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Life and death are prime concerns of frail, mortal human beings. Which, of life and death, has the upper hand in the long-run? Life, every time.
With life and death, life always prevails because God breathed the breath of LIVES (plural, Genesis 2:7) into the first human being. Death is a stepping stone, granted, a difficult one to accept. Nonetheless, it’s a stage on the way to life.
(Origin of Humankind, chapter 3.7)
Life and death issues are extremely heart-rending decisions to make. Family and loved ones are torn apart by what to do. In London, Charlie Gard suffered from a neurodegenerative genetic disease; he died a few days before his first birthday. His parents, believing that it was too late to save him, finally gave up opposing stopping of the artificial ventilation, without which he could not breathe. They had vainly resorted to the European Court of Human Rights and had the support of Pope Francis and Donald Trump.
After being in a vegetative state for 17 years, Eluana Englaro died on February 9, 2009. During all this time, she was the symbol of the struggle for the right to die. She was from Italy, a country torn apart by end-of-life issues. In the United States, Terri Schiavo, 41, in a coma for 15 years, died of dehydration on March 31, 2005, after nearly two weeks without food. Her husband, Michael, had obtained a court order that she no longer be maintained alive, contrary to the wishes of her parents. Their highly publicized court battle lasted for seven years.
In France, Vincent Lambert has been in a coma since a 2008 road accident. After many years of battling where his wife wanted to stop the apparatus that was keeping him alive while his parents were opposed to it, the court finally decided to stop treatment in June 2014. But since then, the case remains bogged down with different judicial procedures by members of a splintered family. Doctors finally stopped hydrating him and administered strong sedation; he died in July 2019.
It must be wretched to face a situation like this day in, day out. I certainly don’t know all the reasons on either side for their penchant towards their wishes; this is a very delicate issue. Should we artificially prolong life when there is no real hope for a recovery? When it appears that a person won’t regain any reality of physical life?
This question arises for older people who, for whatever reason, find themselves forced to remain alive, maybe against their will. This pain can be, and often is, on the side of the living as they see a loved one succumb to sickness or get carried away by an unforeseen accident.
I’m not talking about assisting someone who is dying. On the contrary, we’re discussing imminent death by stopping treatment where there’s no hope for a reasonable life after recovery. Stances for wanting someone to continue living can be religion or philosophy of life and death.
Last week we saw neshama chayim, the breath of LIVES or the essence of lives that God breathed into the first human being in Genesis 2:7. We saw how there is a general resurrection of all human beings. I can’t get into the details because this is a vastly different subject. This general resurrection takes place at a definite point on the timeline of God’s plan in the future. God has given us His timeline to bring peace and prosperity to Earth and all of humankind; this is the fantastic story of the Bible that The Explanation is detailing.
We’re only at the very beginning with the creation of the first man. But, God has outlined His whole Plan and set in motion. Just like the Queen Elizabeth passenger ship that sails out of Southhampton for a planned journey with several port visits on the way to its destination. The passengers know the travel times between ports, time in each port, and the duration of the trip in advance. Some passengers might debark while others embark at the different ports. It’s a planned trip.
Last week I referred to some of the past resurrections in the Bible. Generally, of one individual, although on Christ’s death, a certain number were resurrected. The Bible states there will be future resurrections, and the timeframes and periods between them are laid out. God’s word is clear. Humans have the essence of LIVES; this means that there IS a FUTURE LIFE, via a resurrection, for ALL HUMAN BEINGS.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then comes the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
This context is the most concise coverage of God’s plan from Adam to the end of the story of humankind. The Apostle Paul, the author of Corinthians, is focusing specifically on converted Christians as the wider context displays. But he does say ALL will be made alive, every man (human) in his (their) order. This order is the planned trip. There’s a resurrection for Christ’s own at His (second) coming. Later, in the order of events, there’ll be the general resurrection that I referred to, in the previous post, in Ezekiel. That is for ALL the dead, including Adam! He and everyone who have lived on Earth are the ALL, referred to by Paul, who shall be made alive. It relates directly to the neshama CHAYIM (plural lives) God breathed into Adam.
Paul clearly states that we can have HOPE in a FUTURE LIFE for ALL; this is one of the most comforting aspects of God’s Word. It is a sure promise for the future, and it helps us understand the present. Such comprehension could help people faced with wrenching life and death issues as above. I shall expand on this in upcoming posts. Genesis chapters 2 and 3 vividly illustrate why we’re here on Earth and the purpose of this present life and death, including all their difficulties and dare I say, sorrow and horrors.
