One of the unspoken truths of the Bible today is the teaching of the Kingdom and the part the believer will have in it. Yahshua taught much about the believer’s future in the Kingdom of Yahweh coming to earth.
In essence, the promise of the Kingdom to come is the Evangel or Good News, which Yahshua preached and which His followers are to proclaim today.
When many recite the Master’s prayer, they repeat the words, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Not fully engaged, they don’t recognize that they are actually praying for the Kingdom of Yahweh to be established so that Yahshua will govern this earth and enforce His laws upon the world. That is what He foretold in His prophetic prayer.
True Assembly to Continue
The disciples also missed part of the Messiah’s message and mission. They failed to understand that He came the first time as Prophet, then went to the heavens as our High Priest, and will return as the ruling King. Thus, He will fulfill His offices as Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Apostles and those with Him were the beginning of His Ekklesia (the “called-out ones” or the Assembly). He promised that upon establishing His Ekklesia that the “gates of the grave will not prevail against it”– meaning that His true Assembly would continue to exist somewhere on this earth and would endure until the day of His return, Matthew 16:18-19.
His true Assembly has been active ever since. Yahshua encouraged the followers of truth when He said in Luke 12:32, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Small, weak, ignored, but diligently following in the footsteps of the Master, the “called-out ones” continue to proclaim the Good News of the coming Kingdom of Yahweh to all the world.
Yahshua’s crowning legacy was His innocent death for the sins of the world. He was then taken to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the Father and is the mediator or advocate for His people.
The Savior promised to return to put down all rule and authority. Then He will reign and divide the wicked from the righteous:
“When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides [his] sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matt. 25:31-33).
He will enforce Yahweh’s laws and those who are redeemed will rule with Him in the Kingdom: “And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:26-27, also 1:6).
It is those who are in the first resurrection who will become the priests and rulers in the coming Kingdom: “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
You – A Future Ruler?
Because Churchianity in general, teaches little about more than one resurrection, there is a distinct loss in comprehending the grand program Yahweh has laid out for bringing His creation to Himself.
He began with Israel, and He is still working with Israel even today. Once Israel has been saved, He will have them join Him as He turns His attention to the rest of His creation.
He will start with His servant David who will rule right under the Savior: “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations” (Ps. 89:3-4. See also Isa. 16:5).
Being called into discipleship with Yahshua is to take part in ruling with Him in the Kingdom, as we see from both Matthew and Luke: “Blessed is that servant, whom his master when he comes shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods” (Matt. 24:46-47).
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:28-30).
You – a Priest?
From both Old and New testaments, we find eternal promises foretold for the saints, who will be rewarded priesthoods to teach the way of righteousness; the Gentiles shall even bring them gifts.
“But you shall be named the Priests of Yahweh: men shall call you the Ministers of our Elohim: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isa. 61:6). These resurrected saints will be the priests and Levites in the Kingdom, verse 21.
Peter writes of this in 1Peter 2:5 and 9: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yahshua the Messiah. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
The prophet Daniel in 7:18 and 27 also speaks of an everlasting reward and those who will be chosen. “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
This life is training for the called-out ones in overcoming sin and the Adversary in preparation for positions of rulership in Yahshua’s Kingdom reign over the earth.
Who’s Winning at Saving
Mainstream teachers say that Yahshua’s main purpose was to save the world. Some contend that there is great controversy going on right now between Yahweh and Satan. They claim Yahweh has been desperately trying to get the world to believe on His Son, and Satan is out to disrupt that goal and induce the world to follow his way of sin, wickedness, and corruption.
Satan continues to test our sincerity, but he cannot try us beyond our ability to withstand, Yahweh says. Mainstream teachings make much of the question of whether those who have died have been “saved.” If any died without the knowledge and acceptance of the Savior, then they are eternally lost, they contend. Their goal is to preach the Good News of salvation and get the world saved now. But Yahweh is not trying to save the whole world now.
If saving the world now is Yahshua’s goal, then Satan is winning by a lopsided score as the world is becoming more corrupt and wicked each passing day. His Commandments are set aside and ignored, and His Name is besmirched every day. Yahweh is still on His throne, however, and in firm control of this earth.
Yahshua gave us a prime example of His goals when He spoke to the multitude in parables. At first His own disciples did not understand and asked Him why He spoke in parables. He answered them, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matt. 13:11-13).
Yahshua went on to explain that Isaiah had referred to this very thing because not everyone is to be converted by Yahshua now:
“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and [their] ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and should understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:14-15).
Even the Old Testament bears record that Yahweh was not struggling to get the world saved back then. Neither is He trying to save the world now. He is choosing from the world a small group of firstfruits He is calling out of the world now to be kings and priests in His Kingdom.
“And hath made us kings and priests unto Elohim and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (Rev. 1:6).
OnlyFew Prove Faithful
The Evangel or Good News of the coming Kingdom is to be preached to all the world – not to save all the world, but as a witness or warning to mankind: “And this evangel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
The Evangel is to draw attention to the coming government rulership of Yahweh, not to save the world’s populations. Those who have a heart to obey will turn to seek Yahweh in deep contrition and repentance. But most of the world will continue on its evil way.
Yahshua lived a perfect life as an example for us.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” 1Peter 2:21-22.
His sinless, perfectly law-abiding life was a pattern for our own goal of salvation. He told us in Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4 to live by every word of Yahweh. We walk in His footsteps, striving to tread the path of righteousness, seeking to achieve His stature.
Only a few will respond now to Yahshua’s call. “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16).
Beyond fulfilling Yahweh’s law perfectly as an example for us, Yahshua became the perfect Lamb that takes away the sins of the world by His death. He was the sacrificial Lamb Who died for the sins of the world. Now we can approach the Heavenly Father directly. In fact, the only way we can approach the Heavenly Father is through the shed blood of the Lamb.
Yahshua said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Yahweh is the One Who calls out certain people. At present the chosen ones are being trained and tested as they allow Yahweh’s Spirit to guide them in the lessons to be learned.
Makeup of Spiritual Temple
We are to become a spiritual house, built of living stones, to be a royal priesthood of the household of Yahweh: “You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Yahweh by Yahshua the Messiah” (1Pet. 2:5).
Each of us is spiritually different in shape, color, density, size, texture. The chiseling, shaping, grinding, fitting and polishing is taking place in this life to mold us for our position in His spiritual temple.
Yahweh is the One Who is calling out a people for His Name.
Many overlook the statement that Yahweh is very jealous of His Name. James declared that Yahweh is even now calling out a people for His Name’s sake to prepare for Yahshua’s return. We find in Acts 15:14,
“Simeon hath declared how Elohim at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” Yahweh is calling dedicated seekers of righteousness to build up the Assembly, the body of believers. Yahshua says He will restore the ruins of David’s Tabernacle so “the residue of men might seek after Yahweh, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called, says Yahweh Who does all these things” (Acts 15:17).
This verse emphasizes that Yahweh has not forgotten His promise to Israel, and that Gentiles also are called into the New Covenant He is making with His people. They will be known by His Name, for His Name is the seal by which we are sealed unto the day of redemption.
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Rev. 7:2-4).
Revelation 14 shows the 144,000 being sealed with Yahweh’s Name and Yahshua’s Name in their foreheads. This is accomplished by baptism into the saving Name of Yahshua, for Yahshua has within His Name the family Name of the Majesty on High, “YAH.”
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his [name and his] Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). We are given the Holy Spirit through baptism (Acts 2:38) and are sealed by His Spirit (the sealing agent) at that time.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua Messiah for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). “And grieve not the holy Spirit of Elohim, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
Judah and the Converted Unite
Yahshua spoke in parables throughout His ministry. He did not clarify what He meant in His parables, deliberately leaving the general public with no clear explanation. “All these things spake Yahshua unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them” (Matt. 13:34).
Later in private He explained many of His statements to His disciples, Matthew 13:36. A number of Bible scholars note that there is to be a joining together of two special groups before the end of the age who will unite in their efforts to proclaim Bible truth.
One group is well-versed in the New Testament and the message of the Savior Yahshua. They understand His loving kindness and the grace He freely bestows upon us. But these New Testament believers do not understand the significance of Old Testament’s statutes. They have been wrongfully told that the laws of the Old Testament have been done away.
Judaism, on the other hand makes much of the law and pursues the letter of the law, thinking that keeping the law alone is what is needed for salvation. The rabbis have uncovered deeper truth in the Old Testament which helps us to comprehend some of the hard sayings of Yahshua and the Evangels as well as Paul.
Through Yahshua the House of Israel and the House of Judah will perform His will, for the hatred of one for the other is done away in Him: “For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto Yahweh in one body by the stake, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph. 2:14-16).
Before the end of the age, there will be a promised reunion of the House of Israel and the House of Judah.
Yahweh is the One Who calls His people. It is Yahshua Who does the choosing. “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” (Luke 6:13, John 6:70, Acts 1:2.)
You Can Have His Promises
Yahweh is calling a few at this time to comprehend the deeper truths of the Word. If you have a desire to seek a deeper understanding of the plan of Almighty Yahweh, then He is calling you. From those whom Yahweh calls, Yahshua chooses the ones He wants to be His bride and be part of His Body. It is those who are called and chosen who will be in the first resurrection.
“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).
We must continue to sow the seed of truth so those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will turn to Yahweh and accept the New Covenant through His Son. We never know who will answer His call and seek to walk in His ways. If the seeds of truth fall on good ground they will sprout and grow according to Yahweh’s Word.
If you have an earnest desire for deeper understanding of the plan of Almighty Yahweh, then He is calling you. He wants you to humble yourself and come to the knowledge that your goal should now be to learn more of the great plan of salvation and how you can be a king and a priest in that wonderful future Kingdom.
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Through either fear or ignorance, some Bible believers are reluctant to discuss the spirit Realm. The Bible, however, has much to say about the spirit realm because our Heavenly Father Yahweh dwells there.
The saints will also one day with spirit bodies join Him in this spirit realm. His only Son “which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen, which our hands have handled, the Word of Life” (lJohn 1:1) has come down to the physical, material world and manifested Himself to mankind.
Fear of the spirit world exists because we have been conditioned to think primarily of demonic or satanic activities of evil associated with spirits. In fact, the Adversary is an evil spirit and captain of the fallen angels who also rebelled, Jude 6.
Peter warns us to be alert and aware of the Adversary’s intentions: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pet. 5:8).
Being ignorant of Satan’s devices can work great harm to the believer who is striving to withstand his temptations. We can be more vulnerable to his schemes if we are unaware of how he operates. We should have a healthy regard for the power and influence Satan and his demons wield.
Paul warns that our real battle here on earth is spiritual, in our mind, our demeanor, our beliefs, and our worship.
Spirit Realm Is Real
Some, like the Sadducees of old, do not believe in the existence of the spirit realm. But we can have an inkling of its existence by a simple experiment that was shown by a college physics professor. He prompted the class to select at a distance someone in a large audience and focus their attention on this person. They were told to concentrate on him, saying his name to themselves. Within a short time the targeted person wriggled in his seat and begin to look around as if someone were calling him.
Just staring at someone and concentrating on him can bring similar results.
Somehow our thoughts can transmit distances and be picked up by another individual. (If not, how can Yahweh read our minds or hear our unspoken prayers?)
We have learned of incidents where a loved one was in a desperate situation halfway across the world, and the one at home was awakened out of a sound sleep, becoming aware that something was amiss. Later, the incident was confirmed.
The danger here is that Satan will use the power of spiritual things to deceive and convince people to dabble in spiritism for his own unholy purposes.
The spirit realm, which the Bible refers to as the “third heaven,” is where Yahweh dwells. The first heaven is where the birds fly and the clouds form. The second heaven is where the sun, moon, and planets are. The third heaven is the realm of energy that permeates the universe. It is where Yahweh exists (Rev. 9:1, 2Cor. 12:2).
The third heaven could exist right here on this earth but in a different dimension invisible to humans. The spirit realm is unaffected by matter or substance.
Spirit Is Like Energy
There are a number of energy forms we cannot see, yet we are aware that they exist. Anciently, the invisible wind was thought to be related to the spirit realm.
There are other forms of invisible power. We cannot see electricity, but we know it exists. Even though we cannot see what scientists refer to as “the flow of electrons,” still man has harnessed electricity and made it work for him.
We cannot see magnetism, but as youngsters, our experience with magnets and iron filings taught us the drawing power of magnetism. We cannot see gravity, but know that it is a force that pulls matter to the center of the earth. While we cannot see these forms of energy, we see results of what they can do.
