SUFFERING and TIME
BY: ANTHONY IDEMUDIA ASAKPA
NOVEMBER 7, 2006
This may be a very hard message to understand. Maybe the hardest. It will shake our religious foundations for those who have not been shaken.
I will not attempt to answer all the questions here. I do not know them. But may it help as a primer to lay hold on God for understanding.
May we be as the Bereans, who searched if these things be so (Acts 17:11) . Do all need to be theologians? No. But all need to search & see, that we may be thoroughly equipped to answer and to aid those who come our way (2 Tim 3:16-17).
If you are upset by what I write, please write back and rebuke me with the word once you search and see. Let God be true and every man a liar (Rom 3:4). Before you say ‘Heresy!’ – please search and see.
I do not fear being locked out from others anymore. For God is greater than man. I maybe hurt; but I do not fear. But I must speak, for the watchman is responsible for the words he has been given. For the time is short indeed.
I recognize that Christ is the essential ONE. For if we have Christ, then nothing else that happens to us really matters. He is able to hold us up through it all; and even if He does not do it the way we want – we must still serve Him, for His Love constrains us to (2Cor. 5:14). He is the One with the Words of Life. He is Life Eternal. Eternal Life is a Person, not just a place.
All things that we need to understand are shown in scripture. Some things may be obscured by what we appear to know already. While sometimes it is obscured by the bible translations we have in our hand. That’s why we continue to have so many English translations, lexicons, concordances etc…
The scriptures are inspired, faultless. And any fault we ascribe to them must make us go back and look again.
Questions we always need to ask: What is our understanding of the translated text? What is the context to the original listeners? What did it mean to them? Have some words been translated into English in an unclear way?
We thus delve into the issue of suffering and time periods. (I wrote on health issues in Born blind why? a few weeks ago).
Why does someone suffer who has done nothing wrong? (e.g Job)
Why do people blame others of sin when their lives go ‘topsy-turvy’? (e.g Job’s friends).
Why are we quick to consign someone to ‘no release’ if s/he passes beyond the grave?
If Christ Jesus is the only way to the Father (and HE IS!)- where did all this talk of ‘age of accountability’ come from? Are Christians trying to explain issues they are not comfortable with in an unscriptural way?
Is there learning and repentance post-death?
The scriptures say:
As it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this, the judgment, SO Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many… (Heb 9:27-28).
Is Jesus Christ still in hell? It’s a serious question. Is He? He only stayed for 3 days. So those He was sacrificed for must stay for all eternity? Is that justice?
The above scripture is clear in what it says. The judgment that Christ had was: to bear the sins of many. Once His judgment was complete He was released from hell. What if someone receives His offer while in hell when their judgment has been complete? Is it possible to be forgiven?
What then does forever mean as used in KJV and some other translations? Is our understanding of this word ‘forever’ really what the scriptures say?
The Hebrew word translated ‘forever’ is OLAM.
Olam means ‘concealed’. A time that can’t be determined by the natural man.
Anytime it related to God (as man can not determine God’s timing) it meant ‘beyond all time periods’. God transcends time and space. Time relates to His creation.
If it related to a man – it could just mean ‘as long as he lived’ (since a man doesn’t know that as well) or ‘a long time ago’ (when a man couldn’t remember how long a past event was – it was concealed from him).
The following verses bear this out:
Exo 21:6 It is said of the servant who wanted to stay with his master ‘…and he shall serve him forever (hebrew- Olam)’. So forever here meant his natural life.
Neh 13:1 ‘…that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of the Lord forever (Olam)’.
Was Ruth a Moabite? Did Christ come from her line? (Matt 1:5). So was it really forever or just a period of time concealed from man (known to God alone)?
Isa 57:11 ‘ ….I held my peace even of old (Olam -? forever)
Isa 58:12 ‘….And they that shall be of thee shall build the old (Olam ? forever) waste places’.
Eze 25:15 ‘…and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old (Olam ? forever) hatred.
Zeph 2:9 speak of ..perpetual (Olam – forever?) desolation for Moab, Sodom and Gomorrah. But God says He will restore Sodom again Eze16:53-61.
Why did the KJV translators change a word that purportedly meant ‘forever, everlasting’ in every context (as we today understand these words) into ‘old’. They recognized that the Hebrew word meant an unspecified period, but decided not to translate it as such. They may have feared that people would not get it, but it’s made things more complex for us all today.
The easiest way to translate this is ‘age’, as some translations do.
The same thing can be said of the Greek word Aion in the new testament. They translated this as world (Matt 12:32, Matt13:22, Matt 13:40, Luke1:70, Acts 3:21), ages (Eph 2:7 Col 1:26), forever (when it was preceded by eis -which is translated to/into almost everywhere else). They were quite consistent with ‘eis- aion’ but still the meaning is obscured. [Forever and ever is eis aion aion . This is different from eis aion].