It brings to the surface another dilemma some have with God. Why would God create humans from dust only to let them end up in the same sterile state? That doesn’t sound like Yahveh, who has a design and purpose for creating humans. Coupled with that, Jesus is a loving God, why would He want to see humans back in their state of dust? As Paul said, it is given to humans to die. Christ made an interesting statement when he arrived and found his friend Lazarus had died. …and after that, he [Jesus] said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep (John 11:11). Death is like sleep, and ALL will awaken from that sleep.
Most think life is a temporary state. In reality, death is a temporary state. Humans have the essence of LIVES and our present life and death are stages. All humans will live again at the resurrection and beyond.
Old Testament harshness versus New Testament caring.
Another misconception many people have in their understanding of the Old Testament crops up. Including what they call the God of the Old Testament as compared to Christ of the New Testament. They see the OT God as harsh and blood-thirsty, indiscriminately taking the lives of millions of human beings, at the time of Noah’s flood (if they believe that). Even innocent people, when Joshua led Israel across the Jordan and God ordered him to annihilate the tribes that inhabited that land. And the death penalty was an integral part of the Old Covenant God gave Israel, including the apparent barbarous act of stoning people to death. It is inconceivable to many that a loving God, like Christ in the New Testament, could prone such brutal and vicious behavior. It’s intolerable. I will not belabor the point because I’m sure you’ve heard of this outlook.
I bring this subject up briefly in this context because people who read and comment on this aspect of the Old Testament read it from a humanistic point of view. They do not see humans from God’s point of view. Why He placed them on Earth and the lessons humans need to learn. Painful experiences, but for a reason. They don’t grasp who humans really are in the overall plan of God. Secular humanism views humankind as ethically self-sufficient. Biblical theology sees it differently when it comes to human nature or how humans function, govern, or reason. The Explanation is showing you the whats, hows, and whys as we study the book of Genesis. All the answers are there; please have a little patience.
With all these difficult questions about life and death, keep in mind neshama chayim—the divine essence of LIVES (plural) that God endowed on Adam and all humans. In God’s mind, this physical life and death you and I lead now are essential. BUT, other factors are more critical. Until humans see the big picture, God sees and knows they will consider THIS LIFE and DEATH as the ONLY IMPORTANT ITEMS. They will continue to see God’s Word as a heap of myths about a barbarous God. For those who want to understand the pieces of the puzzle, The Explanation will both explain the shape of each piece and how all the parts assemble.
There are numerous misunderstandings of God’s Word that combine in the minds of humanistic as compared to theological reasoning; this is why never a twain shall meet.
The first miscomprehension is no seeing that Jesus Christ of the NT is the Yahveh of the OT. They are the same. Secondly, many picture Christ of the New Testament as the Lamb hanging on the cross. They focus on Christ, beaten, spat upon, carrying His cross to Calvary and nailed there with a crown of thorns on His head. Yes, He went through that horrendous trial, for good reasons that I will not detail here. BUT, He is now resurrected and sits at the right hand of God. He has a mission which includes His Second Coming, at which time there will be bloodshed, not because Christ wants it, but because He has no choice but to neutralize those who oppose the coming of Messiah.
You can read this in Revelation 14 and the following chapters. Read Rev. 19:11. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he [Christ, the Messiah] that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, he does judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Just as Christ ordered people, under specific circumstances, be put to death before His coming, so does He when He returns. WHY? Because they are opponents of the way that leads to true peace and prosperity. And because, at the given moment when these opponents arise, it is NOT the time to show them a better way; they are not ready to reason and be reasonable.
BUT, and this is what’s important, there IS COMING a time, at the resurrection of the dead, when the neshama CHAYIM will again give them ANOTHER LIFE. At that time, they’ll be given an opportunity to hear the real way that leads to peace and prosperity.
Their being put death sounds very traumatic, and indeed it is. But it is tempered by the knowledge that there is a FUTURE LIFE for ALL these people; A MUCH BETTER FUTURE LIFE. That is the hope and certitude we can have for ALL those who perished during Noah’s flood; for ALL those who died when the Israelites crossed the Jordan. All those who lost their lives because of the death penalty in the Old Testament.
Adam was created with ONE life and ONE death here and now. Then he would return to DUST. That’s death. In the same way, we, as his descendants, are given ONE life and ONE death here and now. But, and this is our incredible hope and what, unfortunately, most humans are uni. There is a future LIFE because all humans possess Nishmat Chayim (PLURAL), the divine essence of LIVES. We will continue to explain this essence of LIVES next week.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 3.7 of the book Origin of Humankind.
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