Monthly Archives: February 2018

Life after death is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament. But what about the Old Testament? Did believers before Jesus Christ speak about their hope for the future?

From our consideration of God’s promises to Abraham in the early chapters of Genesis, we have seen in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11 that Abraham didn’t expect to receive God’s promises in his lifetime, although he saw them from a distance, and eagerly looked forward to the city that God will build in the future. Abraham can only inherit these promises if he is brought back to life again, and lives ‘forever’.

What about other Old Testament characters? Did any others express hope for a future existence?

Job

The sufferings of Job are well known, but maybe not so much his outbursts of hope? Yet, one of the famous songs in Handel’s Messiah highlights Job’s earnest desire. Job says, in chapter 19, verses 25-27, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another…” (all references will be from KJV)

Surely Job believed he would come to life again! In Job 14:13-15, he says, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.”

David

Some incredible promises were given to King David, which the angel Gabriel reiterated to Mary, telling her that they were primarily about Jesus Christ! (Luke 1:26-35) Yet, if you look carefully at the promises given to David in 2 Samuel 7, you will also read these words in verse 16, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.”  Surely this indicates David will see these promises fulfilled.

David speaks of his great longing to experience this “forever time” in Psalm 27, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple even life for evermore.”

And in Psalm 61:5-7,  David says, “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations. He shall abide before God for ever:…” (See also Psalm 2; 72; 133:3; 23:6)

This ‘forever’ time is not something which David is now experiencing, as we are told in Acts 2:29 &34, “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day… For David is not ascended into the heavens…”

Instead, David speaks at length in Psalm 37 about the day when ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ and the wicked will be ‘cut off’. Jesus even quotes these words of David in the Beatitudes! (Matthew 5:5)

Isaiah

Numerous chapters in Isaiah describe the paradise God has promised for this earth. Isaiah tells us so much about the ‘last days’, the time when flowers will bloom in the desert, the animals will cease killing one another – even a wolf will lie down peacefully with a lamb! He speaks of all nations going up to Jerusalem to worship the King and learn of God’s ways. If you long for an exciting vision of the future age, ponder these details in Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:6-7; chapter 11 and 35, 51:1-6; chapter 60; 65:17-25.

Like other Old Testament believers, Isaiah refers to his hope of resurrection in chapter 26:19, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.”

Daniel

Several visions and dreams are in the book of Daniel. Daniel’s visions are very similar to those given to John in Revelation. Daniel specifically speaks of the resurrection, telling us in chapter 12, that when “Michael” (symbolic name for Jesus) stands up, “… many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

In Daniel chapter 2, the prophet interprets a vision of the great empires of the earth standing up as a metallic man and being broken by a rock. He says in verse 44, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Later on Daniel is given a vision from God in chapter 7.  “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him… And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:13-14, 27)

Other Prophets

The prophet Jeremiah speaks of his hope for a paradise on earth in Jeremiah 3:17-18. Zechariah in chapter 14, adds to this vision with details of major topographical changes to the area around Jerusalem. Ezekiel foretells the regathering of Israel, the time when they will finally be at peace, worship God in truth, and have a righteous King (Ezekiel 36-39). Ezekiel also gives extensive plans for the future temple to be built in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48). The prophet Micah speaks of this future time of peace and righteousness (Micah 4:1-8). Habakuk assures us that in the future “… the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

God’s grand purpose that the whole earth will be filled with His glory was first revealed to Moses in Numbers 14:21.

The Old Testament Hope

In summary, then, the Old Testament believers looked forward to a time when God’s promises will be fulfilled on this earth. They knew they would die and return to dust, but they believed that God would bring them back to life – and that this future life would be FOREVER! After listing many of the Old Testament faithful in Hebrews 11, the chapter ends with the summary message, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

Will we all be given the promises at the same time??

To stir your vision of this exciting time we have listed some key Old Testament passages  on Paradise in the Passages to Consider section.

In our next blog we will consider the New Testament hope. Is the New Testament hope the same what was revealed to the Old Testament faithful? Or did Jesus offer something different for his followers? We will look in particular at what Jesus and his disciples preached, and the hope that the Apostle Paul openly proclaimed. What could be more exciting than the promises God has made to his followers? Especially when we’ve been invited to share!

It is surprising to discover from Stephen’s speech in the New Testament that Abraham never received the land promise from God! 

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans… into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child.” (ESV)

Did Abraham Expect to Receive the Promise in the Future?

The writer to Hebrews confirms that the promise was not received, adding details that indicate Abraham never expected to inherit the land in his lifetime! The KJV is a little easier to understand for this passage, so we will use it instead of the ESV:

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (KJV)

Notice carefully what we are told: Abraham lived in the promised land in a tent – “tabernacles”, as a stranger. He died without receiving his inheritance, looking for a “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”. He was looking for a “heavenly” country. 

A “Heavenly” Country?

This can seem confusing. If Abraham didn’t get the promised land in his lifetime, will he get it in the future? Was Abraham really promised land on earth, or was the promise made for an inheritance in heaven – a “heavenly” country? But, if he was promised a place in heaven, then why would God tell him, “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it”? (Genesis 15:7). And why did God tell him to look at the land in all directions and walk through it, promising, “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

Did Abraham Expect to Receive the Promise Himself?

Some say that God was only promising to give the land to the Jewish people – Abraham’s offspring. But if you look at the verses above, you will notice that God specifically adds, “to thee will I give it.” 

