the canyon walls. And the shepherds had named it the valley of the shadow of death."
|There is a literal valley called "Shadow of Death" in Israel|
Death. There is a singular word for what we use four words to say “the shadow of death.” It is used elsewhere than besides the 23rd Psalm (Job 24:17; Ps. 44:19, 107:10, 14; Jer. 2:6, and a dozen other places) and we all must go through the “death-Shadow.” Ever since the fall in the garden of Eden, humanity has had a rendezvous with death.
Something about death seems unnatural. We grieve at death and avoid thinking of death, even though 100 percent of all people will die. Adam was told that he would die on the day that he ate the forbidden fruit, and in a spiritual sense we all were born spiritually dead. One reason death is so hard to accept may be because we are made in the image of the immortal God and even the Bible says that God placed eternity on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Missionary and Writer of the late 20th Century Elisabeth Elliot went through the deaths of two husbands. Also she experienced the sudden deaths of dear friends when her first husband was martyred in Ecuador. Her first husband's death was sudden, unexpected and caused by men. The second husband’s death was slow, anticipated and caused by cancer. Yet both were almost unbearable. She spoke how Psalm 23 comforted her and asked if we all must go through this dark valley, would you rather go through it alone, or with a shepherd who knows every nook and cranny of the shadow of death? She chose to walk through it with the Shepherd.
Shadow. Shadows require light. Jesus is the light of the world and while one day He will dispel the shadow completely in eternity, until then we can live in the comfort that the shadow of death implies that His light is simply obscured and not obliterated.
Shadows have no substance. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse said that after his wife died, he was looking for words to comfort his four children on the way home from the funeral. Suddenly a truck passed by and they were covered by the shadow of the truck. “Children, would you rather be run over by a truck or by its shadow?” They replied the shadow, of course. He explained that 2,000 years ago, the truck of death ran over the Lord Jesus in order that only its shadow might run over us.
The Good Shepherd has delivered us from death. John 10:11 says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”
For believers, death is actually a release from sin’s curse. While we may pass in and out of the shadow of death in this life, one day, we will eventually face our own death. Hebrews 9:27 says “And as it is appointed to all humanity once to die, and after this comes the judgment.” The inevitability of our physical death and the following judgment should lead us to make plans for our spiritual life.
Jesus defined eternal life as knowing Him and His heavenly Father (John 17:3). Simply put, “No Jesus, no life. Know Jesus, know life.”
“Thank you Lord for giving your life for me so that I could experience eternal life. I know I can go through Death’s Shadow, because I know You. Thank you for being with me. Amen.