This morning, 03/16/23, as usual, I met with the guys from church. As a group, we watch The Chosen and comment on what we notice and how it affects us. No one has much to say, so I do most of the talking. A brother I consider a friend always asks me if I am done; I tell him I am never done, but occasionally I have to stop.
This day’s episode focused almost entirely on preparing and planning for the sermon on the mount. When it ended, and the television was shut off, there was, once again, dead silence. Typically, I can’t handle the silence, and we generally only have about ten minutes to say anything.
This particular morning, a brother who, because he co-leads with our leader in a marriage class at night, rang out with, “I am sorry, but I don’t see anywhere in scripture where we see the disciples going around putting up placards and inviting the public to a big evangelistic rally on the hill; nor do we see Jesus having to prepare and practice “the sermon on the mount.”
I agreed with him. It is not in scripture, but we have been through discussions like this on multiple occasions, as we have gone through several seasons of The Chosen leading up to this point.
The reality is there are many things in “The Chosen” that we don’t see in scripture, but does that mean they didn’t happen?
Some things in scripture are well defined, but there are others that we can’t immediately substantiate, one way or the other. One example of this is found in Genesis 4, where Cain murders his brother and then bemoans that “My iniquity is too great to bear.” Cain then says people will kill him.
How is that possible when we will fight to say that, at this point in the “chronological timeline,” there are only three people on the earth?
As you can see, there are no straightforward, scriptural answers as to why Cain has an understanding that people would kill him. Perhaps a portion of the answer lies in the Apostle John’s gospel.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25 KJV)
So, what do we do with unverifiable information, occurrences, or settings?
We need to ask, does it diminish the ministry of God or Jesus, and, therefore, demand that we call all of it false teaching and throw it out?
One of the scenes that caught the attention of a member of our group that morning was the character Mary (of Magdalena), who, as they were sitting in a tent, was actively teaching another female how to read and write Hebrew. (We have nothing in scripture that tells us that.) At one point, Mary quotes a passage to assist the young lady’s understanding, to which she responds, how did you memorize that? The assumption that we are left to make is that she, now living in the encampment with Mary, sees that Mary is busy doing other things, as she is, and cannot figure out where Mary finds the time.
Mary’s response to this young lady went something like this, “I was going to commit suicide when Jesus found me; having failed Him once already, I never want to go back there again. So, rehearsing and quoting scripture keeps my mind off those things and places that can trap me.”
In a previous episode, Mary was so an emotionally shaken because of a traumatic event with a demoniac in the camp that she ran back to the bar and the horrid life she left behind. Jesus sent Peter and Matthew to go and retrieve her.
I think we all agreed that rehearsing scriptures that bring us life is an outstanding and scriptural idea, a motivation that I think Dallas, the producer/director, intended.
The Apostle Paul speaks to the idea of keeping your mind focused on Godly things.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 TLV)
At this point, I said, I HATE telling you guys this, but the enemy has been tormenting my mind for the last couple of days. As a side note, several years ago, I heard the Holy Spirit telling me to speak out and be honest, as we men have this nasty tendency to say, while the screwdriver is protruding out of your rib cage, “that don’t hurt.” Oh yes, it does, and nothing is served by you living a lie. Sometimes the screwdriver protrudes from your marriage or your lack of relationship with your children. It hurts, and my calling, alongside teaching, is to point that out by using myself as an example.
Yes, I frequently get mocked and rebuffed, especially by those who love the lie.
My “bad week” started with looking at high school reunion pictures online, reminding me of how shy, quiet, and naive I was in high school. Thank God I am not that person now, but seeing people who knew me like that was torture. That was day one; day two involved some fool that could not wait behind a car in the busy Sam’s club parking lot as I tried to lead my disabled wife and disabled grandson back to the car. I thought the driver was going to run the three of us over, and none of us could jump out of the way fast enough. You got it; I did not talk like much of a Christian at that moment.