It is only since Einstein’s day that scientists have come to understand the power that is packed in each atom. This awesome power is unleashed in the splitting of the atom, creating the atomic bomb.
Einstein showed that time exists only where there is matter, and that time and space are interrelated.
Matter can be converted to energy, and energy to matter. The existence of matter is not static and had to have a beginning. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the Beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth …” Our Bible tells us that the One who created everything was Yahshua the Messiah, Ephesians 3:9. He created the micro world of neutrons, protons, and electrons, and put them in their place. By His power, these all stay in their fixed places.
He also created the solar systems and constellations. He fashioned the moon to revolve around the earth; the earth to go around the sun along with the other planets. “And He is before all things and by Him, all things consist” (Greek = all things hold together), Colossians 1: 17.
The reason that our cosmos does not fly apart and disintegrate or that the planets and suns don’t go flying off in different directions is because Yahshua is holding them all in their places by His power, according to this verse in Colossians.
Not only is the third heaven where Yahweh dwells, but it is also the abode of spirit beings, both good and evil. Spirit beings can be all about us, but we would never be aware of it. Angelic beings have at times manifested themselves to mankind as did the three celestial beings who appeared unto Abraham on the plains of Mamre, Genesis 18. Two of them continued on to Sodom to destroy that city, chapter 19.
Upon His resurrection our Savior was restored to His former glory, again becoming spirit. He could appear and disappear at will. He appeared before the disciples as they sat in locked rooms, John 20:19, and He would vanish out of their sight (Luke 24:31). Just because we cannot see the spirit realm does not mean that it does not exist (also verses 36-37).
Yahweh Is Our Protection
Paul warned the assembly at Corinth to be aware of the tactics of the Tempter: “Lest satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2Cor. 2: 11). Peter wrote that the obedient are under the watchful care of our Heavenly Father: “For the eyes of Yahweh are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers, but the face of Yahweh is against them that do evil” (lPet. 3:12).
If we fear Yahweh, we need not fear the spirit world. Even though we are not able to see the invisible realm about us, Yahweh and His angelic host also dwell in that world, and His power is many times greater than the adversary’s. Furthermore, Yahweh has put limits on the sphere of Satan’s activities and has put a hedge or barrier about His people.
Yahweh upheld the integrity and character of Job and challenged Satan to consider his reputation. The devil’s sneering retort was, “… does Job fear Elohim for naught? Have not you made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job 1:9-10).
Chapters 1 and 2 show that the devil did much harm, but was limited in how far he could go. He could not take Job’s life, but he did make his life almost unbearable. After proving that he would not be shaken in his principles, patient Job was rewarded with double that which Satan had taken from him, Job 42:10.
When counseling those sincerely interested in the Bible, we have at times been called upon to unravel problems people had before conversion. These include obsessions with astrology, horoscopes, illegal drugs, sexual sin, habitual rebellion and negativism. All of these are driven by demonic influences around us today.
Even Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out (Mark 16:9) before she was converted to the Savior and became one of Yahshua’s most trusted and dedicated followers to the very end.
Our interests and activities determine whether we are dabbling in the realm of the demonic spirits abounding around us, or whether we are seeking those things above to pursue the Spirit of Yahweh and overcome the forces of evil.
Satan continually strives to convince us that his ways are easier and more enjoyable; that we should do ourselves a favor and accept his ways. However, he cannot tempt us beyond the limits Yahweh has set:
“There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but Elohim is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it” (l Cor. 10:13).
The Bible says humans have body, soul, and spirit (1Thess. 5:23). We are familiar with our fleshly, material bodies of bone, flesh, and blood. The soul can be thought of as being life, the essence of being alive or living.
Our spirit is our mind, our attitude, our thinking.
Nowhere in the Bible does the word spirit (Ruach, Hebrew, or pneuma, Greek) refer to the departed dead. Spirit beings are either the angelic beings of Yahweh or the minions of Satan.
We are offered the opportunity to become spirit beings in contrast to human, fleshly beings. It is only then that we will no longer be corruptible, but incorruptible; we will no longer be mortal, but immortal, spirit beings:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 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” (1Cor. 15:51-54).
Possessed or Deceived
We are surrounded by attitudes of evil on the one hand and the spirit of good on the other. The spirit of man is our mind, our thinking, our disposition and attitude. We do not act by instinct as do animals and birds.
Man exercises free will and generally acts according to his decisions and habits. Man’s spirit can be influenced by either the good or the evil of the present visible world or the invisible spirit world.
An important difference exists between demon possession or demon influence and being manipulated or deceived by Satan. Demon possession means Satan has complete control over an individual, even in determining his behavior. The possessed individual is not acting according to his own spirit, his own mind. He is driven by the satanic spirit. He is controlled by Satan.
Deception is built upon untruth. To deceive is to influence one to believe error or do something contrary to fact, to act in a certain way because one’s thinking is muddled.
One can be misled to believe error and consequently act contrary to the facts. This comes from the adversary and his demonic cohorts: “Satan is a liar and the father of it,” said our Savior (John 8:44).
The adversary is able to instill thoughts and desires into our minds by his powerful influence and tireless efforts. If we are not alert and watchful he can overpower common sense and implant his deceptive schemes into our minds by playing upon carnal desires and passions.
We are not always aware that Satan is influencing us through his subtlety. Drawing closer to Yahweh alerts us to Satan’s schemes:
“Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
Paul warned that Satan was dominating some of mankind to the point they were bent upon seeking and fulfilling the carnal desires of the flesh and mind. They were filled with vanity, lust, and pride. Through their egotism, they concentrated on things that called attention to themselves, either exalting themselves in their minds or having worldly or sensual pleasures of the flesh.
Peter was once influenced by the Adversary and said to Yahshua that He would not have to undergo any problems with the religionists of His day. Yahshua recognized that Satan was putting arrogant thoughts into Peter’s mind. He therefore, rebuked him severely:
“But He turned and said unto Peter, Get behind me Satan, you are an offense unto me, for you savor not the things that be of Elohim, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:23).
Apparently, Satan took advantage of Peter’s vanity, prompting him to speak in a boastful manner, contradicting Yahshua’s deeper knowledge and understanding. Satan seeks opportunities to bolster human ego. As he did with Peter so had he influenced David to take a census of Israel, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1Chron. 21:1).
We also have the example of Ananias and Sapphira who hoped to deceive others into believing that they were really sacrificing to help the assembly get off the ground, but had secretly retained a portion of the sale of their property, Acts 5: 1-11. Peter could discern that Satan had filled their hearts with greed, verse 3.
Demons can act religiously and appear to be righteous but have ulterior motives. Paul became weary of the damsel who annoyed the True Believers by following them. Empowered by Satan, she was a prophetess and therefore was financially valuable to her masters. Paul soon demanded that she leave, however, even though she apparently spoke the truth:
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high Elohim which show unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:16-17).
Mark 5:1-15 tells of a classic case of a man having an unclean spirit who abode among the tombs. He continued to cry and cut himself with stones. When he saw Yahshua, he ran and worshiped Him. He begged Yahshua not to torture him, feigning to be victimized by Yahshua. When the unclean spirits were driven out of the man, he was found clothed and in his right mind.
Demonic spirits possess a human by influencing the mind and desires of the individual. By instilling irrational thoughts and concepts into the thoughts of their victims, the evil spirits deceive those who cannot discern truth from error.
Theirs is a world unrelated to reality. They hear voices and acquire an entirely different personality. With their minds and will weakened, they are often unstable and difficult to convince of truth. They seem to be increasingly negative in their thinking.
There are also those who are not totally under the full influence of demonic spirits, but in their weakened physical or spiritual condition are susceptible to the whims of unclean spirits. Often it is through selfishness, worldly desire, coveting, lust, resentment, envy, and growing hatred that the demons entice the weakened ones.
Guard Your Mind
Be aware that just because someone is knowledgeable in the Bible does not guarantee that he or she is honest or truthful with Yahweh’s Word. Satan can quote the Scripture with the very best. His ploy is to use Scripture to twist the truth by misapplying its true intent. Some of his tricks are to omit from or add to the Word.
Toying with the tools of the devil is a sure way to be trapped by his superior knowledge and cunning. Dabbling in hypnotism, psychic or horror movies, horoscopes, ouija boards, television psychics, and New Age phenomena takes us farther from Yahweh.
So-called deeper or new truths are often nothing more than an attempt by Satan to undermine our thinking and assassinate our spiritual integrity. Being separated from the truth of Yahweh’s Word gets us off track and awash in a spiritual quagmire.
Avoid putting yourself in a situation that invites demonic involvement. Channeling, rap music, pornography, violence in movies and violent video games and reading material are tempting opportunities for the evil spirit world to move in on an unsuspecting person.
If you have doubts about whether you should participate in a questionable activity or even be in a certain place, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable in that situation if Yahshua were at your side.
Opening the Door to Satan
One of the most obvious and enticing opportunities for demonic activity is in the use of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and mind-altering drugs. The drug lords are out to sell their wares to whomever they can entice.
The misuse of alcohol opens our minds to unholy influences. Drug abuse allows Satan to gain access to our thinking and actions and can lead to serious crimes like robbery, muggings, and even murder.
“A sound mind in a sound body” is a slogan credited to physicians of long ago; it is still sage advice. If we are tired and run down, we become susceptible to whatever illness is making the rounds such as colds, influenza, and other infections. In addition, our thinking can be foggy. This is the time to be on guard.
When we feel defeated, or succumb to thoughts of regret and hopelessness, we are more open to the forces of darkness.
We should always keep our emotions under control. Seek Yahweh and not give way to the forces of spiritual darkness. Being positive in outlook is good for our spirit and health. Continued anger, bitterness, frustration, and rage can lead to physical problems.
If this is a problem with you, you can overcome it. First, take it to Yahweh in prayer. At such times, read your Bible, especially the Psalms. Physical exercise can help as well. Take a walk. Get out of your rut. Do something different. Talk to a friend.
One of the most cherished of our memories is attending the Feasts and helping brethren with their personal problems. Oftentimes others have faced the same dilemma. Solutions they have found shed new light on our own trials.
A good attitude of His people is beneficial to His will. Notice one time that the Savior Himself felt that the Holy Spirit was stifled:
“And He [Yahshua] could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. And He went round about the villages, teaching” (Mark 6:5-6).
Yahweh’s Spirit can accomplish more among people whose minds and hearts are right. A prayer offered among faithful brethren on the Sabbath is of inestimable value. Paul speaks of this and joins them in spirit with the same petition:
“In the name of our Sovereign Yahshua Messiah, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Sovereign Yahshua Messiah” (1Cor. 5:4).
The power of the prayer is multiplied by the faith of the dedicated brethren who are joined “in spirit.” Yahweh’s Spirit can work more effectively when an air of righteousness prevails. The Bible teaches us not to be self-serving, seeking what we can gain for ourselves, but to be unselfish and helpful to all, especially those in need:
“Pure religion and undefiled before Yahweh the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
Protection Comes from Yahweh
Paul warns that our real battle here on earth is spiritual, in our minds, our beliefs, and worship. We not only should live a clean life, eating proper and clean foods for physical health, keeping the Sabbaths and Holy Days, but also be alert to other influences that affect our emotions, attitudes, and thinking.
Make no mistake, Satan uses all available resources to take advantage of us. Through avenues like advertising, a form of mind control, he creates a desire for the pleasures of this world.
The demonic forces are also trying to sell their wares of pleasure, excitement, thrills, ego-building or whatever it takes to “sign you up” as one of their initiates. Twisting your mind to accept what they have to offer is the name of their game.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6: 12).
We are promised that if Yahweh’s Spirit abides in us, we have nothing to fear from the spirit realm, for: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” 1John 4:4.
Draw near to Yahweh in prayer. “Submit yourselves therefore to Yahweh. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
We are in a spiritual battle. The Evil One is ramping up his efforts against this world and Yahweh’s people. We need all the defenses Yahweh provides to the faithful who seek to serve Him, including regular prayer.
As Ed sat in his pew listening to his minister explain the afterlife, he was baffled as to why there was such a discrepancy between what he was hearing and what he was reading in the Bible. Is it possible that his minister and so many others were wrong about what follows death? he wondered.
Even though he did not fully comprehend the afterlife, he saw numerous contradictions when he compared the Scriptures with common teachings. If you’re like Ed and are looking for the scriptural truth about what happens at death, and have found many discrepancies in nominal teachings, you are not alone.
