Death is a stark fact of our existence. According to the Bible death is our enemy. Job called it the 'king of terrors' (Job 18:14). There is a mystery to death which seems to defy explanation. The Bible teaches that in this present age we have an appointment with death (Eccl 3:2). In fact death happens to all creatures on Earth (Eccl 3:19). Without the Bible death has no satisfactory explanation.

At the dawn of creation Adam was warned that death would result from disobedience (Gen 2:16f). Human sinful nature soon resulted in murder (Gen 4:8, 23). Death is relentless in Genesis (Gen 5:5, 8, 11,14, 17, 20, 27, 31). Death will continue right to the end of this present age (1 Cor 15:26). In fact, as the end gets nearer death will increase on a gigantic scale (Rev 6:1ff; 8:11; 9:18; 11:13; 12:16; 14:14ff; 19:21; 20:9). At the end of the Tribulation the world's human population will be reduced to a fraction of what it was.
The origin of death

The first humans were created as a physical-spiritual unity called a living nephesh (soul) (Gen 2:7). All that God created originally was good (Gen 1:31). Adam was made with a disposition for good and was holy and righteous. But, he was not perfect, he was just (Eccl 7:29).

The first humans were made for the natural and physical constraints of life on Earth. They were of the earth or 'dust'. Adam before sin would not die but could die. Paul tells us that Adam's body was a 'natural' body (1 Cor 15:44f). God warned the first humans that if they disobeyed his one command they would die (Gen 2:17). Adam disobeyed and learned about good and evil in the wrong way (Gen 3:22). Eve was deceived by the serpent but Adam wilfully disobeyed (1 Tim 2:14; Rom 5:14f 19). Disobedience caused a change in human nature and a continual sense of guilt (Gen 3:7-11). Spiritual death had occurred because of sin (Isa 59:2). This affected all Adam's descendents and physical death was the result (Rom 5:12; Eph 2:1). Ultimately, without God's grace and mercy eternal death would be the lot of humans (Rev 20:14f). Humans became sinners (Eph 2:3; Rom 3:23) and are spiritually dead (Eph 2:1, 5; 4:18) and without God's intervention will become permanently dead (separated from God in a state of hell).

Disobedience didn't just affect humanity but the whole of creation was changed for the worse (Gen 3:14ff). A principle of sin and death entered creation (Rom 3:23; 5:12; 8:2; James 1:15). There is a personal and singular point in time when each of us will die (Heb 9:27).

It is interesting that from Adam to the destruction of the ancient world in the universal flood the average age at death was just short of a thousand years but after the flood when land space was reduced, the atmosphere changed and much of the original vegetation became extinct it quickly dropped from several hundred years to around the present lifespan of 70 to 80 years about 3000 years ago (Genesis 5:1ff; 11:10ff; 25:7, 17; 35:28; 50:26; Deuteronomy 34:7; Psalm 90:10).

What is death?

Death describes three experiences according to the Bible: Spiritual, physical and permanent death. In essence death is separation. Separation from God (spiritual death) (Isa 59:2; Eph 2:1, 5; 4:18). Destruction of the body (Gen 35:18f; James 2:26). Physical death is the dissolution of the person. Eternal separation from God and all else is the lot of those who refuse God's offer of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This existence is described in a number of ways in the Bible (Rev 21:8; 20:14; 19:20; 20:10, 15). Please note that death is separation and not annihilation. People do not cease to exist in death and neither do they, from their perspective become unconscious (Read After Death).

Why death?

There are three causes of death: 1. God. 2. Life experiences. 3. sin.

God told Adam that disobedience would result in death (Gen 2:17). Adam disobeyed God and died (Gen 3:6; Gen 5:5;  Rom 5:12). All other humans die as a consequence (Rom 5:21). Sin brought death into creation (Rom 8:2; Ezek 18:4, 20; James 1:15; 1 Cor 15:21f; Heb 9:27). God did not intend for death to happen but sin made it inevitable.

