Monday, April 22, 2019

“What happens to our earthly bodies when we die?” and other questions

READER QUESTION TO OUR WEBSITE:

“So, what happens to our earthly bodies when we die? Do they remain on earth or are they “caught up I the air” .. or do our souls leave our bodies behind? And also, if our earthly bodies stay on Earth, then Yeshua’s body must still be in the tomb?

OUR RESPONSE:

Many (if not most) people want to believe that our bodies remain the same, and that we remain the same recognizable person after death. They also want to believe that they immediately go to heaven upon death. While that is certainly "feel good" thinking, here is a sample of what the scripture actually teaches:

Our gender will not matter in heaven, for in heaven there is no “marriage”. This suggests we will not have a “physical shape” of male and female as most imagine. We will still “be” male and female, but not in the way we know in our earthly bodies: “For in the Resurrection, neither men nor women will marry; rather, they will be like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30).

“Further, there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; but the beauty of heavenly bodies is one thing, while the beauty of earthly bodies is something else.” (1 Corinthians 15:40). “Let me say this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot share in the Kingdom of God, nor can something that decays share in what does not decay.) (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Our earthly bodies DO remain on earth:  "...the dust [body] returns to earth, as it was, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it!" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

It is also imperative to remember that ONLY the righteous obtain eternal life: "To those who seek glory, honor and immortality by perseverance in doing good, he will pay back eternal life. But to those who are self-seeking, who disobey the truth and obey evil, he will pay back wrath and anger." (Romans 2:7) (Note Paul does not contradict Timothy. Our earthly body is NOT immortal, and our "immortality" is given to us ONLY if Elohim accepts our souls into “eternal life”…)

Now, besides the fact that our FLESH will NOT be resurrected, we also need to recognize that the righteous do not “go to heaven” immediately when they die (1 Thessalonians 4:15-16). We are told that upon Yeshua's return, the "dead in Messiah shall rise first, and then those who are alive." If the "dead" rise first, that's a great indicator that they weren't resurrected immediately after death...

While we’re on the subject of “bodies”, here is something else to ponder:

2 Corinthians 5: 1. For we know that, if our house on earth,[1] this of the body, were dissolved, yet we have a building of Elohim, a house not made with hands,[2] eternal in heaven. 2. And on this account also, we groan, and wish to be clothed with our house from heaven: 3. If indeed, when clothed, we will not be found naked. 4. For while we are here in this house, we groan under its burden; yet you desire not to throw it off; but to be clothed over it, so that its mortality may be absorbed in life.

5. And he that prepares us for this thing is Elohim: who has given us the earnestness of His Spirit. 6. Therefore, because we know and are persuaded, that while we lodge in the body we sojourn away from our Master (Y’shua); 7. For we walk by faith, and not by sight; 8. Therefore we are confident, and desirous to be away from the body, and to be with our Master (Y’shua)." (AENT)

FOOTNOTES:

[1] In Hebrew and Aramaic thought, each major facet of the human condition dwells in a house. Here then we should contrast Rav Shaul’s imagery of our house on Earth with that of the opening chapter of Galatians, where he speaks of Y’shua being raised from the house of the dead! Such imagery is certainly implied in the next three lines of this chapter.

[2] Another parallel between Rav Shaul’s writing here and the Epistle to the Hebrews. The phrase, “not made with human hands” only appears in three places in the NT. One is given by Stephen, and the fact that he dies just after making this statement, effectively eliminates him as potential writer for that Epistle. The other two references, excepting this one, are in Hebrews 9:11 and 24. The context and subject are the same in each place.

The fact that Rav Shaul was one of those present and “approving Stephen’s death” adds more weight to the conclusion that the author of Hebrews is, in fact, Rav Shaul. From an Aramaic point of view, these phrases appear as a signature aspect of the same author.

Now, please note that Paul acknowledges that while we are in our bodies on earth, we are separated from the Kingdom. After all, here on earth are many uncleannesses we are faced with daily.

Nevertheless, Paul says that we are obliged to walk by faith. When he says "walk", he means that we conduct our lives as best we can by the Torah of Elohim and not by what others say, including the man-made traditions many follow. Only by our obedience to Torah can the Ruach haChodesh dwell withing us.

But our strongest desire is to be with Yeshua and that can only happen when we (our spirit, our nephesh) has been released from our earthly body. Hence the saying "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" - that is, we are then in our eternal life with him.

This is really echoing what Yeshua said about eternal life. He said: "2 just as you gave him authority over all mankind, so that he might give eternal life to all those whom you have given him. 3 And eternal life is this: to know you, the one true God, and him whom you sent, Yeshua the Messiah." (John 17:2-3).

To "know" Elohim and the Messiah is to obey his commands. (1 John 2:3). We must live our earthly lives in obedience, but what we long for is to be released from our earthy bodies to join him.

As far as your question about Yeshua’s body being “in the tomb,” YHWH’s we must remember that Messiah Yeshua was not a common "human". His "flesh" was not "our flesh". His flesh had a divine origin. Ours does not.

Only YHWH is immortal and His Messiah who was the Son of God, the “Arm” (Isaiah 53:1) and the “Word” (John 1:1, 14) is/was divine: "King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal, who dwells in unapproachable light that no human being has ever seen or can see — to him be honor and eternal power." (1 Timothy 6:15-17).

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