The majority of what we hear today about the afterlife simply does not agree with Scripture. Many of these teachings are the result of Greek philosphy and centuries of tradition embraced by the church.
In this inquiry we will examine exactly what the Bible says about death, what it means to die, how long death lasts and where we go when we die. For example, does Scripture really say that the righteous go to heaven while the ignorant or sinners burn forever in a relentless hell-fire? You might be surprised by what your Heavenly Father reveals in His Word. Get out your Bible and let’s begin an honest inquiry.
No Man Has Ascended
Possibly the most eye-opening discovery at the start of our investigation is what our Savior, Yahshua the Messiah plainly says in John 3:13, “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
The Messiah Himself verifies that only He has been to heaven. The word “ascended” comes from the Greek anabaino and means “to go up” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon adds, “to rise, to mount, to be borne up, to spring up.”
Peter confirms this truth in his dynamic sermon on the day of Pentecost: “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day…For David is not ascended into the heavens” (Acts 2:29, 34).
If anyone would have been found worthy of heaven it would have been David. After all, he had a heart after Yahweh’s own and is guaranteed the position of prince in the coming millennial Kingdom, Ezekiel 37:24. If the believer is immediately wafted off to heaven at death it would seem certain that David of all people would have ascended to heaven when he died. Based on what Peter and other Scriptures tell us, however, it never happened. David is still dead and awaiting the resurrection.
But what about Yahshua’s description of heavenly mansions in the book of John? Did He not promise that a heavenly paradise awaits the saved? Let’s investigate. We read in John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
At first blush this passage seems to describe a heavenly paradise. However, as we often must do when digging out the truth, we need to look below the surface. Yahshua here is not speaking of places of eternal dwelling but of positions of authority in His governing family.
The word “house” is from the Greek oikia, which by extension refers to a family, and the word “mansions” is derived from the Greek root meno, meaning “to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy” (Strong’s Concordance). This passage would be better rendered, “In my Father’s [family] are many [positions]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a [position] for you.” When the Messiah returns the saints will receive offices as priests in Yahweh’s Kingdom (Rev. 20:6) and will reign on the earth, not in heaven (Rev. 2:26; 5:10).
Spirit (Breath of Life) Returns to Yahweh
If we don’t go to heaven, where then do we go? We find the answer in two key passages. The first is from the pen of King David and speaks about the death of human beings: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust,” Psalm 104:29. The second is from his son, Solomon, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto Elohim who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
When we die our bodies go to dust and our spirit goes back to Yahweh. Spirit is the Hebrew ruach and means,”wind; by resemblance breath,” Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary. The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines ruach as “spirit (used of the living, breathing being in man and animals); as gift, preserved by [Elohim], [Yahweh’s] spirit, departing at death.”
Ruach literally means a burst of air, and by extension, breath of life. It can also refer to spirit beings and to the Holy Spirit. In the context of the aforementioned passages, it represents the life that Yahweh our Father in heaven breathes into every living soul or human being, as can also be seen from the following:
• “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life [ruach], from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die,” Genesis 6:17.
• “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life [ruach],” Genesis 7:15.
• “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath [ruach] of all mankind,” Job 12:10.
• “Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath [ruach] in them,” Jeremiah 51:17.
• “Thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath [ruach] to enter into you, and ye shall live,” Ezekiel 37:5.
To make a person come alive Yahweh breathes the breath of life into him or her, just as He did with the first humans, Genesis 2:7. According to Genesis 7:15 this breath of life is also given to animals so that they come alive. Unlike our life, however, the life essence of animals does not return to Yahweh but goes down to the earth, Ecclesiastes 3:21.
Ezekiel’s statement in 37:5 is key. It’s a reference to the second resurrection when Yahweh will revive His people Israel. Once he restores the fleshly body He will return the breath of life or ruach to each person in the second resurrection.
While the first resurrection is to spirit essence (1Cor. 15:42-44), the second resurrection is to physical life, meaning that those in it will be resurrected to flesh with the potential to live forever, the same potential Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden before their sin. This is likely the reason for the tree of life in New Jerusalem, Revelation 22:2. Those who eat of it will have perpetual life.
In the New Testament the parallel word that corresponds to the Hebrew ruach is the Greek word pneuma. Strong’s defines this word as, “a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) [Elohim], [Messiah’s] spirit, the Holy Spirit.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words further states, “pneuma NT:4151 primarily denotes “the wind” (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath”; then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful….”
The essence of ruach and pneuma is defined as a current of air, i.e., wind, or breath. It is the breath of life. By extension, it also signifies angelic beings as well as the Holy Spirit.
This meaning is verified in Revelation 11:11, “And after three days and a half the Spirit [pneuma] of life from Elohim entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” At the end of the age, after the two witnesses prophesy for 1,260 days, the Man of Sin will kill them and their dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three-and-a-half days. After this time, at the return of Yahshua the Messiah, the breath of life (pneuma) will be restored to them and they will stand on their feet as a witness against those who defied the will of Almighty Yahweh. Yahweh always has His representatives on earth through times of trial.
Perish the Thought
When we die our spirit or ruach returns to Yahweh. All our thoughts and awareness of our world come to a complete end, Ecclesiastes 12:7. There is no more consciousness at death.
Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5 wrote, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun.” King David confirmed this fact about death in Psalm 146:4: “His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”
When the ruach returns to Yahweh two things happen. First, our bodies return to the dust and second, our thoughts, which include all mental awareness, totally stop. The word “thoughts” is from the Hebrew eshtonah which literally means, “thinking” (Strong’s). The word “perish” is the Hebrew abad, a primitive root that means, “to wander away, i.e. lose oneself; by implication to perish or destroy” (Strong’s).
The Hebrew clearly shows that when our spirit returns to Yahweh that our ability to think stops; at death we fall into total unconsciousness. Ruach does not mean an “immortal soul” but rather the life-force that our Father gives to each living person. Through His prophet Yahweh stated, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4.
Scripture nowhere teaches that death is an automatic portal to another life. The following passages show that death is like sleep: “Now shall I sleep in the dust; and you shall seek me in the morning, but I shall not be,” Job 7:21.”For in death there is no remembrance of You: In the grave who shall give You thanks?” Psalm 6:5. “And he [Stephen] kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, ‘Master, lay not this sin to their charge.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep,” Acts 7:60. “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of Elohim, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption,” Acts 13:36.
Daniel shows that only at the resurrections do the dead come alive again: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt,” Daniel 12:2. Paul called the rising of the Messiah from the dead, “the firstfruits of them that slept,” 1Corinthians 15:20, 23.
Immortality Belief: Relic from the Mysteries
If the immortality of the soul belief is not rooted in Scripture, where did it originate and how did it end up in popular teachings?
The Jewish Encyclopedia, in the article, “Immortality of the Soul,” says, “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere taught in the Holy Scripture….The belief in the immortality of the soul came to the Jews from contact with Greek thought and chiefly through the philosophy of Plato, its principal exponent, who was led to it through Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries in which Babylonian and Egyptian views were strangely blended.”
Like many of today’s popular teachings, belief in an immortal soul is a legacy of ancient pagan beliefs handed down through the millennia. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived during the fifth century B.C.E., immortal soul beliefs trace directly back to the mystery religion of the Egyptians: “The Egyptians were the first that asserted that the soul of man is immortal…This opinion some among the Greeks have at different periods of time adopted as their own” (Euterpe, chapter 123).
The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature corroborates, “Perhaps we may say that the idea of immortality assumed a more definite shape among the Egyptians, for they clearly recognized not only a dwelling-place of the dead, but also a future judgment. ‘Osiris, the beneficent god, judges the dead,’ and, ‘having weighed their heart in the scales of justice, he sends the wicked to regions of darkness, while the just are sent to dwell with the god of light.’ The latter, we read on an inscription, ‘found favor before the great G-d; they dwell in glory, where they live a heavenly life; the bodies they have quitted will forever repose in their tombs, while they rejoice in the life of the supreme Gd.’ Immortality was thus plainly taught, although bound up with it was the idea of the preservation of the body, to which they attached great importance, as a condition of the soul’s continued life; and hence they built vast tombs, and embalmed their bodies, as if to last forever,” Immorality, p. 514. This same exhaustive source also explains the connection between immortality and the ancient eastern religions of Hinduism and Confucianism:
“Hindus – In the sacred books of Hindus called the Veda, ‘immorality of the soul, as well as personal immortality and personal responsibility after death, is clearly proclaimed….’
“Chinese – While it is true that Confucius himself did not expressly teach the immortality of the soul, nay, that he rather purposely seems to have avoided entering upon this subject at all…it is nevertheless implied in the worship which the Chinese pray to their ancestors….” p. 513.
Eventually these pagan beliefs were handed down to the Greeks, who then delivered them to Judaism and Christianity, forever changing the concept of the soul for western religion. According to Plato, a Greek philosopher and mathematician schooled by Socrates, the soul could not be destroyed. In Plato’s dialog Phaedo he states, “The soul whose inseparable attribute is life will never admit of life’s opposite, death. Thus the soul is shown to be immortal, and since immortal, indestructible….”
Contrary to the beliefs of the pagan Plato, the soul is not immortal. As Ezekiel wrote, “…the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
Life Essence Is Called ‘Soul’
The word “soul” comes from the Hebrew nephesh and means “a breathing creature, i.e. animal of (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental):” (Strong’s). It first appears in Genesis 1:20 where we read, “And Elohim said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature [nephesh] that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.”
As we see, the word “soul” does not refer to an indestructible inner spirit, but to the life bestowed by Yahweh on His creation, including animals. The words “immortal” and “soul” never occur together anywhere in Scripture.
Following are more uses of nephesh:
• “And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [nephesh],” Genesis 2:7.
• “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life [nephesh] of man,” Genesis 9:5.
• “And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons [nephesh], and take the goods to thyself,” Genesis 14:21.
• “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life [nephesh] for life [nephesh],” Exodus 21:23.
Immortal Soul Arguments Answered
We’ll now look at some of the popular passages often cited by advocates of the immortal soul belief. The first is in Genesis 35:18 where Rachel was giving birth: “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”
Many will point to the phrase, “soul was in departing,” as indicating that the soul as an immortal, inner spirit flitters away to heaven at death. The problem is that the word “soul” or “nephesh” refers not to a separate being or essence but simply to the life of the person. When we die our life leaves us, just as it does with animals.
The New International Version (NIV) translates the phrase simply as “she breathed her last….” The same phrase is in the Jewish TANAKH. Both the NIV and the TANAKH refer to the life breath of Rachel, as do the Modern Language Bible and The Torah: The Five Books of Moses (“she breathed her last”).
In 1Kings 17:21 Elijah is restoring life to a child, translated “soul”: “And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto Yahweh, and said, O Yahweh my Elohim, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.” Soul here is nephesh.
Here is an incredible story of Yahweh’s healing through the prophet Elijah (properly EliYah, meaning, “my El is Yah”). In response to the boy’s death, EliYah prayed that Yahweh would restore the soul or life of the child. In verse 22 we find that Yahweh answered his prayer: “And Yahweh heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” The word “soul” used here again is nephesh, referring to the life force of the boy.
An immortal essence (“soul”) does not make an individual come to life, rather, the soul IS the life. The NIV reads, “…let this boy’s life return to him.” The TANAKH reads, “…let this child’s life return to his body.” From the NIV and Jewish TANAKH we see that the word “soul” or nephesh is not referring to an immortal essence in a person, but simply to his or her life.
We use the same terminology when speaking of human life when we say, “many souls were lost” in a disaster.
Did Enoch and Elijah Head to Heaven?
Many read Hebrews 11:5 where Enoch was “translated that he should not see death” and believe he went to heaven (a clear contradiction of Yahshua’s statement in John 3:13 that no one has gone to heaven). Later in verse 13 we find that Enoch died in faith, along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and many others – and not of them has yet to receive the promise of everlasting life (“not having received the promises”).
The word “translated” here is the Greek metatithemi and simply means carried. Yahweh carried him to a different location on earth. It is the same word used in Acts 7:16 where Jacob died in Egypt and was carried to Sychem for burial. Similarly, after baptizing the eunuch Phillip was caught away by the Spirit, but was seen later at Azotus, 34 miles from Gaza. “Translated” is never used in Scripture to mean “was made immortal.”
