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Deathís True Destiny

 

"To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?

Those lines from William Shakesphereís play Hamlet are some of the most recognized words ever uttered. While you may instantly know them and may even be able to recite all or most of them by heart, have you ever stopped to consider the actual words that may so easily roll off your tongue? What is it that Hamlet is saying and whatís the intent of his meaning? Letís look at Hamletís entire statement.

"To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream:"

The famous soliloquy uttered in Hamlet speaks of the void in manís life and of the gigantic gap in mankindís knowledge of any afterlife. Hamlet speaks of ending his troubles by cutting short his tumultuous life through suicide. Even though he was prince in the royal line of Denmark and, therefore, heir to all the trappings on the road to kingship, Hamlet did not have the answers to lifeís purpose. If he did have the answers to the issues he sought, he would have been able to weather the storms and the troubles that came his way.

From time to time, you might have found yourself asking the same types of questions. Is there a purpose to life? Why am I here? Do I have a duty to perform? To whom do I owe my allegiance and by whose standards should I live my life? Is there an afterlife? Many people throughout the centuries have asked such questions and most of them havenít found the answers. Several decades ago, there was a popular song about a woman who, in reviewing various stages of her life, continuously asked the question, "Is that all there is?" Her conclusion was an empty one, which kept resounding throughout the refrain of the song: "If thatís all there is, my friend, then letís keep dancing. Letís break out the booze and have a ball, if thatís all there is."

We need to ask ourselves the big questions. Do you know the answers? Many in the world will say that the answers to lifeís biggest questions lie in some of the worldís great religions. The three most notable religions in the world today are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Letís examine each of those to see if they really teach the answers to lifeís most important issues.

 

World Religions

Islam

There are more than one billion people in the world who now claim to believe in the writings of the revelations given to the prophet Muhammad who lived in the 7th century A.D. What does Islam teach about life after death? In his book Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World, Thomas Lippman writes:

"Islam prescribes for believers both attitudes of mind and specific duties in life. Most important are the acceptance of the uniqueness, power, and authority of God and the understanding that the objective of life is to fulfill the dictates of His will in the hope of admission to ParadiseÖ A Muslim believes that an omnipotent, omniscient God will, on the inevitable Last Day, judge each Person by his or her acts. Each personís resurrected body will be admitted to Paradise or condemned to eternal hellfire, according to Godís evaluationÖ On the inevitable, terrible Day of Judgment, there will be no second chance for those who waited too long to repent. While the believers are admitted to Paradise, Ďa garden watered by running streams,í the sinners will be cast into the torment of fire, their anguish compounded by their knowledge of their guilt and the justice of their fateÖ The reward of the believers will be an abode in gardens of palm trees and fruit, shade and cool water, where they will be adorned with silks and brocades and drink from silver goblets, attended by Ďdark-eyed virginsí (pages 2, 5, 9, 60)."

Though Muhammad lived about six centuries after the writings of the apostles in the New Testament and thousands of years after the writings of Moses in the Old Testament, Mr. Lippman sheds light on the true foundation of Islam.

"Muslims believe there is and has always been since Abraham only one true religion, a consistent faith in the one omnipotent God, who from time to time has sent various messengers and prophets to reveal Himself to men and tell men what He expects of them. These revelations were recorded in a hundred and four books, of which only four are extant: the Pentateuch, the Pslams, the Gospels, and the Koran, given successively to Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad (pages 5, 6)."

It is clear to see that the followers of Islam believe in a resurrection to either eternal life in the heavenly Paradise or eternal torment in the fires of Hell. It is further clear, however, that the declared roots of Islam lie in the Pentateuch of Judaism and the Gospels of Christianity. Letís examine the beliefs of each to compare their teachings about what lies after death.

 

Judaism

Judaism is one of the worldís oldest religions but one that has evolved its structure of authority since the time of Moses. The descendants of the priestly line of the sons of Aaron for many centuries were the Sadducees. At about the time of Jesusí life on earth, the sect of the Pharisees grew in importance to ultimately supplant the religious authority of the Sadducees over the general populace. After the destruction of the temple when the Romans sacked Jerusalem, the descendants of the Pharisees came to be the currently recognized Rabbinical structure of modern Judaism.

