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Exit to Where?
(Note: All Bible references are taken from the New King James Version – NKJV with the Holy Names inserted.)
Prelude - The Entry and the Exit
William Shakespeare in the play ‘As You Like It’ wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances.” There is some truth in this statement, except that we are not ‘merely players’ on the world’s stage. Living is real, serious, and has everlasting consequences. We all make one entry from the womb of our respective mother into the world. With one exception that will be explained later, we will all make one exit through the womb of the earth. Your life is only a small section of a huge drama that has been unfolding over thousands of years since creation and is heading for the final culmination of the ages. When you were born your role in this colossal drama began. At some point that is unknown to you, you will be ushered off of the stage of life, but that will not be the end. That is because there is life after death. It is this fact that makes life and death so very serious. Death is the interval that leads to the final Act, which will have a happy or sad ending for you depending on decisions you made in this life. The drama of life for you, as well as for all people, can be aborted at any time. No one but the ‘Producer’ knows when it will end. For this reason we must be always ready for the finale.
You may ask how can one be so sure that there is life after death, when, to quote Shakespeare once again, death is “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns”?
Life after death is not an imaginary add-on to the short span of human life. It was not conceived by some overactive, overzealous, inquisitive or presumptuous mind. The only Person who had thorough infallible knowledge on this subject, Yahshua, the Son of Yahweh, stated that there would be a resurrection of all people. Indeed He Himself proved this and became the forerunner of all who will be resurrected when, after three days, He arose from the grave. He who is ‘Truth’ stated, “the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His [The Son of Man’s – Yahshua’s] voice and come forth––those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation,” John 5:28-29.
There has never been and will never be a higher authority on this subject than Yahshua. He is the only ‘traveller’ who has returned from death and still lives, to prove there will be life after death. The evidence of others may be questionable. His proof is impeccable, reliable and overwhelming. To question the teaching of life after death is to disbelieve Yahshua’s experience and His words. If these are flawed then nothing whatsoever in the world is true.
If the dead do not rise, then the Messiah is not risen and if the Messiah is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then, also those who have fallen asleep in the Messiah have perished. If in this life only we have hope in the Messiah, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now, the Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, 1Cor 15:16- 20.
Many divinely inspired writers of the Bible have consistently made similar pronouncements. Any contradicting opinions are from lesser persons who have neither been divinely inspired like these writers nor have returned from ‘the undiscovered country’ like Yahshua. They are unauthentic, speculative and unimpressive beside the proof, statements and prophecies contained in the Bible. Therefore you had better believe the assertions of the most reliable witnesses to be true.
Man had the potential at creation to have everlasting life. He did not have to die. Death entered as a result of man’s disobedience.
Adam and Eve, the first couple to have lived, were placed by their Creator Yahweh in the Garden of Eden, with instructions that they could eat of any tree except one that was in the middle of the garden, for if they ate of that tree they would die (Read Gen 2:15- 17; 3:1-19). A cunning smooth-talking, lying serpent later known as the devil, appeared in the Garden and spoke to Eve. By carefully entwining his seductive words subtly, stealthily, firmly and deadly around Eve’s fragile innocent mind, he managed to convince her that he knew the truth, which Yahweh was hiding from them, and that if they ate of the tree they would not die. Thus the serpent was calling Yahweh a liar! Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s deceptive strategy. They ate of the forbidden fruit,
Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden
and by doing so rebelled against their Creator. Like a harmful drug injected into the body, sin (rebellion to Yahweh) entered into them with a host of adverse chain reactions. They were changed. Their pure minds became warped as a result of bending to intense satanic impulses. For the first time since their creation they went to hide from their Maker, and experienced guilt and shame. Then they were banished from the garden and cursed with death, pain, suffering and hard labour. Even the ground was cursed because of their heinous disobedience. They had set in motion forces they could not control and consequences that would go far beyond their own experiences to permeate every fabric and crevice of human existence for as long as time would last.
Yahweh is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation, Num 14:18.
Sin and its penalty passed on like a DNA to all of Adam and Eve’s offspring. Since then, man, having been denied the automatic right to eternal life by his first parents, has had to die.
Therefore, through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned, Romans 5:12.
Death became, and has continued to be, the exit door of life, For dust you are, and to dust you shall return, Gen 3:19b.
There is no escaping this event that will befall us all. To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven - a time to be born, and a time to die, Eccl 3:1- 2a.
