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From Eden to Eden

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    The coming of Christ will bring joy and glory, not only to the living, waiting saints, but to those who are sleeping in the dust of the earth. Paul said to the church of Thessalonica, but the words are really spoken to us of the last generation, that when the Lord comes the dead will be raised and the living caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. The dead in Christ may have been sleeping thousands of years, but they will lose nothing, as they will be glorified at the same time as the living. Nor will they have any preëminence over the living, for the Scriptures say that all the faithful of ancient times died in faith, not having received the promise, God having reserved some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:39, 40. Both classes will be caught up together to meet their coming Lord in glory.FEE 231.1

    It has been noticed that the great primary truths of the government of God over men, are common to all dispensations. The gospel was revealed when Adam was expelled from Eden. The plan was developed in the covenant with Abraham; and the prophets declared in advance the complete fulfillment of the work of redemption through Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Seed of the woman who alone can triumph over the serpent.FEE 231.2

    The penalty announced to Adam for sin, was death; and this penalty was executed by causing man to return unto the ground out of which he was taken. Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:17-19; 5:5. To rob man of life was the great triumph of the serpent—the enemy of God and man. As has been noticed, the seed of the woman must restore all that was lost by sin; otherwise the triumph of the serpent would be permanent. Man must be restored from death; he must be brought back from the dust of the ground.FEE 231.3

    In view of this evident and necessary truth, it is surprising that Bible readers should deny—as many do—that a future life and immortality were revealed and promised to the patriarchs, the prophets, and to all the Israel of God. Had we no further proof than is afforded by the many appeals in the Old Testament Scriptures to the future judgment, we should even then confidently deny their position. But the proof to the contrary of their assertion is both abundant and explicit. It is true that there is no revelation made of the Platonic doctrine of the immortality of the soul, nor is there in the New Testament. The promise of eternal life is through the resurrection of the dead; here only it may be found in the Bible.FEE 232.1

    It has been noticed that the trial of Abraham in his being commanded to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, was much more than a trial of his love for an only son; it was a trial of his faith in the promise of God, who had said to him, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Genesis 21:12. Why did not Abraham plead to be excused from offering his son, on the ground that if Isaac were slain the promise of God must fail? The reason is given in Hebrews 11, that remarkable chapter on the power of faith. There we read:—FEE 232.2

    “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Hebrews 11:17-19.FEE 232.3

    Here is the evidence that the faith of Abraham embraced the resurrection of the dead. And inasmuch as Abraham, in these promises, saw the day of Christ and rejoiced in it (John 8:56), he understood that the Messiah was the true seed through whom the promises were to be fulfilled. In the sacrifice of the son of promise he saw and believed in the sacrifice of the true Seed, the Son of God, and in his resurrection.FEE 232.4

    But further; it is said of Abraham and others to whom the promises were given: “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country,” receiving no inheritance in it, but “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Verses 8-13. And this certainly proves that they looked to a future life for the fulfillment of the promises embraced in the covenant.FEE 233.1

    But the evidence is yet more direct. After reciting the cases of patriarchs, prophets, and others, and referring to the host of believers whom he had not time to name, the writer says that they endured great persecutions, not accepting deliverance when they might have obtained it by a denial of their faith, “that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Hebrews 11:35. This is decisive; it shows how entirely at fault are those professed teachers of the Bible who deny that the faith of the ancients embraced the future life. They saw it through the resurrection of the dead.FEE 233.2

    Besides this, we have specific declarations of individuals. Job distinctly referred to the resurrection in chapter 14:13-15, and yet more plainly in the following:—FEE 233.3

    “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; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27.FEE 233.4

    David showed his faith in speaking of the resurrection of Christ:—FEE 233.5

    “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Psalm 16:9, 10; compare Acts 2:25-32.FEE 233.6

    And David gave his own hope in the same event, saying, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” Psalm 17:15; see also Psalm 49:15.FEE 233.7

    The prophet Isaiah is most decisive in his testimony. He says:—FEE 233.8

    “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise.FEE 233.9

    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.” Isaiah 26:19.FEE 234.1

    In Matthew 2:16-18, we learn that Jeremiah prophesied of the destruction of the children in Bethlehem, by Herod. The prophecy we find in chapter 31:15-17. In verses 16, 17, the weeping mothers are comforted with hope from the word of the Lord:—FEE 234.2

    “Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end. saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.”FEE 234.3

