I was reading a history of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, who was probably ruling in Egypt around the time of the Exodus. I was fascinated to see how he and other kings of Egypt spent so much of their time and effort in building amazing monuments and extensive tombs in which they hoped to rest after death. Their hope was of a continuing existence in the afterlife which could be achieved if the gods were kind to you, and the deceased had to prepare for the journey to the afterlife by taking all manner of practical helps and of course gifts to give to the god in question when they arrived. The body was to be preserved by a process involving mummifying the human remains so that the king could really live for ever.
Consequently the tomb that Ramesses built was amazing in design and dimensions, extending back into the rock face hundreds of metres until the actual burial chamber was reached. The walls of the tombs and the temples of the Pharaohs (Ramesses proclaimed himself divine) were covered with the story of their prowess in war, their amazing physique, their huge families and generally how wonderful they were.
The sad thing is that it was all a waste of time, effort and money! Not many years after his death, Ramesses’ tomb was raided, some of the materials that were used in the construction were reused by his successors in the building of their tombs, and often the great stories of his heroics were painted over with the new king’s story. Ramesses’ mummified body ended up in someone elses coffin, stacked with others in a side room of a storage facility before finally being put on display in a museum following much ‘plastic surgery’ to correct the effect of 3000 years of neglect.
All this goes to show that eternal life is nothing we can achieve by our own effort, however well-connected we are. The most influential and wealthy are no more able to manipulate their way into eternity than the lowest and least. What an amazing God we have who makes it possible for all who have faith in Jesus to enter into the promise of Life for ever, without any effort on our part (other than repentance and whole-life obedience!). Jesus said ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) and John the Apostle reminds us in that wel- known verse that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Like Ramesses my body will one day decay, no matter how well made the coffin could be. However, the real me will live for ever in eternity with my Lord. No mega monument or stupendous sarcophagus can possibly equal the grace and love of God which assures us of our eternity.
Prayer: thank you Father God for giving us the privilege of eternal hope as we trust in you. Thank you for doing what we could never do, making a way, through Jesus, into heaven simply because you love us and want us to be with you. Please forgive us for often trying to achieve eternal life by our own efforts. Amen.
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