The Broken Power of Death

Scripture Focus: Hosea 13.14
14 “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; 
I will redeem them from death. 
Where, O death, are your plagues? 
Where, O grave, is your destruction? 

Psalm 146.3-5
3 Do not put your trust in princes, 
in human beings, who cannot save. 
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; 
on that very day their plans come to nothing. 
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, 
whose hope is in the Lord their God. 

Isaiah 25.8
8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. 

1 Corinthians 15.54-56
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 

     55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
         Where, O death, is your sting?” 

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection: The Broken Power of Death

By John Tillman

Hosea and Isaiah’s ministries overlapped and their writing echoes each other. Paul paraphrases their promises of resurrection into one of his brightest, most hopeful refrains. This chorus of hope comes most directly from one of the darkest chapters of Hosea.Rather than rely upon God, Israel and Judah had turned to political alliances and the gods those allies worshiped. But these “princes” would soon commit atrocities. These sound eerily familiar to ones committed by today’s powerful countries who bomb maternity wards and civilian evacuation corridors.

Death is not only dispensed at the whim of greedy empires but is carried on the wings of disease and aging. What hope can we have against death? This question is common to the people of Israel and Judah in Isaiah and Hosea’s day, to downtrodden outcasts under Rome’s rule, and to those targeted by empires and dictators today.

The poor and the powerless are overrun by death. They have no defenses and little strength to resist or slow its advance. They are helpless.

Wealth and power do much to extend life. The wealthy can easily flee conflict and the powerful are welcomed to new countries rather than crammed into inhumane camps. Experimental and expensive life-saving and life-extending medical treatments are common among the powerful. Absent these extreme examples, even simple, quality of life differences add years to the lives of the wealthy. However, in the end, the rich, the powerful, and the poor all die. The teacher of Ecclesiastes would call these efforts meaningless or absurd. (Ecclesiastes 3:19)

To the unbelieving world, for whom mortal life is all there is, death is ultimate. It is the worst thing that can happen to a person and there is no remedy.

Death is not the worst thing that can happen to us and it does not have the final word in our lives but that does not mean we should not grieve it. Lazarus was only four days in the grave, yet Jesus wept. (John 11.35) We weep and mourn death, but not without hope. (1 Thessalonians 4.13)

While we flee or delay death, scripture describes death’s defeat. God promises the grave will not be our final destination. We will only pass through and when we leave, we will be led by Christ himself. For those in Christ, death is a toothless predator, a limbless wrestler, who cannot hold us down for long.

Death which swallows all, will be swallowed up.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Short Verse
“I am the Alpha and the Omega” says the Lord God, “who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” — Revelation 1.8

Today’s Readings
Hosea 13  Listen – 2:26)
Psalm 146-147  (Listen -3:09)

Read more about Too Much to Hold
In Christ, we’re made to be like him
Too much for Death to hold
Grasped by him for a moment
But he cannot hold our souls

Read more about Stealing Death’s Sting
Untie our grave clothes and strip us of the trappings of this world.
Let us walk into the light and follow your loving voice.

No Princes :: A Guided Prayer

Psalm 146.3
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.

Reflection: No Princes :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

How many believers veil their trust in men as trust in God? This can cause problems in two ways. 

In the first, it can cause otherwise faithful people to bend over backward to defend a corrupt leader because to admit that the leader failed or that corruption was present would reflect badly on God’s work. Or it might even mean that the man was never “God’s man” in the first place and we had been duped by him. Unable to admit this, we rally to support and deny any accusation or attack, deaf to evidence or appeal.

The second is, in a way, the equal and opposite reaction. It causes people to believe that they must abandon faith in God because of a leader who broke faith or gave into corruption or abused his power. (It is almost always a man who does this…) Unable to separate their faith from the identity of the leader, they abandon faith.

In both of these cases, the followers’ faith was never in God in the first place.

Let us pray using some of the words of Psalm 146, asking God to protect our faith from even resting a little finger on the unworthy foundation of princes or kings or leaders. May our faith be built solely and solidly upon Jesus, his cross of suffering, and his glorious resurrection.

No Princes
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.


The princes of this land cannot save us, nor do they intend to.
Their fine bracelets are shackles.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.


Even the greatest of princes will die, will fall, will fail.
Their plans will come to nothing and that nothing will come to those who trusted in them.

There is only one prince we must serve—the Prince of Peace…

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free
The Lord gives sight to the blind,
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
The Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.


May we befriend the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow.
And may we live to see the ways of the wicked frustrated, the chains of the prisoners fall, the blind lead us on with new sight, the bowed down rise up to run.

Prayer: The Greeting
My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and make melody. — Psalm 57.7

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 14-15 (Listen – 9:20)
Psalm 146-147 (Listen – 3:09)

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Readers’ Choice Submissions

It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about God’s Kingdom Versus God’s Reign
As Christians today, we are often tempted, as the Israelites were, to put faith in shaping society through the exertion of governmental power.

Read more about The Commission of Truth
Whenever the light of truth shines, may we never join in trying to cover up or deny what is revealed.