No system of philosophy or ethics, no growth of government, no improvement in living came without trial and struggle. Struggle…was the law of growth.”
–Louis L’Amour (Crossfire Trail)
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
–Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
“Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’ Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.'”
–John 11:38-44 (NKJV)
How many sermons have you heard concerning Lazarus? Dozens? Hundreds? And they come from many angles, but the reality of the matter was simply that Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, was dead. For the glory of God Jesus called him from the place of the dead, to live again. Lazarus was not the only person that Jesus raised from the dead, but this guy was already beginning to decay–to stink.
Think about Lazarus. When he came forth he bore within him the secrets of the grave. There is no record whether he spoke about them to anyone. One thing to remember, he was not recalled from Heaven. He had not entered those heavenly portals for this was before the resurrection. He simply was in the place of the dead–Sheol. There is an indication in Scripture that there was a portion in Sheol for the righteous who had died and for those who were wicked. (see Abraham and the death of the poor man, also known as Lazarus). This was, sort of a “holding chamber” until the resurrection of Christ.
Lazarus, one of the few to see death twice, would die again. This time, however, there was no physical resurrection. Scripture declares that after death comes the judgment. Now, for sure, this is a mystery. In death, time ceases to be, and that person is immediately thrust into eternity, into the presence of the Lord. The righteous await the glorious reunion of all God’s children in Christ.
When Lazarus died the first time he would not have known of the glories of heaven. He would not have seen all the glories of God and the sights around the throne. He would be in Sheol, and maybe sitting next to Job; Job might say to him, “I know my Redeemer liveth.” Which gives me another thought, if he was sitting next to Job when the Lord called Lazarus back from the dead, what would Job have thought? Poof, Lazarus is gone.
“I’ll tell you this, Lord. There isn’t a man among us who can look at the two hands You gave him with the two eyes You gave him, and really feel sorry for Singer [a cowboy who had died]. You did a great thing for Singer, just like You’ve done a great thing for all of us. You gave him, and us, life. You gave us hands to work with and eyes to see. And we’re in no position to complain about it if You see fit to take back what You gave us. We have to allow that You know what You’re doing…. He was a good man with cattle and horses, and he always did the best he knew how. I hope somebody can say as much for me when my time is up.”
–Clair Huffaker (Cowboy)