To say I’m not a fan of the vampire, living dead crazes would be an understatement. I think it contributes to our society’s loss of shock about the things of darkness. Many of us have seen so much death, blood, and wickedness on our TV screens that we are no longer repulsed or shocked by it. But could there be an even more deadly reason for people’s fascination with fictional immortal beings?
There was, however, a time when the dead did come out of their graves and the Bible says it will happen again. How should that influence our thoughts about eternity?
Imagine, if you will, your family sitting around the dinner table one night when there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Joe,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before?
Jeremiah 19 & 20
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18
Vampires, Eternity & the Living Dead
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18:
Ecclesiastes 3.11 says that God has put eternity in our hearts. John MacArthur in his Study Bible said, “God made men for His eternal purpose, and nothing in post-Fall time can bring them complete satisfaction.”
I believe it was Paul Tripp who said we were “made for glory.” We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s in our bones.
1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5.1-8).
Even those who claim no belief in a Creator God, often have a desire to leave a legacy and so live on in some way.
But like all God-given desires, the Fall has twisted our thoughts about eternity and immortality. Many of us believe we can control our own destinies and even decide what truth is. We, often, refuse to acknowledge that we will all stand before God one day (2 Cor. 5.9-10).
Some even claim they would rather go to hell than to heaven with a God who holds them accountable to His law, as if hell is some eternal party and not a place where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9.44).
The truth is, we will all live forever. The question is “where?”
But instead of contemplating that reality, whether directly or not, has led to a strange fascination with fictional immortal beings.
I want to be careful here. I don’t want to make this sound like a sin issue. Each of us must decide before God where we stand on these issues. Like Halloween and many other things, these are conscience issues.
But what about those who truly did come back from the grave?
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Even though these resurrected believers would die again, it was a preview of what will come in the future.
Today’s reading in Thessalonians pictures what we call the Rapture of the Church.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The word “rapture” means to be “caught up.” Paul said those who have died in Christ will rise first. So when Christ returns for His church, the bodies of believers who died previously, whose spirits are already in heaven, will be resurrected and changed. And those of us who are alive will be caught up and our bodies will be changed, as well.
Can you imagine what it must have been like at the time of the Crucifixion—a family is sitting around having dinner when there’s a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi or Cousin Benjamin” who had died a few years before!
Now imagine what it will be like when the Rapture happens. The graves of dead believers will be opened, but this time they’ll be gone, along with believers who were alive at the time of the Rapture!
I would imagine there will be more than a few family members who had rejected what their husbands and wives and mommas and brothers were telling them, who fall to their knees and cry out to God. It won’t be too late for them to be saved, but it will be too late for them to escape the Tribulation, seven years of famine, disease, earthquakes, disasters, and persecution the likes of which the world has never seen. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the book of Revelation.
So, let’s pray and stand up for the truth while there is still time for those who will listen and may we be sensitive to the Lord’s leading about those things which are less clear.
Today’s Other Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20:
Is the Word like Fire in Your Bones?
Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?
Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said:
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not (19.9).
Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?
Mind, Will, and Emotions
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it has a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B is for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.
While it’s long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2:
1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
“Who walk …” When the Bible speaks of our walk, it refers to our lifestyle. Blessed is the man or woman whose lifestyle is one that is centered on God and His Word.
“… Who seek Him with the whole heart!” The heart speaks of the inner man including the mind, the will, the emotions … who we really are. We’re not to be mindless in our beliefs, but mindful, studying His Word and getting to know Him better and better. Our faith is not blind faith, but faith built on the truths of Scripture. Loving God, is not first a feeling, it’s a choice to fix our hearts on Him.
Our emotions are certainly involved in our seeking and worship of God. We should put our whole heart into loving, knowing and worshiping Him and when we do, there will be times when we experience Him in our emotions, but too often, people seek after an experience instead of God Himself.
These three aspects of our inner man should work together. If we only know Him with our intellect, it may never impact our life. If we just grit our teeth and will ourselves to serve God, it can become nothing more than religious activity. If we seek after the thrill of some experience with God, it can easily become self-centered. Instead, all three aspects of our inner man are to be involved in seeking to know, to love, and to worship Him.
Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24).
“Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress.”
Lending foolishly to those who are irresponsible can cause our own financial ruin.
There’s a lot in today’s Bible reading. I hope you were blessed. It should be our lifelong endeavor to know God better through His Word. Is there someone who would benefit from today’s post and readings? Why not share so they can be blessed, as well?
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about ways to live like we’re expecting Jesus to come back soon, how our words and attitudes matter, abortion, unborn babies, the Tribulation, and more.
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