"ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES"
“Oneness with God according to the scriptures” July 2015..part 5..
We promised from the last lesson that we would begin this chapter with the Hebrews account, so here we go! As we noted time and again from the gallery of faith: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
The next chapter opens as a continuation of the previous chapter, and based upon what was just said the writer further suggests: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight.” Hebrews 11: 13, 39, 40. We should understand that this great cloud of witnesses is not a bright cloud hanging across the sky. The cloud of witnesses refers to all the people of faith that we read about in the entire chapter 11 of Hebrews. The Greek word for compassed is “per-ik’-i-mahee” which means to lie all around, enclose, encircle, be bound with.
Along the way, we will glance behind the scenes and take a peek at the biblical activities of those who have gone on before us. For John to clearly see the Lamb’s wife the angel said: “Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” Rev. 21: 9, 10.
So it is evident that for us to see and understand the dynamics that lie behind the veil of the natural, we must be carried away in the spirit. This great cloud of witnesses is not a mirage, or a night vision that vaporizes as the new dawn approaches. It is a description of a reality that exists in the deep realm of spirit that encompasses every soul that passes on to that realm. It is therefore safe to conclude that the spirits of these just men do exist in a real, vibrant spiritual dimension with calculated and specific functions. It is of paramount importance that we comprehend this marvelous transaction. To increase its visibility and to offer us a better understanding, we are told that we have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven.
We also come to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. Please understand that nothing in this description is surrounded by death: and the great company of witnesses grows daily as saints are called home, leaving even the majority in Christendom bereaved and lonesome. But do the scriptures offer an open window into what reality is for those who crossed over before us? Are they really in a place called heaven abiding with Jesus?
Let me share a story (an experience) Judy and I had some years ago. I had ministered in Texas City, Texas, and was driving back to West Palm Beach, Florida. As usual, Judy had her pillow under her head, and was in a deep sleep leaning on the side of the panel. I usually do all of my interstate travels during the night time hours. When I got too sleepy I would pull into a rest area and wash my face with cold water and rest for 20 minutes or so.
About this time, we had been pondering where we should relocate to with a number of States in the mix. Judy woke up and said: I just saw your mother (whom she never met) she is a short Chinese looking woman with her hair rolled up in a bun. She said to me, you are wondering where to go: your answer is in Jesus. She then walked back to her grave while voices were singing: “She is Lord, she is Lord, she is risen from the dead and she is Lord.” In this vision, Judy stopped her saying that they are singing the song wrong. The correct words are—He is Lord, he is Lord. My mother stopped her, saying they are singing it right for Jesus has made me lord.”
In his eulogy at my mother’s funeral in March 1984, (back in Darliston, Jamaica) our Presiding Bishop said that mother Rob (she was Mother Robinson but every one called her Mother Rob including myself): has been climbing and growing in the spirit, into the deeper things of God. She continued to grow until her body just could not keep up with her spirit: so it finally gave way and released her spirit that at this very moment continues to grow in the realm of spirit.
I have always known my mother to be of a sharp perception concerning the things of the Spirit of God, in understanding the Word and by receiving various visions concerning spiritual matters, and even coming events that would affect the entire island.
Seemingly, in a rush to preach the prosperity message, or the imminent return of Christ for the church, we somehow have missed or neglected some vital scriptures that fully open the door to the beyond. I am emphasizing this component of the gospel so that we do not sorrow over a loved one bidding farewell to this dimension of life.
We hear sermons on death constantly, and frequently down the street we have to pause and allow a funeral procession to go by: so let us revisit Jesus as he answers his critics about after death, or what we perceive to be death. Since this is of vital importance, I am going to quote the entire passage so as not to create any misunderstanding.
“The same day came to him Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh: And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? For they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22: 23-32.
I sometimes say in sermons that the day these men die, God ceases to be their God. Remember that it was Jesus himself who announced that God is a God of the living and not of the dead: in the meantime, he is the God of these men who passed on ages before. Abraham died about B.C. 1457: Isaac and Jacob followed later. Yet Jesus speaking of them at least 1457 years later proclaims them to be living or alive: God being the God of the living and not of the dead.
In other words, no matter what our persuasions are, Jesus alluded to them as being alive: and I am not ready to argue Jesus’ point of view. Job did not live this side of Calvary and the resurrection: but whatever source was available to him, he offered a positive testimony in saying: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19: 25-27.
By faith this man looked beyond segments of time: and in spite of his personal demise and the loss of his flesh, he was persuaded that in his flesh he’d see God. Where did Job get such conviction of truths? Death did not matter! It did not matter even after worms ate his flesh! In his flesh he’d see God!
It is not clear if Job understood the concept of man’s ancestry, (as being in the loins of Christ, as we have shared in relation to Levi being in the loins of Abraham, four hundred years prior to his actual birth.) But it stands to reason that IN CHRIST, as Christ walked the earth, so did Job.
The moment Jesus died: “The graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose (the price was paid in full and death was now vanquished) and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Matthew 27:52, 53. Although they came to life when Christ died, they had to remain in their place until after Jesus was resurrected because he is the “firstborn from the dead.”
The major problem that permeates the entire landscape of Christendom and people at large is that we human beings acquaint ourselves with the mundane: the visible, and the materialistic elements that are perceived and calculated upon those things that are governed by the five senses. For instance, according to God’s own account and testimony, before Jeremiah was formed in the womb, God knew him and ordained him to be a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1: 5.
There is no problem in all of this, if we simply read and pass on quickly. But if we slow down and look at this more closely, it begs this question: “If God knew this child before he was formed in the womb, and at that point before his birth he was ordained to be a prophet, why do we continue to think that as soon as the breath leaves the body God can do no more for him or her?
If God dealt with this person before his birth (while he existed in the realm of spirit) why do we continue to believe that at death as we understand it, God has no more dealing with the person until when the trumpet sounds on the judgment day?
We were with him before time, even when the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy. (Job 38:7)
So being lowered into this realm does not eliminate or abolish the realities of which we speak. God does not have any need to be constantly dividing between the spiritual and the literal universe. To him, the universe or universes are governed by a spiritual law which is never interrupted by the literal laws of nature.
Since by him all things consist, there remains no point for us to argue, or that needs any great amount of contemplation. David puts it this way: “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” Psalm 139: 12. We have seen people on television and hear them on radio talk shows giving account of their “near death” experience.
Some have written books about their trip to heaven and their disturbing glimpse of hell. We are brought back to face the question of the state of the dead, based upon scripture. To begin with, Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, how both lived and their state of being after both died. But since that is a parable spoken by Christ there is room for varied interpretations.
Perhaps we can glean some nuggets of truth from other accounts archived in the biblical chronology. During seventy years of captivity, Daniel saw many visions that are still impacting world powers as we know them today. In chapter 7, Daniel saw four beasts coming upon the world scene, and the angel standing with Daniel explained that they were four world kingdoms that would emerge upon the earth.
Being troubled by the fourth beast, the angel proceeded to reveal exactly what Daniel was seeing. Moving forward to chapter 9, Daniel said that he had learned certain things from the writings of Jeremiah that made him sick; so he began to pray for his own sins and the sins of his people, and was later interrupted by an angel.
“Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” Daniel 9: 21. In this account, Gabriel is addressed as “the man Gabriel.” But as we turn to Saint Luke 1: 26 we read: “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth.”
So in short order we see that Gabriel is described as a man, and an angel: but as we all know, the word angel means “messenger.” In many religious circles they prefer to ascribe that title to the local pastor, perhaps purposely failing to add a spiritual being: and this takes us further as we fast-forward to Revelation.
We have shown that the cloud of witnesses and the spirits of just men made perfect refer to loved ones called away to the other side. But over-all when a loved one dies, we need to stop saying that he or she is gone home to be with the Lord. We do not need to go anywhere to be with the Lord, because in him we live and move and have our being, and he lives within us.
We have learned by reading the account that the Book of Revelation is “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” Revelation 1: 1.
Over the years of bible studies and listening to sermons: listening to tape and reading books, we are well informed as to what the story of the entire book is all about. However, there are still an abundance of discord among biblical experts as to what the imagery of the book means.
There were times when John got sick and his belly became bitter. He actually fainted and was like a dead man upon his face on the ground. When he came to the end of the book he gave an account of what state of mind he found himself. “And I john saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” Revelation 22: 8, 9.
What truth are we sharing here? This angel spent a long time giving the entire book of Revelation to John. But when John would fall down and worship, he was forbidden, being told that this messenger was actually a fellow servant and one of the prophets. This proves beyond any doubt that our loved ones who crossed over before us are not in a long deep sleep: but are being used of God as ministers from that spiritual realm as messengers or angels.
Don’t be surprised if some do appear to you to minister to specific needs or to convey specific messages. From the days of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, and a host of others mentioned in scripture, the invisible realm of the spirit world has been closely linked to where we live and have our being.
There are always interactions between both worlds: these interactions are made real, plain, and visible to some, while to others they are mere feelings and a consciousness of another presence.
Of course, a visiting angel (a spirit being) will stir excitement and possibly some fear, alarm, or total surprise. Yet over all, we can readily accept a visit from an angelic messenger and even glorify God for such a grand favor. The angel was quick to tell Mary not to be afraid: because that is a normal reaction from a human being.
But going beyond the idea of visiting angels who allow their spiritual reality to be made known, we are not usually taught by the church the fact that our departed loved ones can return to minister to us, with an identity that we can recognize. Among the gifts that my mother had, was being able to identify spirits (the spirits of departed loved one.)
As a midwife, my mother got calls sometimes in the dead of night, and in the wee hours of the morning. I had to accompany her on these calls, much to my displeasure. I remember times when she would see a spirit going by and would ask aloud: “Where is Mr. So and So going this time of the morning.”
I was never scared of these encounters in the night, because I could not see any of the spirits, and it was not an environment that caused my body to grow cold bumps that left me tingling all over. Across the board in all cultures, we must assume that people are familiar with the spirit world that exists as if in a parallel universe.
There came a period of time when certain ministries emerged that reacted strongly to casting out devils. Even today, ministries called “Deliverance” are still actively casting out demons, binding them and casting them into outer darkness.
But as I alluded to before, the church is silent concerning the ministry of loved ones gone on before us. Many hold to the idea that at death the person ceases to exist but will respond on judgment morning so as to stand before the great white throne.
Man is given less hope than a tree that will spring forth at its roots even when it is cut down: “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” Job 14: 10-12.
A couple of thoughts at this juncture will modify this passage of scripture.
The first point of interest is that Job was speaking of the days he knew that were before Calvary and the resurrected Christ. Looking at the very beginning of the chapter, we quickly understand Job’s frame of mind and under the duress that he spoke.
His world was falling apart and the friends who came along to cheer him up were agents of despair and gloom. He began by saying: “Man that is born of a woman is of a few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.”
On the contrary, Jesus came preaching that he is the resurrection and the life, the way, and the truth. He publicly announced that he came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. The law and death ended with Moses that technically takes us to John the Baptist. Christ came on the scene announcing that God’s will must be done in earth as it is in heaven, where there is no death.
Royce O. Kennedy
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