What is it going to be like to be immortal? It’s not something we’ll be able to get close to understanding before we experience it in the Kingdom of God, but we have little hints of what it will be like throughout scripture. One of those is in our reading from Joshua 3 when the children of Israel crossed the river Jordan. When they entered the Promised Land after their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness it points forward to the time when we will have finished our time of preparation before entering the Kingdom of God. Look at how the miracle of crossing the Jordan is described: “the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off.“ (Josh. 3:16). Unlike when they crossed the Red Sea, when the waters were parted to provide an avenue through the sea, this time the water actually stopped flowing. The flow of the Jordan river is like the descent (Jordan means “descender”) of man from birth to death. At its bottom end is the Dead Sea but notice the verse from Joshua says it stopped from the city of Adam. It’s a picture of the natural flow of man towards death being stopped.
Every day we experience mortality, especially the older we get. The Dead Sea is our inevitable end but one day that will stop, and the effects of mortality will be gone forever. No more of the aches and pains associated with aging. But of course, there’s more because it was through Adam that sin came into the world. Being in Adam means sin is also inevitable and we feel its effects every day too. We find it so easy to sin, and the metaphor used in Genesis is of the way a patch of ground left to itself will naturally bring forth thorns and thistles. It takes work over a long time to weed a garden, till the soil, plant a tree and care for it so it produces fruit. But there’s another glimpse of immortality in Isaiah 61 where the prophet writes “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the LORD GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.” (Isa. 61:11). The context is one of Isaiah’s visions of the kingdom and here he talks about what will “sprout up” from the ground – righteousness and praise. The immortal state means we won’t have our current natural urges to sin, they will be gone forever. No more struggle to overcome what our flesh wants to do.
Another glimpse of immortality is seen at the end of Isaiah 40. First, the prophet tells us what God is like – “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28). Tiredness is one of the worst aspects of mortality in my opinion. Always feeling tired is the bane of my existence. God never feels tired, but we’re going to have that same nature one day. The end of the chapter includes one of the most beautiful verses in Scripture – “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (v30-31). The mention of “youths” in verse 30 reminds us of being teenage years when you feel immortal before reality sets in. But even they get tired. Not so in the immortal state. No more tiredness and instead the feeling an eagle must have soaring on the breeze. Verse 28 also says God’s “understanding is unsearchable.” That’s another aspect of immortality I look forward to. I have so many questions to ask our Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom. So many things to find out. And with all the work that we will do in the kingdom, helping restore the earth to be a paradise, our minds won’t be limited, and we will be able to come up with creative solutions to complex problems.
Jesus experienced a glimpse of immortality on the Mount of Transfiguration. The word translated transfiguration is metamorphoo from which we get our English word metamorphosis, like the transformation of an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. At present we’re all caterpillars and our lives consist of wandering along a leaf and chomping away. In the mind of the caterpillar everything revolves around finding that next juicy bit of leaf. But when the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly everything changes. Is the butterfly ever going to think back to his caterpillar days with fondness? His whole world has changed. Now he can take flight and explore horizons he could only ever dream of as a caterpillar. The ugly creepy crawly nature of his previous life has been transformed into the beautiful winged butterfly of a vastly superior existence. One day our Lord will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) and we will look back at the caterpillar stage of our existence and wonder why we wasted so much time worrying about the cares of this life.
Simi Hills, CA