The way of all the earth

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Call it entropy, call it decay, call it “the ravages of time” or “sands through the hour glass” – “the way of all the earth” is not upward!

We are perishing.  That’s the bible word – repeated over a hundred times in the King James Bible.  Like milk on a hot day.  Like the rubber on my windscreen wipers.  Like an old piece of fruit.  Keep the clock ticking on this world and it will run down.  Keep the clock ticking on me and I too will perish.  It’s the way of all the earth, and it’s inescapable.

David is on his death-bed when he utters these famous words to his son Solomon, “I go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2).

In one sense this should not surprise us.  Everyone dies.  But in another, it’s very surprising.  Because here is the messiah dying!  And here he is telling Solomon, the new king, that even messiahs die!

From the beginning of his reign in Jerusalem, David was told about this mixture of death and eternal glory:

When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom…  And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.  (2 Samuel 7:12-16)

David will die, but his seed will live and establish his throne forever.

And so David knows three things:  everything dies, even messiahs die but nonetheless there is an everlasting kingdom.  If we can’t quite put those three truths together, it’s because we’ve taken our eyes off David’s Seed.

Jesus, the Offspring of David, came as the promised Messiah, the eternal King.  But, true to “the way of all the earth”, even He dies.  However, listen to what He says just before His death:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  (John 12:24)

Jesus, the Seed of David, describes His death as a fruitful one.  He would be a Seed that dies, is buried and sprouts up new.  His death would bring life – abundant life.

In Jesus it all converges.  He takes to Himself the way of all the earth and He puts it to death on the cross.  Jesus does not avoid the way of all the earth.  He treads that path Himself, taking His creation through death to glory.  As the true Messiah and Author of life, His death is the one life-giving death.  Risen again to sit on His eternal throne He offers us all life beyond the grave.

Right now, all the earth goes the way of death.  Not even Christ was excepted!  But there are two ways to die.  We can die apart from Him and perish eternally.  Or we can die in Him and rise to new life.

And soon Christ will return to apply His resurrection life to all creation.  On that day there will be a stunning reversal to “the way of all the earth.”

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.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

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