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By contrast, Lazarus personifies all those people in spiritual poverty – the Gentiles – with whom the Hebrews were commanded to share their heritage and inheritance. The words of the prophet Isaiah 49:6 were well known to them,

"I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles

that thou mayest be My salvation unto the ends of the earth."

Unfortunately, the Hebrews had not shared their spiritual wealth with the Gentiles at all. They prided themselves on the knowledge that they were "the chosen ones" – which they most certainly were and are – but they had forgotten just what it was that they had been chosen for. Moses told them clearly in Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." Isaiah commanded them in 61:1 to "proclaim liberty to the captives."

Instead, the Hebrews considered ‘all the inhabitants thereof’ to be nothing more than dogs that would have to be satisfied with the mere crumbs which fell from their table. The metaphor was so well know that even the Gentiles themselves were aware of it, and Jesus used it when testing the faith of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:25,

"Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’

But Jesus answered and said, ‘It is not meet to

take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.’

And she said, ‘Truth, Lord; yet the dogs eat of

the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.’

In this parable it is quite plain that the Hebrews were the spiritually rich masters and the Gentiles were the begging dogs. The Hebrews had hoarded the Truth, and in so doing had corrupted themselves as Paul states in Romans 1:18,

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, WHO HOLD THE TRUTH IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS,

because that which may be known of God is manifest in them,

for God hath showed it unto them."

Only moments before Jesus related the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, He had rebuked the Pharisees for their spiritual conceit in Luke 16:15,

"Ye are they which justify yourselves before men,

but God knoweth your heart;

for that which is highly esteemed among men

is abomination in the sight of God."

And as we saw before, we are specifically told that the Pharisees derided Jesus because they were covetous. And what was to be the end result of this terrible conceit they harbored?

"…and it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried away into Abraham’s bosom;

the rich man died also and was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes,

being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.

And he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me,

and send Lazarus that he may dip his finger in water and cool my tongue,

for I am tormented in this flame!’

But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime

receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things;

but now he is comforted and thou art tormented;

and besides this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed,

so that they which would pass from here to you cannot,

neither can they pass to us that would come from there.’"

To further illustrate how the rich man represents the Hebrew people, note that Abraham refers to the rich man as "son". Jesus, earlier, had brilliantly explained how this Gentile, Lazarus, could dwell with Abraham, while many of the Chosen People would not have that honor, in Matthew 8:11,

"And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west and shall

sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness:

there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Also notice that, even now in the flames of hell, the rich man still looks upon Lazarus as a mere dog by suggesting that Lazarus should run along like a good little servant and fetch him some water. The rich man requested that Abraham command him, still feeling too conceited to ask Lazarus directly. The Hebrews had enjoyed the good life on earth, but had done nothing to bless or enrich their spiritually starving neighbors, as they were commanded to do, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." No further reward was due them, as it is written in Luke 6:24,

"Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation!

Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger!"

Conversely, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," as symbolized by Lazarus. The Gentiles who hungered and thirsted after righteousness would be filled. The "dogs" which were so despised by the Pharisees would enter heaven before they did, as it is written in Mathew 21:31, "Verily I say unto you that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you!"

The parable concludes with the rich man begging for his brethren to be warned against sharing his fate. Asking Abraham to once more send the "dog" Lazarus on this mission, he alleges that "if one went unto them from the dead they will repent." But Abraham, knowing full well that miracles have never been enough to convince his people of the Truth, responded to the rich man, "if they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from dead!" Jesus thus rebukes the Pharisees for their gross disregard of the Scriptures, foreseeing that even a supernatural event would not change the hearts of those who persistently reject Moses and the Prophets. The point is further driven home when both the real Lazarus and Jesus Himself are raised from the dead, and they still refused to believe.

Now, if this story were NOT referring to the Hebrews and the Gentiles, but to a literal event, then we have some very serious doctrinal problems on our hands. Scripture is very clear that salvation comes only through faith in Messiah Jesus, and not by deeds, financial status, or station in life. God is no respecter of persons. Yet Abraham’s words in this story would imply, if it were a true story, that Lazarus EARNED his reward because he was poor in this world, and the rich man EARNED hell because he was rich in this world. Every pagan religion in the world promotes a doctrine of salvation through works and deeds, and the Bible vehemently denies it.

