this Memorial Day, as we honor those that have died in the service of the United States of America, i meditate on the sacrificial offering that our Lord made in service to the entire world. i am thankful to be an American; with all of our disagreements and “problems”, this continues to be a genuinely great place to live. i am also grafted into a Spiritual family and rejoice at my citizenship that is not of this world. today, i celebrate the freedoms that the death of so many has brought to this land. every day, i celebrate the freedoms that Jesus birthed through His death, burial, and resurrection.
according to usmemorialday.org, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was borne out of the Civil War (which ended in 1865) and a desire to honor our dead. on the 5th of May in 1868, General John Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the republic, officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11. on the first Decoration Day, 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery while General James Garfield made a historic speech. New York was the first state to recognize the holiday in 1873 officially. after many years of disputing the origin of this holiday, President Lyndon Johnson stepped in and formally declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day in May 1966. with the Congressional passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363), it is now observed on the last Monday in May by almost every state.
the first death mentioned in the Bible is in reference to eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. with everything under the dominion of man and the protection and favor of God, there was always a desire to venture out. there is a creative spirit in man’s heart, being made in the image and likeness of God. when the serpent in Genesis chapter 3 tempted Eve, she added to the warning that you could not even touch it or you would die. they had no concept of what death was, and when she picked the fruit from the tree, we see the trust the Creator had in the ability to hold the power of life and death in her hand. the twisting of words compelled her to indulge in the unknown. it was pleasant to the eyes. she desired the wisdom it would give her. when our adventurous and creative spirit takes us beyond the foundational safety and instruction of the Word of God, we risk spiritual death. every tree was pleasant and good for food. knowledge of good and evil and eternal life was a combination that God could not allow in man’s disobedient and sinful state, so He drove them from the garden, away from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22, KJV Tyndale 1987).
he was no longer exercising dominion and under the protection of the Lord, a fear of death settled upon the people. a lack of understanding may have escalated the situation. it was Adam’s position to adhere to the instructions of the Lord, but when Eve ate of the fruit and did not immediately fall over dead, he also ate, and their eyes became open. this example is perhaps the first instance of the “woke” culture: standing in defiance, declaring personal agendas, and hiding from the presence of the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day. had they had a little more respect for their Creator and His instruction, they could have paused for a short time and asked God about the serpent’s tale. fear, meaning respect, was replaced with fear—fear of being exposed before the sovereign King. walking in the cool of the day alongside God was replaced with those coming into contact with any heavenly being falling over as dead. Soulshepherding.org says, “Lloyd Ogilvie in Facing the Future without Fear even said there are 366 “Fear nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year, including Leap Year” (https://www.soulshepherding.org/fear-not-365-days-a-year/). this constant reminder is given to people who tremble in a loving God’s presence.
death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). “If there were no sin, death would not be capable of inflicting pain, and the strength of sin springs from the fact that it is the violation of God’s law” (Ellicott’s Commentary, 1 Corinthians 15:56). bloodshed was required from the first sin and emergence of death to obtain freedom from tyranny. Leviticus reveals, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (17:11). blood is the evidence that something has died and been sacrificed as payment for sin; we can attest that this method is wholly Biblical. animal skins covered Adam and Eve. the sacrificial offerings and atonements were detailed as a foreshadowing of the cross. animals live out their nature and do not sin. their blood was able to cover man’s sins but not fully atone for them. Reasonsforhopejesus.com speaks to the insufficiency of animal sacrifice, “1) God planned to redeem man completely, and cleanse him of all sin–not just to cover it, as animal blood did. 2) Since the fall, man’s life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), and man’s life and blood are contaminated by sin. 3) God is just. Because man’s life (his blood) is not pure, it cannot atone for sin or cleanse man of his sin” (https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/why-need-blood-atonement/). humankind had introduced sin into this world, and only a sinless human life would suffice. through death, God would reintroduce life.
when God chose to make man and bestow upon him free will, He knew the end from the beginning. if sin was not introduced in the garden, i believe at some other point in history, free will and the creative spirit of man would have pushed the limits of God’s boundaries to the crossing over of disobedience. God had a heavenly host to worship Him. His desire was for relationship and communion. God’s master plan from the foundation of the world was redemption for a people that desired to be in a relationship with Him. when you think about it, there is no other way to do this for a people gifted with our natural attributes. He had to allow us to make mistakes and then develop the opportunity for redemption to whosoever will accept it to truly come into fellowship with those who choose to be with Him.
through the first Adam, disobedience resulted in sin and death. sickness and disease were unleashed into the world. from the time we are born, we are attacked physically by the elements, microscopic organisms, and even time itself. the greatest tragedy of that day was the spiritual death, or separation from God. humanity forfeited the ruler-ship of this world and “lost the ability and understanding to exercise dominion over the earth properly” (Twentier and Willhoite, Search for Truth #2 Home Bible Study, Stockton, CA, 1985, pg.146). “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:12, 14, 18).
thankfully, “The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). whereas a particular act of sovereignty created Adam, the last Adam, Jesus, would also have supernatural beginnings. this man would not have an earthly father, just as Adam did not. the last Adam could cleanse the first Adam’s mistake. God prepared a sinless sacrifice and inhabited that vessel for over 33 years. quickening refers to giving or restoring life; Jesus, when resurrected, was fully restored to life. the disciples touched His flesh. Jesus asked for something to eat. a spirit would not need to eat, but soon He would ascend into heaven and send us the Comforter.