Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Afterlife, by Maura Satchell

He will swallow up death in victory; 1 and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken.
Isaiah 25:8

Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians, in reference to the resurrected Christ: So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.2 For believers in an afterlife this is Biblical evidence of God's creation of the same—for the faithful, of course. But when Isaiah 25:8 is read in context of the preceding verses we see that he is not talking of the death (and rebirth) of individuals, but of nations: And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. The people, Isaiah thought, were existing in a state of living death; a blanket of fear, hatred, sin, and perpetual war covered humanity's potential.

I am one who believes in the concept of an afterlife, but not as it is commonly imagined, not harps and clouds for the 'saved' and hellfire and damnation for everyone else, but something rather more inclusive. The afterlife I focus on is the life of those of us left behind when a loved one dies, the renewed spiritual love with which we are blessed, the new awakening. Several years ago, following the death of a once-close friend through drug addiction I wrote, "If there is life after death, in this case it is my life, enhanced through Penelope's death."3

What do we learn when someone we love and admire dies? How do we keep their spirit alive? I imagine this is the question that the disciples of Jesus would have asked following his crucifixion. Their friend is dead but his message is still alive, dwelling in each disciple, ready now for resurrection. The rising of Jesus is perhaps a metaphor for the rising of the consciousness of the people, described in the book of Acts. Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, and that requires disciples of the Way to live differently to how others choose to live. Isaiah also came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, and we read these promises of peace and goodwill throughout the book. When we live a fulfilling, compassionate life, there is nothing about death to be afraid of. Living in full service to God and humanity we may each die complete.

1 The NIV (and most other versions) translates this line as he will swallow up death forever/for all time.
2 1 Corinthians 15:54
3 Penelope's Gift