Everyone can expect to die.
No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit. And no one has power in the day of death, Eccl 8:8a.
None of us has the authority to say to death when it comes “go away, choose a more convenient time or go to someone else!” When death calls, whether or not we wish to answer, we are compelled to surrender to its overpowering force.
Why Life after Death?
Throughout man’s history he has proved that he is naturally bent towards disobeying Yahweh. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?
Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil, Jer 13:23.
Yahweh knew this even before creation; therefore, He planned a way to rescue man from himself, redeem our fallen race to Him, and enable us to regain the potential heritage of eternal life that was forfeited by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He achieved all this by sending His only Son to die in our place.
For Yahweh so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, John 3:16.
His death in our place was not to nullify the penalty of death that Adam and Eve had already earned for the whole human race. He died that through His death and resurrection we would not need to die a second time as a punishment after we were resurrected. Those persons, who accept this substitutionary provision and obey Yahweh, will be resurrected and rewarded with the gift of eternal life. All others will be punished by a second death.
Life after death will be the necessary setting for the fulfilment of Yahweh’s eternal plans and purposes.
Death is the interlude between two Acts of a drama when the scene and costume are changed. It is the comma in the eternal sentence. It is the gateway that leads to man’s final destination. It is the sleep before the happy or sad awaking. In order that the good and the bad may be recompensed for the choices they had made during their lifetime, there must and will be a resurrection after death, for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah, Rom 14:10b.
He is Coming Again!
At Yahshua’s final appearance on earth, in the presence of His disciples,
He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Yahshua, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven,” Acts1: 9b-11.
Yahshua has not yet returned but He is coming again - this time not as a babe in the manger but as The King of Kings.
At His return, Yahshua Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of Yahweh, 1Thess 4:16a.
The Bible is replete with many verses that emphasize this fact. Yahshua is coming again to:
|Fulfil His promise, John 14:3|
|Gather the elect, Matt 24:31|
|Raise the dead, 1Thess 4:13-18|
|Judge the world, Matt 25:32-46|
|Establish His Kingdom on earth, Isa 9:7, Rev 11:15|
|Destroy Death, 1Cor 15:25- 26, Rev 20:14|
|Destroy the influence of Satan, Rev 20:10|
|Reward His followers, Matt 16:27|
|Punish the unrighteous, Rev 20:15, Psalm 9:17|
Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work, Rev 22:12.
An inescapable appointment with Yahshua awaits us all, whether we are dead or alive.
The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth––those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation, John 5:28-29.
For Yahweh will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil, Eccl 12:14.
We must all appear before the judgment seat of the Messiah, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad, 2 Cor 5:10.
Such repetition compels us to heed the warning. The day of reckoning is coming when our thoughts, deeds, words, actions, motives and choices will be weighed in the balance, and our eternal destiny determined. This will be a day of gloom for many; but for others, the realisation of a glorious hope.
The Finale For the Believer
At Yahshua’s second coming,
The dead in the Messiah will rise first, Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet Yahshua in the air. And thus we shall always be with [Him], 1Thess 4:16b-17.
(Note: Believers who are alive at Yahshua’s second coming are the persons to whom reference was made at the beginning of this article, who would not have experienced death).
Yahshua is coming to reward His saints who believe in Him and have done what He said.
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city, Rev 22:14.
The gift awaiting Yahshua’s followers, who are faithful to the end in spite of the trials and temptations of this world, will far exceed any sacrifice they had made for the sufferings of this present time and are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, Rom 8:18.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life, Rev 2:10.
As it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which Yahweh has prepared for those who love Him, 1Cor 2:9.
Beloved, now we are children of Yahweh; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure, 1 John 3:2-3.
Clothed in immortality, those of us who are ready at His appearing will inherit everlasting life.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, 1 Cor 15:51-53.
Everlasting joy and thanksgiving will fill our hearts. Sickness, pain, suffering, tears, sorrow, and death – in short, all human frailties and limitations will come to an end.
Yahweh will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away, Rev 21:4.
As one songwriter wrote: “It will be worth it all when we see Yahshua.”
The Finale For the Unbeliever
For the unbeliever the situation will be quite different.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of Yahweh and from the glory of His power, 2Thess 1:9.
I saw the dead, small and great, standing before Yahweh, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire, Rev 20:12-15.
