Hades in Greek mythology was the
god of the underworld, the place of the dead. And so the underworld
itself was also known as Hades, named for its ruler. When men went
there, they were ferried across the river Styx by one named Charon.
Hades was called Pluto by the Romans. It is obvious that the Bible
writers did not entertain the Greek concept of Hades.
Hades was a Greek religious term
that the Hebrews borrowed a few centuries before Christ in order to
translate the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. When Alexander the
Great conquered Jerusalem in 332 B.C., the Greeks ruled Judea until
163 B.C., when the Judeans were able to regain a century of
independence. Yet even so, they had a difficult time resisting
Greek culture and language, which was spoken throughout Asia (now
Turkey) and Egypt. Many Judeans (Jews), especially in Egypt, could
no longer speak Hebrew, and thus the need arose to translate the
Scriptures into Greek.
This project was begun about 280
B.C. by a group of 72 scholars. Hence, the new translation was
called the Septuagint, meaning the seventy. This translation is
valuable in that it provides us with a key to Hebrew-to-Greek word
equivalents, so that we know how to understand New Testament Greek
terms. Though Greek words were adopted, they were meant to convey
One such example was this Greek
word Hades. When the Septuagint translators came to the Hebrew word
Sheol, they translated it as Hades. It was the nearest Greek
equivalent to Sheol. But this did not mean that we ought to adopt
the Greek mythological concept of Hades. No, the concept of the
place or state of the dead had already been established in the
Hebrew scriptures by the term Sheol.
And so, while the Greeks viewed
their Hades as a place of conscious torture, torment, or hard
labor, the Hebrew concept conveyed the idea of rest or sleep.
However, Sheol was not a tomb or sepulcher. The place where one
puts a dead body was a qeber or qebura. But the soul
was said to go to Sheol. In Psalm 13:3 David says, enlighten my
eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Daniel 12:2 says
2 and many of those
who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to
everlasting [Heb. olam, to obscurity, or an obscure
amount of time, an age] life, but the others to disgrace and
everlasting [Heb. olam] contempt.
When Jesus was about to raise a
young girl from the dead, He said in Matt. 9:24,
24 He began
to say, Depart; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.
And they began laughing at Him.
The Apostle Paul carries this
same Hebrew terminology into his writings as well. He says in 1
those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished .
. . 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the
first fruits of those who are asleep.
The Bible also says that the
soul that sinneth, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). This idea
was not unusual in the Bible. In the great prophecy of Christ's
death on the Cross, it is said in Isaiah 53:10,
10 Yet it
pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief; when thou
shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His
seed. . . 12 because He hath poured out His soul unto
The concept of the soul of the
Sacrifice dying on behalf of OUR souls is found in Leviticus
17:11-14. There we are told that the soul (Heb. nephesh) is
in the blood, and God has given the blood for an atonement for our
souls. That was why men were not to drink blood, but to pour it out
upon the ground. And so, Jesus poured out His soul unto
death (Isaiah 53:12). Physically, it was the blood that was
poured upon the ground, but the blood represented the soul being
There is no question as to the
use of the word sleep to describe the dead. It is also apparent
that the soul is said to die and to be poured out as the blood.
Every good biblical scholar knows that this is the case. Yet there
is debate over whether or not this term indicates a conscious or
unconscious state of the dead. Some say that sleep indicates a
state of unconsciousness, citing Ecclesiastes 9:5,
5 For the
living know they will die; but the dead do not know
anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory
is forgotten. 6 Indeed their love, their hate, and their
zeal have already perished . . . .
Others say that Solomon was not
talking about the actual state of the dead, but that from our
living human perspective the dead know nothing. Some go so far as
to say that Solomon was speaking as an unbeliever (in which case
the inspiration of the book itself might be undermined). Still
others say that the dead WERE in a state of sleep until Jesus'
resurrection, at which time He raised them up and brought them to
heaven with Him.
It is not our purpose here to
engage in a lengthy discussion of the state of the dead. Many books
have been written on the subject, and the issue has only served to
divide people. I will only say that I believe that death is a
The body returns to the ground
from whence it came, returning to dust. (Gen. 3:19; Psalm 104:29;
Eccl. 12:7). Few people would argue against this point. The
contention comes when we discuss the state of the soul. Though
Ezekiel tells us that the soul that sins will die, men speak of
their immortal souls. So let us see if we can clear up some of this
confusion by showing that the soul is not the seat of immortality.
