What We Walk Through

February 26, 2014 at 11:57pm

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

If He is directing our steps and we are having to walk through deceit, hatefulness, discord, strife, disunity, hurtfulness, unrest, mistrust, and so many more words I could type here, than the reason must be that He wants us to see and to recognize all those things are not part of His character. If He is directing our steps towards those circumstances then He must expect us to act like we are His children by walking into each one bringing His Light and His character with us. And by doing so, we will disspell the darkness and all the characters of the enemy.

So then, what is the character of God? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; against such things there is no law.” And Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Just by reading these Scriptures we get a clear understanding of God’s character and the attributes we are to use to combat all the character defeats of the devil that wages war with in our flesh and in all the situations we walk through each day.

I know there are so many who would disagree, but I do not believe I am a negative person. I am a realist, and that is because I walk by what I see. But today I am being reminded that the child of God is required to walk by faith, which pleases God, and not be shaken by what I see (or hear, or feel). What I see, as Paul says, is like looking into a mirror — and mirrors really distort the image of a thing. There will come a time when I will see face to face and there’ll be no distortion, no shadow, no hindrance of anything fleshly. But today, I must walk by faith. And though a thing looks good, bad or neutral, I must rely upon my Father who knows the heart of a matter, and trust that He knows what is not only right and just, but what is best for His child.

I pray for a day filled with positive results and miracles straight from God’s heart that will touch the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and financial hearts of those we are in business with, those we are in relationship with, those we are in partnership with, and in us. Father, I do not know what it will take to positively affect all the situations we find ourselves in today. But You tell us to seek for and ask for wisdom. Direct our steps and help us keep our focus on letting our light shine in dark places, and being salt to a world whose taste has gone flat. Let us find favor in Your sight, that we may cause others to see the help from Your hand and bless Your holy Name. In Jesus’ Name, I ask. Amen.

Through The Fire

A song has been requested by a church member. I am very familiar with the song because my Pastor sang it a lot when it first became popular. But I’ve never done it myself so I am putting in some extra hours to get comfortable with it.

“It’s through the fire my weakness is made strong… and He will take you through the fire again.”

As I was reading the song lyrics and committing them to memory it struck me that the writer did not say that God would carry you, push you, throw you, drag you, or even lead you through the fire. As I was contemplating the artist’s wording, God gave me a very vivid picture example.

A barn catches fire and is rapidly blazing out of control. The owner runs into the burning barn to save his beloved horse. They’ve been together for years and have been through many good and bad times. But the horse is paralyzed by fear of the flames round about him. No amount of coaxing or urgent tugging on the horse’s bridle will make him move forward. His fear is causing him to panic, rare up and fight against his owner. The owner is unable to lead the frightened animal to safety, and he is too large for the owner to carry out. Pushing against him will only result in both of them getting hurt. So, for the good of the horse the owner throws a blanket across his face and takes him through the fire.

Nothing has changed. The barn is still on fire and there is still danger on every side. The horse can still smell the smoke, hear the crackle and feel the heat. But because he cannot see, he submits to the tugging of his bridle and is taken to safety.

And so it is with us. Believe me, God knows what He’s doing. Nothing takes Him by surprise. It is perfectly OK to have the blanket thrown over our face and to submit to the tugs as He takes us “through the fire again”.

 

 

Death, Sheol, Hades, and the Lake of Fire

Part 4

Before I go on to explain the Lake of Fire, I want to note one more word: Tartarus. This word is found in 2 Peter 2:4. It is the Greek word for the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked. Greek mythology believed that Tartarus was a place of torture and that Hades (a lesser god) was its gate-keeper. As years passed, Hades became a place and deity. I suggest that you read 2 Peter 2 fully and slowly. You should also read Revelation 20:1-3.