In his book What Do Jews Believe? David Ariel explains the current teachings of the Rabbis on the subject of death and the afterlife.

"According to the rabbis, the righteous receive their reward in the afterlife in the celestial Garden of Eden, while the wicked are punished in Gehenna or Gehinnom. This applies equally to Jews and non-JewsÖ The rabbis portray the heavenly Garden of Eden as a spiritual place unlike anything known on earth. It is a timeless place where the righteous are freed from the cares of this world and from physical sensations, living in a rapturous state of intimacy with GodÖ Rabinic teaching generally suggests that the wicked will be consigned to Gehinnom for twelve months following death after which they are annihilated forever (pages 75, 76)."

 

Christianity

Thus far, weíve heard descriptions explaining the beliefs of the religions of Islam and Judaism. What does the worldís most widespread religion, Christianity, believe about the subject of life after death? According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Christian teaching about life after death and the resurrection from the dead is described in the following manner:

"Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that all men, whether elect or reprobate, "will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them". In the language of the creeds and professions of faith this return to life is called resurrection of the body

"It is not surprising that the Tradition of the early Church agrees with the clear teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. We have already referred to a number of creeds and professions of faith which may be considered as part of the Church's official expression of her faith. Here we have only to point out a number of patristic passages, in which the Fathers teach the doctrine of the general resurrection in more or less explicit terms.

"All shall rise from the dead in their own, in their entire, and in immortal bodies; but the good shall rise to the resurrection of life, the wicked to the resurrection of Judgment. It would destroy the very idea of resurrection, if the dead were to rise in bodies not their own. Again, the resurrection, like the creation, is to be numbered amongst the principal works of God; hence, as at the creation all things are perfect from the hand of God, so at the resurrection all things must be perfectly restored by the same omnipotent hand. But there is a difference between the earthly and the risen body; for the risen bodies of both saints and sinners shall be invested with immortality. This admirable restoration of nature is the result of the glorious triumph of Christ over death as described in several texts of Sacred Scripture. But while the just shall enjoy an endless felicity in the entirety of their restored members, the wicked "shall seek death, and shall not find it, shall desire to die, and death shall fly from them (article Resurrection)."

 

The Common Source

Old Testament

One thing should be apparent to all from what weíve read so far. All three major religions of the world believe similar things about the fate of the dead and the potential for life after death. Itís not surprising that we should find such commonality among them since both Islam and Christianity supposedly share the same basis for the most fundamental of their scriptures in the Pentateuch and Pslams of the Bible given to Israel and the Jews. Since they all basically agree, it looks like itís an open and shut case and, therefore, our study should be over.

Wait a minute, though. So far, weíve heard from excellent sources documenting what the mosques, temples, and churches teach about their beliefs but we havenít confirmed those teachings from the foundational scriptures claimed by those bodies. We shouldnít just accept the word of others but letís go to the Pentateuch itself to see what God actually says about the subject.

In Genesis 3:19, God pronounces the curses Adam earned through his disobedience and his rebellion against God in the issue of eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. In enumerating those curses that would befall Adam, God spoke of the true origin and the true destiny of humanity.

(Gen 3:19 NASB) By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

So, we see that man came from the dust of the ground and is destined to return to the dust of the ground at death. In Genesis 49:33, we can see that the same fate eventually confronted even some of the most righteous of the patriarchs such as Jacob.

(Gen 49:33 NASB) When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

Genesis 15:15 tells us that even Abraham, the friend of God and the father of both the Ishmaelites and Muslims as well as the Israelites and Jews, shared in the same fate. He died and was buried and joined his forefathers in the grave.

(Gen 15:15 NASB) "And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.

Deuteronomy 31:16 states (in the NIV) that death is likened to rest and that when Moses died, he was going to be buried and rest in death just as his fathers had done.

(Deu 31:16 NIV) And the LORD said to Moses: "You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.

We can also look further into Godís word beyond the Pentateuch to learn even more about the fate of the dead. In previous studies, we have seen how God stated in Ezekiel 14:14 that Job was one of the most righteous of the Old Testament.

