A Bottom Line Message from the Codes: There Is an Afterlife|
The December 2004 Tsunami was felt around the world. As we have all grappled with and grieved over the tremendous loss of life in South Asia, it certainly has brought to mind the fragility of life and the universality of death. Death is no respecter of persons. Good, bad, rich, poor, healthy, ill, young or old, no one is exempt.
However, we don't want to leave our readers on that bleak note.
Repeatedly, we have seen that Bible codes affirm God's authorship of the Bible, and they typically echo the surface text. In these ways, codes should encourage us to more closely study the surface text. One of the themes of the Old Testament is that there is an afterlife. After affirming there is an afterlife, the authors of the Old Testament paint a vivid picture of a place filled with God's mercy and eternal pleasures — where the innocent are spared from evil, and where there is no more sorrow — only joy.
In the Old Testament, the afterlife is presented in several different ways. In Isaiah, in a section of scripture devoted to praising God, the prophet wrote of the earth giving birth to her dead:
But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
Certainly, the picture of giving birth brings to mind the beginning of a new life. Then, in the Psalms, this new life is referred to as glory:
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:24-26)
Enoch and Elijah — Spared from Death
The Old Testament chronicles the lives of two individuals that were spared from death and taken up immediately to heaven — Enoch and Elijah:
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:21-24)
As they [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. (2 Kings 2:11-12)
So, whether passing through death to the afterlife, or being "taken up" like Enoch and Elijah, the Old Testament clearly affirms the afterlife in these and other Scriptures.
God's Mercy and Power Over Death
In the midst of a passage describing God's anger toward Israel, because Israel had turned away from God, Hosea wrote very poetically of God's mercy and His power over death:
I [God] will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? (Hosea 13:14)
This phrase was rewritten in the New Testament in what may be a more familiar phrasing to some of our readers:
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55, KJV)
Here, the apostle Paul is affirming the teaching of the Old Testament that God has power over death.
David wrote that God would not abandon him to the grave and would provide eternal pleasures in the afterlife:
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:9-11)
The passages in Hosea and Psalms portray death and the entry into the afterlife as an act of ransom — a merciful act bringing the person into a place of joy and pleasure.
Spared from Evil
In "The Tsunami" article, the codes focused heavily on the idea that the tsunami was an act of judgment by God. After reading about those codes, what surely comes to mind is the question, "But, what about all the innocent men, women and children?" The prophet Isaiah wrote:
The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57:1-2, emphasis ours)
After reading the articles referenced about the sex trade and child slavery industries in South Asia, we can almost hear Isaiah's words echoing in our hearts and minds:
They "are taken away to be spared from evil."
So for these innocents, we believe it was not an act of judgment upon them, but a release from the hellish lives they were forced to lead.
No More Sorrow
Nothing is more heart-wrenching than to see the grieving families following the tsunami. The overwhelming loss of loved-ones and their homes is mind-numbing. What could possibly comfort loss on that scale? The Scriptures tell us there is one place where joy replaces sorrow — heaven.
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; . . . . (Isaiah 25:8a)
The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. (Isaiah 60:19-20)
Living Life with Purpose
Reflecting on the fragility of life, we find ourselves drawn back to an article that appeared in the November 2004 Digest. Our Director Ed Sherman wrote about two very different world views: Either life is an accident or God is orchestrating the universe. Depending on a person's world view, he or she will have very different reactions to the tsunami tragedy. If life is an accident, then they were just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But, if God is orchestrating the universe . . . what then?
In the article, "You Are Not an Accident," Ed discusses the tremendous care with which God formed each one of us. With this in mind, we can learn to live with a renewed purpose and with a view toward eternity and heaven. The Psalmist writes:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Realizing how brief life can be causes us to rethink our priorities and gives us the opportunity to make better choices in life.
Sadly, today's news becomes tomorrow's birdcage liners. With time, the tale of the tsunami will take a back seat to other news stories. But, by taking time to ponder the fragility of life and to meditate on the Scriptures' affirmation of an afterlife, the aftermath of this tragedy can breathe new purpose into each one of our lives.
In this article, all Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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