We will then show that it is the spiritnot the
soulthat survives death.
Where does the soul go after
death? I believe that the soul, like the body, returns to its state
before creation. The body returns to dust, but the soul did not
exist or have a consciousness prior to the moment God breathed the
breath of life into Adam's nostrils. Hence, the soul ceases to
exist as such after death. This does not mean that it is impossible
for God to bring the soul back into conscious existence. Acts
2:25-27 says of Christ,
25 For David says
of Him [Christ] . . . 27 Because Thou wilt not
abandon My soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo
We see here that Christ's soul
was in Hades, but not abandoned there. In other words, He was
raised from the dead. This makes it clear that the soul goes to
Hades at death. That is described in terms of sleep, and it
certainly is not a place of torment. This caused some in later
centuries to assume that Hades was composed of two compartments,
one for the righteous, and one for the wicked. But the Bible says
nothing of this. It was simply men's way of trying to explain how
all men could go to Hades, while trying to hang on to the idea that
Hades was hell, that is, a place of torture for the wicked.
Acts 2:27 quotes the Septuagint translation of
Psalm 16:10, where Sheol is rendered by the Greek word
The idea that Hades is a place of
torture is part of the Greek mythology. The only justification that
Christian teachers have in adopting their torture theory has been
the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). To hold
this theory, such teachers have had to literalize this parable,
instead of seeing it in the context of Jesus' other Kingdom
parables. Jesus told many parables to illustrate how the Kingdom of
God would be taken from the Jews and given to another (Matt.
In this case, the rich man was
dressed in purple and fine linen like the temple priests who ruled
the people. So the rich man is identified with rulers of the Judean
nation. Another identifying mark for the rich man was that he had
five brothers (Luke 16:28). The patriarch Judah had five brothers
born in Gen. 29 and 30. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar,
The rich man feasted every day
(on the Word).
Lazarus, on the other hand, first
represents the lost house of Israel, which, at that time, was
laid [ballo, to cast down] at his gate. The
Greek word, ballo, is usually translated cast in the New Testament.
For example, in Matt. 3:10, a tree that does not bear good fruit is
cast into the fire. In Matt. 7:6, we are told not to cast our
pearls before swine. The word picture does not convey a man
lovingly and carefully laying pearls in front of swine. Neither
does it convey the idea of Lazarus being carefully laid at the gate
of the rich man. It portrays Lazarus as being cast
Lazarus represents the house of
Israel that had been cast down and cast out of the land from
745-721 B.C. We read of this in 2 Kings 17:20,
20 And the Lord
rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave
them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of
Thus, Lazarus represents the
house of Israel that had been cast out many centuries before the
time of Christ. He was the beggar at the gate, who could only
receive a few crumbs from the rich man's table, for they were
largely cut off from the Word of God at that time.
The parable portrays both Lazarus
and the rich man dying. Since these men represent Israel and Judah,
the parable shows the ultimate fate of each nation after these
nations were destroyed. The house of Israel, like Lazarus, would be
restored to Abraham's bosom (the promise of God, the New Covenant).
The majority portion of the house of Judah, which rejected Jesus,
would go into a time of torment, which they themselves affirm
The rich man wanted someone to go
to his living brethren and warn them. However, we read in Luke
31 But he
said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the
Elsewhere, in John 5:46, 47,
Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews who opposed Him,
46 For if
you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of
Me.47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will
you believe My words?
And indeed, this came to pass.
When Jesus rose from the dead, the temple priests knew the truth
but still did not believe. In fact, they are responsible for
blinding the eyes of the rest of the Judeans, most of whom would
have believed in Christ if their leaders had not deceived them.
Matt. 28:11-15 says,
11 Now while
they were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the
city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.
12 And when they had assembled with the elders
and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the
soldiers, 13 and said, You are to say, His
disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were
asleep. 14 And if this should come to the
governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of
trouble. 15 And they took the money and
did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread
among the Jews, and is to this day.
