O death, I will be your plagues. (Hosea 13:14)
Disease brings death, and the grave destroys. But here God promises a radical reversal. Death will be diseased and the grave will be destroyed. Israel’s enemies will themselves be defeated and Israel will be released.
Paul borrows this language and the principle behind it to anticipate the ultimate victory of the Christian over death: “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:54 –55).
This great climactic victory will be seen in all its glory on the day of the general resurrection of all God’s people. As the Lord Jesus comes to claim the precious dust of His saints and to transform them to be like unto His glorious body, He shouts, “O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction.”
But we need not wait until then to see foreshadows of this victory. Every time a Christian defeats the fear of death and its soul-paralyzing power by trusting in Christ to save his body and soul from death, the victory shout is heard, “O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction.”
Every time a Christian faces terminal illness and death with faith and confidence in Christ, death is plagued and the grave’s power is destroyed.
Every time a persecuted Christian faces the firing squad and looks heavenward with peace and confidence, all heaven celebrates the victory, “O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction.”
As you face your own end in this world, may this great divine “I will” make death and the grave weaken and wither before you. May you look forward to the day of full and final victory when “[w]e shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51–52).