The Ancient Greek culture toyed with the idea of immortality in all its shapes and forms. It was believed that the immortals had seemingly legendary and infinite powers. They lived forever. They were still vulnerable, though, for they could be wounded in battle. Interestingly they could not die. It is believed that they lived in golden palaces and rode golden chariots which were drawn by strange creatures. These immortals were primordial deities, gods and goddesses. Greek mythology placed them in a hierarchy of Chaos, The First Immortals, The Titans and the Olympians.
The Persians were not to be left behind. They also entertained the idea of imperishability. This was well known to the First Persian Empire that was founded by Cyrus the Great. Biblical scholars believe that he is the same Cyrus mentioned in the books of Isaiah, Ezra and Daniel.
The elite army of the Persians was named the ‘immortals’ by Herodotus, a historian, writer and geographer. Unlike the Greek immortals in Greek mythologies, the Persian immortals in Herodotus tales were plastic for they could not perpetually cheat death.
Humans have, for long, been infatuated with the idea of longevity.
It is the count in the years and not the years in count that matters
Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the most prominent British journalists and a social critic of his time. For most of his life, Muggeridge practised atheism before turning to theism in his later years. He wrote many books and is well remembered for a ‘Third Testament’ of 1979. The book explored the lives of Augustine of Hippo, Blaise Pascal, William Blake, Søren Kierkegaard, Leo Tolstoy and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When addressing the ephemerality of life, Muggeridge once said, “For us humans, everything is permanent – until it changes, as we are immortal until we die.”
Muggeridge was reminding us that there is no permanency here on earth.
The affairs of daily survival tend to saturate our lives to the extent that we forget that we are mortals and our shelf-life here on earth is brief. The passing on of our beloved ones is always a reminder of how fleeting life is. We should at all times remember that life does not consist of how long we live but what we do with it. According to the Bible, Methuselah lived 31 years short of a millennium (Genesis 5:27). Nothing much is said about his accomplishments in life. Contrast this with Jesus. He only lived for 33 years. Whatever he achieved in this short time is lasting. We can also take the example of David. The Bible does not explicitly tell us how long he lived, but we can deduce that he may have never reached a century old. Despite this, David’s exploits are glowing.
The Book of Jeremiah 1:5 unmistakably shows that God knew us before we were formed. He appointed us for a definite assignment that we should fulfil before we call it quits. This reality weighs heavy on me as I have to ask myself, ‘Am I doing what God created me to do?’ Are we fulfilling the plan and purpose of God, or are we moving to and fro like the ghost in Barbara Kimenye’s Moses series.
As I brood over these matters, I remember a nursery school song that we used to sing heartily. It went like this:
All things shall perish from under the sky.
Music alone shall live,
Music alone shall live,
Music alone shall live,
Never to die.
Contrariwise we shall live too. Yeah, everything will pass, including the hard times, we go through in life, the pain and suffering. This also shall give. Moreover, after everything has passed, we shall never see the corruption of the body again. It makes no point to wreck ourselves with anxieties of the intractable present and the bleak tomorrow. I have witnessed uncertain times pass, chaotic seasons end and victory and joy ushered in.
We need to live our lives with eternity mentality. This alleviates most of the rough-edged thoughts, words and actions that stick to our lives like leeches. It jolts us into a position where we can take Kingdom business seriously.
What the Scriptures say
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
However, the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
Also, He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.