Gehenna, Lake of Fire:

Gehenna – Valley of Hinnom or Valley of the Son of Hinnom which was a place outside of ancient Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and followers of various Ba’als and Canaanite gods sacrificed their children by fire (2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6) and was considered to be cursed (Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6). Jewish, Christian and Islamic scriptures designate Gehenna as the destination of the wicked. At some point, this valley began to be used to dump garbage and refuge. There was a continuous fire that burned there with sulfur. Using the imagery of that well-known place, Jesus taught us about what Westerners call the “Lake of Fire”, but most commonly called hell.

I believe that Jesus was using the imagery of the Valley of Hinnom to describe a very REAL place. I do not believe the Lake of Fire was created for mankind originally, but for Satan and those angels who followed him (Matthew 5:22–30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:8-9, Matthew 23:13-15, Matthew 25:31-46). However, I also believe that we make the choice about our final judgment based upon what we do with the love of the truth, that we might be saved (2 Thessalonians 1: 10, 2:10-12).

I believe that those who do not stay vigilant and continue in the faith of the Lord God, but who instead choose to spare their earthly lives will be tormented by fire forever, just as those who remain faithful will be rewarded forever (Revelation 14:9-11), but the first to go into the Lake will be the beast and false prophet (Revelation 19:20-21). After Christ’s 1000 year reign is over and Satan is released from his prison, he will go to every corner of the earth and deceive as many people as there are grains of sand and a war will take place. During that war, Satan will be taken captive and thrown into the Lake of Fire where the beast and the false prophet are (Revelation 20:1-10). After this happens, the white throne judgment will take place. Everyone who was dead will be standing before the throne. The One seated on the throne will open books and another book called the “Book of Life”. The One seated on the throne will throw Death and Hades into the Lake of Fire. This is called the “second death”. After that, anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will also be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15, 21:8).

To sum up my thoughts of what happens when this life is over, I believe that the death of this body is not the end of our existence. I believe that the body returns to dust from which it is made, that the mind, will, and emotions (the soul) exists in a realm that cannot affect this world or our physical state of being dead, and that the spirit (the breath that God made us alive with) returns to Him, where it came from. I believe that on the Day of Judgment those who are dead will be raised up to stand before God and judged according to their actions. If a person’s name is written in the Book of Life, he will live forever united with God, but if his name is not found written in the Book of Life, that person will be cast into the Lake of Fire, separated forever from the Lord God.

I certainly hope (although I can’t image it will be) my next topic of examining what I believe will be simpler than this was!

Death, Sheol, Hades, and the Lake of Fire

Part 3 — Sheol and Hades

Sheol (Hebrew) – abode of the dead, Pit

The writers of the Old Testament conveyed much more than Sheol simply being a grave or pit, although these also apply to the word’s meaning.  It is a place of no return, where there is no praise of God, where the wicked are sent for punishment. To be brought down to Sheol means that you are separated from God, but the righteous are not abandoned to it. Since it is appointed once for every person to die, Sheol is where one goes when it is your appointed time.

Hades (Greek) – abode of the dead, the underworld

Hades, or the English word Hell, is believed to be a dwelling place for those who have died. Unlike Sheol, Hades conveys the idea that when the unrighteous die they are in torment here and that the righteous do not see this place (Luke 16: 23-24).

Now that we have the definitions of these words, let me say that we Westerners use the word “Grave” – the final place where one’s body is laid upon death. However, Sheol and Hades take on the connotation that though the body may lie in grave, there is a place beyond it where the spirit lives on. 2 Corinthians 5:8 states, “Yes and we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 makes this point even clearer: “For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Finally, Jesus told a parable in Luke 16: 19-31 that tells of one man’s torment after death and another’s peace. He also told the thief crucified with Him, “Yes, I promise that you will be with me today in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43).

I cannot personally say that I know for a fact that those who die without accepting the free gift of God through Jesus will immediately be in torment, although the parable Jesus told makes me lean toward this thinking. The rich man asked Abraham to send the poor man back from the dead to his brothers so they would amend their ways and not go where he was. Obviously, Jesus was referring to a time before the final judgment since the man had relatives still living. However, most will argue that this is simply a story that Jesus was using and cannot be taken literally. I believe all of Jesus’ parables were more literal than we want to believe. Nor can I say for a fact that those who have accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice will be in perfect bliss, for there are many Scriptures that say “asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14) and that wording brings an entirely different connotation for me.