Yahweh mercifully took Enoch out of the social situation he was in to remove any opportunity to jeopardize his salvation. The verb tense is future conditional, meaning he was taken so he “would not die,” meaning the judgment of the second death (John 8:51, 11:26). This also means that Enoch will be in the first resurrection at Yahshua’s return, as he has not yet seen the promises.
Why did Yahweh do this for Enoch? Read the last part of the verse: “for before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased Elohim.” By his life Enoch showed himself to be a true follower of Yahweh and was blessed by this gracious act of Yahweh because of it.
Many assume Eliyah (Elijah) in 2 Kings 2:9-11 was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind. If that’s true then why do we find him 10 years later back on earth writing a letter of chastisement to a king? (2Chronicles 21:12). Obviously he was still earthbound, writing to and warning Jehoram of Judah about the king’s impending punishment.
The Bible speaks of three heavens: the air above us, outer space, and the place where Yahweh dwells. Whirlwinds exist only in the atmosphere surrounding the planet, the first heaven, and was the conveyance by which Eliyah went up, v. 2:11.
If Eliyah had gone to the third heaven to be with Yahweh, then why did Elisha consent to allow 50 sons of the prophets to search three days for him in the mountains and valleys? (2:17) They would never have done so if they, along with the Holy Spirit-directed Elisha, thought that Eliyah had gone to be with Yahweh.
The account in Matthew 17 of Moses and Eliyah on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yahshua also leads some to believe in an immortal soul. But in verse 9 Yahshua tells the three disciples who witnessed it that it was a “vision” (Greek horamah, meaning a supernaturally granted spectacle). This vision was used to accentuate Yahshua’s teachings about immortality in the kingdom to come.
Rich Man Inflamed?
In Luke 16 is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Realize that this is but a story used indirectly to illustrate a point. Parables are rich with metaphor and by nature are a step removed from literal reality. Yahshua is talking about the Pharisees here, symbolized by the rich man who dressed and ate well.
These religious leaders know the truth, yet they reject it. Converted gentiles are represented by the beggar Lazarus, who lives by every morsel of truth given him and ultimately is rewarded for his willing obedience to what he learns.
In the allegory we find Lazarus dead and buried and carried by the angels into “Abraham’s bosom.” According to theologian John Lightfoot in speaking of death the Pharisees would say, “This day he sits in Abraham’s bosom” (Commentary on the Gospels, vol. 12, pp. 159-163). This unique expression means that he joined Abraham and his other deceased fore-fathers in the grave. See 1Kings 1:21; 2:10, 11:21. Abraham was not in heaven because later on Hebrews 11:13 distinctly tells us that Abraham “died in faith NOT having received the promises.”
Verses 22-23 in Luke 16 read, “…the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell [hades] he lifted up his eyes…” The Vulgate and Syriac versions exclude part of this verse and simply read, “and was buried in hades.” Hades is the grave. This fact is confirmed by the word “torments” in verse 23. Torments is basanos and means, “going to the bottom” of the grave.
Continuing in verse 24: “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
The rich man’s tongue is dry because of his intense anxiety at being shut out of salvation and he wants his tongue refreshed with a drop of water. If he were in hell fire he would have asked for a flood of water to put out the flames! A drop of water would do nothing to relieve the excruciation in an environment of burning sulphur and fiery brimstone. Furthermore, “tormented” has nothing to do with physical torture but relates to mental anguish. It means he was distressed, grieved (odunaomai, Companion Bible note).
Being that this is only a parable, Yahshua animates these dead men to prove a point – that the Pharisees (v. 19) will be shut out of the promises, Matthew 5:20.
The additional meaning of the parable is that repentance is impossible once we die. Death ends all possibilities to change our lives. Psalm 88:10 asks, “Will you show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you?”
Wise King Solomon wrote: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest,” Ecclesiastes 9:10.
Let’s now consider a few notable passages in the New Testament.
What Yahshua said in Matthew 10:28 is one of the most frequently cited verses to support the immortal soul belief. It states, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,” KJV.
What did Yahshua mean by, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body….”? Was He saying that the body and soul were distinct, with the soul being immortal? To understand we must look at the Greek.
The word “body” here is the Greek soma. Strong’s defines it as “the body (as a sound whole), used in a very wide application, literally or figuratively.” The word “soul” comes from the Greek psuche. According to Strong’s this word is from 5594, psucho, meaning to breathe voluntarily. It is the equivalent of the Hebrew nephesh, or life force. Only Yahweh can destroy the body as well as terminate the life force that goes back to Him at death. He does this at the second death in the lake of fire (gehenna). There is no resurrection to life fromgehenna. When we understand the Greek, our Savior is simply saying, “but rather fear him which is able to destroy both the breath, i.e., life, and body….” There’s nothing in this passage indicating the immortality of man’s soul. It is not immortal if it can be destroyed.
Sacrificing for the Faith
Before moving on from this passage let’s review. The Hebrew equivalents for Greek NT:5594, psucho, and NT:4151, pneuma, are OT:5315, nephesh, and OT:7307, ruach. Hebrew’s exact equivalents of these Greek words show how they were originally defined and used in the Old Testament, the foundation of the Scriptures. We must also consider two other examples. The first is Revelation 6:9: “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of Elohim, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Yahweh, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”
This fifth seal of Revelation represents the martyrdom of the saints. Many will use this passage to support the immortal soul notion. They will point out that the souls here are crying out for retribution on their enemies.
The Bible often uses symbolism and metaphor. For example, in Genesis 4:10 Abel’s blood is personified as crying out. “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Was Abel’s blood literally crying out from the ground? Of course not. This passage is just figurative speech, which is very common in the Hebrew language. Just as Abel’s blood symbolically cried out from the grave, we find the same type of speech here in Revelation, where the saints are symbolically calling out for Yahweh to avenge their deaths.
The intent of this passage was not to show that man is immortal, but to confirm that those who die to Messiah will receive white robes representing eternal life in His coming Kingdom.
In Revelation 20:4 we find another example of this type of speech. It reads, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yahshua, and for the word of Yahweh, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years.”
The word “souls” in this verse is from the Greek psuche, corresponding to the Hebrew nephesh. As we’ve seen, neither word refers to an immortal soul, but to the life and breath of individuals. (How do you behead an immortal soul?) The timing here is important. This isn’t referring to immortal souls in heaven, but to the future Kingdom on earth when the saints will rule with the Messiah as priests, Revelation 5:10.
Second Resurrection Is to Physical Life
Paul in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 reveals that the second resurrection takes place at the Messiah’s Second Coming: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yahshua will Elohim bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Master shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
This is the greatest promise we have as believers. When our Savior returns to the earth those in Messiah who died will rise first in this first resurrection, followed at that time by the righteous who are still alive. Death is not final; for those found worthy of Yahweh’s grace, death is but the beginning.
Imagine witnessing our Savior coming down from heaven with thousands of angels and seeing the saints coming forth from their graves and those already alive following them, to meet him in the clouds! This is the reward that awaits those found worthy. There’s no greater assurance than the promise of the resurrection for those who love our Father in heaven.
When Yahshua descends from heaven all will hear the shout of an archangel and the deafening trumpet blast of Yahweh. Contrary to popular belief, there will be no secret rapture but a visible return of our Savior.
More on the Order of the Resurrections
Paul further details the sequence of the resurrections in his first epistle to the Corinthians, “But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at his coming,” 1Corinthians 15:20-23.
Yahshua was the first of the firstfruits to be resurrected, symbolic of the firstfruits of the barley harvest in the Old Testament offered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yahshua’s resurrection depicted the firstfruits of a larger harvest of human souls in the New Testament.
Notice also the comparison between Adam and the Messiah. In Adam all died, but in Messiah all shall be made alive. Only by Yahshua can we achieve eternal salvation through His resurrection. Through His blood we find justification and the hope of everlasting life. If it were not for Yahshua the Messiah and His atoning blood, we would all be dead in our sins.
To share in the Messiah’s resurrection at His second coming we must first be baptized into His death: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua Messiah were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection….” Romans 6:3-5.
When we are immersed into His Name we die to our old man and from that point onward our life or nephesh belongs to Him. This is why baptism into Yahshua’s Name is so important!
Kingdom Will Come to Earth
What happens next for those found worthy of the second resurrection? Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Those in the first resurrection will rule as priests with the Messiah for a millennium or thousand years. Imagine, at this time the saints will be changed from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible, and will then be with their Savior forever.
Notice that the second death will have no power over those in the first resurrection. As Israel was exempt from most of the plagues of Egypt, those in the first resurrection will not be in danger of the second death.
Do you comprehend the significance of this promise? Yahweh is guaranteeing everlasting life to all who will devote their lives to Him now! Those in the first resurrection will have already passed judgment and been granted immortality. They will be with the Messiah for eternity.
Where will the saints be in the millennial Kingdom? Many would say in heaven, but Scripture says otherwise. Revelation 5:10 confirms, “And hast made us unto our Elohim kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” The saints will reign under Yahshua and David on the earth during the future Kingdom.
The millennial Kingdom is a time of restoration. Along with the Messiah, the saints will be teaching Yahweh’s ways to those who survive the Great Tribulation: “And though Yahweh give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers,” Isaiah 30:20.
But what about those who died never having the opportunity to learn and live the truth of their Heavenly Father? Are they forever doomed?
Second Resurrection Comes after the Millennium
John of Patmos provides a description of the second resurrection in Revelation 20:11-15, sometimes called the Great White Throne Judgment. It reads, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away: and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before Elohim; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and the grave delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Great White Throne Judgment is for all mankind, excluding those who were found worthy of the first resurrection. Books will be opened for the judgment. While the Word doesn’t say what information these books contain, we can safely assume that one contains a record of our lives. Another book is likely Yahweh’s Word, the standard of judgment, which will be the Constitution in the coming Kingdom. At this time all of mankind will be judged from these books based on how they lived, or as we find in verse 13, their works.
Requirements of the First Resurrection
This message of Yahweh’s Kingdom coming to earth is nonexistent in nearly all modern teachings. Most erroneously think we leave this world and go to heaven, but they don’t know what they are supposed to do there. Many also believe that we are under grace alone, that grace overrides works and therefore they have no need of works. This is not the message we find in Scripture. Yahweh states that we will be judged according to our works, Revelation 2:23, Jeremiah 17:10. So where does that leave the “grace by faith alone” doctrine?
While salvation is based on our Father’s grace (Rom. 6:23), we still have an obligation to obey the commandments to be found worthy of His grace. In the book of Jude, verse 4, we find this warning, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, wicked men, turning the grace of our Elohim into lasciviousness, and denying the only Sovereign Yahweh, and our Master Yahshua Messiah.”
Yahweh’s grace is not a license to continue in sin. Upon repentance we are to change our lives and abide by Yahweh’s moral standards. This is accomplished by obedience to His commandments, 1John 2:3, Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14. Those who teach that the commandments are no longer obligatory are guilty of turning Yahweh’s grace into lasciviousness (lawlessness).
What about those who were not law observant because of ignorance? Will they be given an opportunity for salvation? Those who lived a moral life based on what they understood will certainly receive grace in the judgment. Yahshua alludes to this in John 9:41 when He said “…If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.”
He also provides a second example in Matthew 11:23, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to the grave: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
While Yahweh’s law is always present, His condemnation is not. Yahweh doesn’t hold to account actions done in ignorance. If we are indeed unaware of keeping certain commandments (e.g. the Sabbath, Feasts, Yahweh’s Name, etc.), He overlooks that disobedience.
But we also find this principle in Acts 17:30, “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Notice that once we know the truth we must repent and follow that truth. Willful ignorance is unacceptable to our Father and Savior. Deliberate disobedience will be punished.
Traditions of Hellfire
We read earlier from Revelation 20, “And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.” The word hades is traditionally rendered “hell” and has been understood as a place of perpetual torment. The fact is, this belief is nowhere in the Bible but only in myth and man’s traditions.
The current concept of hell developed from Greek influence, according to authors Alan F. Johnson and Robert E. Webber in their book, What Christians Believe–A Biblical and Historical Summary. “In the intertestamental period there were significant developments in eschatological themes. The first relates to the development of a compartmental view of sheol. When the righteous and the wicked die, they go to different places. This is to be contrasted with the Old Testament view that sheol is the place where both the righteous and wicked go. Under the growing influence of Greek concepts of a distinct body and soul, some Jews taught that after death ‘the immortal and perishable soul, once detached from the ties of the flesh and thus freed from bondage, flies happily upwards’ [quote from Flavius Josephus, The Jewish Wars, II, VII.2]…On the other hand the wicked go to sheol, which is now identified with the Greek hades. This region of damnation is also called gehenna, a place of eternal fire (originally the old rubbish heap and a place of child sacrifice south of Mount Zion in Jerusalem). It was known as the Valley of Hinnom,” pp. 423-424.
