You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
As a child of God, death is no longer an enemy to be feared. As one in a covenant relationship with God, I should have a new and different perspective on death than those who do not know God.
The new perspective is that death is not an end but a transition from one existence to a better one.
In their role as a light to the nations, the Israelites were not to participate in the hopeless displays for the dead that the surrounding nations practiced. Israel was supposed to be a beacon of hope to those who did not know God, a beacon that God would use to draw people to himself. Therefore, the Israelites were not allowed to disfigure themselves to honor the dead.
While most of us are not in immediate peril of experiencing death, we do face difficulties of varying degrees. As believers, we should look at difficult times in a different perspective than those who do not know God. The proper response to the fear of death should be instructive as to how to respond to less threatening difficulties. If death is not to be feared, why fear difficult times?
Yet, I do find myself gravitating toward fear. The antidote to fear is to refocus on the blessings I have in Christ that no political, economic or physical turmoil can take away. I am reminded of Peter’s prayer on the lake, “Lord save me . . . ” Or as the writer of Hebrews prescribes, “Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus . . . “