The worst “natural disaster” and what was done about it?
Recent hurricane Harvey(1), then Irma(2), and concomitantly, earthquake in Mexico City with 8.1 Richter scale(3), followed by Jose and Maria(4) should convince any open-minded person that humans are left with no sustainable preventive recourse against such calamities. We just have to prepare and accept the painful and destructive consequences of these natural disasters. On top of these mayhem is global terrorism plus evil acts of one against another, not only in inner cities but also in suburban towns, places of worship(5) and music concert(6). All of the”preceding events we gripe about, but accept as facts of life, taken as normative and we move on.
As devastating those cataclysms are, what can be the worst, more natural, and definitive than death itself? Indeed, we are very and ephemeral! Yet, death is taken with nonchalance in news coverage compared to hurricanes, terrorism and the like? You would not find it in the front pages nor editorial section of newspaper but it is hidden in pages of obituaries. Being so natural, it does not even “move the dial” nor reach a “Richter scale” of our collective attention. It has become so mundane that it suffers “diminishing value” as to favor the call for “live the day” and forget its inevitability. It has been dismissed to the farthest corner of our consciousness as a relic. We limit and consume ourselves with “investing for this life rather than also for the afterlife”.
Yet, our all-knowing and loving Creator takes death to be so defining and existential as to plan and prepare for our “afterlife“, way out from the “foundation of the world”. The least that we can do is to make time to heighten our awareness, be serious about the subject of death and to understand why we die and what God did to end death(7). For indeed, even at our best, we are at a loss and incapable as to what to do to overcome it. But, why can we not forestall it? Will progress in science and technology reverse this destiny? Much as we, together with Mr. Spoch in the starship Enterprise in Star Trek(8), like to “live long and prosper“, our Maker has willed and created our physical bodies to be temporary, as in Hebrews 9:27
“And as it is appointed unto men once, to die but after this the judgment:”(KJV)
From the preceding verse, it is clear that the Creator made our current physical life with expiration date as we are all “once appointed” to die. However, this refers to the “first death“; read also http://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/. But, what does the phrase “after this is judgment” mean? It appears that as all will die, similarly, all will be judged as in 2 Cor. 5:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (NIV)
Who are the people judged by God and when?
Notice that in 2 Cor. 5:10, as “we must all appear”, it necessitates judgement to be for those who are alive “to appear” and of “things done while in the body“. In other words, the timing for judgement is when the person is alive and in this material body; not in any other body composition and that the dead are not judged. Moreover, while a person that is judged must have a mental capacity to be responsible for his actions, not immature like children, is that the critical element that a person should have before he/she is judged? What does judgment really mean? And, when does a living person gets judged? Are all judged in this lifetime? And who are judged first? Answers to these questions may come from the experience provided in the history of humanity. Let us now analyze these historical events, and find common denominators that led to their judgement.
Judgment in history as an example for the future
1. Adam’s judgment: In Genesis, we read that Adam & Eve were told by YHVH-God not to eat the “fruit of knowledge of good and evil” , otherwise they die(Gen.2:16-17). Their own action violated this admonition and eternal death came upon them and imputed to all mankind (Compare Gen. 3:1-22; Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:22-49). Read also http://fact-s.net/2015/10/04/salvation-series-1what/
2. Noah’s flood: In Genesis 6-8, one reads that the earth was filled with acts of violence and judgment was made for mankind to die in the flood except Noah and his family.
3. In Genesis 18 and 19 as well as Ezekiel 16:49–50, Sodom & Gomorrah were punished because of sinful acts.
4. In the book of Jonah, Nineveh was punished because of sinful acts, too. The punishment was delayed when they repented but exacted on them when they went back to sin. The 7th century books of Nahum and Zephaniah proclaim the fall of Ninevah.
5. Because of sinful acts, Israel was punished for her sins with captivity and slavery. Northern Israel went captive to the Assyrians and Southern Israel by the Chaldean or Babylonian empire. (9,10,11).
Notice that all these judgments were punishments for sins committed by living persons in the flesh. However, in 2 Peter 2:6 we learn that God condemned and destroyed the cities as “an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter.”
The predominant voice in the Bible is the deuteronomistic theology that God rewards the righteous and punishes the un-righteous. While a few have followed God, the weighing scale tipped heavier on the overall gravity of their sins as a group or as a nation, resulting in punishment. Nonetheless, their were blessings given to them based on God’s promise and love but not on their weighted merits. All these, nevertheless, are merely an “example” for our learning according to 2 Peter 2:6 and “to those who would live ungodly thereafter” suggesting an afterlife other than this life, i.e., a resurrection; a life “thereafter“. All who died will be resurrected alive to face “judgment“. Notice that the punishment in history, as grievous as it was, is merely an example of “judgment”, and there is still a future judgment that is final. And, the judgment logically referred to in 2 Cor. 5:10 is about “eternal death”, consistent with what the type of death referred to in Genesis 2:17 regarding the sin of Adam & Eve.
We are made “weak”, so why judge?
It is a well-established teaching that, as presently flesh-composed, we are “weak“(Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38). Meaning, we do not have the power to perfectly overcome evil as God wanted us to do to be “one ” with him. On our own, we can decide what we ourselves think is right or wrong; and that is reality. But this decision-making ability is limited by the fact that:
1. Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)
This is the reason why man was created in the first place, not as spirit-being beings like the angels. As spirit-beings, a third of angels were not “one” with God (Rev. 12:3-9, 9:1; Heb. 12:22; Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18). Humans have physical mortal bodies and unlike/lower than angels but planned to be higher than angels and “one” with God at the time appointed in the future when the Holy Spirit of power is given. Compare Psalms 8:4-8 and Hebrews 2:6-18 (12).
2. Our physical composition limits us and affects our decision in favor, rightly so, of self-interest and self-preservation. There are many instances that our decision will be different were it not for the fact that we have physical composition that may put us in jeopardy. We may suffer or die that comes with the decision.
Being composed “weak“, was planned for good reason as in Romans 8:20-21(NIV)
“For the creation/creature was subjected to mataiotes (Greek for inutility, vanity, transientness, depravity, frustration) not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation/creature itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God”
Notice that our composition was made to be “weak” temporarily “in hope” of being liberated from the bondage of “eternal death“through Jesus’ crucifixion from death/decay to glory and immortality in the future. But, with the limits that we now have structurally, it does not appear fair to undergo “final judgment” in the future on our choice of good and evil. We need to be empowered with a “tool” that will be added (or in-dwell) to our present composition. And God has indeed planned for that to come in the future.
Power to have before future judgment?
The narrative in Gethsemane where Jesus was faced with a dilemma can direct us to bring this to rest. Read Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:39-53, and John 18 for the full story. The epistle of Mark gives context that even Jesus’ will was for the “cup to pass”, i.e. for him not to die by crucifixion for mankind. But when did he decide, with the power of the Holy Spirit in him, to follow the Father’s will and not his own? Mark 14:41-42 has the answer:
“And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Clearly, it was when, for the third time he saw Peter, James and John asleep (physical bodies have limits), that he said “It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
With his own free will and guided by the Holy Spirit that in-dwelt in him at River Jordan(Luke 4:1-44), on the third time he got finally convinced of human “weakness” and limit that need to be empowered by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, much like post-incarnated man-Jesus. This Holy Spirit would not have been given as promised by the Father, had not Jesus die and be resurrected to receive this power, to then be subsequently given to humans at Pentecost. Read John 16:7(AMP):
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].”
The Pentecost event that year of Jesus’ death and resurrection, proved this in-dwelling in general sense, starting with the apostles (Acts 2:1-13). Those given the Spirit of God then received the power to overcome evil and to have wisdom to freely choose right from wrong.
Who are now being judged?
While currently there are consequences and punishment for sins, these judgments are not about “eternal death”. One can go to prison or be sentenced to death, but he/she will be resurrected in the future. Judgment about “eternal death” begins in the house of God as in:(1 Peter 4:17)
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”
Correlating what we now understand for fairness, judgment will indeed start with believers who are flesh-composed but have received the power-tool that comes with the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. This started at Pentecost that year. Those without the Holy Spirit will be judged after their resurrection to physical bodies(Ezekiel 37), at which time they will hopefully and voluntarily believe and thereafter receive the Holy Spirit. One has to “believe“before receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39).
Resurrection for all to be judged
Judgment for all suggests a resurrection for all. But in a separate order: the 1st resurrection into immortal bodies on the return of Jesus on earth, or 2nd resurrection into mortal bodies (Ezekiel 37:1-14) after the 1,000 year-period as in:
Revelation 20:6 – “Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power (being immortal), but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Revelation 20:5 – “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”
The dead who are blessed to be in the first resurrection will not die the “second death” in the “Gehenna fire”. Instead, at the time of second-coming of Jesus, those partakers of the Holy Spirit and overcomers (Rev. 2:17,26), whether alive or dead, will be “changed from mortal to immortal bodies”(I Cor. 15:51-57), in a “twinkling of an eye” to rule with Jesus on earth. After a thousand years when the Devil is released “from his chains” (Rev. 20:2) there will be resurrection of the “rest of the dead” to mortal bodies, at which time they will be taught about Jesus, believe in Him to receive the Holy Spirit of power to overcome the Devil. As a gift, the overcomers will then transform into spirit-composed bodies while those who rejected the Holy Spirit will be doomed to Gehenna fire for an eternal death.
Truly, there is nothing worse than death itself. As such, we need to be serious and pay particular attention to what God has planned for us through eternity. A third of angels went with Satan and not “one” with God. Purposely, God did not create spirit-composed beings again to show man that body-composition is secondary to the mind that needs teaching and guidance before being spirit-composed. While we are temporarily created “weak”, mere mortal with physical limits, this was done “in hope” anchored on the choices to be made by a mortal man-Jesus in his life on earth. As a man, he lived his life perfectly, with the Holy Spirit in him, to be an “unblemished Passover Lamb” , with “works” worthy of the reward to be a substitute for humanity’s death.(Compare John. 8: 29,46, 55;I Pet. 2: 22).
He chose, though unwillingly yet voluntarily, to die by crucifixion as propitiation for mankind’s sin and resurrected by the Father to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to be subsequently given to humanity for guidance to be “one” with the Father. This he received as promised, on his belief and trust in the Father and not because of his “works“. On the same mechanics of belief and trust, we received this gift from Jesus, the Son of God.
The critical element that a person should have before he/she is judged about “eternal death” is the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without it, final judgment will not be made. And for that, the person has to believe in what Jesus did for mankind before being “baptized with the Holy Spirit”(John 1:32-33).With the Holy Spirit in the person, he/she is empowered to become an “overcomer” of evil and the Devil. At Jesus’ return on earth to establish his kingdom, the “overcomers” who are still alive will become spirit-composed beings in a “twinkling of an eye” to be with Christ. Whereas, those who died before his return, who were partakers of the Holy Spirit and persevered, will be resurrected at Christ’s return as spirit-composed beings to rule with Him at the Millenium. Those who fought against Jesus at his return will be thrown in “Gehenna fire” towards eternal death. The rest of the dead (Ezekiel 37:1-14) will resurrect into “flesh-composed bodies” after the Millenium to be educated on Jesus, to believe and receive the Holy Spirit. Those who are “overcomers” will be transformed to spirit-composed bodies; those who reject His guidance will go to “Gehenna fire” for eternal death.
It may surprise many, but death is just the beginning and not an end. Truly, as we invest in this current life, we should also seriously invest in learning about the “afterlife“.
1. Hurricane Harvey. Retrieved August 8, 2017 at
2. Hurricane Irma. Retrieved September 6, 2017 at https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-irma-approaches-the-caribbean-1504608280
3. Earthquake in Mexico. Retrieved September 9, 2017 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/massive-earthquake-strikes-off-the-coast-of-mexico-setting-off-tsunami-warnings/2017/09/08/c8114f3a-945b-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html?wpisrc=al_alert-COMBO-world%252Bnation&wpmk=1&pwa=true&outputType=default-article&deferJs=true
4. Retrieved September 10, 2017 at https://finance.yahoo.com/news/hurricane-jose-traveling-east-coast-185800042.html
5.Church shooting. Retrieved October 1, 2017 at http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/religion/2017/09/25/nashville-church-shooting-what-happens-when-violence-invades-sacred-spaces/700326001/
6. Mandalay music concert Retrieved October 3, 2017 at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/shooting-in-las-vegas-news-victims-gunman-stephen-paddock-latest-update/
7. Death, what is? Retrieved October 1, 2017 from https://fact-s.net/2017/05/09/death-what-is/
8. Leonard Nimoy. Retrieved October 1, 2017 at https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/arts/television/leonard-nimoy-spock-of-star-trek-dies-at-83.html
9. Northern tribe of Israel held captive by the Assyrians. Retrieved 10/22/17 at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_captivity
10. Retrieved 10/22/17 at https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/5805/Assyrian-Captivity.htm
11. Not Lost. Retrieved 10/22/17 at http://www.learnthebible.org/the-ten-lost-tribes.html
12. What is man…? Retrieved 10/27/17 from http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/Tom_&_George_Butterfield/manmindful.
Original post:October 30, 2017
DEDICATED to a friend whose funeral we attended September 29, 2017 at Palm Coast Florida; post hurricane Harvey. Coincidentally a “Day of Atonement” in Jewish religion.