Further problems arise with a literal interpretation of this event. Can we believe that the saints of either the New or Old Testaments are now or ever were truly in the bosom of Abraham? Abraham’s Bosom is believed by many to be a literal spiritual realm where the deceased Old Testament believers went until Jesus rose from the dead, from there to be taken with Jesus up to heaven. But the parable clearly shows that the rich man saw the PERSON of Abraham and the PERSON of Lazarus and gives no indication that this is a realm called "Abraham’s Bosom". And if they all are in Abraham’s bosom, in whose bosom was Abraham, since obviously in this story he was not with God? And if there is a great gulf fixed between them, how then could they possibly hear one another across it? Perhaps even more disturbing to consider, how can the righteous enjoy the comforts of heaven while enduring the eternal "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth" of those being punished in hell?

There is yet one more dilemma that comes from a literal view. If this parable is to be taken as a real event, apparently neither of the two men spent any time in their graves, having been whisked away rather quickly to their respective places of reward. Their bodies had to have gone along with them, for we find the rich man LIFTING HIS EYES, and desiring to have HIS TONGUE cooled by a drop of water from the FINGER TIP of Lazarus who was resting in the BOSOM of Abraham! Now enough graves have been exhumed in recent years to know that the bodies of the dead are carried neither to heaven or hell, or any other place, after burial. They finally turn to dust just as God said they would. Remember also that King David told us that, in the very day we die, our thoughts perish. If that is so, how then could Abraham and the rich man commune with one another?

What in fact is happening here is that Jesus has invented an example in the form of a parable, using the realities of Heaven and the Lake of Fire AT THE END OF TIME when everyone has been sent to their final destination. The fictional conversation between Abraham and the rich man was simply created to educate and reprimand the Pharisees, which is exactly what a parable is for.

To take this parable literally is to call Peter a liar for saying that King David was still in his tomb and had not yet ascended to heaven. Peter, AFTER Jesus had resurrected, stated that David was still in his tomb; therefore Jesus did not go to some spiritual holding place during His three days of death to collect Old Testament believers and bring them to heaven. If He had, I wonder where all of those people were when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene three days later and told her that He hadn’t yet been to the Father. If we are to believe in such things, then what is there to keep us from believing in the doctrine of Purgatory, which says that after death our souls go to a spiritual torture chamber of fire to burn for the sins which Jesus apparently was not powerful enough to overcome by His death and resurrection; and then, after enough people have paid the church enough money to say prayers for you (if you happened to be lucky enough to have people actually pay for prayers for you), then after a time you will be released to move on to heaven. That is not just ignorant, it is blasphemous.

Interestingly enough, it was this very doctrine which caused the Protestant Reformation in the first place. The Catholic priest, Martin Luther, was distraught that Rome was charging people money to pray for souls in Purgatory, called "indulgences", even though the Bible said that the dead cease to exist until the Resurrection. Who then were they praying for? No one. The poor squandered their money on the prayers while the church indulged itself on every finery they could buy with it. Meanwhile the dead remained peacefully in their graves, just as God had said they were. Had they listened to the infallible Word of the Holy Father in heaven which was spoken at the mouth of Peter, it would have saved a lot of bloodshed and misery. It is sad to say that the lesson is stilled not learned, as millions light candles and kneel before statues, praying to dead people and asking them to bring other dead people out of Purgatory. But no one hears their prayers because only God is in heaven, and God does not hear prayers that are not to Him, as it is written, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him ONLY shalt thou serve." They pray to the Queen of Heaven, but she does not hear them because Jeremiah 44:16-28 tells us that God curses those who pray to her.

The apparent confusion regarding the belief that Jesus went to a spiritual realm after His death comes from a misunderstanding of 1st Peter 3:18-20,

"For Christ also hath suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust,

that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh,

but quickened by the Spirit by which He also went and preached

unto the spirits in prison, who sometimes were disobedient when once

the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark

was preparing, wherein few – that is, eight – souls were saved by water."

By these verses it has been preached that Christ descended into the lower regions of the earth or a spiritual realm to preach to lost souls that were imprisoned in some Purgatory or limbo. But how can one’s soul be preached to after death. We have already seen what happens to the soul after death. We also know that the lost ARE lost for eternity if they rejected Christ in this life. There is no second chance after the death of the body. What’s more, this verse says that it was to SPIRITS - not souls – that He preached. These could not be human spirits because the spirits of the dead return to God’s possession at death. Let’s examine this verse to see just what happened. It says

"Christ hath once suffered for sin that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh…". ‘Us’ refers to those who accepted Christ, not the lost.