As I drove the grandson back to his home, I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to me because He reminded me, like Mary, to focus on the good things. We should all see the purpose and benefit of rehearsing what God says about us. So again I go to Paul.
But the fruit of the Ruach is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—against such things, there is no law.
(Galatians 5:22-23 TLV)
I mentioned to the men that seeing Judas come into the scene in The Chosen is the thing that gave me that punched-in-the-gut feeling. I found myself looking at his smiling face on the screen and thinking, I know what you will do.
Many would think that Jesus knew what Judas would do; if He did, it would have to be because the Father had told Him in at least one of His prayer times.
Because of the foolish misconceptions we have about Jesus, I think we believe that God merely downloaded all that heavenly information into His head and heart, and, therefore, Jesus knew all things. That would be great, except that it severely diminishes the fact that He had to:
- Lower Himself and become a man.
- Be the Son of God and yet be retrained.
- Be punished by death to pay the price for our salvation and freedom.
“Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil,” (Hebrews 2:14 BSB)
He became human, and He is still human today. This download idea would have given Jesus an advantage and undermined God’s legal system, which Satan was using against Him. But, nope, He could not go that route.
“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
(Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB)
If you think Jesus was skillful with the Word and walked in constant communion with the Father as Enoch did, then you would be correct, but He did it as a man, just like you and I. The only advantage Jesus had that we cannot have, is that He did not have the same damaged genetics that drives us to sin. Was He capable of sin, yes, but He was NOT driven to sin.
You would think it was a great morning, but it wasn’t over yet.
I cannot remember how we got to this point, but something got said about hell. I know many who think God has already thrown people into hell, but that has NOT happened yet, and, in general, it will NOT happen until the great throne event at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ. So, at least for now, I can exclude Judas, who hung himself from hell.
Some are too quick to say he committed suicide and was immediately sent to hell, no questions asked. Having done a character study on Judas, the problem I have with a “theology” like this, which sends people immediately to hell, is that I can see that he did repent and acknowledged his wrongdoing. This not-so-brief premise was not meant to discuss Judas’s fate, so I will pull the plug on this path quickly. Still, far too many of us have a traditional religious standard for repentance, almost to the point of putting Jesus back on the cross or getting baptized all over again. It seems that this is what we demand of people. The thief on the cross did not have much time, but he did something comparable to Judas; we give the thief grace merely because Jesus was involved.
So a common problem I see is that some of us believe we have been appointed judges and have the right to send people to hell. The fact that all sin was forgiven on the cross should shut many mouths or at least change their condemning hearts. But, unfortunately, I just stated what far too many of us are willing to do, especially when this job of judging is for Jesus alone.
Wow, is that in the Bible?
“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever He wants. The Father does not judge anyone, but has handed over all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:21-22 TLV)
There are two outstanding aspects of these passages. First, here is one you may have yet to notice. So, not only does the Son do all the judging, but He gives life “to whomever He wants,” and He is NOT asking your permission to whom He can give life. One more thing I see here, there are NO limitations on whom the Son can give this life to.
Are you kidding me; Jesus can give life to anyone?
Yes, and in Matthew 25, you see just that at the sheep and goat judgment. So, much to your dismay, He may have freed Judas because it is His nature.
In my comments to the small group, I added, what do you do with the fact that Jesus, at His death, went to hell, preached to the captives, and led many free.
With that, I shut up.
It only took a few seconds for the co-leader to come up with an angry retort.
He looked at me and said, Jesus, did NOT go into hell! After several seconds of glaring, he added it was the place of the dead.
Quickly the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that I am one who tells people that no one is in hell yet. I mentally had to agree that there was some logic to what he said, but I was not able to respond as yet.
I hate being wrong and had, just the previous day, told my wife that I know what I am talking about, so I simply responded to his angry assertion with, okay. This is what I say when I will study this once again and get back to you.