The current concept of hell as an ever-burning fire is completely missing from the Old and New testaments and arose only through pagan traditions of man. This belief was further propagated and solidified in the 14th century through the “Inferno,” the prologue to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Scholars say Dante wrote the Divine Comedy as retribution against his political rivals, whose evils are featured in the work. He depicts sheol or hades as a place of fire and torment in the earth for those who do wrong during their lifetimes. Images of this epic-poem continue to influence New Testament believers today.
Sheol, Gehenna, and Hades Analyzed
While these words come from different languages, not one refers to an ever-burning hell fire in Scripture. Let’s examine each one individually.
Sheol appears 66 times in the Old Testament and is rendered in the KJV as, “grave, hell and pit.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance defines sheol as, “Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates.” Notice that Strong’s defines this word as the “world of the dead.” This “world” included both the righteous and the wicked, as shown in Genesis 37:35, “And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave [Heb. sheol] unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.” In this account Jacob is mourning the assumed death of his righteous son Joseph.
Gehenna refers to the Valley of Hinnom. It was a place where the Israelites burned their trash and sacrificed their children to Molech, an abominable practice abhorred by Almighty Yahweh. This word occurs 12 times in the New Testament and in every instance is rendered “hell” in the KJV. Strong’s defines this word as, “…of Hebrew origin [OT:1516 .and OT:2011]; valley of (the son of) Hinnom; gehenna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment.” The Valley of Hinnon was not a place of perpetual torment, but one of total, eternal destruction. In other words, those who go to “hell” will reap the totality of Yahweh’s judgment. However, the concept of burning forever is foreign to Scripture.
Hades appears 11 times in the New Testament and means, “the place
(state) of departed souls,” Strong’s. The Complete Word Study New Testament, under its Lexical Aids, states that hades, “corresponds to sheol in the Old Testament,” and that, “both words have been inadequately translated in the KJV as hell.” According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, in biblical Greek this word was associated with “Orcus, the infernal regions, a dark and dismal place in the very depths of the earth, the common receptacle of disembodied spirits. Usually hades is just the abode of the wicked, Luke 16:23; Rev.20:13,14; a very uncomfortable place.”
Keep in mind that this understanding developed through pagan Greek thought and philosophy. For that reason it’s essential that we interpret the word hades based on Scripture.
What About Eternal Fire?
You might be wondering, what about the references in Scripture to eternal fire? To the surprise of many, this phrase does not refer to an everlasting punishing. From the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah we learn that “eternal fire” simply refers to the finality of Yahweh’s judgment: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 7.
From the Restoration Study Bible we see that the phrase “refers both to its ability to continue burning in the presence of sufficient fuel, as well as its lasting effects….” The latter explains the eternal nature of this punishment. It is not the fire that burns forever, but the punishment or sentence of judgment that remains forever. Sodom and Gomorrah no longer burn, but Yahweh’s judgment on them will be forever remembered. Two additional examples are found in Jeremiah:
• “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched,” Jeremiah 17:27.
• “Therefore thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched,” Jeremiah 7:20.
These prophecies were fulfilled when Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. It says this fire would not be “quenched.” This word comes from the Hebrew kabah, a primitive root, meaning, “to expire or (causatively) to extinguish (fire, light, anger).” As with Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not referring to eternal fire, but to fire that no one shall put out until it has completely burned up its fuel, a comparison to the totality of Yahweh’s judgment.
Yahshua Was Dead and Never Visited the Fires of Hell
If hell or hades were a place of suffering for the wicked, why then do we find it used in reference to believers? For example in Acts 2:27, 31 we find that even Yahshua the Messiah was in hell: “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption…He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Messiah, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
If hell is a place of eternal torment for wrongdoing, why was Yahshua there? And if those who go there can’t possibly get out, why isn’t He still there? Church tradition says that Yahshua went to “hell” to preach to the wicked who were sent there, but Scripture is clear that for three days and three nights He was in the “heart of the earth,” a figure of speech that means the grave, Matthew 12:40.
Further verifica-tion is found in the context of verse 31, where Paul connects “hell” with corruption or decay, a state associated only with the grave. If Yahshua did not die, but went to preach to the wretched in hell fire, then His sacrifice did not pay the death penalty that our sins require. If typical church beliefs about His visit to hell are correct, then He never actually died and we have no salvation.
The Apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 15:55 provides another example, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” The word “grave” here is derived from hades. Not only is this verse referring to the saints, those who will be found worthy of the first resurrection, but it also connects hades with total death.
Clearly, hell is not solely reserved for the wicked, and is not a place of continual torment in the Scriptures. It is simply the grave where all the dead remain until the resurrection.
Heavenly Paradise Coming to Earth
Following the Great White Throne Judgment of the second resurrection, John of Patmos provides an image that could be described only as, “heavenly paradise on earth.” He states, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from Elohim out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and Yahweh himself shall be with them, and be their Elohim. And Elohim shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away,” Revelation 21:1-4.
For those found worthy of Yahweh’s calling, this is the prize. After the Millennium (and the second death), Yahweh our Father will bring His holy city, New Jerusalem, to earth. In His Kingdom there will be no more tears, no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain.
Imagine such a paradise! Yahweh Himself will finally make His abode with men. He will be their Mighty One and they shall be His people. That has been His desire and plan for mankind from the beginning.
John further describes this awe-inspiring city: “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from Elohim, Having the glory of Elohim: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb… And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein : for Yahweh El Shaddai and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of Elohim did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof,” Revelation 21:10-14, 18-23.
The description of this city is breathtaking. Imagine walls of jasper and streets of transparent gold! Rulership in this Kingdom on earth awaits those who devote their lives now to our Father Yahweh and to His Son, Yahshua the Messiah, Revelation 2:26.
Our lives are transitory; the life to come is eternal, full of happiness and blessings beyond measure. There will be no end to Yahweh’s Kingdom. Regardless of our current trials in this world, we have hope for a wonderful promise ahead if we prove faithful to the end.
Time to Make a Critical Decision
Teaching that the soul is not immortal, the Bible presents a serious choice for us. Scripture speaks of two resurrections. How we live now will determine whether we receive everlasting life in the first resurrection or face judgment in the second resurrection. Daniel 12:2 provides one of the first glimpses in the Word of the resurrection: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel distinguishes the two resurrections here.
Only two possibilities exist in the second resurrection. We will either be raised to everlasting life or be condemned to everlasting contempt. Our fate will be determined by the lives we live now. Many view death as a permanent state, but death is only a temporary type of sleep as we lose awareness or consciousness in the grave.
If we strive to live a moral, obedient life according to our Father’s Word, we will have an opportunity for everlasting life. Those, however, who know and understand and yet through their own rebellion refuse to obey, will find themselves in an unfavorable condition.
Paul admonished the assembly at Philippi, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12.
That message is the same today.
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When Yahshua returns to this earth one of His first acts will be to gather His chosen people. They will have already proved themselves in this life and been judged righteous. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,” Matthew 24:31. He will take them to Jerusalem to help establish His Kingdom on earth, Zechariah 14:4. This is the first resurrection.
We see from Isaiah that there will be babies born in the 1,000-year-long Kingdom when “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,” 11:6. These unconverted humans will have lived through the end-time Tribulation.
After 1,000 years of spiritual restoration on earth another resurrection will take place when those who died now in ignorance will be resurrected to the physical, human plane. They who come up in this second resurrection will then be taught and given the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to follow the Truth. This second resurrection is called a resurrection to judgment,Revelation 20:5. In the second resurrection they will be given the same opportunity we have now to prove their sincerity and commit to being followers of Yahweh.
Those who attain the first resurrection will immediately inherit the Kingdom and will rule over those who are raised to life in the second. It will be the job of today’s believers to bring the world into harmony with Yahweh’s government. This awesome potential and responsibility is why we live for Yahweh now. Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not!
In His wisdom Yahweh has called certain ones now to comprehend what He expects of His chosen. Although “many are called and few chosen,” Matthew 20:16, Yahshua made the point that not everyone is called now. Only some are given to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom of Yahweh, Matthew 13:11-15.
Yahshua deliberately spoke in parables so that the multitudes would not understand and would not be converted. He spoke in parables to hide the truth from those He did not choose at that time. Take heart if you have a loved one who rejects the truth of the Bible now and refuses to receive the Savior as the Captain and Ruler of his or her life. All will get an opportunity eventually.
If we are faithful, we can be in that Kingdom and help others later to learn the way of righteousness.
Although many of our loved ones are truly deceived by Satan (Rev. 12:9), and possibly won’t be in that spiritual realm as kings and priests with Yahshua (1Pet. 2:9), they will be given the choice whether to learn and accept Yahweh’s truth after the Kingdom is set up.
Just as Adam and Eve could have lived forever in Eden if they had taken of the tree of life instead of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the same is true for us. Imagine the prospects! If you are faithful in following Yahshua, you will have the opportunity to teach the Truth to a loved one in the future.
Yahshua now is choosing only those who will be overcomers — those who “overcome with EI” — Israel! Modern Israel is that select group of people who, when they find the truth of the Bible, will hold tightly to it and never let go, Matthew 24:13. Though trials, temptations, and persecution might hound them all the days of their lives, they can see the Holy City whose Builder and Maker is Yahweh, Hebrews 11:10, 16.
To receive the full reward, His people today must overcome and keep His works unto the end (Rev. 2:26-27). Through the Word our Savior calls to you, “Follow Me!” Once we put our hand to the plow we cannot look back with longing for any part of the life of sin we left behind.
We look for a better resurrection. Think of the glories of the coming Kingdom and the joy and bliss that may be ours when we find ourselves in that first resurrection! Paul wrote, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things that Yahweh has prepared for those who love Him,” 1Corinthians 2:9.
The first resurrection carries the favored position. Just as the firstborn of Israel were given a greater inheritance, those in the first resurrection will be given greater responsibilities and opportunities.
Those in the first resurrection will rule with the Messiah for a thousand years, Revelation 20:4, 6. Even the Apostle Paul was eager to be in the first resurrection. He wrote, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” The New International Version renders this resurrection “from the dead.” Yahshua called it the resurrection “of the just,” Luke 14:14.
Yahshua was given the highest position in the coming Kingdom because of His sacrifice, being the Firstborn of many, so His followers will share in the rewards.
For the Hall of Fame of the faithful and dedicated overcomers, read the 11th chapter of Hebrews. Then make your commitment to repent, be immersed into Yahshua’s Name, and join that list of the faithful.
Today is the only day of salvation,” the evangelist trumpets. “Answer the saving call NOW or forever be lost in the cold darkness of hell’s pit. I implore you, believe and be saved today, before it’s too late.”
Faces of deceased loved ones who never came to the truth of the Word race through the mind, the pain almost unbearable thinking that they are forever lost.
Or are they? Is it rational to believe that billions will be destroyed for eternity because they never had the opportunity to grasp the essentials of Yahweh’s Truth? Is Yahweh fervently trying to bring everyone to saving knowledge now?
As with other widely embraced myths, the notion that today is the only day of salvation has zero basis in Scripture. An essential key to proper understanding of salvation is in the Bible’s teaching about the resurrection.
Not One But Two
The fact that there are two resurrections distinctly taught in the Word provides resolutions to otherwise problematic issues such as:
How all must appear before the judgment seat, as the Apostle Paul revealed. (But what if most are ignorant of the Scriptures? Is it fair to judge one’s ignorance?)
Why Yahweh is merciful and patient with the unenlightened and the unknowing, desiring that all be saved and come to the Truth,1Timothy 2:4.
Why not everyone is being called now (“For many [not all] are called, but few chosen,” Matt. 22:14).
Why the Scriptures speak of firstfruits who rise first (presupposing secondfruits who will follow later).
Why a rapture doesn’t fit the salvation blueprint, let alone prophetic events, and is nonexistent in the Word.
These issues and many others are solved by understanding that there is more than one resurrection.
A basic understanding of Yahweh’s Word is the antidote to a plethora of questions and popular fallacies. Many misunderstand key doctrines because of gaps in their knowledge. To solve that problem the entire biblical teaching on a subject must be pursued from start to finish.
Most are unwilling or unable to embark on such a task, however, and just accept popular or traditional teachings that invariably conflict with the Scriptures. Let’s take a look at the subject of the resurrection from the beginning.