"…but quickened by the Spirit by which He went and preached unto the spirits in prison…". Notice HOW Christ preached to these spirits in prison: he did it by His Spirit, which is the Holy Spirit since it is capitalized in our Bibles. So, whatever preaching Jesus did here was not done literally by Himself but through the Holy Spirit.

Just who are these spirits in prison, then, if they are not the spirits of men? The Bible mentions only three types of spirits: The Holy Spirit, the human spirit, and angels. The Holy Spirit can never be imprisoned, for He is God. The human SOUL is sometimes referred to as being in the prison house of sin while the person is still living, but never the spirit. That leaves us with angels.

Angels of God willingly work in the service of the Lord and are not in any prison. It was the fallen angels, the devils, who turned against God to follow Lucifer, and they are OFTEN referred to as being bound in some form of prison. We are told in Revelation that there are devils bound at the bottom of the Euphrates River and that there are legions of devils bound in the Bottomless Pit. Jude 1:6 tells us that there are devils who

"kept not their first estate but left their own habitation, whom God hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the Judgment of the Great Day."

But, let’s look again to see WHEN the spirits were preached to, and this will help us better identify them.

"…When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing…". The preaching was done during Noah’s day, as he was building the ark 4500 years ago. One explanation is that Christ through the Holy Spirit was present while Noah preached to speak conviction to the spirits of those wicked people and appeal to them to come into the ark. I’ve no doubt that this is true, but there is something else more probable as it pertains to this verse.

In Genesis 6 we see that the angelic Nephalim, meaning "the fallen ones" or "fallen angels", began to horribly corrupt the people by mating with human women. Verse 9 points out that Noah was chosen for two reasons: He was a just man who walked with God, and, he was perfect in his generations (that is, the ancestral line from Adam to Noah was uncontaminated by the Nephalim, and therefore he would bring none of their bloodline with him through the flood and into the new world afterward).

In fact, so perfect was Noah’s genealogy that the very meaning of the names of his ancestors bare a hidden prophecy about the mortality of man and the coming Messiah:

Adam "Man"

Seth "is appointed"

Enos "to be mortal"

Cainan "and fixed to it"

Mahalaleel "The Great God"

Jared "shall come down"

Enoch "teaching"

Methuselah "His death shall bring"

Lamech "lamentations"

Noah "and rest."

These wicked spirits, who mated with the women of Noah’s day, were immediately banished and imprisoned by God, as told us in 2nd Peter 2:4-5,

"God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,

and delivered them into chains to be reserved unto the Judgment,

and spared not the Old World, but saved Noah, the eighth person,

a preacher of righteousness,

bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly."

Furthermore, we cannot let religiosity get in the way of our thinking. "Preaching" involves much more than sharing the "Good News". Throughout the Bible, preaching specifically involved any pronouncement of punishment for sin or a warning of judgment to fall. It is likely that the Holy Spirit went to those demonic spirits in prison in Noah’s day, declaring to them their defeat by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; time has no meaning to the Lord, for "a thousand years are but a day and a day but a thousand years" to Him. The Holy Spirit moves back and forth through time like we move through air. This is why the Scriptures can says in Revelation 13:8 that Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The beginning and the end are already complete from God’s view.

To help us perceive this, here is an example I once heard. Say you are in a parade. You can only see a little ways behind you and in front of you. But say you are in a blimp flying over the parade route. From that vantage point, you can see the beginning AND the end of the entire parade, and at any given moment at any point along the parade you can see what is happening before anyone else. Add to that an ability to know the hearts and minds of everyone in and around the parade. You would then be able to send a signal to the people at any particular point of the parade route to tell them that you see an out-of-control automobile which will collide with them when they reach a certain place in the parade route. You would also be able to come down at any point along that parade route, deflect the maniacal car, return to the skies, and come down again in a totally different place, as often as you so chose to do. That is how God sees the past, present and future, albeit on a much grander scale because I am trying to use a finite one-dimensional example to explain an infinite multi-dimensional God. It is like trying to compare the surface of a flat pane of glass to the surface of a multifaceted diamond.

The Holy Spirit can be at Jerusalem in the year AD 33 at one moment, then at Mt. Ararat in the year 2500 BC the next moment, and at the United States in the 21st Century the very next moment. What an awesome God. There is none like Him.

