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Scared of Dying - Part 2

Death - Oblivion or Graduation?

Does death mean total annihilation or do we have a spirit that returns to our Creator?


The Mount of transfiguration experience that Peter, James and John had with Jesus (Matthew chapter 17) is a window into this dark subject. What happens when one dies?


Astonished, the apostles looked up and saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus. Peter, the spontaneous initiator, immediately sought to honor the trio by erecting a booth, or tabernacle, for each. He was prepared to give Jesus, Moses and Elijah permanent and somewhat equal status. Then, three things happened.
1. Moses and Elijah disappeared from sight.
2. A voice from heaven spoke: This is my Son...listen to Him.
3. Jesus warned them to tell no one what they experienced until He would be raised from the dead. What did these three experiences mean?


The disciples had not yet understood that Moses' teachings, centered in the Sinai Covenant had reached their pre-determined conclusion. They were mentally still anchored in the Old Covenant. See 2 Corinthians 3:14,15. Moses' Old Covenant teachings pointing to Christ were coming to fulfillment. Moses' mission was over. Now, they were to listen to Christ who was leading them into the New Covenant of faith. The old era was about to end. Hebrews 8:13 and 10:9.


The prophecies of Elijah and the prophets were also coming to fulfillment. Jesus, the Messiah was now here! Moses' and Elijah's ministries were both about to be fulfilled. A new Light was dawning and they were to follow Him, Christ! Moses and Elijah would soon pass into history as the Creator and Redeemer was about to take center stage. "Listen to Him" was the new watchword. As Jesus said earlier,
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John (who introduced Christ). Matthew 11: 13.

But why the third point?
Why did Jesus counsel them not to tell anyone what they saw and heard until after His crucifixion and resurrection? It was because they had not yet fully appropriated and experienced the reality and power of Christ's ministry. Not having experienced the new life fully, they might be able to preach the record, or the theory of what they saw, but would lack its life-giving force. That is why later, Jesus told them not to attempt to witness the Gospel truth to others until they were first empowered by the Holy Spirit's power. See Luke 24:49. That was later fully realized at Pentecost.


Mark chapter 9:9,10 throws further light on what happened that day. Not only were Peter, James and John as eye-witnesses, overwhelmed by the miraculous splendor, but mark 9:10 tells us that they asked searching questions about something people still ask today. Jesus instructed them not to share the experience, or tell what they has seen, until after "the Son of man (Jesus) was raised from the dead." Matthew 17:9. Why? There was another reason for this caution.


What about life after death?
Jesus answered that question for all time with a demonstration of the death of His human body and the eternal nature of His own life-giving Spirit. He did this by bringing Moses and Elijah onto the scene. Why did He do that?


We know that Elijah was translated into heaven without experiencing physical death. 2 Kings 2:11. Likewise, we read of a similar account of Enoch. Genesis 5:24. If Christ had not through His own death, overcome death and the grave, what would have happened to those two saints? On what grounds could they remain in heaven? Would God have taken such a risk? God settled that with the promise He gave to Abraham:
I am you Shield, your exceeding great reward. Genesis 15:1.


This guarantee encompasses not only this life, but more important, our eternal life! Elijah on the mountain represented all who would be translated without experiencing physical death. Moses represented those who would die a natural death. That includes all humanity from the beginning of time. Moses died and was buried. Deuteronomy 34:5,6. Since he died and was buried, how could he appear with Jesus and Elijah on the mount? If he did not have a spirit that transcended his physical death, where did he come from?


Here is a clue!
Why did Satan contend regarding the body of Moses, but not his spirit? Jude 9. That was because Moses' spirit had already gone home to be with the Lord who brought it to life in the first place. Satan tried to thwart the future resurrection of Moses' body. But Jesus' victory secured and guaranteed not only the salvation of the spirit, but also the resurrection of the body by which Moses could eventually again participate with God's saints in ruling over the New Earth. His dual citizenship was guaranteed by God's promise to Abraham and to his spiritual posterity that, "I will be your shield, your very great reward." On this authority Michael, the archangel, could dismiss Satan with a plain "the Lord rebuke you," or in other words , "Get lost!"


Enoch, Elijah and Moses are among the forerunners of the "great cloud of witnesses" mentioned in Hebrews 12:1. This verse refers, as the context shows, to the witnesses mentioned in the previous chapter. These are those who will return with Christ when He returns. These are described in Hebrews 12:23 as gathered unto,
The church (assembly) of the First-born who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of the righteous [the redeemed in heaven] who have been made perfect.
See also Jude 14 (Amp). And 1 Corinthians 4:14.


Those who by faith are anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ have a glorious eternity to look forward to. In reality, we are living in that eternity now because of Jesus, who, because He conquered death and the grave, says;
I am the First and the Last, and the Ever-living One - I am living in the eternity of eternities. I died, but see, I am alive forever more; and I possess the keys of Death and Hades [the realm of the dead]. Revelation 1:18,19 (Amp).


Because Jesus has given us the victory, we can confidently sing,

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15: 55. (NIV).

Sam Pestes


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