There are words for eternal, e.g. Adios (Rom 1:20) But aion is Not it.
In it’s simplest form it also means ‘age’.
Why am I saying all this? Do I want to take away God’s Eternal status from the scriptures? Perish the thought. God is Eternal! He is Lord of all creation. He exists before all! He exists after all! He rules by His Eternal power!
All I’m doing is showing how the word olam/aion relates to man’s understanding of time.
Do you know that Jesus talks about the millennium much more than we think. Do you know that almost everywhere the KJV translators mentioned eis aion (forever) in the new testament, it’s really INTO AGE – Is this the Millennial age?
The Bible is a book about life on earth, with brief glimpses of the heavenly realm, and it bears this out with clarity from Genesis to Revelation. Man living on earth, whether an old earth or the new earth is The Lord’s primary concern. Whether with a physical body or a glorified body. Heaven is only a transit point for those who have died in Christ. We are born again in Jesus Christ to reflect God’s life ON earth. His will is already done in heaven!
Many of us have lost that focus and think heaven is our final destination. My aim is to point us back to why He created us!
Enough of all this for now. We can look at ‘eis aion’ another time.
Let’s get back to the ‘suffering’ topic.
We start with Luke’s gospel.
Luke13:1-5 ‘There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’
Do you see His focus again, just like the time they asked Him about the man born blind. He doesn’t answer the question, but focuses on the answer.
It was not: ‘Why did this thing happen?’ But: ‘What is the solution to this?’ ‘What role do I have to play here?’.
Jesus said there was no difference to those who died in those disasters to those alive to whom He was talking to, if they did not repent.
Why was this? Was the emphasis more on repenting rather than where it happened.? i.e. If it’s before or after physical death.
How is dying in a Tsunami, the same as not living right now (while alive) in Jesus Christ?
How is being shot in the spine and becoming completely paralyzed then dying, the same as not changing your ways and giving all to Jesus?
There is no emphasis as to where you obtain that life, but that YOU must obtain that life to really be LIVING.
Herein is the problem. Our focus has been trying to avoid hell out of fear and so we prevent ourselves from truly living a life according to the commands of God.
What does perfect Love do?
(Is that why we end up condemning so many we visit when they are sick or suffering? Is our focus all wrong?)
We cry, ‘But dying in a Tsunami without knowing Jesus will definitely lead to an unending hell!’ Do you know that or you wish that? Is that scripturally true? Did Jesus say He has the keys to hell and death, or would we charge God with unrighteous judgment? Are we nicer than God?
Saddam Hussain was recently sentenced to death. But there was an outcry in Europe, opposing the death penalty as an unfair sentence. But we are very willing to consign anyone to unending torture who hasn’t said the right words just before they die!
What is the purpose of Judgment? When hell gives up the dead that is in it, could there be names in the book of life that don’t end up in the lake of fire? Why are they judged again at the Great White Throne? Is it just a show-trial? Is death and hell that is cast into the lake of fire those of them who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life at the time they are now judged? Rev 20:13-14
Have you noticed that the judgment of the fiery lake is in the PRESENCE of the Lamb and His Holy angels? Rev 14:10
This is not KGB or CIA-style torture. God is not a tyrant! Perish the thought!
Our God shall judge wisely and appropriately and all shall benefit from His judgment. We do not know how long each one’s judgment is (as it is concealed). But we know The Lord shall do all things well.
Are we afraid that we have given up too much in this life and others have ‘enjoyed it’? So they should be punished without end for not receiving Christ in this life?
Or is there something wrong with our thinking, when we say we are ‘missing out’ on all the world has to offer. Do we really love Jesus Christ MORE than all these? What happens to those who have experienced an earth life: babies who die young, the handicapped, those with degenerative diseases, those billons who still haven’t heard Him. And I mean really hear!
How many times did you hear about Jesus? Probably very many times. What about when you backslid? No man can come to Him unless He draws first. John 6:44. Search and see, Brethren. That we may begin to truly live for Him and shine His glory that others may see and believe. Not out of fear (we are the ones to fear – Jude 1:23), but out of love.
Did you ever wonder why satan is left free to roam, yet humans are pouring into hell by the minute?
Do you know hell was not created for the devil and his angels, but the lake of fire was? Another thing we thought we always quoted correctly. There is no mention of hell in Matt 25:41. But there is fire.
Remember that salvation is for mankind alone. Jesus Christ died to save humans, not angels.
This will be hard for some. You may shoot the messenger, but please heed the message!
Stay blessed in Him,
SUFFERING and TIME [Anthony Idemudia Asapka] 11-7-06 1