Adam's disobedience brought a curse upon the whole of creation (Gen 3:14, 17f). Survival of the fittest became the norm - this will be reversed at the end of this age (Hosea 2:18; Ezek 34:25; Isa 11:6ff). Some would say that Satan and the fallen angels were cursed at this time (Gen 3:15). For humans part of the curse was hard unproductive work and women became subjugated to men with the addition of painful childbirth (Gen 3:16). The body became subject to aging and physical death (Gen 3:19). Life became a drudge and nothing was of any lasting value (Rom 8:20). The whole creation began to run down into chaos and the Second Law of Thermodynamics ran amok (Rom 8:21, 22f). People's lifespans became less and less, and after the Flood quickly reduced to around 70-80 yrs (Psalm 103:15f; 90:10). Life became precarious and dangerous (Num 11:33; Isa 38:1; Prov 10:21; Lk 13:1, 4; Acts 9:37; 20:9).

Ultimately, our lives belong to God and he pulls the strings (Acts 17:28; Ps 66:9; Job 34:14f). It is God who holds our physical destiny (Ps 30:3; 118:18; 91ff; Eph 1:11). Whenever it happens, death is God's judgement. King Saul committed suicide but the Bible says that God killed him (1 Chron 10:4f, 14). Note Jesus' words (Luke 12:5; Rev 2:23).

Death is inevitable (Eccl 3:2, 2:15f, 3:12ff; 9:5) but it is a deep mystery. Job wanted to die in his misery (Job 3:21) but he also wanted to know what was beyond death (Job 14:14). It is something to be feared, an enemy (Ps 23:4; 55:4; 73:19; Job 24:17). The king of terrors (Job 18:14) and the last enemy (1 Cor 15:25f).

For the materialist life is empty and meaningless (Eccl 5:15f; 1 Cor 15:32). Death is seen as an escape, especially to those suffering (Job 3:21). Suicide can seem the best option (1 Chron 10:4f). The problem for the materialist is that death is not escape but the portal to judgement (Hebrews 9:27; Lk 13:1ff).

In the Old Testament death is described as an awful experience (Isa 38:10, 11f, 18; Job 10:20f, 22; Ps 6:5). God created humans as a psycho-somatic whole, persons/souls. Death was viewed as a dark, shadowy condition and so the hope was that God would resurrect the dead (Job 19:25f, 27; Ps 16:8-11; Hosea 13:14; Isa 25:5-8).

In the New Testament the resurrection of Jesus gave hope to Christians. It was no longer to be feared. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for sin and paid the penalty for humanity's disobedience. As the perfect one he conquered death the enemy of mankind and rose from the dead (Rom 8:2). For Christians death is no longer an enemy but a gateway into the presence of Christ (1 Cor 15:56f; Heb 2:14f). In Christ believers had the assurance of immortality and eternal life (2 Tim 1:10). Death is Christ's servant (1 Cor 3:22). Death cannot separate Christians from God anymore (Rom 8:38f). Death is no longer a dark mystery. The believer is with Christ in death (1 Th 5:10; Phil 1:23). Now death is used to discipline the Christian and take him from condemnation (1 Cor 11:27-32). But, it must be emphasised, death would still be an unsatisfactory experience for the Christian if it were not for the hope of passing into the parousia/coming of Christ and the changing of this body into an immortal one (2 Cor 5:1-8). Those believers alive still grieve for the dead Christian but in hope (1 Th 4:13) because of the resurrection from the dead. (1 Cor 15:51f).

So death will continue in this age and become more frequent towards the end (Rev 6:8, 9-11; 7:9, 14; 9:18; 11:5, 7, 13; 12:16; 13:7, 15; 14:14ff; 19:21). During the Millennium (1000 yr reign of Christ on Earth), people will still die but their lifespans will be greatly increased (Isa 65:20). Then at the close of the Millennium there will be a human rebellion against Christ and most of humanity will die in the battle (Rev 20:7-9). At this point all of lost humanity from throughout history will be resurrected to face God's judgement and then cast into the lake of fire in what is termed the 'second death' (Rev 20:11-15). From then on death will no longer occur (Rev 21:4).