For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.(Romans 8:18)
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.(John 11:43)
Being a Christian in this fallen world is a lot like the experience of Lazarus, in John chapter 11. He had died and was already buried, when Jesus commanded that his tomb be opened, so that He could call Lazarus back from the grave!
“Lazarus, come forth!”
Suddenly the onlookers are amazed, for there in the mouth of the tomb stood their friend Lazarus, he who had been dead four days!
In that moment, as Lazarus’ friends watch in shocked awe, and as Lazarus stands there, shrouded with the trappings of death, yet very much alive, and waiting at the threshold of the tomb, Lazarus stands as a type of what it means to be a Christian in this world.
We were all “dead in our trespasses and sins”, totally separated from and insensitive to God. We also, as Lazarus did, heard the voice of “the Son of God” and as a consequence, were raised from the dead.
And Like Lazarus, we also stand at the threshold, between two worlds, actually two ages. In Lazarus’ case, he stood momentarily between death and life at the mouth of that tomb. Behind him was all of the sorrow, stench, decay and defilement of death.
Death’s influence was yet around him, for he was still bound in his grave-clothes, as He stood at the mouth of the tomb awaiting his total freedom.
But before him was the “land of the living” from which he had recently been “cut off” for four days. The sunlight and fresh air. the crowds of onlookers, must have been quite a contrast to the smell and aura of the tomb. And of course, there was Jesus, he was there also, obviously.
But for a brief moment , Lazarus stands in the middle, with something of each world about him. He is yet clothed with grave-clothes, and he is yet somewhat bound. But inwardly He is alive, and belongs to the world that is just past the threshold!
The Bible teaches us that God has set for man two ages; the present “evil age” and the “Age to come”. The present age is marked by human sin, ignorance and rejection of God. and the resultant death, decay, and all of the miseries that go with it.
The Lord Jesus came into this world to deliver us from this “evil age”,
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.(Galatians 1:3-5)
The age to come is the Age of Righteousness, it will be marked by the renewal of the world and of all things. In the Age to come the knowledge of God will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, Jesus will rule the world in Righteousness and the Nations will have peace.
The Rabbi’s believed that the age of death would yield instantaneously to the Age of Righteousness, at the intervention of the Lord, the “Day of the Lord”. But they didn’t realize that God was pleased to overlap them!
As Christians we are living between these two Ages. We have been raised from the dead, but yet we live in the age of death and decay. We hate sin now, but our age is dominated by sin. We are ruled by Jesus, but “the whole world lies in the wicked one”.
In short ,we stand in the door of a tomb,still shrouded by the residue of death, but full of life and righteousness, having been resurrected by Jesus himself.
Everything behind us is death and defilement, decay, stench, and vanity. Everything before us is life, light, fresh, beautiful, and of course Jesus is there!
We are people of tomorrow, the Age of Righteousness is dawning but for us, we have already been in it, Hebrews tells us that we have “the powers of the age to come” within the church.
But it is still today…the last spasms of the Age of death and decay, suffering, unbelief God ignorance and rejection, selfishness and sin, even persecution for truth and righteousness.
We know we don’t belong here, we look for another city, even for a better country.
We groan now for we no longer belong. We hurt for the sins, the Christ rejection, the lies and perversions, the deliberate repudiation of all that God has instituted.
We know the outcome of the perverted “order” being instituted by godless men, the so-called “Kings of the earth and their rulers” . The least christian knows that rather than humanistic “progress”, we are instead witnessing the last flourish of their doomed rebellion against the Most High.
But we must bear witness to the truth of another, better, purer and higher prospect, The Kingdom of Jesus. We must remember Romans 8:18 and realize that we stand between two ages, and that whatever loyalty to Jesus costs us here, it will pale in comparison to the glories He has prepared for us there. Maranatha!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.(2 Corinthians 3:16-18)