The parable of the rich man and
Lazarus is just one of many parables of the kingdom that tell
essentially the same story but in different ways. To do a complete
study of Jesus' parables is not possible in this short study, but
it is most appropriate to look at the others that have led to the
climactic parable of the rich man and Lazarus. These provide us
with a context by which we can be sure of our
The series of parables leading up
to the rich man and Lazarus really begins in Luke 15:3-7. It is the
parable of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
3 And He
told them this parable, saying, 4 What man among you, if
he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the
ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is
lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he
lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes
home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to
them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!
7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more
joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine
righteous persons who need no repentance.
Though Jesus applies it
specifically to the individual, the motif itself is taken from a
national situation with the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Hence, the parable is certainly applicable on that level. Ezekiel
34 is the classic passage dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.
Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but they ministered
primarily to two different nations. Jeremiah remained in Judah and
Jerusalem and directly most of his prophecies to them. Ezekiel,
however, was told to go as a missionary to the house of Israel,
the exiles who lived beside the river Chebar at Tel-abib
(Ezekiel 3:15). This was the location of some of the exiles of
Israel. We read in 2 Kings 17:6,
6 In the ninth year
of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel
away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor
[the same as Chebar], on the river of Gozan, and in the cities
of the Medes.
In Ezekiel 34 the prophet
prophesied against the shepherds of Israel, that is, the priests
and civil leaders, who had fleeced the sheep but did not care for
them responsibly. Part of the condemnation was that they had not
sought for the lost (34:4). The divine law says in
Deuteronomy 22:1, 2,
1 You shall
not see your countryman's ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no
attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your
countryman. 2 And if your countryman is not near you, or
if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house,
and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it;
then you shall restore it to him.
Lost sheep were the
responsibility of all shepherds. Shepherds were not to ignore lost
sheep. Applied to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, it has
always been the responsibility of the Shepherds to find God's lost
sheep. It is written in the divine law. Yet most have been content
to turn the other way. Ezekiel says further in 34:6,
6 My flock wandered
through all the mountains and on every high hill, and My flock was
scattered over all the surface of the earth; and there was no one
to search or seek for them. 11 . . .
Behold I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
12 As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day
when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep
and will deliver them from all the places to which they were
scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.
This is the source material for
Jesus' parable of the lost sheep. He came as the great Shepherd
(Heb. 13:20), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and the Chief
Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). He came to find His lost sheep, but in
finding them, He also has brought in other sheep which were not of
that fold. That is the subject of other parables such as the one in
In Hosea 2:19, 20 the prophet
tells us that the divorced house of Israel would be betrothed to
Christ once again while they were yet in the wildernessthat is,
outside the old land. This, too, is important to understand, in
view of the fact that Lazarus was taken to Abraham's bosomthat is,
restored to the covenant with Abraham.
The next parable leading up to
the rich man and Lazarus is the parable of the lost coin in Luke
15:8-10. It is said that this was no ordinary coin. But was part of
a wedding bracelet that was traditional in those days. If this is
true, then there is no doubt that Jesus' biblical source material
came from Exodus 19:5, where God said to Israel,
5 Now then,
if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you
shall be My own possession [peculiar treasure in the KJV]
among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.
The prophets speak of Israel as
being God's wife, especially in the context of His divorce from her
in later years (Jer. 3:8-14; Hosea 2:2). So once again, Christ came
to seek out the lost coin, representing the lost house of
The prodigal son was the next
parable recorded in the last part of Luke 15. The prodigal was the
house of Israel (called My son in Hosea 11:1), while the older
brother with the begrudging attitude was Judah. As long the house
of Israel is lost (in the eyes of those who refuse to seek them
out) the Jews are more than happy to lay claim to the inheritance
of the birthright. But the day will come when Israel will return.
This will happen on more than one level. They will return in the
sense of being found as a people; and they will return in the sense
of repenting and returning to the Lord. When that day arrives, let
us not begrudge them as the elder brother did in the
This much is sufficient to see
that the parable of Lazarus and the rich man ought not to be taken
as a literal historical account of an individual who died and went
to hades, but is part of the ongoing teaching that Jesus did
through His Kingdom parables. The objection that the story of
Lazarus is not specifically labeled a parable is not valid, because
Luke 15 and 16 is a series of parables, beginning with Luke 15:3,
which says, And He told them this parable, saying. . .. From
that point on, none of the other parables are individually
labeled as parables. But who among us would say that the story
of the prodigal son was not a parable, just because it was not
specifically labeled as such?
