Sunday, January 16, 2011

Biblical death.

To be dead, as used in the Bible, can mean different things. It can mean to be dead physically; it can mean to be dead spiritually; and it can have yet another meaning. It is the last definition of death' that is the subject of our study.

The land of Israel is often referred to as the Promised Land because of God's repeated promise (Gen. 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8) to give the land to the descendants of Abraham. The land is described repeatedly in the Torah as a good land a...nd "a land flowing with milk and honey" (e.g., Exodus. 3:8).

The rule of Israelites in the land of Israel starts with the conquests of Joshua (ca. 1250 BCE). The land of Israel was central to Judaism. With that in mind let look at a passage of Scripture that gives us a feeling for this third definition of death. Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, `Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, `Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'" ()

In 587 BCE, Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar's army captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern day Iraq) During the Babylonian captivity Israel was cut off from her homeland Palestine. They spent seventy years in another country. While Israel was cut off from the promised land she was in the sight of God, as dead! They were as dry bones in a grave.

Why? Israel was not in her rightful place because of her sin. All these Jews were alive physically, but as the Lord showed Ezekiel 37:11 they were a valley of dry bones (in a grave nationally.) When the Isralites were living in exile outside of the land of Palestine, they were (figuratively dead and in a grave).

God in restoring His covenant people back into their own land uses the figure of graves opening and His people coming forth in (a national resurrection). Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, (I will open your graves) and cause you to come up from your graves, and (bring you into the land of Israel). (Ezekiel 37:12) When the Jews were living inside of land of Israel, were all live nationally.

And when national Israel was cut off from the land they were considered as dead and in a grave nationally while exiled from the promise land. (Ezekiel 37:11-14) It is obvious from this scripture that God see life and death independent of the physicality of man. If you now understand this third definition of death (national Israel was cut off from the promised land), then you possess a valuable tool in the understanding (separation as dead).

The Old Testament use many types and shadow that were to be fulfilled in the New Testament. The language that was used in Ezekiel 37 was a type or shadow that was to be fulfilled in the future of Israel.

In Acts Paul has stated. "And now I stand and am judged for the HOPE OF THE PROMISE made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our twelve tribes instantly serving God night and day, hope to come. Which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be and incredible thing with you, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:6-7)

There are a few things to note in these verses. First the promise which was a hope for national Israel, was the resurrection of the dead. This verse should be compared to the verse in Romans 15:8 were we read "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.

Jesus WAS a minister of the circumcision (the Jews) and if he has not fulfilled the hope of Israel then there is still a promise made to the fathers that is incomplete. If that is the case the gospel in its full proclamation could not come to the Gentiles as Paul says in those same verses. Romans 15:9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy?.."

The Gentiles can only glorify God for his mercy if indeed he has confirmed every promise made to the fathers. Most would agree forgetting Acts 26:6-8 where Paul says that the resurrection of the dead was the promise.

What is interesting about these words is that Paul said he hoped to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:11-12. Just as these OT saints were seeking to obtain the resurrection of the dead so was Paul.