I’m sure you have heard the old adage that nothing is certain except death and taxes. Are they both certainties? I want to explore this and what the Bible says about these two very certain, or uncertain, times in our lives…or deaths, if you will.
Today is Tax Day, thanks to Covid-19. Normally, as we know, it would have been April 15th. So Covid gave us an extra month to prepare to pay our taxes- hurrah!!! However, most of us are not truly affected by these deadlines because most of us seek refunds and thus file our taxes well ahead of these dates. I find it intriguing that these dates are nearly always referred to as “Deadlines.” Why “dead”-lines and what is the origin of the word? Isn’t it interesting that these two topics seem to share a bond, in both of these afore mentioned terms.
According to most accounts, the term Deadline comes from the following very ominous beginning or origin. Most etymologists agree that the word “deadline” first appeared during the American Civil War, around 1861, as a warning to war prisoners. On the inside of the stockade and twenty feet from it there is a dead-line established, over which no prisoner is allowed to go, day or night, under penalty of being shot.
Let’s start with taxes. What does the Bible say about taxes? There are many writings on this topic but we’ll focus on just a couple. Certainly, the most famous and memorable comes from Jesus himself. As was written in the gospels of Mark (12:14-17) and this writing from Luke (20:19-26) “When the scribes and the high priests realized that Jesus had told this parable about them, [because they did not believe in, or trust, the words from the Son of God] they wanted to arrest him right then, but they were afraid of the crowd. So, they watched him closely and sent spies who pretended to be honest men in order to trap him in what he would say. They wanted to hand him over to the jurisdiction of the governor, so they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you’re right in what you say and teach, and that you don’t favor any individual, but teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But he discerned their craftiness and responded to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose face and name does it have?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. So, he told them, “Then give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” So, they couldn’t catch him before the people in what he said. Amazed at his answer, they became silent.”
There are numerous other verses referencing taxes and the authority of the government, such as Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1-2, Peter 2:13-16, Proverbs 3:27, Nehemiah 5:1-4, 1 Samuel 17:24-25, Luke 3:11-16 and 19:5-8, and Matthew 11:18-20 and 21:28-32, just to name a few.
Are taxes a certainty? As always it depends. There are several countries without income taxes; United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, which all generate income from their oil exports ...and they do have other taxes. Other countries with no income taxes are St. Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Vanuatu, and Monaco, but again these countries have various other taxes like sales tax, payroll tax, etc. Countries governed by democracy tend to (but certainly not always) have higher taxes but offer far more services and independence. However, the top five dictatorships have tax rates higher or equal to the top democracies and socialist countries…see the below list (The overall taxes have been averaged between Corp + Income + Sales Taxes):
*For context, the United States rates (averaging in the same manner) are: 21-61-11
Based on the numerous studies that I could research, every country that provided any financial data had a tax of some sort. Even the few British controlled island nations generally were supported either by the UK tax base or imposed import and/or payroll taxes as a basis for operational capital. So, I feel confident we can say that taxes really are a certainty in life.
So, what about death? When God created mankind, He set forth a perfect world for us to live and prosper and there would be no death for mankind. But we did not heed God’s word and allowed Satan, and ultimately death to enter into life for all mankind. On numerous occasions, God set forth a path towards good and righteousness, yet we continued to turn our minds away from God and follow Satan. So much so, that God, on at least two notable occasions, tried to give us a second chance. First through Noah who he told to build the Arc. Once the Arc was built, God sent the great flood and destroyed all living people except Noah and his family. Unfortunately, Noah’s children gave into Satan and death still had a hold on mankind due to their sin. Then through Moses, God led them out of Egypt and away from their bondage only for those who had been given a second chance, to again turn away from God and follow the evil and sin of Satan.
I’m guessing God knew that through all his efforts, we sinful people would never change our ways and totally rebuke Satan, so God, in his infinite mercy and wisdom, finally sent His only Son, Jesus, to Earth, to live amongst us and teach us the law. He sent Jesus to commune with us, travel with us, struggle with us, be tempted like us, to worship with us, and to finally suffer and die like us. For over 30 years, the Son of God walked with us and taught us of a loving caring God who had such incredible love and mercy for us that he would eventually do the unthinkable just to save us. At that time, the followers of Jesus marveled at all he had taught them, all the grace and compassion he showed for, not just them, but even for non-believers and perceived evil doers, and of course for all the miraculous things Jesus did. These followers believed in their sinful human minds, that Jesus was there to overthrow the governments and to take over a throne of and for God. But as we know, a fact that they did not know until after he rose from the dead, that Jesus had come to concur death and to forgive all these sins that had plagued us since Satan entered into the garden and brought death upon mankind.
So, after Jesus had prepared his followers, and told them what was to come, and even though they still did not understand, the Son of God was captured, imprisoned, mocked and ridiculed, beaten and tortured, illegally brought to trial in the middle of the night, and eventually hung on a tree to die. He would be laid to rest, forever they thought, in a tomb which was sealed and closely guarded. The Man they all knew was sent to save them had died, and they truly felt and believed all hope was lost. So, at this moment, just like taxes, they felt death was a certainty.
Praise be to God that we know today, and that Jesus’ followers would soon find out, just three days later, that the story had not ended that way for them, or for us. But that the story was only beginning, again and anew. Jesus was and is alive. Thank to God’s incredible love and grace, death has been defeated once and for all times.
As it is written and promised, and will occur someday, likely very soon; Jesus will come again. We will see him in all his rightful glory and he will bring his power, love, and righteousness, to us all again. But thanks to God, we can truly proclaim that death is NOT a certainty, at least for those who believe, trust, and put their faith in God. As Jesus said on numerous occasions and as John records in John 14:1-7;
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
AMEN, AMEN, AMEN !!!