The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death, Rev 21:8.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of Yahweh, 1Cor 6:9-10.
The unbelievers shall receive the payment they would have justly earned for their rebellion against and rejection of Yahweh,
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Yahweh is eternal life in the Messiah Yahshua our Saviour, Rom 6:23.
Time For a Change
The road on which you are now travelling is taking you to a definite destination –either eternal life or death. There is nothing in between. Except you are constantly checking your ‘location’ against the ‘Road Map’, which is the Bible, you are bound to stray. Straying from Yahweh is part of man’s inherent nature.
Like the prodigal son (Read Luke15:11-24), the human race is prone to choose whatever it fancies in preference to the safety and security of abiding in Father’s house. It is pulled as if by magnetic waves to a life that promises satisfaction but only delivers remorse, guilt, shame and emptiness now, and death in the life to come. Mankind accepts, does, says and believes anything just to show their independence of their Father who created them. Like sheep going astray they have wandered into their ways.
The prodigal son thought he was right, for every way of a man is right in his own eyes, Prov 21:2.
If you are straying from your Father after some illusive attraction, STOP! You are going the wrong way! The things after which you are craving will be of no benefit to you at or after death. Like a vapour they will evaporate into nothingness, and will not be with you when you meet Yahshua.
Whether you have deliberately made a choice to go your own way, or you are just straying aimlessly, the result is the same. You are moving away from your Creator. Adam and Eve did not set out to disobey Yahweh. They simply looked too long on that which was tempting, listened too attentively to a stranger, touched what they ought not to touch, and finally ate that which was forbidden. In a series of steps, you, too, may have moved away from Yahweh. It is time to turn around and change direction before it is too late.
Like the prodigal son you must awaken now to the precious opportunity you are squandering by being away from your Father. When the prodigal son came to his senses, he said I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,” Luke 15:18.
If you do not have the relationship with Yahweh that promises eternal life, it is time to make the prodigal son’s admission and start walking in the opposite direction from where you are at present.
Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to Yahweh, And He will have mercy on him; And to our Elohim, For He will abundantly pardon, Isa 55:7.
Life even at its best is very unsure. We plan for tomorrow, but do not know what today will bring. You do not know when you will die, or when you will be required to stand before the Judge for the things you have done in this life. Death and Yahshua’s return are certain events that no one can evade or predict. When you see Yahshua, you will be either rewarded or punished. Either way, His decision will be final. The time to change is now. The only moment of which you can be certain is the present. The only worthwhile direction is towards Yahweh. The only person who can hinder you is YOU.
What Can You Do Now?
On the day of Pentecost those who were persuaded by Peter’s sermon,
Said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Yahshua the Messiah for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 2:37b-38.
The account of the prodigal son is a good example of what it means to repent:
1) He became aware of his destitute and miserable position, and that his choice had brought him to a level he had never intended or anticipated,
2) He knew that there was a better place than where he was, and
|3) He decided to do something about it by|
|a) Walking away from where he was,|
|b) Going to his father,|
|c) Admitting his wrong and asking for forgiveness, and|
d) Although not stated, it can be safely assumed that thereafter he remained in the safety and comfort of his father’s house.
That, in a nutshell, is what repentance is all about. Learning from the prodigal son, we can summarise the main points as follows:
1) Become aware of your dangerous and hopeless position as a result of having been away from your heavenly Father Yahweh and sinning against Him,
|2) Know that His way is far better than yours,|
|3) Make a genuine commitment to change,|
|4) Pray, asking His forgiveness of all your past wrong doings,|
5) Make a conscious and determined effort to turn away from your previous habits, and
6) Dedicate the rest of your life to staying with Him, obeying Him and pleasing Him.
|This has been summarized much simpler in Psalm 37:27,|
|Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell forevermore.|
"Depart from evil, and do good;
and dwell forevermore." - Psalm 37:27
Repentance is the necessary preliminary step in order to inherit the kingdom of Yahweh. That was the main message of John the Baptizer, Yahshua and His disciples. But, being prepared involves much more than repentance. Preparing for the Kingdom requires vigilance in all areas of our relationship with Yahweh and our fellowmen in keeping with the teachings of the Bible.
Yahshua, in order to emphasize the necessity of being fully prepared for our final appointment with Him, gave to His disciples of all ages the parable of the Ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: “Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, “Sir, Sir, open to us!” But he answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.” Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming, Matt 25:1b-13.
