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Mourning for the dead

Query for the Month

of

January 2004

Next up-date: February 1st 2004 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.  An animated dove It's called "Light on the Dark Side of God" and is one of the best on this subject that I have ever read!


Query:

Leviticus 21:

1 And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron [the ordinary priests/Christians], and say to them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people [none are to go into public mourning for those who have died].

2 But for his kin, that is near to him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother [under certain conditions]. 3 And for his sister a virgin [unmarried], that is nigh to him, which has had no husband; for her may he be defiled. 4 But he shall not [normally] defile himself, being a chief man [a representative of Christ] among his people, to profane himself [or behave as a natural man would].

Why weren't the priests allowed to join in the mourning or the dead?


Answer:

Amongst the general advice and information of the Old Testament rituals is a precious gem which has been hidden ever since the book was written. If we are willing to allow the Spirit to open our eyes we may see marvellous things in His word.

Leviticus 21:

1 And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron [the ordinary priests/Christians], and say to them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people [none are to go into public mourning for those who have died].

2 But for his kin, that is near to him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother [under certain conditions]. 3 And for his sister a virgin [unmarried], that is nigh to him, which has had no husband; for her may he be defiled. 4 But he shall not [normally] defile himself, being a chief man [a representative of Christ] among his people, to profane himself [or behave as a natural man would].

5 They [the priests] shall not make baldness upon their head [the tonsure is a mark of the prophet of Baal], neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard [have fancy styles], nor make any cuttings in their flesh [self immolations]. 6 They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name [character] of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire [the burnt offerings of dedication], and the bread of their God [the peace/thank You offerings], they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.

The object of all these regulations is stated in that last phrase, for they proceed from no exercise of mere arbitrary sovereignty. As we have seen, all were given for our good to make us holy, or separate. Deuteronomy 6:4.

And in another place the LORD promised, "You shall be holy men [and women] unto Me" i.e. worthy to be acknowledged by a holy God [if you will let Me]. Exodus 22:31.

Why should not the priests mourn for the dead? Because death is the wages, or result, of sin (Romans 6:23) and those who die show that they have clung to some sinful way and are willing to be separated from God for a time. It does NOT always mean that they are lost (there is a resurrection for the righteous), but it does mean that they have rejected the sanctification of God in some way. Only He knows the full extent of their rejection, but the priests were expected to illustrate the Son of God’s concern at the dead one’s action, and confirm that nothing further could be done for them until the judgment. It is written, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Hebrews 9:27.

It is not that He is indifferent to our grief at the loss of loved ones. He knows what that is like for He has lost one third of His heavenly family, and He cried bitter tears over the PENDING doom of a million humans when Jerusalem was to be conquered by the Romans. Matthew 23:37-39.

He just wants us to see that death is in the power of the devil who tempts us into sinning (Hebrews 2:14). He wants to show us how to overcome temptation and be taken to heaven without dying, for He is the God of life. (The greatest of Satan’s victories in deception was when he persuaded men and women that God punishes and kills.)

One of Jesus’ jobs on earth was to set the record straight. He told us:

John 10:

10 The thief [Satan] comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life [not death], and that they might have it more abundantly [fully]. 11 I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd gives His life for [in place of] the sheep[s death].

2 Peter 1:

10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things [follow God’s advice], YOU SHALL NEVER FALL: 11 for so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. 12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and be established in the present truth.

Ephesians 3:

20 Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Unfortunately, He has been successful with only two Christians since Adam’s leap into sin! They were Enoch and Elijah. Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11. But it has never been the Son of God’s intention that His people should die. He says, "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby you have transgressed; and make [receive] you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the LORD GOD: wherefore turn yourselves [to Me], and live you." Ezekiel 18:31-32.

So why do Christians die? "Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you." Jeremiah 5:25. "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not [can not] hear." Isaiah 59:1-2.

Jesus was horrified by the experience of near death. First in the wilderness after His baptism where He suffered the slow lingering effects of starvation. Matthew 4:11. Then in the Garden of Gethsemane where three times he pleaded that He might not have to "drink the cup" of separation from His Father. Matthew 26:42. On the cross His thought was that God had left Him. Matthew 27:46. But for the joy that was set before Him of rescuing us from such a fate (see Isaiah 53:11; Hebrews 12:2), He went on into the experience of bearing sin in its fullness, and it was this that killed Him (He did not die of crucifixion). Jesus told us, "Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father." John 10:17-18. But He is the only Christian who should have died!

King David illustrates the truth of sin and death for us.

2 Samuel 12:

15 And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare to David, and it was very sick [a classic case of blaming the Son of God when this was the result of David and Bathsheba’s sin!]

16 David therefore besought God for the child [to see if He could do anything]; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth [praying for help for the child]. 17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.