I pulled out my phone, and the first thing I came to was Revelation 1:18. The King James Version reads like this:
“I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”
Well, look at that, there is that word hell, and how did Jesus get those keys?
But I am an advocate of checking the origins of every simple word.
Why, you ask?
Because the King James version was a rewrite ordered by the state church of England. This rewrite was done in opposition to people leaving the Catholic church and going to Protestantism. Prior to that, those that could afford it had the same Bible that the pilgrims used in Plymouth Rock, the Geneva Bible, and they had the Geneva Bible for over 100 years before the King James version.
So hell is actually the Greek word hadēs and means the abode of departed spirits. Since the KJV was the standard Bible for the longest time, then hell would have been the common assertion and expected answer. Because we, as the church in general, DO NOT READ our Bibles, then we would probably not know the origin of the word hell, which we just discussed to be hades, the place of the dead.
I think many of us believe that the lake of fire is hell, but we do not allow for an abode of departed spirits. A common word picture comes from Revelation 19:20.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20 KJV)
The final scene is found in Revelation 20.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:13-15 KJV)
Something notable in Revelation 20:13-15, death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. Once again, we are constrained to use the word hell, which is Greek the word hades, the place of the dead. Is it any wonder that we call this place of the dead hell? So at some point, death and the place of the dead will cease to exist.
In The Chosen, there is a discussion between Jesus and Matthew about the substance of “the sermon on the mount.” Matthew humorously elaborates on this portion by adding you would have a city full of people with only one eye.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-29 KJV)
The point here is not the eye but things that we cannot validate from scripture. In this case, the conversation leaned toward potentially being sent to hell over poor decisions. Hell, in this case, is NOT hades but a reference to Gehenna, the place of perpetual burning or the lake of fire.
In all honesty, I find it rather cruel to expect people to juggle which word they should use in front of certain people.
A piece of information to help confuse you about hell is the narrative about the beggar Lazarus (a person that the audience of that day may have been well aware of) and the rich Jew.
Luke 16:22-23 KJV “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeing Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Hell, as used here, is hades, the place of the dead. To the Jews, the idea that a rich man would go to hell is unacceptable; now, the beggar, maybe. But they also had the understanding that heaven initiated with Abraham’s bosom, and yet, there is our rich man, in torment, which we seem to associate with hell.
The Companion Bible, by (E. W. Bullinger), tells us, “The Pharisees taught that there were three sets of angels for wicked men; and others for good men.”
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says what several others say, “The Jews held the opinion that the spirits of the righteous were conveyed by angels to heaven at their death.”
An interesting point, but why show a preference for the rich? Because they had money, and everyone knows that God holds “His” people in high regard and, therefore, blesses them ( I am being facetious.) Obviously, this rich man missed the mark.
Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments elaborates on the so-called benefits of wealth that the Jews believed. “into Abraham’s bosom — So the Jews styled paradise; the place or state where the souls of good men remain from death to the resurrection. The expression alludes to the way of representing the felicities of heaven by sharing a magnificent banquet with Abraham and the other patriarchs;”
Historical evidence informs us that a pauper like Lazarus would have been thrown, without ceremony, into the Valley of Gehenna, where the trash always burns. There is no reason to think that this poor man was treated any differently. There is, however, thanks to Jesus, evidence that tells us angels carried Lazarus into the arms of Abraham, a treatment that was thought to be reserved for the righteous, something Lazarus was not seen as, primarily because of his financial condition, one that did not allow for frequent bathing and fine clothes.
Now, what am I to make of a statement that tells me that the dead lie in a condition of inactivity after what Jesus told us about Lazarus and the rich man?
A piece of substantiating evidence comes from King David. I am using the Amplified, in this case, as it typically has other defining terms or words.
“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, or disappointed, for I am calling upon You; let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol (the place of the dead).”
(Psalms 31:17 AMP)
First, an awareness that this was written in Hebrew, which used Sheol instead of Hades, which means the same thing, to define where David wishes these people would go.