To the point, there is nothing here to imply or indicate that Jesus left His body after death to take a joy ride somewhere to have tea and crumpets with some spirits. Jesus was DEAD for those three days, which means He could not go anywhere. That is the point and purpose of His sacrifice for us, to take on Himself what would and should have happened to US – death and oblivion.

Some people also believe and teach that Jesus was tormented by devils in hell during his time of death. This belief is a mish-mash of several doctrines, all of which has been made into confusion. First, remember that the devils are just as afraid of hell fire as anyone else (Matthew 8:29, Mark 5:7, Luke 8:28), if not more so because they know that there is no salvation for them and they cannot escape that destiny. Hell is not their natural habitat but their future place of damnation. They do not hover about hell torturing lost souls as they depict in Saturday morning cartoons. The devil does not dwell there, but instead he is "walking to and fro on the earth seeking whom he may devour" and deceiving mankind, leading the living away from Jesus to sin and death.

Jesus did not descend into a fiery hell to take the keys of the grave and of death from Lucifer. Jesus has those keys by virtue of His having conquered death by His resurrection. He is the "first Begotten of the Dead." Death could not hold Him bound, and, in revulsion to the Life that Jesus is, Death vomited Him out after three days like the fish who gave up Jonah, and then Death died in childbirth (or more likely it committed suicide, for those with a good sense of humor).

The Hebrews are under the impression that Messiah will only come once, in all of His glory, to stamp out the enemies of Israel. They have a very difficult time understanding that Messiah is foretold by the prophets to come twice; the first time in a lowly state to die for our sins and destroy the works of Satan, and the second time in all His glory to destroy the wicked and reign over the earth.

This same confusion reigns in the Church regarding the first and second Hell. The church is under the impression that, after death, the Righteous goes to heaven and the wicked burn in hell until the resurrection where they are judged and sent to the Lake of Fire to burn some more. Anyone with eyes can see how totally contradictory this is.

The word "hell" literally means "the grave" or "the place of the dead", and is the relative English equivalent of the Greek word Hades. Like the mythology of Hades among the pagans of Greece, the Church has managed to attribute consciousness to those in hell, as though it were an underworld of tormented lost souls.

The Bible refutes this and instead refers specifically to two different deaths and two different hells/graves:

The first death is the human death we all will encounter, which is a temporary banishment from existence and separation from God (as Jesus cried "My God My God, why hast thou forsaken Me!"). Death is the separation of man from God; in the case of the first death, it lasts until the resurrection – the first resurrection being the raising of the believers at the beginning of Christ’s thousand year reign, and the second resurrection being the raising of the wicked at the end of Christ’s thousand year reign.

The first hell is the grave we are buried in, or rather, the state of being dead regardless of whether your body is in a grave or blown to a million pieces. There is no consciousness in that hell as was made quite plain earlier in this book. There is no spirit there to maintain life, for it has returned to God; therefore, as Solomon clearly stated, there is no thought, no pain, no joy or anything conscious whatsoever in that hell/grave. It is where the soul perishes and is the resting-place of the body. The first hell is the grave of oblivion for the lost and saved. There is no fire of torment here.

The second death comes at the Great Judgment at the end of time, when the wicked are condemned to eternity apart from God. As we saw earlier, the wicked are resurrected – which means their body and soul has returned to existence – at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ for judgment. Eternity will be a literal living death; they will be conscious without the breath of God in them, as it is written, "Fear Him who hath power to cast both soul and body into hell." Notice there is no mention of the spirit being thrown into hell, because the spirit belongs to God and has returned to God’s person. Because of this fact, they will never again feel God, an everlasting agony of loneliness and terror and pain. Revelation 2:11 promises that "he that overcometh shall not be hurt by the second death." Revelation 20:6 says, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the 1st Resurrection: on such the 2nd death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years." The reason that those in the 1st resurrection will be blessed is because the second resurrection, occurring at the end of the thousand years, will consist only of the wicked who will be raised for judgment.