18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, "Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he would not hearken to our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?" 19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said to his servants, "Is the child dead?" And they said, "He is dead." 20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped [thanked God for all that He had done]: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.

21 Then said his servants to him, "What thing is this that you have done? You did fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, you did rise and eat bread." 22 And he said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast [or sorrow]? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him [into the grave], but he shall not return to me." [This is the real Christian way of expressing grief.]

If anything is to be done for erring Christians it must be done while they are alive and can be rescued. To sorrow after death is to blame God for an event which He could not control.

It was the Son of God’s intention when He entered the controversy in the Garden of Eden that each human who exchanged lives with Him would help Him by representing God’s way in their behaviour on earth, by following the directions given each day, and by completing a tour of duty.

He describes the ideal in this way.

Leviticus 26:

2 You shall keep My [weekly] Sabbaths, and reverence My [heavenly] sanctuary: I am the LORD [with creative power].

3 If you walk in My statutes [daily advices], and keep My commandments [as a way of life], and do them [see John 15:10]; 4 then I will [shall be able to] give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 And your threshing shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage shall reach to the sowing time: and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely [I will be able to protect you and what you do, and you will turn many to righteousness, as Jesus did].

6 And I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land [as it was in the time of Jesus on earth. He could sleep on a boat in a storm! Mark 4:38].

7 And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword [the word of God, Ephesians 6:17]. 8 And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword [they will not be able to disprove your understanding of the word]. 9 For I will have respect to you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish My covenant with you.

When that was over and their particular part in the war completed, He planned to translate each one into heaven without seeing death as He did for Enoch, for He has no favourites.

Hebrews 11:

5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found [on earth anymore], because God had translated him [removed him to heaven]: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

So now we may see why the Old Testament seems so full of death and bloodshed. The Son of God was trying to teach His people what the result of sin is by showing them some of its horror. And therefore, by extension, what He is trying to save us from. It is wonderful that He was successful against Satan’s lie with two men under those conditions, but what is even more remarkable is that there has not been one in the greater light of the New Testament times! (If there had been one we would have heard of it for both Enoch and Elijah departed in a blaze of glory and with many spectators. See 2 Kings chapter 2.)

Maybe we need the bloodiness of the Old Testament to really reach us!

The Son of God does not desire a partial salvation and redemption, meaning many forgivenesses and then a resurrection. He would prefer a thorough cleansing and translation without seeing death. Satan, however, the liar who says that we will NOT surely die (Genesis 3:4), has now so clouded our minds that most Christians have accepted his lie and expect to die a death which is not real. Because of the tremendous lie regarding THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL, they expect to immediately move through it on to another life in heaven. Not only that, but they consider it a normal experience to be handed down from the God of life!! Yet the Spirit says, God "ONLY has immortality," (1 Timothy 6:16) and tells us to seek for it!! God ". . . will render to every man according to his deeds. To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, [He will give] eternal life . . ." Romans 2:6-7.

In the meantime, to show His love for erring humans, and to ease our sorrow when the truth of what we have done to Him is finally revealed to those who will be resurrected, He has told us that death is but a sleep. But then He added something very significant which we can read in the story of Lazarus.

John 11:

1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the LORD with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent to Him, saying, "LORD, behold, he whom You love is sick." 4 When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not to death [yet Lazarus died], but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He [did not rush to him but] abode two days still in the same place where He was. 7 Then after that says He to His disciples, "Let us go into Judaea again." 8 His disciples say to Him, "Master, the Jews of late sought to stone You; and go You there again?" [Aren’t You afraid You might die?]

9 Jesus answered [their question], "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day[light], he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him." [If we walk with God we will see and do great things.]

11 These things said He.

And after that He says to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." 12 Then said His disciples, "LORD, if he sleep, he shall do well." 13 Howbeit Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go to him."

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus [the twin], to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him [their greatest ambition was a misguided desire to die for God]."

17 Then when Jesus came, He found that he [Lazarus] had lain in the grave four days already. . . .

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21 Then said Martha to Jesus, "LORD, if You had been here, my brother had not died [death can only occur where the God of life is not because the Spirit has been given up]. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give it You."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother shall rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection, AND THE LIFE: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live [in the resurrection].

26 And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall NEVER die. Believe you this?" [Jesus added in the second case, "whosoever lives and believes" meaning, "If we hang onto life through Him" we won’t die!!]

Surely we should praise our God for that promise,

Conclusion:

 

 


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from February 1st 2004.

John 11:

7 Then after that says He to His disciples, “Let us go into Judaea again.” 8 His disciples say to Him, “Master, the Jews of late sought to stone You; and go You there again?” [Aren’t You afraid You might die?]

9 Jesus answered [their question], “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day[light], he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.” [If we walk with God we will see and do great things.]  

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