‘Resurrection’ in Old Testament
Many who have never taken a close look think that the concept of a bodily resurrection was unknown in the Old Testament. The resurrection was nothing new to the religious elite of the early New Testament, who obviously learned it from the Old. As with most fundamental, Biblical truths the resurrection has its basis in the foundational books of the Old Testament.
Following are Old Testament pas-sages clearly teaching a resurrection:
Isaiah 26:19 – “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”
Ezekiel 37:13 – “And you shall know that I [am] Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.”
Daniel 12:2-3 – “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
Hosea 13:14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.”
NT Teaches the Resurrection
In Yahshua’s day denial of the resurrection was a flaw in the doctrine of the priestly class, the Sadducees (Matt. 22:23).
In contrast to the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in a resurrection of all faithful Jews, which became a doctrine of the rabbinic period (70-500 CE).
By the Roman period, however, many Jews believed in a future restoration. This was not immortality of the soul in heaven. Resurrection to them meant resuscitation of the body itself on earth. Yahshua and His disciples taught a kingdom rulership on earth by the saints changed to spirit beings.
In one of the clearest descriptions in the New Testament of the resurrection, Paul explains when and how those found worthy will receive their reward.
“For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Yahshua will Elohim bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Master shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master,” 1Thessalonians 4:14-17.
This is the Second Coming of our Savior when He will gather His elect, those “in Messiah,” from the four corners of the earth,Matthew 24:31. This event is not a rapture (see p. 24). This is the first resurrection of both living and dead. There would be no point of rapturing the dead.
What happens to those not “in Messiah” and not raised to meet Yahshua at His return in this first resurrection? Many worry about family and friends who never knew or followed truth. Are they and billions like them on a collision course with hell-fire?
Yahweh is not a callous tyrant. He didn’t put us on this planet just to watch us self-destruct. He created us for a purpose – to join Him one day in His Kingdom family and serve Him for eternity in responsible positions in a government that will defy description and that will encompass the universe.
As an earthly father loves his children, Yahweh desires every in-dividual on earth to serve Him both now and in the Kingdom under Yahshua the Messiah. He wants everyone to become like Him in mind and heart by obedience to His standard of righteousness, which is His laws.
Peter wrote, “Yahweh is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2Peter 3:9.
Sadly, not everyone who comes to the Truth will prove worthy in living a set-apart life. Once we grasp His truths the ball is in our court with a clear mandate to live by them – or else. Fully grasping the Truth is one thing but ignorance of it is quite another.
A Second Resurrection
Yahweh is merciful, especially to the ignorant. This fact forms the framework for another resurrection that comes a thousand years after the first one at Yahshua’s return. Because most people are not being called today, most have no concept of what is happening now with Yahweh’s plan of salvation. Yahweh will offer them a chance after the millennial Kingdom is over to choose Him over death.
The Father in heaven is no compromiser. He has repeatedly made His mandates known. He has promised blessings for living by them and curses for not doing so. It’s entirely His prerogative, and it’s our job to get on board. Our salvation depends on it.
Since the days of Eden Yahweh has been telling His human creation to walk in His ways, not in our own. That’s not complicated. If you follow Him you will be blessed eternally. But if you rebel and turn away from Him and live life your own way, you will be in utmost danger. That’s the thrust of salvation in the Scriptures.
Endless doctrinal disputes arise when someone tries to circumvent Yahweh’s commands. In doing so they reject His preeminence and authority. Man instinctively hates having to obey anything. In fact, widespread DISobedience is the order of our day.
His ways are not hard to understand: Yahweh sees obedience as good, disobedience as rebellion. He rewards obedience, He punishes disobedience. It’s the same for any parent bringing up a child.
Experience proves that widespread disobedience results in societal break-down. Yet common anti-law teachings advocate that His laws be ignored as obsolete.
Let’s look at the resurrection in light of fundamental, biblical fact.
Rewards in First Resurrection
The apostle tells us in 2Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he has done, whether [it be] good or bad.”
Many have read this verse believing that everyone will go through a great final judgment and be sentenced. But notice1Corinthians 15:23:
“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years. But every man in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at his coming”
How can He gather His chosen before they are formally judged? He reveals that if you are in the first resurrection that the second death has no power over you. Therefore you are already judged if you are in the first resurrection.
Truth seekers are appearing before the judgment seat right now. They are being evaluated by how they live today. This has major implications for obedience. This is the key to con-forming to Yahweh’s commands and not just relying on His grace and living life any way you choose.
Peter Confirms a Judgment Now
The Apostle Peter wrote, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of Elohim: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the evangel of Elohim?” The faithful are undergoing judgment right now. Their good behavior is a witness for them and bad behavior a witness against them, 1Peter 4:17.
The ignorant and unenlightened are not under judgment yet because they are not being called now. They are busy living for themselves. That is why the True Worshiper must never let the ignorant society set his or her standards. The secular world is not “in the game” and therefore their example or advice about obedience is not creditworthy.
Traditional notions lead to the belief that judgment is a mere sentencing where the gavel drops and a trap door opens to hellfire – or a ladder to heaven appears for those wearing halos.
Judgment is a process, just as it is in any trial proceeding. As the proceedings go on, the judge or jury draw conclusions as to the guilt or innocence of the accused. Those who will be the chosen are being judged in their lives now.
Judged By What We Do
By what criteria are we judged? Yahshua the righteous Judge says, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works,”Revelation 2:23. Works means how we conformed to His will. His will is expressed by His laws and commands relating to those laws.
If we are saved by grace and faith alone, with no requirement on our part, then there is no need for a judgment. There is no point or purpose in ex-amining behavior if it’s a foregone conclusion that we are saved regardless. All we need is a simple confession and we are home free. James contradicts that.
“But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continues [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed,” James 1:25. He says further in 2:12: “So speak, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.”
An assessment of our lives determines our worthiness for the Kingdom and our rewards in it. And that is a key reason obedience to Yahweh’s laws is mandated, not optional. Judgment would be impossible without a way to gauge behavior.
Without posted speed limits it would be ludicrous for a police officer to stop anyone for speeding.
The first resurrection involves those who remained faithful to Him now, in this life. It includes both the chosen living and the chosen dead. They are considered “in Messiah.” They are the faithful saints who will have persevered and stood fast until the end.
To be in this first resurrection all must already have been judged righteous and worthy. “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,”Matthew 13:41-43.
Combine this passage with Revelation 20:6 (a parallel to 1Cor. 15:23): “Blessed and holy [is] he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Yahshua Himself promised an eventual resurrection of all the dead, revealing more than one resurrection. He described the first resurrection as one “to life,” meaning those who would be raised or changed from flesh to spirit essence. Those in the first resurrection will be immortal.
John 5:28-29: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto damnation.” He spoke of judgment that will come a thousand years later in a second resurrection.
Paul, in his defense before Felix, stated there would be a resurrection of two groups. “And have hope toward Yahweh, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resur-rection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” Acts 24:15.
Notice here that the just are resurrected before the un-just. The just are those believers who keep striving to obey the commandments, statutes and judg-ments. That’s what makes them “just.”
The Greek for just is dikaios and means: “righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of Elohim.”
Yahshua promised that in the first resurrection, those who were obedient would then be blessed. “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just,” Luke 14:14.
Paul was hopeful of being in that first resurrection. Writing to the Philippians he referred to a resurrection from the corpses. In other words he hoped to be raised from the dead (known as the “out” resurrection).
Too many treat the gift of everlasting life flippantly as if by reciting a few words they have guaranteed salvation. Paul recognized that this first resurrection is highly prized and not easy to come by. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead,”Philippians 3:11. The great evangelizing apostle was uncertain even of his own salvation.
Those worthy to be resurrected at the return of Yahshua are firstfruits. Theirs is a resurrection built on better promises and greater rewards, Matthew 16:27. It is a resurrection to spirit essence to be forever with Yahshua.
Second Resurrection Later
Another resurrection takes place a thousand years later. Those in this resurrection will be brought back as flesh and blood to live on a physical earth.
The prophet Daniel speaks of it in 12:2: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
The second resurrection precedes what is called the great white throne judgment that follows. John sums up the two resurrections in the Book of Revelation.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Yahshua, and for the word of Yahweh, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Messiah a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (20:4-6).
Those judged un-worthy in the second resurrection will be destroyed in the lake of fire, where their existence ends forever in what is called the second death. Those deemed worthy of life from this second resurrection will be given lesser rewards than those worthy of the first resurrection.
It will be a great day when Yahshua returns and sets up His kingdom. He will put down all rule and authority. The saints will be tested and tried for a better resurrection, Hebrews 11:35.
Make the days of your life count by doing what the Word commands.
When Yahshua returns the final trumpet will sound and He will gather His elect. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,”Matthew 24:30-33. Was Yahshua speaking of a rapture of the elect from the earth? Note that first the “tribes” of the earth will mourn at the sight of His coming. Why?
He said earth’s final events will be just like those in Noah’s day. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” Matthew 24:37-39. Were righteous Noah and his family raptured from the planet to be saved from the devastating floodwaters? No. Yahweh had guided Noah to prepare a place of earthly protection — a giant ark of safety floating on destructive flood waters.
Note what happened to the wicked. We read that Yahweh “took them all away.” They were taken and destroyed in the waters and only Noah and his family remained.
Yahshua said it will be the same way at the end of the age: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In the same manner at Yahshua’s coming the wicked will be removed first and the righteous will remain.
Another account is Matthew 13:24-30 where Yahshua said, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30). The wicked will be taken first and burned.
A parallel account of the Second Coming is in Luke 17:35-37, where Yahshua said, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered, Where, Master? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”
What did He mean by “body” and “eagles”? This verse is a mistranslation in the KJV which, when cleared up, makes understanding crystal clear. Let’s go back to Matthew 24 for clarification of the same account in Luke 17:35-37. In verses 27-28 of Matthew 24 we find: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
were the translators used the more correct “carcase” in translating the word ptoma, which in Greek means “ruin, lifeless body, corpse.” The word for “eagles” refers more accurately to vultures. Eagles are not carrion eaters as are vultures.
Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testamentsays about the word eagles in this passage, “Eagles. Rev. puts vultures in margin. The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power.” Millions will die when the angel comes to separate and destroy the wicked first.
The New English Bible translates Matthew 24:28: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Goodspeed reads, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will flock.” The New International Version reads, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”
Does this sound like a glorious place of safety to which the saints will be taken in a rapture? On the contrary, Yahshua told His disciples that those taken first, meaning the wicked, will be taken and destroyed just as they were in the flood. The righteous Noah and family remained.
With the wicked gone and the chosen remaining, the earth can be remade into the paradise it was meant to be in Yahshua’s millennial kingdom.
Just as Noah was protected on earth during the catastrophic flood, and Israel was protected in Egypt during the passing over of the death angel, Yahweh promises the same kind of earthly protection for His people during the tribulation preceding Yahshua’s coming:
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:-16).
What was done in the past is a pattern for the future.
If you were to invent the easiest and most popular religion in the world, you would probably do the following:You would tell your followers that their only obligation is to believe. You would teach them that there is no need to conform to any commands, because that would be bondage.You would constantly remind them that all obligations of righteousness, including lawkeeping, have been met for them by a personal Savior. (Never mind that after keeping all the law perfectly Himself, He commanded us to do the same.)
Finally, in your religion no one would need to worry that their faith would ever be tried, or that they may have to defend their convictions or suffer for their beliefs. When the end-time tribulation comes, they will be miraculously whisked away to a heavenly sanctuary, while everyone else who is not of the faith — including perhaps family and close friends — will still be on earth suffering unspeakable horrors. Your faithful, however, will watch all the pain and death from a safe and glorious paradise in the sky, granted to them simply by divine caprice.
Imagine how attractive your religion would be! Who in his or her right mind would not want to have the ultimate in blessings — all for doing nothing? And when testing comes, they will be immediately removed from the conflict without having to answer for or defend their faith. Is it any wonder that so many people choose to accept these same teachings?
But there is a problem. The Scriptures nowhere support any of this. In fact, the exact opposite is the case.
Nowhere in the 66 books of the Bible do we find that all we need is faith alone. No such statement exists or is implied. On the contrary, James 2:17 reads, “Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.”
The doctrine against doing any kind of “works” (sometimes called “works righteousness”) springs from the writings of the Protestant Reformation, many of which were in defiant response to Roman Catholic excesses and demands of onerous penance on the people.
