Friday, February 29, 2008

The Kingdom of the Living

God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Matthew 22:32)
The scribes and Pharisees were very angry with Jesus, but the Sadducees also had a bone to pick with Him. Two of their distinctive were that they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the only Hebrew Scriptures they accepted as divine were the first five books of Moses. After the Pharisees had a go at Jesus, the Sadducees came to test Him with this scenario:
Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her. (Matthew 22:24-28)
Jesus unraveled their assumptions, pointing out all the ways their understanding was deficient:
You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Matthew 22:29-32)
First, they did not comprehend the truth of the Scriptures, not even the ones they claimed to accept, the books of Moses.

Second, they did not realize the power of God. They had become so worldly-minded they came to believe that this short life is all there we get, that God would not or could not reconstitute bodies which had long returned to dust. But surely that would be no problem for the God who spoke all creation into existence at the beginning, as Moses taught.

Third, they also did not understand that life in the resurrection will not be like the present. Marriage, which the Sadducees thought presented a huge problem according to their scenario, will not even be an issue. In the resurrection, the mandate to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28) will have already been fulfilled.

Finally, they totally missed the significance of the words God spoke to Moses: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6, 16). He did not say “I was the God of Abraham,” but “I am,” and therein lies the argument. It means that, as Jesus concluded, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, those who have gone from this earth still live, and there will be a resurrection, for God created us to dwell in bodies on earth.

When Lazarus died, Jesus came and assured Martha that he would rise again. She said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” This was the common faith of the Jews, except for the Sadducees, and was intimated throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

God is the God of the living and His kingdom is eternal. At the end of the book of Revelation, we see heaven and earth are joined together forever, the eternal dwelling place for all the resurrected saints.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
The kingdom of Heaven on Earth is eternal. Those who belong to it, through in Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, have passed from death unto life. Do you believe this?



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.