Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Judgement of the Nations

Matthew 25 : 31 - 46 describes the Judgement of the Nations, which most commentators or theologians believe to be a description of the final judgement of mankind at the end of time to decide who will be saved or enter the kingdom.

I suspect this is not a correct interpretation for the following reasons .....

1.   This is a judgement with consequences in the ages to come.  If it happens at the end of time, there are no ages left for the consequences to be played out.
2.   It is a judgement of nations or tribes, not individuals.  The salvation of individuals is not involved, and, in any case, the salvation of individuals is not a matter of works or the offering of charity, but is a gift to all.

3.   This story is the last piece of Jesus' answer to His disciples' questions that were asked at the beginning of chapter 24 involving the destruction of the temple, which occurred in AD 70 and before the generation to whom Jesus was speaking passed away (Matt 23 : 36 and 24 : 34).
4.   It is a parallel with Matthew 16 : 27 - 28 (compare with Matt 25 : 31 - 33) in which Jesus assured his listeners that at least some of whom would personally see.
5.   The nations referred to were probably the tribes of Israel, or the tribes of the land.  Matt 24 : 30 calls them so, and back then historians like Josephus regularly referred to the nation of the Galileans, the nation of the Samaritans, etc. within the land of Israel. 

Jesus told his disciples to "go and teach all nations" and I think He was understood to be referring to the ethnic groups within Israel or Judea because of their surprise when they eventually discovered Gentiles being saved in the mid and later chapters of Acts.  (Acts 10 : 14 and 11 : 18.  
It's also worth noting that Jesus told his disciples that they wouldn't have finished going through the cities of Israel before Jesus was to return (Matt10 : 23), thus expecting them to be spreading the gospel to Israel or Judea, and that Paul stated that the Gentiles being included in the gospel was a mystery prior to his revelation (Eph 3 : 6).

I therefore, as an uneducated bush theologian, prefer to view this judgement as one on the tribes or nations of Israel in AD70, and Jews being law-keepers, would be judged on how well they kept the law and offered charity to those who lived in the land with them.

That's where I'm up to, but I'm always learning.
Comments, as always, would be most welcome.
Blessings, Barry

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do We Really Die?

Here is a topic that I think about a lot, and my thoughts seem to be at odds with the vast majority of Christian authors. 
But what's new about that?

Most authors suggest that when people leave this planet (physically die) they remain asleep until a resurrection sometime in the future.
The "goodies" get resurrected to be given Life, and the "baddies" get resurrected to be given death.  (Some resurrection that would be!)

But I find that view inconsistent with the view taught by Jesus and His followers, who say that Jesus came to give us Life right now. 
Do we get that Life and then have it taken from us for the time between when we physically die and some future resurrection? 
That doesn't seem very logical to me either.

I appreciate that several verses can be quoted to support the idea that when our physical bodies cease working and we depart this planet we are dead, real dead, or at least sound asleep, but they are all OT verses, statements made by poets (and others) expressing their understanding at that point.
Here are a couple......

Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?  [Psalm 6 :5  NIV]

For the living know that they will die,
    but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
    and even their name is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
    and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
    in anything that happens under the sun.  [Ecclesiastes 9 : 5 - 6  NIV]

Indeed, without further revelation from Jesus, we would not be in a position to say anything much different. 
The physical evidence screams similar conclusions at us too.

But look at the new information Jesus reveals .....

“I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;
and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. "  [John 11 : 25 - 26  NIV]
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."  [John 5 : 24  NIV]

John affirms Jesus' words with .....

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.  [1 John 5 : 13  NIV]

Jesus goes even further than promising Life for His followers .....

"But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” [Luke 20 : 37 - 38  NIV]

I appreciate that the theology of many old hymns sometimes doesn't follow Scripture too well, but I like the Christmas Carol "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," which has this verse .....

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Not too much about death there!
Anyway, what do you think happens to us when we leave this planet?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Blessings, Barry

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Great White Throne Judgement

As you know I am currently writing the chapter on the Good Judgement of God, although I have done very little in the past few months for several "good" reasons.
However I have squeezed in some good reading between events and have discovered an interesting snippet in these readings that I had not run across before.
In Revelation 20 : 11 - 15, we have the following:

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books  (scrollets  Gk: biblion) were opened. Another book (scrollet  Gk:biblion) was opened, which is the book (absent in Gk text) of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (scrollets  Gk:biblion).
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book (scroll  Gk:biblos) of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)

In verse 12 all the books mentioned were scrollets or small scrolls (Gk:biblion), but the one mentioned in verse 15 is the normal scroll (Gk:biblos).
The book of life gets bigger, becomes a normal sized scroll, during the Great White Throne judgement. 

What do you make of that?
Who do you think gets added to the book of life during the judgement?
Who remains to get thrown into the lake of fire?

Please share your thoughts on these questions.
Blessings, Barry