Nowhere in the pages of the inspired Word, however, is there any example of or statement relating to being in “bondage” because of obedience to the higher standards of the Scriptures.
Neither is there even one sentence saying that because Yahshua the Messiah met the requirements of obedience, that we don’t need to. On the contrary. We are told that His perfect obedience was an example for us, and we are to follow in His footsteps,1Peter 2:21-22.
And finally, we are never promised an oasis from the trials of life. Paul wrote to young Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live righteously in Messiah Yahshua shall suffer persecution,” 2Timothy 3:12. Overcoming trials is what being a True Worshiper is all about, and it leads to eternal reward, James 1:12.
The Word ‘Rapture’ Is Missing
We are nowhere told in the inspired Word to expect to be snatched away to heaven to watch our earthbound loved ones suffer and die agonizing deaths during the worst-ever disasters and conflagration prophesied to engulf this planet. In fact, the word “rapture” never appears in the Scriptures.
Are we any better or more privileged than the prophets of old, who suffered for their faith? James 5:10 says that their lives and experiences are patterns for us, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of Yahweh, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.”
So what of the idea of a rapture, in which the saints will allegedly be removed from the earth before end-time tribulation? Is there Scriptural support?
The rapture doctrine says that the Messiah will return and either secretly whisk away the saints or take them openly to heaven with Him. There they will spend either 3 ½ or 7 years in safekeeping while tribulation rocks this planet.
The rapture teaching rests heavily on 1Thessalonians 4:15-17: “For this we say unto you by the word of Yahweh, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of Yahshua shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep [dead]. For the Master himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Master in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Master.”
Trying to make this passage refer to a pre-tribulation rapture of protection is incongruous, considering that the dead are said to go first. The dead don’t need to be raptured to safety because they are dead. Their souls, according to the rapture teaching, will already be up in heaven. In truth, this passage is speaking of the final day when Yahshua returns to earth to set up His Kingdom, and all the saints, living and dead, will be gathered to be with Him to rule in a thousand-year period on earth.
The timing of the event is critical. Are the saints taken before or after the Great Tribulation? We will find out momentarily.
Other questions that need answering: where is the support for a silent, secret rapture — which some believe will occur — amid “a shout,” “voice of an archangel,” and a trumpet blast? Is there perhaps a “silent” Second Coming and then a Third Coming? If so, where is the Scriptural evidence?
Let’s learn the whole truth and see whether the entire rapture teaching squares with the plain and clear teachings in the Word of Yahweh.
As in the Days of Noah
In Matthew 24:30-33, Yahshua in His own words reveals what will happen when He returns to earth: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”
Here we see that when Yahshua returns, the final trumpet will sound and He will gather His elect from one end of heaven to another (not huddled all together in one place, as some teach).
Continuing with verses 37-39, we read, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Yahshua tells us that people everywhere will be carrying on their lives oblivious to what is about to happen, just as they were before the earth was inundated by water. Noah and his family were the bright lights amid all of the dark, earthly evil. They are called righteous by Yahweh in Genesis 7:1.
But notice. We read that the final events will be just like those in Noah’s day. And what happened with righteous Noah and his family? Were they raptured from the planet just before the devastating flood? No, on the contrary, they remained on earth. Yahweh had guided Noah to prepare a place of earthly safety and protection — a giant ark floating on the flood waters.
Now note what happened to the wicked. We read that Yahweh “took them all away.” They were taken and destroyed in the waters and only Noah and his family remained.
Yahshua said it will be the same way at the end of the age: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In the same manner as in the days of the flood, at Yahshua’s coming the wicked will be removed first and the righteous will remain.
The disciples asked Him where these “taken” ones, meaning the wicked people, will go. For the answer we go to a parallel account inLuke 17:35-37, where Yahshua said. “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Master? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”
What did He mean by “body” and “eagles”? This verse has a translation difficulty in the KJV which, once cleared up, makes understanding crystal clear. Let’s go back to Matthew 24. This passage about the coming of the Messiah is an improved rendering of the same account we just read in Luke 17:35-37.
“For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
Here the translators used the more correct “carcase” in translating the word ptoma, which in Greek means “ruin, lifeless body, corpse.” The word for “eagles” refers more accurately to vultures. Eagles are not carrion eaters as are vultures.
Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says about the word eagles in this passage, “Eagles. Rev. puts vultures in margin. The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power. Aristotle notes how this bird scents its prey from afar, and congregates in the wake of an army,” p. 75. There will be millions dying when the angel comes to separate and destroy the wicked first.
The New English Bible translates Matthew 24:28: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Goodspeed reads, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will flock.” The New International Version reads, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”
Does this sound like a glorious place of safety where the saints will be taken up in a rapture? On the contrary, Yahshua told His disciples that those taken, meaning the wicked, will be destroyed, not whisked off to safety in heaven!
Tares Separated First
In His parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13, Yahshua corroborates what we have confirmed in Matthew 24, that the rapture is the exact opposite of what most people think.
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30).
“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (40-42).
“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (49-50).
But couldn’t Yahshua have already come and gathered His elect to safety by this time? some may be wondering. Obviously, if the righteous were already raptured, they would not still be on earth among the wicked when the wicked are removed.
The rapture doctrine says that Yahshua will come in two stages: “for” His saints, represented by the Greek word parousia, and the second stage being “with” His saints, revealed in the Greek word apokalupto. In fact, New Testament usage makes no distinction between these two Greek words. The doctrine says that the word parousia in 1Thessalonians 4:15-16 is an initial coming “for” His saints before the tribulation. However, parousia is also used in 2Thessalonians 2:1 and 8, where His coming clearly is at the end of the tribulation.
Similarly, parousia and apokalupto are found in Matthew 24:37 (coming) and Luke 17:30 (revealed), respectively. Both speak of this same coming of Yahshua using the context of the days of Noah where the wicked are removed first.
In all three verses in John 6:40, 44, and 54 Yahshua tell us that the righteous will be raised up at the last day. The “last day” occurs after the tribulation, not before. The last day refers to the final resurrection of all believers, John 11:24. That is the timing of1Thessalonians 4:15-17.
Protection Right Here on Earth
Just as Noah was protected on earth during the catastrophic flood, and Israel was protected in Egypt during the passing over of the death angel, Yahweh promises the same kind of earthly protection for His people in the last days:
“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:-16).
The terms “wilderness,” “flood,” and “earth” demonstrate unequivocally that the saints will find protection on earth, not in heaven. Satan certainly has no power to chase the saints around in heaven!
Yahshua specifically prayed in John 17:15 that the righteous not be taken from the world, but that they be safeguarded. His prayer directly contradicts the notion of a coming rapture to heaven. In Matthew 24:22, the Messiah said that for the sake of the elect, the last-day tribulation will be shortened, otherwise no flesh would be saved. This tells us that the elect will still be on earth and it is because of them that Yahweh will make an end to destructive events.
It is impossible to reconcile with the Scriptures the idea that the saints will be protected in heaven from end-time tribulation. Bible prophecy clearly maintains that there will be many who will be martyred for the Truth in the last days (see Dan. 8:24; Matt. 24:9;Rev. 13:7 and 20:4).
In Revelation 12:17 Yahshua revealed, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Yahweh, and have the testimony of Yahshua the Messiah.” Obviously there are saints obedient to Yahweh yet on earth — not in heaven —and still subject to attack by Satan. Revelation 6:9-11 plainly shows that many True Worshipers will undergo end-time martyrdom.
Daniel was protected from lions even while right in their midst in the lion’s den. His three friends escaped destruction of the fiery furnace by miraculous protection while still in the furnace itself. Israel had to endure the first three Egyptian plagues in the land of Goshen, and only then were they protected (while still in Goshen, on Egyptian soil).
Revelation 7 reveals a similar destiny for the people of Yahweh in the last days. Before the angel releases divine plagues that will devastate the earth, the saints of Yahweh will be sealed in their foreheads for protection, verse 3. That sealing is His Name, we read in Revelation 14:1 and 22:4. As with Israel in Goshen, however, there is nothing stating that the people of Yahweh will not have to endure the man-made tribulation that will come first. This is detailed in Revelation 6:1-8.
Another passage that directly rebuts a rapture is Revelation 7:14, where one of the elders inquires of the identity of all those people dressed in white robes. “And I said unto him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These saints proved faithful and stood fast in the coming tribulation and they are now granted a position in the Kingdom of the Messiah.
Rewards are not given to those who escape, but to those who endure and overcome (Rev. 2:26). Revelation 20:4 says there will be martyrs who refuse to worship the beast who will be beheaded for the witness of Yahshua. Are we to assume that these martyrs are the evil people left behind on earth during the Tribulation? Obviously not. They are the saints, whose preaching, teaching, righteous example, and martyrdom will convert many to the truth during the reign of the Antimessiah.
The next verse presents a real problem for the doctrine of the rapture. Most rapturists maintain that the righteous living and righteous dead will be raptured off to heaven before the tribulation (a teaching known as the pretribulation rapture). But notice: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection,” Revelation 20:5. Had there already been a rapture, this would be the second resurrection, not the first.
Does the Savior Make a U-turn?
Yahweh promises protection for the righteous, although some will be called on to give up their lives as a witness of faith to others. Resurrecting them to life again is no problem with Yahweh, and they will be the first to rise at the last trumpet blast when Yahshua returns.
A key question that needs to be answered is, where will Yahshua the Messiah go when He comes in the clouds and raises His saints? Will He return to heaven? That is what the rapture teaching says.
We read in 1Thessalonians 4:17 that the righteous will “meet the Savior in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Savior.” Does He take the saints and return to heaven for as much as seven years for the duration of the Tribulation?
The word “meet” is the Greek apantesis and is used in only two other places in the New Testament. One such place is Matthew 25:6, where the virgins meet the Bridegroom (meet here is apantesis) and they continue on to the wedding feast. He does not reverse direction and take the virgins back to heaven where He came from. Verse 13 tells us that this meeting is “the day and hour when the son of man comes” at the Second Coming.
The other instance where apantesis is used is in Acts 28:15. Paul is heading to Rome and a delegation of Roman brethren go to meet (apantesis) him. Paul approaches, they meet and continue on to Rome, his destination. He did not reverse course.
Yahshua’s destination is the Mount of Olives, not a return to heaven, Zechariah 14:4. His intent is to set up his throne at Jerusalem “in that day.” He does not reverse direction and head back to heaven with the newly gathered saints.
Rapture: A Perilous Teaching
The rapture doctrine is just another aspect of the modern, false idea of gain without pain. Something for nothing. No effort or overcoming is necessary. Such an idea is completely foreign to Scripture. In the Book of Acts we read, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of Elohim, ”Acts 14:22.
The rapture doctrine is not only unscriptural, but it will also prove to be sinister. Instead of spiritually preparing people for what is coming, which is the whole reason we are given Bible prophecy in the first place, people are being led to believe the lie that they will be delivered out of it all.
Revealed prophecy is not given so that we can become lax and lackadaisical. Prophecy is intended to draw us closer to Yahweh: “…those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law,”Deuteronomy 29:29. Notice as well what Romans 16:25-26 tells us: “…according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting Elohim, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.”
How will millions react when they find themselves facing the biggest challenge of their lives and they are completely unprepared? Yahshua tells us how: He says that at that time men’s hearts will be “failing them for fear”! (Luke 21:26).
May we not be deceived into false confidence by a teaching that does not exist in the Scriptures.
We need to heed Yahshua’s admonishment about the last days, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man,” Luke 21:34-36
It is time to find the promised protection and salvation that come from knowing and following the truth, and escape the destruction that results from the misguided doctrines of man.
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What happens to the dead? The common belief is that those who are good in this life will automatically end up in heaven, while the wicked will suffer forever in the sulfurous agony of hellfire. Perhaps no other passage is cited more often in support of this belief than the parable of Lazarus and the rich man found in Luke 16. In the parable two men die. Lazarus, a beggar, ends up in good graces while the rich man is tormented.
This allegory is taken literally by some because in it Yahshua the Messiah uses the name of a real-life Biblical person, Lazarus. In the parable these two dead men are alive and communicating. We immediately encounter a major problem with taking it at face value. According toPsalm 6:5, when you die your thinking and your awareness of everything stop. “The dead know not anything,”Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, “for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave wither you go,” verse 10. Clearly Yahshua animates these individuals simply to make a point. Yahshua employed a story here in Luke 16that has been interpreted by many literally while the real intent goes unnoticed. The parable is allegory, symbolism, metaphor, and was not meant to be an actual account of what happens at death.