We conclude, then, that the
parable of the rich man and Lazarus was meant to foretell the
condition of torment that the Jews would experience in the 1,900
years of exile after the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus, this
parable ought not to be used to teach that rich menor any othersare
tormented by a literal fire in Hades after they are dead. We have
taken the time to explain this parable in some detail, because it
is such a stumbling block to so many people.
The soul had no existence prior
to God breathing the breath of life into Adam's nostrils, for at
that moment, man became a living soul. When that breath is removed,
the soul ceases to exist in its conscious state that we call
The soul is attached to the flesh
and depends upon the physical body for its consciousness. Leviticus
17 shows this quite clearly, saying in verse 11, the life
[Heb. nephesh, soul] of the flesh is in the blood. The
phrase, the soul of the flesh, or the fleshly soul, as it could be
rendered, shows that the soul is fleshly, or carnal. This is why
the Apostle Paul speaks of the soulish, or natural man, as being
carnal, fleshly. The soul is that part of us that is carnal. It is
the old man, within each of us (Rom. 6:6), that derives its
mortality and weakness from Adam. This is in direct contrast with
our spirit, which, when made alive by a relationship with Christ,
is the inner new man. We will have more to say about this in our
next section dealing with man's spirit.
Paul says in 1 Thess.
23 Now may
the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your
spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Paul speaks of you entirely,
he lists the three parts of you. They are spirit, soul, and body.
There is a difference between soul and spirit, which men can see if
they rightly divide the word of truth. Heb. 4:12 says that the Word
is sharper than any sword and can divide soul and spirit. That
alone shows that soul and spirit are two different things. They can
The best way to understand the
relationship between spirit, soul, and body is to think of them in
terms of their physical counterparts.
Spirit = breath, or wind [Heb.
ruach = spirit, breath]
Soul = blood (Lev. 17:11)
Body = flesh
The breath gives oxygen to the
blood, which is then carried by arteries and capillaries in the
body. Even so, the spirit gives life to the soul, which is in the
flesh. The relationship between spirit and soul is pictured in the
relationship between the breath and the blood. They are different,
but it is the spirit that gives life to the soul. It was only when
God breathed the breath of life into Adam that he became a living
When the breath is removed from a
man, his flesh and blood dies. Even so, when God removes the breath
of life from a man, both his body and soul die. A man's
mind, will, and emotion cannot function apart from his flesh
(brain). The out-of-body experiences that men often relate to us
after being revived from death are not a function of the conscious
soul, but of the consciousness of the spirit. As we will see
shortly, the spirit and soul each have a separate
The soul is not the part of man
that transcends death. The soul comprises mind, will, and emotion
that is dependent upon the Spirit of God for its existence and upon
the physical body (brain) for its expression. It has a
consciousness, as long as it is made alive by the breath or Spirit
of God. When Spirit is separated from the body, it cannot survive,
for James 2:26 says, the body without the spirit is dead.
But neither can the soul survive without the body, for it is
mortal. The seat of life is in the spirit.
Death is a return. The body
returns to dust, the soul returns to sleep, and the spirit returns
to God. A more metaphysical way of putting it is this: the body
goes to the tomb; the soul goes to Hades; the spirit goes to God
The best example of this in the
Bible is Jesus' death. Jesus' body was put in Joseph's tomb (John
19:38-42). As we have already shown previously, Jesus' soul went to
Hades. We turn now to the idea that Jesus' spirit returned to
The spiritthat is, man's spirit,
as distinct from the Holy Spirit of Godis the part of man that
transcends death. Ecclesiastes 12:7 speaks of death, saying,
7 then the
dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return
to God who gave it.
In the New Testament we find this
idea continued in the death of Jesus. Luke 23:46 quotes Psalm 31:5
in giving Jesus' last words:
Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, Father into Thy hands
I commit My spirit. And having said this, He breathed His
This detail is recorded in
Matthew 27:50 in this way:
50 And Jesus
cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His
So we see that Jesus' spirit did
not go either to Joseph's grave with His body, nor did it go to
Hades with His soul (Acts 2:27). It went to God who had given it to
Him. The real question is whether or not a person's spirit has a
consciousness that is distinct from the consciousness of the
Man's spirit has a consciousness
that is distinct from the consciousness of the soul. The fact that
spirit has a conscious mind should not come as a surprise. The
Spirit of God (i.e., the Holy Spirit) possesses a conscious mind.
