Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
I wrote this month’s main article titled “Your Resurrection” to give a biblical understanding of what your resurrection experience will be like. I am also describing my own experience and that of everyone else when all together we experience the first or “former” resurrection (Revelation 20:5–6).
Death is an enemy but it is necessary. Except perhaps for the very few enduring great pain, death is not a blessing for anyone. Death is an enemy to be feared. Jesus greatly feared death. He was filled with the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:34), and yet the prospect of the process leading to death terrified Him. He was so fearful that just before His arrest Jesus prayed to ask God to accomplish His purpose in a different way without the “cup” of crucifixion and death that God deemed necessary for Him to endure.
“Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Luke 22:43–44 (also Matthew 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36, 39)
This Luke passage describes true anguish and fear. Jesus prayed and made His request, knowing full well the outcome, knowing the glory that was shortly to be His. He knew he would be in the grave for three days and nights (Matthew 12:38–41). He knew these things with perfect faith. He feared suffering and death.
We can take comfort that He had such fears. If you are afraid of the future, of injury, of sickness, or of death, your fears are justified. Do not in any way feel that you are weak because you have fears. Face your fears of the inevitable because God has made His creation to be that way. Nearly everyone shall die. 1 Look past death to the sequel, to the outcome after death. Realize that as we all come closer to death every day, you are coming closer to the moment when — for you — Christ will come and you will rise from the dead and receive your reward for your faith in God and Christ. “Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
Read and consider carefully every phrase of the passages below, and then put them together into larger thoughts and sentences. Do not concern yourself so much with the punctuation of the King James translation. Punctuation is not inspired. The thoughts conveyed by Paul’s words in Romans have deep meaning about your present situation and fears of life, justified fears that every human being experiences.
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
What kind of suffering? The apostle Paul is not speaking of a specific ailment of aging or physical impairment. It is not a suffering of oppression. It is a general suffering of the corruption of the physical existence which is based on a cycle of life-death, life-death, everywhere. For believers in Christ that cycle will end with our resurrection, “the redemption of the body” and “the manifestation of the sons of God.” As believers we have been graced to receive the fulfillment of that hope sooner than most others, not because we are special in any way, but because God choose us in Christ. We were not chosen because we are special, we are special only because we were chosen. We should have no arrogance, but we should realize our responsibilities
“For the earnest expectation of the creature [the creation] waits for the manifestation [apokalupsin, unveiling, revelation] of the sons of God. For the creature [the creation] was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty [freedom] of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption [sonship], to wit, the redemption of our body.”
In this article I quote liberally from the Concordant Literal Version. I do so for clarity of thought and accuracy in translation. Look up the verses in the King James Version or whatever translation you prefer.
That is the name of the second short article for this month. It deals with the basic issues of archaeology. It was written in 1975. Dr. Martin spent 5 summers of 1969–1973 supervising students for the archaeological dig at the southwestern corner outside the Haram esh-Sharif (the so-called temple mount). The dig was overseen by Professor Benjamin Mazar of Hebrew University. Artifacts were found as usual, but only one Herodian inscription. Written information, even just writing on old pottery shards (the ancient world’s note paper) is always a tremendous plus for every archaeological dig. Archaeology is defined as:
“The systematic recovery and study of material evidence, such as graves, buildings, tools, and pottery, remaining from past human life and culture.”
American Heritage Dictionary
Only through writings can anyone begin to learn the thoughts and motivations of ancient peoples. Jewish novelist Herman Wouk wrote that Israel and the Jews would hardly be known to world history except for the existence of the Old Testament. This is certainly true. Aside from the Old Testament, writings that tell about or even mention Israel are few and far between, mere references in the records of neighboring peoples. Ancient Israelite inscriptions are very rare. Dr. Martin’s article describes the limitations that archaeologists put on themselves when they diminish their use of the biblical record.
When you contact us by mail Ramona Martin and I each read every comment of every return card or letter that we receive. Emails are different and we share them when we deem necessary. Please communicate with us even if you do not make a contribution. We enjoy and value your comments and questions as well as updates on your various life situations. We are gratified but not surprised at the wisdom that often comes in your correspondence. What stands out in my mind are the narratives of difficulty and perseverance that many of you are going through. Even so, you often take time to brighten our day with encouragements. We appreciate it.
We greatly appreciate all of your contributions. We thank you. And we are thankful to God for making it possible for you to contribute, even a modest amount. The work we produce is important and you help us continue to do it.
Unless we meet before, may God bless you until we all meet rising in the air.
David W. Sielaff
1 The percentage of those dying will likely be greater than 99.99999%. Why then did God mention “those which are alive and remain” (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17), and “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51)? Perhaps God is showing us that He can, if He wishes, have exceptions to even His own rules. The mandate of death is true even for those living during the 1000 year reign of Christ.
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