When reading Brandon’s post did-jesus-preach-to-the-spirits-in-prison it got me to thinking I wonder what most Christians think those who have died either in Christ or without faith in Christ have been doing these last 2000 years since his death, resurrection and ascension to reign at the right hand of God.
1 Cor 15: 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
(this inaugurated the reign of Christ aka 1000 year millennial kingdom IMO et al)
Psalms 110:1 The Lord said to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.
We being influenced by the “western” mindset, as apposed to the ancient near east (who the bible was written to), often read passages like this and many others with much too much literalism.
Obviously Jesus didn’t “sit down” or hasn’t been sitting down at God the father’s right hand these last 2000 years. Stephen in Act 7:56 for instance see’s Christ standing. All of this is figurative language depicting Christ’s authority he assumed after defeating all principalities and powers through his cross work.
We have to remember that for the most part the original recipients of the NT in general and the revelation of John in particular would have been very familiar with allegorical as well as apocalyptic genre of scripture, albeit 99% of them only heard it read as most people of this period were illiterate.
The so called millennium, or 1000 years of Rev. 20 is a perfect example of our western mindset taking apocalyptic language literally. The number 1000 is used consistently in scripture to depict a vast amount as in cattle upon a thousand hills, a day in thy courts is better than a thousand, a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one, etc etc
Why is this important? We westerners seem to want to put everything in a nice clean little literal box so as to make sense of it with our feeble little minds…(writer included)
Ever noticed how looking at the meta-narrative of the bible the first few chapters and the last few chapters cover a vast amount of time, (as we perceive it) with the fewest amounts of details in all the bible?
Is it any wonder spiritual and intellectual giants such as Origen understood the creation account as well as John’s revelation in largely allegorical terms?
Oh I know the usual retort that since 1000 is used six times in ch 20 it must be literal. But that is unconvincing to many scholars as it would simply be making clear the same time period or age was being referenced in each passage.
Again, why is this distinction important? I’d like you, and others who read this, myself included to think about something. What exactly have those who have gone on before us been doing all this time? Floating on clouds? I jest of course…although some think similar thoughts without giving it much thought at the same time.
I would like to present the possibility that the saints have been teaching those on the other side of the gulf low these last 2000 years. Remember in Luke 16 Christ said vs 16 “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us…”
Of course this was before Christ’s triumph over death on the cross. And of course if we believe Christ really did preached to those on the other side of the gulf and a great many believed, it is evident that the gulf is no longer impassible because of his work on the cross.
Anyway, back to what the saints are doing now, I am of the opinion that Ezekiel’s temple prophesies (40-48) are primarily a depiction in apocalyptic language of the millennial reign going on right now on earth as well as in paradise.
This just happened to be on my priority study list to undertake in earnest, so Brandon’s post did-jesus-preach-to-the-spirits-in-prison caught my eye.
As he’s stated, millions & I would add, billions of people have lived and died who never heard of Christ, the gospel, or never understood the truth of it etc. I think since Christ destroyed the power of death, and obviously the gulf in paradise is passable since then, the work of His saints as kings and priests is ongoing as we speak.
I understand we can pick each other’s post apart bit by bit, but this statement sounds like soteriology of works, would you like to clarify?
Here again, we are talking about semantics. Personally I think most of us “westerners” have put “the judgment” into our modern day understanding. The fact is judgment is ultimately setting things right, not simply meting out punishment. The goal would be more corrective instead of punitive, although the later could be ultimately what the completely obstinate choose in the end.
Example: 1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
There’s much more I could add here, but the above should suffice for contemplation.