God is spirit (John 4:24) and needs no physical brain or soulish
mind in order to function consciously. Gen. 6:3 says, My Spirit
will not always strive with man. Such striving would require
conscious behavior. Isaiah 11:2 speaks of the Spirit of wisdom,
understanding, and knowledge. Such things also require
consciousness. In 1 Cor. 2:16 we are admonished to put on the mind
of Christ. In Eph. 4:23, 24 the spirit of your mind is identified
with the new self (NASB) or the new man (KJV).
23 and that
you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
24 and put on the new self, which in
the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness
of the truth.
It is obviously a spiritual mind
and an inner self that has consciousness.
Unclean spirits also have a
consciousness, as we read many times in the Scriptures. For
example, Mark 9:26 says of an unclean spirit, after crying out
and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out.
Man is made in the image of God.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to say man's spirit also has a
consciousness. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 2:14 that divine matters
cannot be understood with the natural (literally soulish) mind, but
must be understood with the spiritual mind. He says,
14 But a
natural [pseukikos, soulish] man does not accept the
things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and
he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually
appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual
appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man.
16 . . . we have the mind of
Paul speaks of the Adamic flesh
and soulish mind as the old man in Rom. 6:6, Eph. 4:22, and Col.
3:9. That man is not referring to a outer man who might stand
before us. It is an inner man, which must be crucified with Christ
in order for the spiritual mind (new man) of the Last Adam to
become dominant in our lives.
On a secondary level, a soulish
person is one ruled by the soulish mind inherited from Adam. A
spiritual person is one ruled by the spiritual mind inherited from
the Last AdamChrist. We have two minds, two consciousnesses
operating in our lives.
Hence, both the soul and the
spirit have a conscious mind of its own. The one, which is the seat
of mortality, must be crucified with Christ in order for the other,
the seat of immortality, to be raised up.
The mind of the soul is dependent
upon the flesh body in order for it to function. The mind of the
spirit, however, is independent of the flesh body, but dependent
upon the Spirit of God for its life and ability to think. It is
this mind that does not die with the body or the soul. It is this
mind that returns to God when the body and soul dies.
So what does this mean? Where
does the spirit go when it returns to God?
To answer that, one must stop
trying to think carnally. Heaven is not located somewhere in or
beyond the stars. The spirit does not have to travel anywhere. It
does not take a certain amount of time to go from heaven to earth
or from earth to heaven. Ezekiel 44:17 speaks of it figuratively as
changing clothes. Paul uses the same terminology in 2 Cor. 5:2-4.
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, He
demonstrated His ability to move from flesh to spirit form in an
instant (Luke 24:36).
When a person dies, his spirit
remains in the realm of spirit, where there is neither time nor
distance. It is always in the realm of I am. It is not I was or I
will be. It is not I am here or I am there. All time is one. All
space is one. In the spirit, all things simply are. It is only in
the earthly realm that we are bound by time and space. To
understand spiritual existence, we must think outside the
In that spiritual realm, and from
that perspective, Jesus said, Before Abraham was, I am (John
8:58). Abraham was dead from man's time-bound earthly perspective,
but alive from God's timeless spiritual perspective. The Pharisees
did not understand this, because they did not view things from
God's spiritual perspective. Since Abraham will be raised from the
dead (in earth's future time perspective), and since Abraham will
become a spiritual being that is no longer bound by time or
spacethat means that Abraham will ultimately exist from earth's
beginning! To break out of earth's space-time continuum is to
always exist and to always be alive.
Why? How? Because once a person
has crossed the time-space barrier that limits our present Adamic
body, he can re-enter the earth realm at whatever time and place he
chooses. Will he decide to accompany Jesus Christ to visit Abraham
and then Sodom, as we read in Genesis 18:2 and in 19:1? Why not?
Will he be sent to John to give him revelation, as we read in Rev.