(Ezek 14:14 NASB) even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves," declares the Lord GOD.

If Job was such a pillar of righteousness as to be named by God as a rare example of righteousness, then it makes sense that Jobís words recorded for us in the book of Job should speak to us with the righteous authority, knowledge and understanding given him by God. In Job 14:10, Job gives us understanding of the true fate that awaits mankind, apart from God.

(Job 14:10-12 NASB) "But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? {11} "As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, {12} So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep.

In Psalms 49:20, even David the "man after Godís own heart," knew that the fate of man, apart from God, is no different than the beasts.

(Psa 49:20 NASB) Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish.

In Psalms 89:47, David continues the subject of death affecting all men.

(Psa 89:47-48 NASB) Remember what my span of life is; For what vanity Thou hast created all the sons of men! {48} What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol [thatís the grave]?

In Psalms 13:3, David went on to say that he knew death is equated with sleep.

(Psa 13:3 NASB) Consider and answer me, O LORD, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

Finally in Psalms 116:15, David spoke of the value of that sleep regarding the ones who have fulfilled the calling given to them by God.

(Psa 116:15 NASB) Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His godly ones.

The one reputed to have been the wisest man of all was Solomon, the son of David. He wasnít wise on his own. He was the wisest because of his source of wisdom. He had asked of God to be given wisdom when he first inherited the throne over Israel from his father, David. God granted him the wisdom he requested. So, it was not merely Solomonís wisdom that is dispensed to Israel in the pages of the Bible. It is Godís wisdom and the truth of God given to Solomon. In Ecclesiastes 2:14, Solomon spoke of the commonality between all humans.

(Eccl 2:14-16 NASB) The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both. {15} Then I said to myself, "As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?" So I said to myself, "This too is vanity." {16} For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die!

In Ecclesiastes 11:8, Solomon goes on to describe the value of living while life is still available and he compares it to the inability to be able to do anything in the darkness of the grave that is to come to all men.

(Eccl 11:8 NIV) However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless.

The sum of the matter is finally expressed by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:9. He speaks again of the value of striving while there is still life because of the certain knowledge that nothing further can be gained after death.

(Eccl 9:9-10 NASB) Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life, and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. {10} Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [thatís the grave] where you are going.

Job, David, and Solomon were not the only men of God who knew the truth about death. So did the prophet Isaiah, as we can see in Isaiah 38:17. He knew there is nothing in the grave.

(Isa 38:17-19 NASB) "Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is Thou who hast kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. {18} "For Sheol [thatís the grave] cannot thank Thee, Death cannot praise Thee; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Thy faithfulness. {19} "It is the living who give thanks to Thee, as I do today; A father tells his sons about Thy faithfulness.

We have seen through many scriptural examples that the Old Testament teaches the same fate awaits all humans, whether good or evil. All will die and will return to the dust of the ground from which they were formed. It is the next step after death, however, in which the actual teaching of scripture differs from the teaching of Judaism.

We read earlier that "According to the rabbis, the righteous receive their reward in the afterlife in the celestial Garden of Eden, while the wicked are punished in Gehenna or Gehinnom." That teaching, however, does not agree with several of the scriptures we just read that said "for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [thatís the grave] where you are going." We need to ask if Judaism is alone in teaching concepts conflicting with the very scriptures that form the basis of the religion. What about Islam? Are the writings in the Koran in agreement with the teachings and beliefs espoused by Moslems?

 

Koran

The Koran does teach going to Paradise as the reward of believers, in Surah 2:25.

Announce to those who believe and have done good deeds, glad tidings of gardens under which rivers flow, and where, when they eat the fruits that grow, they will say: "Indeed they are the same as we were given before," so like in semblance the food would be. And they shall have fair spouses there, and live there abidingly (2:25).

The Koran also teaches that hell and torture is the penalty that awaits unbelievers, in Surah 78, 21).

Certainly Hell lies in wait, the rebelsí abode, where they will remain for aeons, finding neither sleep nor any thing to drink except boiling water and benumbing cold: a fitting reward. They were those who did not expect a reckoning, and rejected our signs as lies. We have kept account of every thing in a book. So taste (the fruit of what you sowed), for we shall add nothing but torment (78,21).