I am persuaded about is, that those who trust in the Lord have hope based upon His resurrection from the dead which was witnessed by his disciples and 500 others who saw Him during the 40 days He remained before He was caught up to sit at the right hand of His Father (Acts 1:3-12). And because He has been raised up, we too shall be raised up whether to eternal separation from Life or to eternal Life. Confidently, I can say “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Death, Sheol, Hades, and the Lake of Fire

Part 2: Death (Spiritual)

I believe that when Adam disobeyed God, sin entered into Creation and brought with it death. Genesis 2:17 says, “…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Yet the Bible also records that Satan told Eve, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4, 5). A little later in Genesis 3:19, we read God telling Adam that he will eat by the sweat of his brow until the day he returns to the dust he was made from, and then goes on to record that Adam and Eve lived many years and had a lot of children. In fact, Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5).

Did God contradict Himself when He told Adam that he would “surely die” the day he ate of the forbidden tree, or was He giving another understanding of death? Physical death separates us from this world and those who are still living. King David said of his infant son who died, “I will go to him, but he shall never return to me” (2 Samuel 12:22-23). So a synonym for death is separation. The Bible teaches us from beginning to end that God is the giver of Life (Psalm 36:9) and that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59) . So it stands to reason that if we are separated from God, we are dead. It was God’s custom to come visit Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He came the day they disobeyed Him, too, but they hid themselves from Him (Genesis 3:8). We are all dead in our transgressions (Ephesians 2:1-3). See, there really are such things as zombies – the walking dead.

In a nutshell I believe that physical and spiritual death (separation) entered the world through the medium of disobedience. Mankind began to die the very moment he did not restrain himself from disobeying God. We are separated by our own transgressions from the Giver of Life. If there is not an intervention on our behalf, when we are physically separated from this world we will also be spiritually separated from God.

Death, Sheol, Hades, and the Lake of Fire

TDuncan

Part 1: Death (Physical)

I began with this category because I thought I was very comfortable with my beliefs concerning all four of these conditions. What I have come to realize is that I have so much to learn and that humans are very apt at injecting their ideas into the writings of those who have long since passed on and not here to explain what they meant in modern language. To reference and cross-reference and to consider all the Scriptures from the beginning of the Book to the very end is necessary in getting a clear understanding that does not contradict itself from one sentence to the next. All that said, I only completed 1/3 of my belief about Death as of this morning.

I believe that death was never God’s desire for His creation, but was introduced into the world as the natural consequence for disobedience to God’s directives, much like the natural consequence for putting your hand in fire is that you will be burned. Sin entered the world through one man and brought with it death. Like other physical genetics, physical death was passed along from generation to generation (Romans 5:12- 14).

There are two kinds of death, both introduced by Adam’s failure to fully trust God the Father in the face of the Enemy’s questions and deceit. The first is natural death and is the physical state of our bodies when we cease to have brain and body function. When the body dies it returns to the dust which it was made from (Genesis 3:19). Death ends our earthly, physical life and function (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  There is an appointed time for every person to die this physical death (Hebrews 9:27), unless we are still alive when Christ returns. Should that be our case, we will be changed in the blink of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). The physical body cannot enter into heaven because it is corruptible (open to improper influence, temptable, unethical, immoral, unprincipled, debased, defiled degenerated, demoralized, depraved, perverse, reprobate, sinful, wicked) and so must be buried and return to the dust it came from (1 Corinthians 50). There is resurrection from the dead but our bodies will be changed from a corruptible to an incorruptible one, from a mortal body to an immortal one (never dying or decaying, living forever imperishable).