8 And I John
am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and
saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who
showed me these things. 9 And he said to me, Do not do
that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the
prophets and of those who heed the words of this book; worship
Who was this angel? He was just a
man like John but in a glorified condition. I believe that he was a
man from the future (from John's perspective), a man who had
received the glorified body that was no longer bound by time or
space. He was a prophet that God sent to show John what was given
him in the book of Revelation. That prophet may have been dead a
long time (from John's earthly perspective). Perhaps it was Moses,
Isaiah, or Jeremiah. It makes no difference. God was not the God of
the dead, but of the living. This is what Jesus meant when He
astonished the people by saying in Matthew 22:31, 32,
regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that
which was spoken to you by God, saying, 32
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob? He is not the God of the dead but of the
These are not easy things for our
soulish minds to understand. In fact, our soulish minds cannot
conceive of such things, for they are outside their realm of
experience. Only the spiritual mind can understand them, and,
indeed, such understanding is perfectly natural to that mind. The
carnal mind is severely exercised by such thoughts, and it is easy
to develop a case of brain bruise.
So also is the doctrine known as
pre-existence. Did man pre-exist before creation? Many teach this.
There was a time when I taught against it. Then when I began to
hear God's voice for myself, I suddenly began to experience the
sensation of knowing things in my spiritual mind that my soulish
mind did not know or believe. It was at that point that I began to
realize that I had two conscious minds within me. Only then did I
understand the words of Jesus and of Paul that have been quoted
The fact is, every man that
willin the futurereceive a transformed spiritual body will be able
at that point to transcend time and go back into the past and
interact with historical events and people back to Adam and before
his creation. That leads us to the seeming contradiction that in
the future we will pre-exist! That is the state of being in
which God now sees us from His spiritual vantage point. He sees
what will be as if it already is. If we will be immortal some day,
then from God's perspective we are already immortal, because
immortality comes with the spiritual body that transcends
How important is it to understand
such things? For me, it was important because I stopped arguing
with people over the issue of whether men are mortal or immortal. I
found that both sides were right, but both sides had an inadequate
understanding of spirit.
I stopped arguing with people
over the issue of whether men went to heaven when they died or into
the ground to await a resurrection. I found that both were right in
some ways, but both explanations were inadequate. The real issue is
not whether or not we go to heaven, as our reward but rather a
matter of being clothed with that tabernacle from above, that
mortality might be swallowed by life (immortality). It is that
glorified dust-body that Adam was given as his inheritance at the
beginning. That is the inheritance that he lost through sin. And
that is the inheritance that he must regain at the great
Thus, instead of conceiving of
our inheritance as being some heavenly real estate in a land called
heaven, we should be thinking in terms of inheriting the
earthbeginning with our own earth. We must first inherit the
portion of dust that we were made of before we can think of
extending that dominion to the rest of the creation. We inherit
this earth through the fulfillment of the Feast of
Our dust is not the problem. Adam
was made of dust, but it was not mortal. He had the spiritual
ability to communicate directly with God. It was a glorified body.
He only lost it after he sinned. Therein was he found naked. He was
unclothed in the sense that he was no longer clothed with the
tabernacle that is from above (2 Cor. 5:1-4). The way back to the
inheritance is pictured in the great historical allegory of
Israel's journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. That journey is
marked by special days called holidays that signify the steps that
each of us must take in our own personal journey.
The first holiday is Passover. We
begin our journey by applying the blood of the Lamb to our door
posts (ears) and lintels (foreheadthat is, our minds). When we
place our faith in the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the
sin of the world, we have experienced Passover for ourselves. This
is called Justification.
The next great holiday was
Pentecost, which commemorates the day God spoke to the people from
Mount Sinai and gave them the law (Exodus 20). When we hear His
voice and are led by the Spirit (the pillar of fire and the pillar
of cloud), He begins to write His law upon our hearts to teach us
obedience. This is the second great step toward the Promised Land.
This is called Sanctification.
The final great holiday was the
feast of Tabernacles, which marked the day that Israel would have
entered the Promised Land, if they had taken heed to Caleb and
Joshua. Because they refused, they died in the wilderness not
having received the promises. But we are admonished to do what
Israel failed to do. The Promised Land is our inheritance. It
represents, not heaven, but the heavenly tabernacle that will
clothe us when we receive that glorified body. This is called
And that is why we ought to gain
a better understanding of these holy days. They prophesy not only
of historic events in the time-line of history, but also describe
allegorically the path from Egypt (mortal body) to the Promised
Land (inheritance of the immortal body). May God grant that we
would be overcomers like Caleb and Joshua and that we would not
fall short of any of His promises.