The second hell/grave is the Lake of Fire. Here the fire of God Himself consumes the wicked, as it is written in Hebrews 12:29, "the Lord our God is a consuming fire." It is not merely fire, but the wrath of God itself. In it’s flames the Scriptures tell us that the wicked will curse God and there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. It is the second grave. We are told that, when God and His Bride begin eternity together, the realm of the Lake of Fire and all that is within it will be forgotten by all, including God, forever. There will never be a remembrance of sin nor of sinners. How terrifying it will be. Imagine how heartbroken the Lord will be to have to consign anyone there, knowing that throughout eternity He must forsake them and will them out of His memory. To the puny minds of men this may seem like an extreme punishment, but one must understand that the greatness of a sin is equal to the greatness of the One against whom it is committed. If an ant dares to strike at the foot of a man, the ant will be crushed in vengeance. And if a man dares affront the Almighty God his Creator, justice demands that such an unrepentant and impudent sinner be crushed. God, being perfect, is Just in His judgment, as the angel in Revelation 16:5 said, "Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art and wast and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus! For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink – for they are worthy!" Paul loved his people so much and was so terrified at the thought of the Hebrews having to spend eternity in the hell of the Lake of Fire, that he said that he wished that he himself could go there in their place if there was the chance that it could spare his people from that fate. He could not, of course, because Jesus loved them even more than Paul and that sacrifice was already made by Messiah, and they rejected it; but do you see the magnitude of the whole picture? Do you see why it is so vital that we obey the great commission of Christ, to preach the Gospel unto every creature, to give everyone the opportunity to escape the eternal nightmare? Do you love your neighbor like Paul did, to the extent that you would be willing to spend eternity in Hell if you could, if it would save someone else from it? Think on it.

So Jesus did not descend into a fiery hell to be tormented by devils because the first hell does not involve fire and the devils do not dwell there. The devils dwell in the spiritual death that all men dwell in who have not been born again through faith in Jesus Christ by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

Another verse taken out of context, turned upside down, and abused beyond belief in support of the false "life-in-heaven-or-hell-after-death" doctrine, is 2nd Corinthians 5:8,

"We are confident, I say, and willing, rather,

to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."

First, Paul did not say, "To be absent from the body IS to be present with the Lord." But since most Christians somehow see the word "IS" instead of the word "and", we’ll work from that perspective. You may refill your teacup at this time before we continue. I am.

As we have seen earlier, and after applying God’s "line upon line" rules, we know that, from the perspective of the dead, a mere moment will pass from the time they died to the time they will see Jesus face to face in either the first or second resurrections. But those who quote this verse ignore the verses that accompany it. Those verses explain EXACTLY when we will be with the Lord after being absent from the body.

Bare in mind that Paul had already said "and SO shall we ever be with the Lord" after He explained the resurrection at Christ’s second coming. So why then would he suddenly throw out that major doctrine and say instead that we will be with the Lord when we die, as the Church insists? Examination of his whole statement will show that he made no claim to being present with the Lord immediately upon death. Here now are his words,

"We are confident, I say, and willing, rather,

to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

WHEREFORE we labor, that WHETHER PRESENT OR ABSENT,

we may be accepted of Him;

FOR WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

that EVERYONE may receive the things done in his body

according to that which he hath done, whether good or bad."

Paul is stating again what he has always said before, that rewards are issued at the Judgment after the Resurrection – not at our deaths. Just how, pray tell, can you be with the Lord BEFORE the Judgment if Jesus said in Matthew 25 that it is AT the Judgment that the Lord says to the righteous, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of the Lord"?

Another objection raised is in regard to the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mt. of Transfiguration centuries after their historical lifetimes. There of course is no problem with Elijah being there because the Bible says that he never died, (where he is now only God knows, as He said in Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the Lord" – God has a right to His secrets).

But Moses? True, Deuteronomy says that he died before the Hebrews entered the Promised Land. But in a curious move, God Himself buried Moses and no one knows where. The mystery is a bit foggy, but the Bible does shed the slightest bit of light on the subject. In Jude 1:9 we read a bizarre but spectacular event,

"Yet Michael the Archangel, when contending with the devil,

he disputed about the body of Moses,

durst not bring against him a railing accusation,

but said, "The Lord rebuke thee!"

Is it possible that Moses may have been resurrected? It would seem a logical conclusion. Why else would Lucifer and Michael be fighting over the body of Moses? Surely the resurrection of Moses is something that Satan would try to put a stop to, though it would be as futile as trying to stop Christ’s resurrection. But why would Satan want to stop Moses’ resurrection? Because of prophecy.

There are several Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments which seem to indicate that it will be Moses and Elijah who are to be the two great prophets of God foretold to come and withstand the Antichrist just before the return of Jesus. During their three and a half year ministry on earth, they will stand in Jerusalem and unleash plagues against the Antichrist and his followers.