The Garden of Eden, Paradise, Heaven

Gan-Eden, Paradise—the name of the Garden which God created and placed Adam and Eve in (Genesis 2:8-17). We know it as the Garden of Eden, and Adam was asked by God to tend to and cultivate it. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He drove them out of the Garden so they could not eat of the Tree of Life and live in a fallen state forever more (Genesis 3:22-24).

Down through the ages Gan-Eden and Paradise have been enter-changeable for the place the righteous go after death. While hanging on the cross, Jesus told the thief who asked Him to remember him when He came into His Kingdom, “Yes, I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Revelation 2:7 also uses the word Gan-Eden and shows that God has preserved His Tree of Life there and that it is the ones who are being victorious who will eat its fruit and live forever.

Just as the Old Testament talks about ‘the lowest hell’ or ‘the lower part of Sheol’ (Psalm 86:13), suggesting that there are different depths or levels of hell, it also speaks of different levels of Heaven (Luke 2:14, 2 Corinthians 12:2). I don’t know that I will be able to justly explain this, even though there are a lot of commentaries on these subjects. But remember, I’m trying to glean my information strictly from the Scriptures unless I am defining a word.

Heavens (Natural), Heaven and the Heavenlies—

Outer Space – The physical universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Atmosphere – The gaseous mass or envelope surrounding a celestial body, especially the one surrounding the earth, and retained by the celestial body’s gravitational field.

            Firmament – The heavens or sky, esp. when regarded as a tangible thing. A dome-like barrier that separates “the waters above” (rain, ice, snow) from the waters of the earth which are gathered in rivers, lakes and seas.

These are the definitions of the Natural Heavens. To understand how the heavens were formed, please read Genesis chapter 1. It took the LORD God four days to prepare earth’s atmosphere for it to be able to sustain life. As complex as the human body is, it only took Him one day to create mankind in His image. The heavens, however, are so magnificent and precise in their workings that should one part of the equation be out of order or sync, mankind would be annihilated.

The word “heavens” is pluralized when the Word talks about the thing that God created. I’ve come to realize that “the heavens” being spoken of are the atmosphere we can see with our naked eye (the sky, where birds fly and clouds form) and that part that requires a telescope or space ship to see (space, where the sun, moon, stars and other planets, etc. are).

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands and I ordained all their host” – (Isaiah 45:12).

“He has made the earth by His power, He had established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion. When He utters His voice, There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.” (Jeremiah 10:12, 13).

Psalm 102: 25, 26 and Hebrews 1:10, 12 are the same teaching about when the earth and the heavens will pass away and 2 Peter 3:10 talks bluntly about God destroying them with fire. But praise His Name our existence doesn’t end there! Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1 all speak of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Did you know that the heavens have purpose outside of sustaining physical life? Psalm 19:1-6 says that the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. (Note that King David knew that the sun traveled in a circuit or circular path long before Columbus made it official that the earth was round). Psalm 50:4-6 says that God will call to the heavens and to earth in order to judge His people and that the heavens will declare Him righteous to do so. Proverbs 8:22-31 states that Wisdom was with the LORD before anything, including the heavens, was made, and that by Wisdom was beside Him as a master craftsman. Genesis 1:14,  Psalm 104:19 and Acts 14:17 state that God made lights in the firmament not only to dispel darkness, but that they would be used for signs and seasons, for days and for years.

Of the three heavens spoken of in the Bible, I have tried to explain the first two. The firmament or sky is the 1st heaven and space, where our galaxy is fixed, is the 2nd. There is a 3rd Heaven, according to St. Paul, and I will cover it the next time. But I want to define one more word before I end this part of my research.

Heavenlies – The dwelling place between the firmament and the 3rd heaven.

I should clarify this is the opinion of a person. I could not find another definition nor did I find this word in the Bible. I found heavenly places and host of heaven, etc. but not the word or definition for it in the Bible. My personal definition of this word is that it is synonymous with the 3rd Heaven and I’ll explain that more when I finish my research.