you will have the Lord for an everlasting light and the days of your mourning will be over. Isaiah 60:20 NASB
Mourning – The prophet Isaiah draws a picture of the time when God will restore heaven and earth to its intended form. He says that we will no longer need the sun by day and the moon by night because the glory of God will replace all these lesser material sources. We will live in the true light of His presence. In that day, our mourning will be finished. This word (‘ebal) is used most often for one specific event – death. Although it is sometimes used figuratively, it is always about the despair and discouragement of the dead. The word describes the intense emotion, often verbalized as a lament, that accompanied a funeral. ‘ebal comes from the root ‘abal, a verb that means “to mourn.” It paints an important picture. Aleph-Bet-Lamed, “the strength of the house controlled.” We might wonder what this has to do with death until we read 2 Samuel 20: 18. There the word ‘Abel designates a place where proper judgment is rendered. The history in Samuel recounts that Sheba fled to this place for refuge, but he was executed for treason against David. Perhaps we are intended to recognize that death renders a proper judgment and mourning the dead only underscores what we all know to be true – life does not belong to us and we are not worthy of its gift.
There is no moment when we face our utter dependency and helplessness in life more pregnant than the moment we see someone die. We are brought face to face with the fragile thread of this life. We are confronted with our own vulnerability, no matter what we have done to protect ourselves. No one is immune and no one escapes. The apparent reality of this life comes to a halt at the grave. But Isaiah sees hope. The day will come when there will never be another death, when not one single redeemed person in God’s family will ever need to mourn again.
Mourning is the wrenching heartache of separation; the confirmation that we did not deserve eternity. We are torn from someone we loved. And there is nothing we can do about it. But the day is coming, a day when God will be all the light we will ever need, when death itself will no longer hold us prisoners. That day will be a day of great rejoicing for mourning will no longer be a human word.
The guarantee of that day is revealed in the resurrection of Yeshua. Because He lives, ‘ebal will end. Because He lives, we have been counted worthy. We wait for that day so that we may rejoice in a promise fulfilled.
Topical Index: mourning, ‘ebal, death, Isaiah 60:20