In the Gospel of John, we are given the account of the sickness, eventual death and subsequent resurrection of Lazarus. One of the more interesting features in this particular story is Messiah’s delay in going to him followed with this statement in John 11:4:
“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Though He said Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death, we know that Lazarus died. In fact, Yeshua later told His disciples that Lazarus was dead. So, what’s going on? What was this all about?
When we know that we have heard God speak to us, whether directly or through someone else by a word of knowledge or prophecy, it is our tendency to begin contemplating how the promise is going to come about. We conjure in our minds how the prophecy is going to unfold and when it will occur. However, more often than not, it never happens the way we imagine that it would. When it eventually comes to fruition, we see the wisdom of His purpose and methods. Perhaps He allows for our bewilderment in order to demonstrate His sovereignty and to provoke us to trust Him for all things even when it seems circumstances suggest that all is lost.
There is something else we can learn from this account: to acquire that kind of confidence in God, things in this life have to die. Why? That it might be resurrected to the glory of God. In other words, there are times when some things – even those things that have served a purpose – have to come to an end. When they do, it sets the stage for the promise we’ve been given to come to pass.
Consider Shabbat, a day that the Creator set aside and called blessed and sanctified (Gen. 2:3). It is a day that serves the purpose of providing mankind rest from his labor as well as acknowledging that the God of the Bible is the Creator of all things. If Shabbat is going to serve its purpose, it is required that the six days given to us to work must come to an end. In other words, those six days serve their purpose when we toil and labor but, at the close of those six days, all labor has to cease and desist IF Shabbat is going to serve its purpose.
If the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, at some point the kingdoms of this world have to come to an end. And so we learn that the end of one cycle is merely the beginning of the next cycle. Whatever is supposed to happen in the next cycle is dependent on the previous cycle coming to an end. Lazarus is used as an example to show us why some things have to die that the promise might be resurrected. When the promise is raised up, God is glorified and our confidence in Him is strengthened.
Chances are that the promise or prophecy we were given in times past probably won’t come to pass the way we think it should or when we think it should – it almost never happens that way. But when it comes to pass, we might find that some things we thought were important – even something God has given us – might have to die. Sometimes, Isaac has to be placed upon the altar if God’s promise is to be resurrected to His glory. Throughout the process, He wants us to trust Him in spite of the difficulty of the process.
It’s difficult to watch things we have cherished come to an end, but we must hold on to the truth that as one cycle ends, it marks the beginning of the next one, wherein we find our promises fulfilled. So in spite of our human weaknesses, we must continue holding fast to Him. As Paul said:
“I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Even as things cease to be so that other things can come to pass, trust Him.