Hope Beyond the Grave | Tomorrow’s World

Hope Beyond the Grave

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Not long ago, I attended an emotional family funeral and burial. It took place in a large Pennsylvania cemetery that contained graves going back to the 1700s. The cemetery’s website explained that the oldest legible tombstone dated to 1764, almost 260 years ago. Walking through that old cemetery made me think, Many people have been in these graves for over 200 years, far longer than they lived. As I watched a grave being closed today, their graves were closed multiple generations ago.

Funerals, especially of loved ones, naturally bring to the front of our minds some of the sad certainties of life: The longer we live, the more loved ones we will lose, the more funerals we will attend, and the more graves we will see closed. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us of such sobering realities. Though these heavy facts of life are unpleasant to think about, God’s word provides incredible and deep comfort—with one of the most comforting aspects being the hope that, on some real day in the future, graves will be miraculously opened.

The Bible describes death as an enemy that exerts a sting—something that hurts and causes pain (1 Corinthians 15:26, 55). A major cause of that pain is sorrow, often because death feels permanent and it hurts to know that we won’t be able to see, hug, or talk to a loved one anymore as our physical lives continue day by day. Few things feel so permanent and moving as watching a loved one being lowered into their grave. In those moments, it can feel like death is a locked door, permanently bolted closed and separating us from our loved one.

But the comforting truth is that graves aren’t permanently locked and closed. The book of Revelation records Jesus’ inspiring statement, “I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:18, New Living Translation). The Bible also explains that not only does Jesus Christ possess the keys to open graves, but He also possesses the voice to wake those sleeping in those graves; “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28–29).

God inspired the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy about one of the most hopeful events of the future: “I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves…. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves… and brought you up from your graves” (Ezekiel 37:12–13).

The vast majority of mankind will have their graves opened in one of two resurrections. The called, chosen, and faithful will be raised in the first and better resurrection, which takes place when Christ returns at the sound of the seventh trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Hebrews 11:35; Revelation 17:14; 20:4–6). One thousand years later, the “rest of the dead” will have their graves opened (Ezekiel 37:12–13; Revelation 20:5).

The family funeral I attended recently took place in a small back corner of the cemetery, a peaceful and beautiful piece of land dedicated solely for the burial of infants, aged one year and younger. All the graves in that corner of the cemetery were small, containing little caskets belonging to those with the littlest of lives. I was comforted by the hope that one day, all of those little graves will be opened, as will countless others all over the earth, including graves without markers, those lost, and even “graves” in the sea.

You likely have pieces of land that are special to you because they contain the graves of dear family members and friends—graves that perhaps you visit to keep them tidy, reflect, remember, and reminisce. In the section of the cemetery that contained infants, it was evident by flowers, teddy bears, and other mementos left there that the parents of so many of those babies continued to visit the graves of their children years later—each “frozen in time” as babies, sleeping until Christ awakens them.

Based on God’s unbreakable word, Christians should feel a fierce hope, an intense anticipation, and a sincere belief that the day will come when Jesus Christ opens the graves of our friends, parents, grandparents, children, siblings, uncles, and aunts (and maybe our own graves)—allowing all those people to awake, leave their graves, and live again.

If you’re interested in reading more about the resurrections and the incredible hope of life after death, please request our free booklets What Happens When You Die? and John 3:16—Hidden Truths of the Golden Verse, or read them right here at TomorrowsWorld.org.