A Little Research with Computer Bible Programs

Sometimes it can be helpful to look at the original Greek words that are used in confusing passages. Our favourite computer Bible program is PowerBible, which makes it really easy to research the meanings and usage of all the original words in the entire Bible. In the box below you can see what the Interlinear version looks like on PowerBible, showing all the Greek words in ‘< >’ as they relate to the English translation of Hebrews 11.

10 For <gar> he looked for <ekdechomai> a city <polis> which hath <echo> foundations <themelios>, whose <hos> builder <technites> and <kai> maker <demiourgos> is God <theos>… 13 These <houtos> all <pas> died <apothnesko> in <kata> faith <pistes>, not <me> having received <lambano> the promises <epaggelia>, but <alla> having seen <eido> them <autos> afar off <porrhothen>, and <kai> were persuaded of <peitho> them, and <kai> embraced <aspazomai> them, and <kai> confessed <homologeo> that <hoti> they were <eisi> strangers <xenos> and <kai> pilgrims <parepidemos> on <epi> the earth <ge>.  14 For <gar> they that say <lego> such things <toioutos> declare plainly <emphanizo> that <hoti> they seek <epizeteo> a country <patris>.

 

Abraham was looking for a city with “foundations <themelios>”. If I click on <themelios> up pops this definition:

DEFINITION DECIPHER DEFINITION
2310.  yemeliov  themelios,  them-el’-ee-os “2310” – Strong’s concordance number. “themelios” is the Greek word.
Search for 2310 in KJV A click button to search all the ways <themelios> is used in the KJV 
from a derivative of 5087;  ‘themelios’ is based on a root word 5087 
something put down,  Actual definition of <themelios>.
i.e. a substruction (of a building, etc.), (literally or figuratively): Strong’s ideas about what the word means.
–foundation.  Anything after the “–” lists all English words used for ‘themelios’ in the KJV. 
See Greek 5087 (tithemi) A place to click on the root word.

A City with Foundations

One of the amazing passages that comes up in a search for 2310 <themelios> is Revelation 21:14, “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

This is the new Jerusalem – the city that God has promised for the future!

Seek a Country

When we do a search for the word “seek” in the phrase,“they seek a country”, we find the same word is used again in Hebrews 13:14, “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

Just like them – we are looking for this heavenly city! 

Waiting for Us!

The writer of Hebrews 11 concludes the chapter with this amazing statement about all the faithful believers recorded in Scripture:

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

More Questions

So, all this begs the question, When and where will everyone receive the promises? Remember Jesus is the primary offspring inheriting the promises. And if we are baptized into Christ – we will inherit them as well (Galatians 3). Where is this “heavenly” city that we are all seeking? Will it be in heaven, since it is termed a “heavenly” city? Or is the Promised land, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived in as strangers – the land of “Israel” today – going to be made a “heavenly” city? Could it be that this city is termed “heavenly” because it will no longer be ruled and fought over by earthly humans?

In our next blog we will consider other passages that refer to the “Kingdom of God” and the time of peace and happiness promised when Jesus reigns as King. We need to determine whether God’s paradise will be in heaven, or on earth. This is a really exciting study, as it frames our hope for the future and gives us a beautiful vision. If you just can’t wait for the answers, print out the Discovery Lesson and see for yourself!

In searching for the true, original Christian hope, we discover that the Apostle Paul tells us that the Gospel was preached to a faithful man in the book of Genesis! 

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8 (ESV)

Faithful Believers will Inherit the Promises

If we read on to the end of Galatians chapter 3, we discover that all faithful baptized believers become inheritors of the promises given to Abraham. We can inherit these promises! Really?

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:27-29

Jesus Christ is the Primary Heir

This same chapter in Galatians also tells us that Jesus Christ is the most important seed of Abraham – the primary heir!

“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

So, since these promises are so significant to Jesus Christ, to Abraham, and to us as believers – it would certainly be well worth our time to examine what God said to Abraham. This topic is so foundational to understanding the true Gospel message, we have added Discovery Lesson #1  to our website. For those of you who find it much more meaningful to uncover God’s precious gems in His Word through your own research – then the Discovery Lessons are for you! We hope you enjoy the study as much as we do!

For those who are looking for quick answers, here is a summary of the promises that God made to Abraham. (Genesis 12:2-7; 13:14-18; 15:3-7, 18-21; 17:1-8)

  • From Abraham God will make a great nation
  • God will bless him and make his name great
  • God will bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him
  • In Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed
  • All the land that Abraham could see and walk in will be given to him and his offspring forever
  • Abraham’s offspring would be as numerous as the dust of the earth and the stars
  • The boundaries of the land given to the offspring will be from the Nile to the Euphrates
  • Abraham will be a father of many nations
  • Nations and kings will come from Abraham
  • The covenant between Abraham and God, and God and Abraham’s offspring will be an everlasting covenant
  • The land of Canaan will be an everlasting possession for Abraham and his offspring

Wow! That’s a lot of promises! See if you can find more.

Do you think Abraham received all these promises in his lifetime? Or do you think he expected to receive them later? If later – then when? and how?

Were there any ‘ifs’ involved in the receiving of the promises?

How did, or will Jesus Christ receive these promises?

And what about us? How will we receive the promises?

Can you find any New Testament commentary on the Promises to Abraham, aside from Galatians 3?

In our next blog we will look at the answers to the questions above. For those of you who just can’t wait – check out the Discovery Lesson.  It is a good habit to always pray for God’s Blessing before you start a study. See if the answers you uncover will match the ones we give 🙂 Until then, may God’s blessing be upon you.

Remember, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

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