All ten thought they were ready to meet the bridegroom, and slept while they were waiting. All had lamps, and knew that their lamps would be required when the bridegroom came. They all awoke to the clarion call announcing the bridegroom’s arrival. At this last minute, five made a startling discovery. They were not ready to greet the bridegroom! Their lamps were flickering and they had brought no extra supply of oil with them. The wise virgins, from whom they tried to beg some oil, wisely declined. They had taken the trouble to make sure they would be ready, and they would not be deprived of their purpose in waiting by a lastminute folly. They valued their appointment at the wedding too highly to allow anything or anyone to hinder them. The foolish virgins went out to try to remedy their desperate situation. Alas, it was too late! When they eventually returned from purchasing oil they were barred from entering the wedding, and were told by the bridegroom “I do not know you”.
Only one essential commodity hindered the five foolish virgins from entering the wedding - the lack of oil at the bridegroom’s arrival. No one can confidently identify the oil in the parable of the virgins with any specific spiritual requirement. Suffice it to say that lack of preparation in any area can lead to rejection. The parable was simply given to emphasise the necessity of being fully prepared at all times.
It does not take many things to keep us out of the kingdom. Failure in just one quarter to prepare for our inescapable appointment as the foolish virgins did, can lead to final banishment from His presence. To the foolish virgins, the extra effort of the wise virgins may have seemed unnecessary, but in the end it paid dividends. Yahshua concluded the parable by admonishing us all to watch.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming, Matt 25:13.
Watching will entail, among other things, studying the Word and being vigilant to ensure that every aspect of our lives is in accordance with its teaching.
From the sleep of death we will be suddenly awakened to meet Yahshua. In whatever spiritual state of readiness we were when we died we shall be resurrected to stand before Him. Those of us who are ready will be with Him for eternity. All others will be barred from the reward of the righteous. There will be no time or place then to try to rectify any deficiency. The Master will not wait. The only time we have to prepare is now. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation, 2Cor 6:2b. Make sure your lamp is burning and continues to burn brightly until your last breath.
A fictitious drama is not being performed on the stage of your life. It is a real life episode with everlasting consequences, involving YOUR eternal destiny.
The first thing you will be aware of after you have died, will be a face-to-face meeting with the One whom you loved, worshipped and longed to meet, or whom you scorned and despised. Without a moment to make a plea, or change the judgement, you will be told your destiny. Your Judge will not be guided by your opinion of yourself, your procrastinated intentions, or your best excuses. The whistle would have blown. Time would have expired. Your payday would have come when you would justly reap the consequences of the decisions you made or failed to make, to follow Yahshua and put Him first in your life.
Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, every person who has been born is on the road to damnation except he/she repents. There is no automatic right to eternal life. As it is written:
There is none righteous, no, not one, Rom 3:10.
Sin shall not be unpunished. Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole world because of sin.
I tell you, … unless you repent you will … likewise perish, Luke 13:5.
Those who have not repented can expect to receive only the wrath of Yahweh when they see Yahshua. But it does not have to be this way. Just as the prodigal son was forgiven and welcomed into his father’s house when he returned, so will you, if you will turn to Him in repentance. He has promised:
Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool, Isa 1:18.
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us, Ps 103:12.
There is time at this moment to reverse the direction in which you are presently travelling, if you are not living as close to Yahweh as is possible. You do not know how much more time is left before you will make your exit. If you have not already repented, you need to repent to change your direction from walking away from your Creator and heavenly Father to surrendering your life to Him and obeying Him. You need to repent that your sinful nature will be replaced with a pure heart without which you cannot gain eternal life. You need to repent and accept the forgiveness of the One who died in your place or be dammed for all eternity.
Let those of us, who think we are ready, search our hearts and pray and strive for the removal of every dross, so that none of us will be deluded in thinking we are ready when in fact we are not. We cannot afford to be lulled into a state of complacency like the five foolish virgins, and fail to take that extra effort to ensure that we will make it into the kingdom. Make sure that nothing or no one stands in the way of your eternal heritage. Nothing in this world can in any way be compared with what you would forfeit if you fail to make it into the kingdom. While there is still time, choose for [yourself] this day whom you will serve Josh 24:15a.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that …you …may live, Deut 30:19.
When you have made your exit from this world’s stage, where will be your destination?
-Elder Buel Hallpike
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