Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Future Rewards

Every once in a while I come across an idea that I think would be excellent to help prove or at very least support what I believe the Bible’s teaching is regarding death and resurrection.

  • Unlike mainstream Christendom, I believe that we were created as living souls (aka “beings”), not that we have some non-physical component in us called a soul. (Genesis 2:7)
    • KJV, DRA(Catholic Douay) “became a living soul”;
    • NIV, AMP “became a living being”;
    • GNT, “the man began to live”

  • Sometime (not long) after Adam had the breath of life breathed into him and he “became a living soul,” he was told that, if disobedient, at death he would merely return to the ground, “for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)
  • Jesus and indeed the whole of the Greek Scriptures (“new testament,” as some call it) attest to early Jewish converts to Christianity as already having common knowledge that being resurrected was supported and taught in the Hebrew/Aramaic scriptures (“old testament”).

I felt sure that I should be able to find proof of this belief in Jewish teachings today. So I wondered: What hope of future reward or what hope for the future is there for a loyal Jew (or “Hebrew,” as some prefer)? To that end I read a few websites that cover the idea(s). Surprisingly (or maybe not), those of the Jewish faith, living as our contemporaries, do not have have one common belief.

Here are the three search phrases I used and a few choice returrns:

  • what is the future reward for faithful jews
  • do jews believe in an afterlife
  • did ancient hebrews belief in resurrection

Essentially, it seems the Jews, down through centuries of influences from peoples worshipping “foreign” deities, have had their faith compromised by philosophies not found in the Bible. Even though Jewish scripture canon has no teaching of an immortal soul, some teach that humans do indeed have such. The result of this belief allows them to adopt and adapt the unscriptural belief of reincarnation. It also has the belief of “a nonphysical place where only the intellect remains to ‘bask in the Glow of the Divine Presence.’” This quote was taken from the first link cited above. Even the author admitted: “Nobody is quite sure what this means” But one thing I could not find was any indication just what they would be doing in this Divine Presence. The author does state that: “The logic goes that if the afterlife is only intellectual, only those who used their intellect would want to be there in the first place. Otherwise, they will simply cease to exist, ….” So intellectual ones get to bask in the Divine Presence but I guess they are too much in awe of the presence to do much else than stare in amazement. My words may sound unkind or glib but I truly do not mean them that way. It is my honest conclusion from reading the links above. (In fact, after reading the notes of the first link, I actually gained respect for the objective research that was done.)

The second link at least partially supported my hopes that Jewish belief would back up my Christian belief in the resurrection. The only “pop my bubble” concern is that it is not a unilateral belief across Jewish believers. Instead it really becomes just another point of contention between me and others. They will point to Jews who believe in reincarnation, an immortal soul and other such things as proof of their roots just as firmly as I will point to those that agree with my point. So that line of proof cannot be pursued with the expectation that it will authoritatively answer the question.

Reflecting again on the article in the first link, I was intrigued by the author’s assertion that the holy canon of Jewish writings (Hebrew/Aramaic scriptures) only supported the idea that those writings concentrated on the “present.” The reward for obedience was peace with God during the immediate lifetime of each generation. He claims there was not a dwelling on what happens after death or any expectation of future resurrection. And although to the greater degree that was true--God’s message to each generation dealt with loyalty now and the resultant blessings--just because the spattering of support for coming back as a human again are minimal, that doesn’t reduce the fact that they are there, even as the second cited link makes clear.

So here is what makes sense to me:
  • God created humans to live on the earth. (Psalms 115:16 “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.”)

  • Death was not originally in God’s scheme of things. As evidence of this, the faithful angels have lived for millenniums. Adam’s death would only occur if he were disobedient. Otherwise the threat of death would have been inconsequential if Adam would die regardless.

  • God would not have put all the effort that he did into preparing Earth for mankind only to abandon those plans because Adam & Eve sinned. (Isaiah 55:10,11 “For just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater, so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”) (The “word” regarding God’s wishes for the earth was that man should live in a beautiful garden-like home forever. That “word” has never changed.)

  • If God had planned for obedient mankind to eventually live in heaven, why didn’t he just put them there in the first place? He had already created angels there--why not just put us there to begin with as well? (The response that we had to be tested is illogical and unscriptural.)

  • Just as a fair & good landlord evicts bad tenants but does what he can to keep his good tenants happy, God plans to evict those that are immoral and ungodly so that those that love God and neighbor can live in peace. (Psalm 37:10, 11 “And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”)

  • Those who have died and will yet die before the fulfilment of the above point are not cheated. They will come back to life as humans on earth to enjoy the life promised in Psalms 37. (Matthew 5:5 “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” See also Matthew 6:10; Revelation 21:3,4)

As a sidenote, I had previously mentioned that it appears one particular teaching of the Jews says they will bask in God’s glory but doesn’t explain it. What I have come to believe is that the small number of those being invited by Christ to heaven have a very specific purpose. (Revelation 20:6) Their rulership will be directly over those “meek” ones that will inherit the earth.

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