Friday, 4 January 2013
The 'Second Death'
In last week's Blog I wrote that the preaching of 'Hell and damnation' for all those who do not accept Jesus is Scripturally wrong, theologically incorrect, and displays a tragic lack of underestanding of Who God is, and what His plan for Man is. The reality of The Great White Throne Judgment will be that God will condemn very few to 'The Second Death'.
So....what is 'The Second Death' , and what are the qualifications to be condemned to it?
3 references in Revelation 20 and 21 give us some explanations....but also some serious difficulties:
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in The First Resurrection. Over such The Second Death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Revelation 20.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is The Second Death.
And anyone not found written in The Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
From these 2 verses the qualifications to avoid The Second Death are:
1. To be included in The First Resurrection....for which we have already read that we need to be a believer in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus our Messiah together with keeping His Commandments.
2. To be found written in The Book of Life, which we have also read that we need to pass the Judgment of God at The Great White Throne Judgment on the basis that we have behaved, and lived a life, in accordance with the standards of God's Torah. That is to say, a life, attitude, and behaviour governed by mercy and compassion to our fellow humans, rather than a life of unremitting and consistent evil and hatred towards them.
To pass the Judgment of God at The Great White Throne Judgment is possible even though we have never heard of God, Jesus, Messiah, or His Commandments in His Torah, that He gave to Moses at Mount Sinai.
For those many millions of people in history who had never heard of God or Jesus, to be judged on any other basis than against the standard of His Torah, would be unjust, inequitable, and totally against the character of God.
From these 2 verses it seems that very few will be condemned to The Second Death. However, Revelation 21.8 presents a problem:
Revelation 21.8 ...but the cowardly, unbelieving, unjust, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is The Second Death.
This is the verse on which the 'Hell fire and damnation' preachers base their sermons of fear, guilt, and condemnation. I suspect that the key to this verse is the phrase 'shall have their part'.
This phrase means that those listed in the verse have the potential to be condemned to The Second Death....and NOT that those listed will all, automatically, be condemned.
'The Second Death’ is a final death, in contrast to the first death, which came as a result of Adam’s Fall, and which was destroyed by Jesus at His Resurrection.
Jesus explains in the Parables of the Dragnet and the Wheat and Tares what will happen at The Second Death, following The Great White Throne Judgment:
Matthew 13.47-50: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind. When it was full, they drew to shore; and they gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away...So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire, (The Second Death). There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13.24-30: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ He said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them (The Second Death), but gather the wheat into my barn (Eternal Life).’
Both these Parables suggest further ammunition for the 'Hell fire and damantion' preachers. However...all is not lost! God's plan is 'to dwell with Man'....NOT to condemn as many as possible to The Second Death. The clue to what He will do is in the Word Association between 'tares', zonin, and 'harlot', zanah:
The Hebrew word for tares is ‘zonin’, which was a degenerate form of wheat that looked the same as wheat but produced no fruit. Whenever Israel turned away from God they are described by a related word, ‘zanah’, which means a harlot, because a harlot degenerates and corrupts the creative act:
You have played the harlot against your God. Hosea 9.1
The tares can only be separated at harvest because they look the same but produce no fruit. Who are the tares? Jesus explains:
Matthew 13.36-43 His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘Explain to us the Parable of the tares of the field.’ He answered and said to them:
‘He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, Messiah. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the Kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire (The Second Death), so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, (reject Torah,) and will cast them into the furnace of fire, (The Second Death).
So, from this explanation, ALL those who practice lawlessness, (reject Torah,) will be cast them into the furnace of fire, (The Second Death). BUT what about all those who had never heard of His Torah?
The answer to the apparent blanket condemnation is that:
1. There is a vital difference between the potential and the automatic condemnation of The Second Death.
2. It is also vital to remember that the 'prize' of the Bible is The First Resurrection, and to be priests of God and of Christ, and to reign with Him a thousand years.
The condemnation of The Second Death is for those who:
1. Have missed out on the main 'prize' of the Bible, and
2. Who have lived their lives with an attitude of unremitting and consistent evil, wickedness, and have lacked any vestige of mercy and compassion.
Remember also, that even though Israel behaved most of the time as a harlot against God, God never abandoned or rejected Israel permanently. He always left room for Israel to return to Him.
Thank the LORD that He does the same with the cowardly, unbelieving, unjust, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars......and with you and me!!
Finally, don't worry about, or take any notice of, any 'Hell fire and damnation' preaching. You will NEVER be condemned to The Second Death.
Rather, as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14, press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Until next week....and 'Eternal Life'...