The writer of Ecclesiastes 9:5 gives us a clue.
“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;..” (CJB)
To know is to have comprehension, care, or recognition. But the Hebrew word me‘ûmâh, meaning nothing, puts the entire thought into the negative and implies that they do not know a speck of anything.
Another passage that affirms the prophetic qualities of Ecclesiastes comes from Job.
“Yes, I know that You will bring me down to death, to the place appointed for all the living.” (Job 30:23 BSB)
The general idea, it would seem, is that this place Job is speaking of is little more than the earth, as we are to return to dust. Notice how Job refers to them as living. Because of conversations I have had, someone will say, see, there are two places in hades; one for the dead and one for those who are still alive in their spirits. Can’t you see how illogical a theory like this is? To enforce this thought look at Luke 20:38.
“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”
(Luke 20:38 BSB)
At least, we can agree that there is an appointed collection place for the dead, and, since we should understand that the spirit or soul never dies, then even in hades, Sheol, or hell, depending on your preferred language and Bible translation, your soul lives on forever. Now, if you are a part of the body of Christ, then it’s an entirely different matter, as, upon your graduation from this earth, you are in the presence of Jesus.
“having courage, then, at all times, and knowing that being at home in the body, we are away from home from the LORD— for we walk through faith, not through sight— we have courage, and are well pleased, rather, to be away from the home of the body, and to be at home with the LORD.”
(2 Corinthians 5:6-8 LSV)
If our atoms separate as they return to dust, then what’s left to stand before that great white throne?
Well, that’s a great question, and the answer lies in the idea that the spirit never dies. No, I can’t tell you which atom it attaches to; this truly applies to the sailors in WW2, who, under radio silence, had to jump off a sinking, burning ship into shark-infested waters; their atoms got scattered all over the ocean as the currents carried the shark feces. Nothing is impossible with God, and He can handle the problem.
There is NO DOUBT in my mind that there is a place for the dead, but even that will come to an end.
Where else would all these people that we see in Revelation 20 come from?
“I saw the dead, both important and unimportant people, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened, including the Book of Life. The dead were judged on the basis of what they had done, as recorded in the books.” (Revelation 20:12 GW)
Keep something in mind; they missed the catching away of the church, the rapture for those unaware. So these have NO association, so to speak, with the church. I was taught that missing the rapture and choosing not to accept Christ during the seven years of wrath leaves you hopeless. But what do we see in the passages above? Books being opened. If those books were knowingly opened and offered no help, then this is just a cruel joke. God should simply send them to the lake of fire – hell and be done with it. If you have any grasp of who God is, then you know that this train of thought does not match His character. I can see this because I understand that God knows the end from the beginning and, therefore, knows whose names are in these books already.
If this is comparable to Matthew 25 and the sheep and goat judgment, then you must be aware that all these same people are called “the nations,” as they are all alive.
There is no distinction between the dead of Revelation 20 and the nations of Matthew 25.
Right now (03/18/2023), I am still here on earth. But, unfortunately, the church has not been caught up as yet; and my understanding of Biblical terminology has me thinking about the three people groups of the Bible: the Jews; the nations; and the church.
When the church is gone, and it may include many Jews, who is left?
The Jews and the nations.
Since the dead in Christ will rise in the “rapture,” who are these dead people?
There will be some from the Jewish side of the house, and the rest will fall under the category of the nations.
As I type this, I can hear the confused questions. But what about …?
Think of it like cars; some are considered crossovers. If a Jew accepts Yeshua, then they are followers of Christ the Messiah and part of the church. The same logic applies to those from the nations. If the narrative of the ten virgins who were called by invitation to the wedding applies, then 50% do not make it into the wedding. There are many reasons for their exclusion, and most of those exclusions have to do with not caring or being lax in their preparations. As I spend more time listening to people talk about the rapture, I have come to understand that those who have been called and responded will get in. All have been called, but few have responded.