    There is hope that they shall come again from the land of the enemy. Their children were dead; and Paul says the last enemy is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26. This refers unmistakably to a resurrection from the dead.FEE 234.4

    Ezekiel is equally strong and explicit in his testimony. He saw in vision a valley of dry bones, and by the word of the Lord they were caused to live. Then the Lord thus explained the vision:—FEE 234.5

    “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land.” Ezekiel 37:11-14.FEE 234.6

    And Daniel adds his testimony in language equally strong. When Michael the Prince stands up, or reigns, the time comes for the deliverance of the people of God. And at that time—FEE 234.7

    “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2.FEE 234.8

    Hosea also gives the word of the Lord on the same subject:FEE 234.9

    “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” Hosea 13:14.FEE 234.10

    This is some of the testimony of the Old Testament in regard to a future life—to a life beyond the grave. And what more could be asked to make it sure? They who overlook, or lightly esteem, the resurrection, find no evidence of a future life in the Hebrew Scriptures. Immortality, as they teach it, inherent in the nature of man, they fail to find in that book. Of that the word of God is silent. Now that the Jews believed these scriptures concerning a future life is proved in the New Testament by the many references to the resurrection as a well-known article of faith, except with the Sadducees. When Jesus said to the sister of Lazarus, “Thy brother shall rise again,” Martha replied, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:23, 24. How did she know it except by faith in the word of God, wherein it was revealed? Also when Paul was unjustly accused, he created a division among his accusers, by crying out:—FEE 234.11

    “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” Acts 23:6.FEE 235.1

    It requires but few words to show the great importance of the doctrine of the resurrection, or, rather, of the resurrection as a revealed truth. It is confessed that as far as the Old Testament is concerned, the resurrection presents the only hope of future life. The words of Jesus should be carefully considered. He said to one who had invited him to dine with him, that when he made a feast he should call the poor, the lame, and the blind, for this reason:—FEE 235.2

    “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14.FEE 235.3

    And this, in turn, shows the importance of the second advent of our Saviour; for the resurrection of the just will take place when he comes, and it will never take place unless he comes; therefore, should he never come, the just would never receive their recompense. Paul connects them in the following manner:—FEE 235.4

    “For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17.FEE 235.5

    This is parallel with that important declaration which follows:—FEE 236.1

    “Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound [when Christ comes], and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52.FEE 236.2

    In both these texts, the coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead are presented as the hope of glory for the saints. To the latter are added these words:—FEE 236.3

    “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Verse 54.FEE 236.4

    Many other texts speak of the coming of Christ as bringing the reward of the saints. Jesus himself testifies: “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12. And again: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. Says Paul: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:4. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13. Peter also says: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:4.FEE 236.5

    It is justly called that blessed hope, for at the second advent of the Lord the saints will receive the fullness of their hope in endless life and glory. Who that loves the Lord Jesus, the blessed and only Saviour, would not join the beloved disciple in the prayer, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”? Revelation 22:20.FEE 236.6

    In this chapter we have thus far only spoken of the resurrection of the just—the saints of God. But the whole argument concerning the judgment proves that there will also be a resurrection of the wicked, as Paul teaches in Acts 24:15. Our Lord and Saviour taught the same thing. After stating that the Father had given power to the Son to execute judgment, he adds:—FEE 236.7

    “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.FEE 237.1

    All mankind now return to the dust of the earth, as did Adam, because of the perishable nature inherited from him; and by the second Adam all will be brought from the ground, for thus it is written: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22. But it is also shown that all are not of one order. They that are Christ’s are raised at his coming. They will have the resurrection unto life. When the last trump sounds, this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality; for it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. See 1 Corinthians 15:42-53. But of the other order it is said:—FEE 237.2

    “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:8.FEE 237.3

    In the book of Revelation it is said that the second death hath no power on such as have part in the first resurrection. But when the sea gives up its dead, and death and hades deliver up the dead which are in them, all who are not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. Revelation 20:6, 13-15. From the second death there is no resurrection. Beyond that, for all who shall suffer it, is only eternal gloom. To them “is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 13.FEE 237.4

    Behold, what a contrast between the just and the unjust, in the judgment, in the resurrection, and in eternity. Thus we may see how God, the Judge of all, regards the difference of their characters. When one is plunged into the abyss, into the fire of everlasting destruction, to the other is given the enjoyment of an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.FEE 237.5

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