At the very beginning of our race, the Lord God fashioned our first father Adam out of the dust of the ground. This means that man’s material beginning was lowly, but God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and so he became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). Later when God created a woman for the man, He did so by putting Adam into a deep coma-like sleep, and then taking a rib from the side of Adam in order to fashion it into our first mother (Gen. 2:21-22).
The word for ground in Gen. 2:7 is adamah, which means that Adam was created out of the dust taken from adamah, just as Eve was created out of something taken from Adam.
After our first parents disobeyed the commandment of God not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God came down in order to administer the consequences of their actions (Gen. 3:19). For Adam the consequence was two-fold. The first was that it would be very difficult for him to extract food from the ground, and second, it would be comparatively easy for him to return to that same ground.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19).
So God tells Adam that he was taken from the ground, that he currently was that same dust, and that he was going to return to the dust from which he came.
Now every human being with any sense knows that this is our standing status before God. In every moment of honesty, we recognize that this is what we are. When Abraham is interceding with the Lord on behalf of the wicked city of Sodom, he describes himself as nothing but “dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). This truth is the origin of the words of our common burial service—“earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” The words are lofty, but the reality they point to is not lofty at all. We are dust.
Since that time thousands of years ago, billions from our race have made this circuitous and very melancholy journey. We possess the breath of life for a brief time, spending our days in these very fragile containers, and then, inexorably, in a way that cannot be reversed, we all necessarily return to our point of origin—men, women, boys, and girls—that point of origin being the earth beneath our feet.
This reality has a real sting in it, but that sting is actually the consequence of our sin. It is a function of our rebellion, not a function of our creation. Because we are sinners, we know that we deserve to return to the ground.
“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”
1 Cor. 15:56 (KJV)
So our first parents broke the commandment of God, and so it was that there they stood, outside the Garden, disconsolate. But God in His grace did not leave them without hope. The first glimmer of a messianic promise is found in the words of the curse that were spoken to the serpent, in the third chapter of the Bible.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
So the woman would have her final revenge on the serpent. She would give birth to a boy who would grow up and He would crush the serpent’s head. As the angel Gabriel told Mary, this boy would be called the Son of God because the power of the Highest would overshadow her (Luke 1:35). This boy, promised to the woman, was going to be great enough to be called the Son of God. But He was also going to be man enough to be called a last Adam, a final Adam.
But this last Adam was fashioned differently, and so a different destiny comes to us from Him.
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
1 Cor. 15:45–49 (KJV)
So as we stand by this grave, the grave of our beloved Heather Torosyan, we are mindful of the fact that our unhappy race, left to our own devices, can do nothing other than return to the dirt. But this is not the complete story. How could it be?
Heather, just like everyone else who is born again of Spirit of God, was descended from the last Adam, the Adam who was heavenly, the Adam who was heaven-sent. If you doubt what I say, all you need do is recall a portion of Heather’s constant, steady, persevering, and confident joy. That did not come from the ground, but rather from the sky. That joy was not made of dust, not at all. And because it came from Heaven, we are confident that it will return there. Heather has been summoned to source of every true joy. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).
Those who are in the first Adam only are from the dust and are held captive by dust. Those who are in the last Adam are held captive by nothing other than the love of God in Christ Jesus. That love sent Christ to the cross, to die for our sins, and so He was buried in ground, just as certainly as we are burying Heather here today. But that same love was not anywhere close to being done, and that is why our God raised our Lord Jesus from the dead.
This world, the world in which we dwell, is a world in which a man has come back from the dead. This means that only one conclusion is possible, which is that this man, Jesus, is Lord of that world. And so all who have faith in Him, as Heather most certainly did, will be raised to everlasting glory, and the small ember of our sorrow, the sorrow that we are certainly experiencing at this moment, will be taken up and thrown into an infinite ocean of joy. And there that sorrow will be quenched and forgotten.
“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.”
Rom. 8:18 (KJV)
And why are our present sorrows not worth comparing to the coming glory? Because we shall be raised with Him.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Phil. 3:20–21 (KJV)
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.