So, it looks like the writings of the Koran agree with the teaching of the Islamic religion but what about Christianity? Are the New Testament scriptures in agreement with the teachings of Christianity?

 

New Testament

Certainly there is no better authority than Jesus Christ to assert the proper teachings of Christianity. In John 11:11 is the account of Lazarus. Lazarus was one of Christís best friends. He had become sick and had died prior to Jesusí arrival. That would have been a golden opportunity for Jesus to straighten out his disciples on the subject of whether the dead go to heaven or to hell. Instead, Jesus taught his disciples that death was a type of sleep.

(John 11:11-14 NASB) This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep." {12} The disciples therefore said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." {13} Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. {14} Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead,

Rather than teaching that, at death, people go to heaven or hell, Christ taught that all are still in the graves now but there will be a future resurrection. In John 5:28, Jesus spoke of that future resurrection and of what will happen when that day comes.

(John 5:28-29 NASB) "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, {29} and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

If there was any question about the dead going to heaven at death, in John 3:13, Christ definitely put to rest that issue. No one: not even the most righteous of the men of old, not Noah or Abraham or Moses or Job or David or Solomon or Daniel have gone to heaven.

(John 3:13-17 NASB) "And no one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man. {14} "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; {15} that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. {16} "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. {17} "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

So, itís plain there will be a future day of decision. All who are in the graves will rise from their graves back to life and it will then be determined whether or not they will be given the gift of eternal life.

 

Personal Example

In recent decades, there has been much publicity in the news or in the movies about so-called "near-death" experiences. People have testified about things such as "seeing lights" or "seeing angels" or "hearing the voice of God" as they lay dying on operating room tables, only to be miraculously restored to health. All sorts of stories are put forth that seem to support the notion of going to heaven at death. We have seen, however, that such notions are contrary to the weight of evidence in the scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments.

There is one other personal story of experience I would like to relate that does support what we have just read in scriptures. As a youth when I was twelve years old, I was involved in an automobile accident. Actually, I was on a bicycle and was hit by a car at an intersection. My leg was broken by the impact. The knuckles of my left hand were crushed to bits. My chin was gashed by the broken glass of the car windshield and there was blood coming out of my left ear. In short, there was blood over most of my body. I lay on the road for some period of time with no heartbeat.

Fortunately, there happened to be a U.S. Navy doctor visiting a friend just a few blocks away from the accident scene at the time. His friend heard the noise of the crash and the two of them arrived to find me without a pulse. The doctor administered CPR at the scene and was able to restart my heartbeat.

I knew nothing until I came to consciousness in the hospital days later. From my personal experience long before I knew anything about Godís scriptures or the proper Biblical teaching about death, I knew there is nothing at death. There is no "great light" or "seeing angels" or "hearing the voice of God." There is only what the scriptures tell us: nothingness, just black nothingness.

 

The Future Resurrection

Fortunately for us and for the rest of humanity, that "nothingness" is not to be our ultimate destiny. There is hope for the future. Letís go back to where we were earlier in Job 14:10. We read that all men are destined for the grave where we now know there is no afterlife, just nothingness. Letís read further, though, about the hope that Job had of his future resurrection.

(Job 14:10-15 NASB) "But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? {11} "As water evaporates from the sea, And a river becomes parched and dried up, {12} So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. {13} "Oh that Thou wouldst hide me in Sheol, That Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns to Thee, That Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me! {14} "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait, Until my change comes. {15} "Thou wilt call, and I will answer Thee; Thou wilt long for the work of Thy hands.

A few chapters later in Job 19:25, Job speaks of his sure trust in the future resurrection from the grave. The Complete Jewish Bible renders verses 25 through 27 in the following manner:

(Job 19:25-27 CJB) But I know that my Redeemer lives, that in the end he will rise on the dust; {26} so that after my skin has been thus destroyed, then even without my flesh I will see God. {27} I will see him for myself, my eyes, not someone elseís, will behold him. My heart grows weak inside me!