In Revelation, we see that neither of them has yet received their immortality, for they are both killed by the Antichrist. Looking at all of the other Scriptures regarding death, the resurrection of Moses is the only logical explanation currently available.

How about the 24 Elders upon the thrones in Revelation, and what are they doing there if we do not ascend to heaven after death? You must understand that John was recording future events, not current ones. The whole of Revelation is about the end of time and that which follows.

According to the evidence available to us in the Scriptures, it would appear that the 24 Elders are:

THE TWELVE PATRIARCHS OF ISRAEL

Judah

Simeon

Reuben

Levi

Gad

Issachar

Asshur

Zebulon

Nephthali

Benjamin

Mannassah

Joseph

THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF JESUS

Peter

Bartholomew

James

Matthew Levi

John

James the Less

Andrew

Thaddeus Judas

Philip

Simon

Thomas

Paul

This is supported by a number of verses, such as Luke 22:29-30,

"And I appoint unto you a kingdom as My Father hath appointed unto Me,

that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom,

and sit upon 12 Thrones judging the 12 Tribes of Israel."

And Matthew 19:28 which tells us,

"Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me,

in the regeneration when the Son shall sit in the throne of His glory,

ye also shall sit upon 12 thrones judging the 12 Tribes of Israel."

Revelation 21 indicates their eternal importance by stating that the very names of the 12 Apostles and the 12 Patriarchs will be inscribed over the pearl doors and in the gemstone foundations of New Jerusalem. If John had looked closely enough, he would have seen himself sitting in one of those thrones, for it was the future that he saw.

But, you may ask, what of the souls under the altar in heaven crying for revenge in Revelation 6:9-11? Earlier in this book I mentioned that the Greek word "Psuche", meaning "life" is translated in our Bibles as "SOUL". This same word is "Nephesh" in Hebrew. You can verify all of these words and their definitions in your Strong’s concordance.

This is going to get a little complicated, so hang in there and try your best to follow.

If you’ll remember Genesis 4:10, God told Cain,

"What hast thou done! The voice of thy brother’s

BLOOD crieth unto Me from the ground!"

Leviticus 17:11&14 says,

"The LIFE of the flesh is in the BLOOD…

for it is the LIFE of all flesh; the BLOOD of it is for the LIFE thereof."

In Revelation we see the souls, or lives [psuche/nephesh], of the martyrs under the altar crying,

"How long, O Lord Holy and True, dost thou not avenge

our BLOOD on them that dwelleth on the earth?"

These souls were crying out the same way that Abel’s blood did. In Revelation 8:3-7, we see an angel of the Lord come to that very same altar from which the souls are crying out, and he takes incense from this altar "which is the prayers of the saints" and he throws it at the earth. What follows is hail and fire mingled with BLOOD. And, just as Abel’s blood cried out for justice, so too does the blood of the saints who, like Abel, were martyred by persecution. The reference to souls here is entirely symbolic.

____________________________________________________

So why is any of this important? What does it matter whether you believe that we go to heaven or hell after death or if you believe that we go to heaven or hell after the Judgment?

First, and most importantly, it is a matter of TRUTH.

Second, it is a matter of allegiance vs. treason; Adam and Eve betrayed God on this very issue because they believed the serpent’s lie that they would not die, instead of God’s Word which said they would.

Third, what you believe about death determines what you believe Jesus did for you on the cross, and that is directly tied to your salvation.

Fourth, what you believe about death drastically alters your perception of life and how you live.

Fifth, what you believe about death effects your religious views; with wrong information you will lead people to Christ in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, and they can easily fall by the wayside because of it.

Sixth, your bank account; for example, Catholics shell out tons of money to Rome for prayers because they incorrectly believe their dead loved ones are alive in Purgatory. Learn the truth about death and you can use that money to actually do something useful for the ministry of God.

For all of these reasons and more, it is a matter of life and death for you to understand the true nature of the body, the soul and the spirit.

I hope this lesson has been of some help to you in your studies and in your walk with the Lord. If you have questions or comments regarding the material in this book, please contact me about it at the address listed on the copyright page and I will gladly reply. I may be able to include your comments in the next edition of this book if it is something I haven’t already covered.

God bless the Body of Christ. Remember, your life matters, as it is written in the Psalms,

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

 
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