This story is a prime example of Yahshua’s teaching technique using illustration in the form of stories. When His disciples asked Him why He used parables He answered, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of Elohim: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them,” Mark 4:11-12. He used parables to teach His people key truths while keeping in ignorance those who were not supposed to understand.
The entire point of this narrative has been historically misunderstood. To think that Yahshua the Messiah was supporting the notion that the wicked go to ever-burning hell at death flies in the face of many other Scriptures. No interpretation is valid if it contradicts what the Bible teaches elsewhere. Now let’s diagnose the parable.
A Message to Certain Jews
First we notice that the entire parable is couched in Yahshua’s ongoing discussion about an unjust steward. He concludes: “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve Elohim and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
When the Pharisees, who coveted wealth, heard this they derided Him, verse 14. Then our Savior levels His sights directly at the Pharisees. His comments are an affront to these leaders who found His entire teachings reprehensible and as well as a threat.
To grasp the proper meaning of this allegory we will comment on each verse.
“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” (Luke 16:19). Here is an individual accustomed to the high life. His “purple and fine linen” reveals that he is of a royal, ruling class. He enjoys the best of everything and lives large. Within the tribe of Judah we find this man as the Pharisee, a middle and upper political class who lived well at the expense of others.
Using the rich man as a symbol, Yahshua addresses the Jewish nation in His day. This is evident by what appears to be an out-of-place reference to divorce and remarriage in verse 18: “Whosoever puts away his wife, and marries another, commits adultery: and whosoever marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18).
The reason for this reference was that the Jews should have recognized Him as the Messiah. They and the rest of Israel were married to Him in the Old Testament and will, along with others, make up the bride in the coming kingdom. Instead they rejected the Messiah and committed spiritual adultery through their own traditions and customs.
By Yahshua’s time the 10 other tribes of Israel were scattered over the earth. Being favored, the tribe of Judah became the royal line from which kings would arise, including Yahshua the true King, Genesis 49:8-12. “What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Elohim” (Rom. 3:1-2). The Jews were entrusted with preserving the Scriptures.
Yahshua now gets to the core of the allegory in verse 20.
“And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:20-21).
The contrast between the two men or groups is salient. One lives sumptuously with all the creature comforts as well as prestige; the other is in abject poverty, sickly, and would gladly partake of even the most meager of sustenance – scraps from the table of the wealthy man.It’s a study in contrasts.
In the parable the beggar is not asked to the banquet. In Romans 11:9-10 Paul used the symbol of the table to demonstrate that the Pharisees believed that their prosperity was a sign of Yahweh’s blessings. Because of their attitude, however, their prosperity became a curse.
Who Is Lazarus?
The name Lazarus is a Grecianized form of the Hebrew Elazar or Eliezer, meaning “El has helped.”
Genesis 15:2-3 indicates who this beggar might be. “And Abram said, Yahweh Elohim, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me you have given no seed: and one born in my house is mine heir.”
Although not of Abraham’s offspring, Eliezer (Lazarus) is nevertheless a trusted servant in Abraham’s household. In fact, Abraham even says his inheritance will go to Eliezer. But in Genesis 17 Yahweh promises to give Abraham and Sarah a son who would actually receive the inheritance.
Eliezer returns in chapter 24, where Abraham is instructing this faithful servant about finding a wife for Isaac. He tells Eliezer not to go to the Canaanites but return to Abraham’s country to seek a mate for Isaac. This Eliezer does. Isaac eventually receives the inheritance (Gen. 25:5).
In Luke 16:21 we learn that dogs licked the sores of Lazarus. For some Jews, dogs meant Gentiles, Matthew 15:22-26. So we learn that Lazarus is thrown in with Gentile “dogs” in their estimation.
Where Is Abraham’s Bosom?
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (v. 22). The typical notion is that this means that the beggar was carried off to heaven. Speaking of death, however, the Pharisees would say in their common idiom that he sits in a favored position known as “Abraham’s bosom” (see Lightfoot’s Commentary).
If Abraham were in heaven, it should be easy to verify. His “obituary” is found in Genesis 25:7-9: “And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost [spirit], and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre.”
Abraham was buried and “gathered to his people.” If Lazarus is “in Abraham’s bosom” then he, too, would be buried in the cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron. He is not now up in heaven.
Abraham’s obituary agrees with the prophecy of Abraham’s death in Genesis 15:15: “And you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.” In death Abraham joined his forefathers who preceded him in their own demise and who were now in the grave.
Many assume that Abraham is in heaven with his forefathers. But the Book of Joshua tells us that Abraham’s forefathers were idol worshipers. Would they be rewarded with heaven? Not according to Ephesians 5:5, which says no idolater has any inheritance in the Kingdom. Notice: “And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus says Yahweh Elohim of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods” (Joshua 24:2).
Both of Them Simply Died
If the forefathers of Abraham were in ever-burning hell, to which many believe the wicked go, then Abraham has joined them as well. How do we explain this parable? Quite easily.
The idiomatic meaning of being “gathered to his people” or “gathered to his fathers” simply means that he joined the ranks of the dead. Abraham (as well as Lazarus) was dead and buried, as were Abraham’s fathers. He is not up in heaven or suffering in endless agony in hellfire. He is buried in the earth awaiting the resurrection from the grave.
Yahshua plainly said that no man has ascended to heaven, John 3:13, not even King David, Acts 2:34. All the dead of past and present are waiting the resurrection at Yahshua’s return: “For if we believe that Yahshua died and rose again, even so them also which sleep [are dead] in Yahshua will Elohim bring with him … For the Savior Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first” (1Thess. 4: 14, 16).
“The rich man also died, and was buried.” Both beggar and rich man died and were put in graves to await the resurrection. Death comes to both rich and poor, just as it does to animals, Psalm 49:12.
Another Scripture makes it clear that Abraham died. “Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that you have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and you say, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Are you greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: who do you make yourself?” (John 8:52-53). Yahshua ignored their question.
Had Abraham in fact been in heaven, this was the perfect opportunity to set the record straight by explaining that his soul was alive and living eternally. But Yahshua’s silence was testimony to the truth that Abraham was still dead in the grave.
Was the Rich Man Roasting?
In Luke 16:23 is the resurrection of the rich man (at the second coming of Yahshua, lThes.4:15-17).
“And in the grave the rich man lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.” In this passage “grave” is the translation of the Greek word hades, commonly rendered hell in the New Testament.
The Savior said in verse 22 that Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. This is the same expression Yahshua used in Matthew 24:31, when He said He would send His angels to gather the elect in the first resurrection just before the Kingdom of Yahweh is established on earth. Lazarus had been accounted worthy of that first resurrection mentioned in Revelation 20:6.
According to Yahshua’s prophecy in Luke 13:28, many will suffer when they are shut out of paradise. “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of Elohim, and you yourselves thrust out.”
Obviously the rich man was not found worthy to rise in the first resurrection and be in the Kingdom of Yahweh.
Paul clarifies the meaning of the promise given to Abraham and those who live by the same faith that Abraham exhibited. Being in “Abraham’s bosom” meant being in a close relationship with him in a preferred status. In Galatians Paul tells us, “Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that Elohim would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Good News unto Abraham, saying, in you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:7-9).
The beggar was one of the faithful who would be in the first resurrection. A thousand years later, when the rich man is brought back to physical life in the second resurrection, he sees Lazarus now in a favored position – in the Kingdom with Abraham.
A Case of Mental Anguish
Verse 23 says the rich man was in “torment.” The word is from the Greek basanos. It means test, inquisition, and trial. Figuratively it means mental torment. Paul explains this in lCorinthians 3:12-15, where the judgment is likened to fire in which works are tested to see whether they survive the trial.
Another meaning is indicated in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Greek Dictionary, No. 931, basanos, from 939 basis, connoting at the base and by implication, at the foot.
Realizing that he has not attained the first resurrection with the promises given to the faithful, the rich man is anxious and tense. He is lying in the foot of, the lowest part of, the grave. The roof of his mouth and tongue go dry. He asks in verse 24 that Lazarus might be sent to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue.
If this were the destroying flame of Gehenna fire, the rich man would have asked for a flood of water! Yet he seeks only to remedy his dry-mouthed anxiety resulting from the realization that he had been excluded from the first resurrection of the saints.
Then in verse 25 Abraham reminds the rich man, “But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented [tried, distressed – Greekodunaomai].And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
The “great gulf” is a type of the Jordan River Valley. Those Israelites who crossed it were in the Promised Land.
Abraham and the resurrected saints are shown in a favored position, having inherited the Kingdom. Lacking the wedding garment ofMatthew 22, the rich man is excluded. Yahshua commands that he be bound hand and foot, and taken away and cast “into outer darkness;there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The kind of wealth that Yahshua looks for is “gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed,” Revelation 3:18.
In verse 27-28 the rich man pleads that Abraham would send Lazarus to his father’s house to testify to his five brothers, lest they end up like him. Genesis 35:23 lists the five brothers of Judah born to their mother Leah. They all represent those having Bible truth. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is actually about Judah and his five brothers who have all neglected proper worship of Yahweh and acceptance of Yahshua and who fall into the same condemnation.
Notice Abraham’s response: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” Abraham effectively tells the rich man that we today have in Scripture the Old Testament law and prophets and can study it ourselves and repent. The rich man objects, “No, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead they will repent.” Judah is certain that his brothers will listen only if one rose from the dead and went to them with the message of salvation. Notice the response of Abraham, verse 31: “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
Clearly from Abraham in the parable we see that though Yahshua would rise from the dead as a proof and a witness, that those who even have the Bible will not come to a saving knowledge of the Messiah because they are too steeped and blinded by their traditions. They are all wrapped up in their man-made purple and fine linen.
This is a condemnation of those who have all the advantages of today. The majority who have Bible translations, dictionaries, lexicons, concordances, and commentaries – all the study helps – have neglected to come to an understanding of Yahweh’s righteousness. It is a matter of “ever studying and never coming to the knowledge of the truth,” 2Timothy 3:7.
The rich man realizes that he had not done what was right to do. He enjoyed the good life and did not sincerely seek Yahweh’s narrow pathway. He went the broad way, like too many today, of dining on the Word without applying any of it to himself. Neither did he proclaim the Word to others who might benefit from the knowledge and understanding of the coming Kingdom.
Lazarus, on the other hand, represents Gentiles who snatch up every crumb of truth and live by it. The Lazarus and the rich man parable is a condemnation of our own affluence and our unwillingness to follow the truth of the Scriptures as we should. Generally, the nations in the northern hemisphere and in Europe have all the advantages of Yahweh’s truth. But we ignore the lessons and instead choose to satisfy fleshly desires. We commit spiritual adultery by taking up with the world.
The 10 northern tribes of Israel have been carried away captive, but Judah, along with part of the tribe of Benjarnin and the priests of Levi, was left in Jerusalem. It was Judah that was given the scepter standing in regal acclaim, according to the promises of Yahweh. It was the Jews who had the Old Testament Scriptures and had the promises given to them. They were to share these with others and not to keep all the blessings to themselves. So they are depicted as dressed in regal apparel and dining sumptuously every day.
What the Parable Says
Is Abraham in Heaven? Is this parable another way of telling us that Lazarus went to heaven? If that were the case, why would Yahshua contradict Himself in reciting this parable? Yahshua already had plainly said, “No man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven,” John 3:13.
The Savior is called “the first begotten of the dead” in Revelation 1:5. If He is the first to be raised from the dead then none of the people of the Old Testament could have been raised before Him, could they? But they were promised everlasting life at a later time. Twice in the Hebrews 11, a “Who’s Who” of the righteous patriarchs and prophets, we read that the faithful patriarchs died not having received the promise, verse 13 and 39. Abraham and others are assured a place in the Kingdom when the dead are raised at the Messiah’s Second Coming, 1Corinthians 15:52, John 13:28-29.
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man also shows that we cannot be smug and revel in our own conceits. We are to be a living example of Yahweh’s Word, reaching out to share the glorious Good News of the coming Kingdom and the part the obedient can have in it.
This story might be better called the Parable of the Six Brothers — six being man’s number with his carnal viewpoints.
The lesson is, look beyond this life. Look to Yahshua the Messiah. Pursue spiritual goals that bring eternal life. “If you will enter life, keep the commandments,” Yahshua taught in Matthew 19:17.
Watch: “What Happens After Death” from Discover the Truth TV below.