So, we can see that Job was sure in the knowledge that, even after the disintegration of his body in the grave, he would be resurrected by God back to a fleshly physical existence. Job was not alone, however, in his trust in God providing a future resurrection. In Psalms 16:9, so, too, was David full of confidence in God fulfilling his promise.

(Psa 16:9-10 NASB) Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. {10} For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol [thatís the grave]; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.

David knew that he, like all men, would undergo decay in the grave but he also had confidence in God keeping his promise not to abandon him in the grave. David also had confidence in God keeping his promise to resurrect the "Holy One", Jesus Christ, in three days and not allow his body to undergo the typical decay destined for the rest of humanity.

In Daniel 12:2, we can see that Daniel also knew that death was sleep. Beyond that, though, he knew of the future resurrection and the hope for all mankind.

(Dan 12:2 NIV) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Not only did Daniel know about the future of mankind, in Daniel 12:13, he was specifically told of his personal destiny.

(Dan 12:13 NIV) "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

The power that will raise Daniel is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 6:14, Paul tells us itís the same one who will raise us up from the dead.

(1 Cor 6:14 NASB) Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.

 

Baptism, the Picture of Death and Resurrection

The apostle Paul had much to say about the metaphorical connection between baptism and its picture of death and resurrection. In Colossians 2:12, he said that our act of baptism was a sign of submission and our material participation in the burial of Christ.

(Col 2:12-14 NASB) having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. {13} And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, {14} having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

In Romans 6:3, Paul went on to show how our sharing in the picture of Christís death actually brings upon us a greater responsibility to live a new life. We are to no longer live according to our former lifestyles. We are to strive to live anew according to the righteous standards of Godís laws and follow both the physical and spiritual examples of Jesus.

(Rom 6:3-13 NASB) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, {6} knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; {7} for he who has died is freed from sin. {8} Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, {9} knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. {10} For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. {11} Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. {12} Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, {13} and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

In Galatians 3:24, Paul draws together the significance of baptism and our new allegiance to God. Regardless of our physical circumstances, we are bound together by that new covenant with the Father. We have pledged to obey him and he has pledged to adopt us as sons. He, therefore, will apply to us the promises he made to the patriarchs of old. We can place our confidence in the Fatherís reliability. Yes, our total commitment actually depends upon our reliance on God upholding the words of his promises.

(Gal 3:24-29 NASB) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. {25} But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. {26} For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. {27} For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. {29} And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

 

The Ultimate Destiny

The full truth about mankindís fate at death is not to be found in the religious teachings of Islam, Judaism, or Christianity but it is found in the actual scriptures common to the basis of all three. While in captivity in Persia, Daniel was given the privilege of seeing into the future. He saw a picture of our ultimate destiny at the throne of God, the Father.

(Dan 7:9-10 NASB) "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. {10} "A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.

Continue in verse 13.

(Dan 7:13-14 NASB) "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. {14} "And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.

Danielís vision was a distinct picture of judgment at the throne of the Father, God Most High. Daniel saw that the judgment, which belongs to the Father, was willingly given to the son of man, Jesus the Messiah. Christ will be given that responsibility of judgment over all mankind. With it will come the right of rule in the Kingdom of God over the whole earth.

The story doesnít end there. We can hear the rest of the story at the end of the last book of the New Testament in Revelation 20:4.

(Rev 20:4-6 NASB) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. {5} The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. {6} Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Continue in verse eleven.

(Rev 20:11-15 NASB) And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. {12} And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. {13} And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. {14} And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. {15} And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

 

That is the truth of God, revealed for all to see in the scriptures. Our destiny is not to go to the heavenly Paradise to be fed by virgins. It is not to go to the heavenly Garden of Eden or to live forever in Nirvana. It is neither to burn forever in the fires of hell. The scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments plainly teach that Godís righteous "called-out ones" will rule with the Messiah in the Kingdom of God for a thousand years after having the privilege to be in the first resurrection at the Messiahís return to earth. The rest of humanity will be brought out of their graves and come back to life at the end of the thousand years to be judged and taught Godís righteous way of life. That is truly a message of hope for all of humanity.

That is deathís true destiny.

 

 

Sermon by Philip Edwards

February 17, 2006


 

 

 

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