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Earthly Life
Isn't Everything
Aside from being the greatest of the kings of Israel, David was a visionary. King David had advanced knowledge of man's lifespan and quality of life prevailing in our time. Consider these words he wrote three millenniums ago:
   The length of our days is seventy years or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away, Psalms 90:10.
   Now in my late 70s, I no longer work to earn a living. This gives me ample time to reminisce and reflect on the true meaning and purpose of life. Just like David, who, in his later years, asked,
   What is man, that you are mindful of him? And the son of man, that you care for him? (Psalms 8:4 NIV)
   The existence of life in its varied forms is a phenomenon that has intrigued man more than anything else since ancient times. Questions about life, of humans in particular, about dying and leaving this world, and queries that demand credible answers, have been raised from ancient times to modern civilizations.
   The Greek philosopher Aristotle sought to find the answers and came up with metaphysics. But Aristotle's treatise, merely speculative and inconclusive, raised more questions instead of coming up with answers. All the while, religions of all sorts emerged, voicing discordant beliefs, views and opinions. Thus mankind ended up with a plethora of religious persuasions. It is worthy of note, however, that despite the irreconcilable differences and disagreements, for millennia mankind generally believed that beyond the material or physical aspect of life, there exists a distinctly separate spiritual realm of existence.
Man vis-a-vis Animals
Human beings represent the highest form of life in this world. And all of mankind is homogeneous, i.e., genetically we all belong to the same human species. May the color of your skin be white, black, or brown like mine, that doesn't really matter. And even the most primitive tribes still living deep inside the earth's rainforests are humans. Regardless of what the racist or supremacist says or feels, the fact is we are all equal before Elohim. This is confirmed by Peter.
   And Peter opened his mouth, and said, “Of a truth I perceived that Yahweh is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is acceptable to Him," Acts 10:34-35.
   There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yahshua,
Gal. 3:28.
   Contrary to what eminent scientists tell us, man's existence on earth isn't without purpose. Man's role and preeminence over all other creatures is clear from the beginning. And even though science has shown that the chimp's genes closely resemble that of man, there is a great divide between man and ape regarding mental powers and ability. This is because the human brain is vastly superior as compared to that of the apes. Of all creatures on earth, only humans have a rational mind capable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
   Regarding King David's question about what man is, let's turn again to his writings:
   You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas, Psalms 8:5-8 NIV.
   Unlike the animals, man is a special creature - the crowning glory of all of Yahweh's creation!
Man's Errant Wisdom
Collectively, man does possess knowledge, understanding and wisdom not found among the inferior creatures, e.g., the apes, even though their genetic make-up nearly matches the human genome. This is because of the amazing power of the human brain - the most wonderful organ ever known as confirmed by medical science.
   While it is true that many of the other creatures, like the apes, elephants, dolphins, etc., do have a measure of intelligence, they are deficient in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Right after creation, Yahweh Elohim gave Adam a very important task to do. Now let's see what Yahweh required of him.
   And Yahweh Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it, Gen. 2:15 TWOY.
   The word “keep” is from the Hebrew shamar in Strong's #8104, i.e., to guard, protect, preserve, or take care of it. But look at what is now happening to the earth's environment. Man is slowly destroying the earth, and alarmed Al Gore and Greenpeace are busy warning, protesting and appealing to world leaders to act to stop the destructive activities within their borders.
   What about social relations? Think of Adolf Hitler's “ethnic cleansing” in Europe during World War II, of Pol Pot's “social cleansing” in Cambodia and what the Serbian warlords did to their Bosnian neighbors in recent years - causing the death of millions of innocent victims. The Holy Scriptures are quite clear and specific.
   Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 19:18 -19.
   Nowadays, how do we rate man's acts and behavior? All over the world the crime index, along with terrorism, ethnic conflicts and violence, show that man is a dismal flunkout in social relations. It shows that the inferior creatures, like the apes, are more considerate towards their own kind. What happened with man's wisdom? The apostle Paul candidly tells us,
   For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in Elohim's sight. As it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness, and again, Yahweh knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile. So then, no more boasting about men, 1 Cor. 3 :19-21.
Cares of This Life
A protestant minister turned politician decided to run for mayor. His candidacy was timely because the townspeople were clamoring for good government. As the "man of the Bible," the pastor easily won.    Some years later, people were surprised to know that he is the owner of a Rural (Thrift) Bank with branches in some parts of the country. Then he put up a Pre-Need company dealing in trust funds (College Education and Pension Plans). He and his family moved to a mansion, and he drove expensive cars. Suddenly, pandemonium broke loose when depositors could not withdraw money from their bank accounts and policy owners of matured College Education and Pension Plans failed to collect. The pastor is now out of politics, in jail and confronted with multiple lawsuits. His company and bank are closed and the subject of litigation. Worst of all, he has cancer of the throat, lost his voice, and his wife and children are rumored to have
abandoned him.
   Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool,
Jer. 17:11 NIV.
   Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven, Prov. 23:4-5.
   I know of people who work or practice their trade from Monday to Sunday. I asked one man why he does not take a day off to rest and worship. He explained that he has a big family and needs to earn as much as he can. To sum it up, most people are too busy and occupied with the cares of this life.
   But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful, Mark 4:18-19.
   We'd better take stock of our life and learn from man's Creator and Savior.
   Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Yahshua replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then He said to him, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions," Luke 12:13-15 NIV.
Troubles and Sorrow
Right after birth, a newborn baby bursts into frantic crying. Maybe this is premonitory feelings to upcoming troubles and sorrow we humans may have to pass through during our lifetime.
   Man born of woman is of few days and full of troubles. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure, Job 14:1-2 NIV.
   When tragedy strikes down a wicked man, it is easy for people to understand why and say, "He deserves it." But, if it happens to a decent man, it becomes a puzzle and people say, "Why him? He does not deserve it." Trying hard to live a decent or blameless life doesn't make anyone immune to trouble and sorrow. That is one of the ironies of this life.
   Trouble and sorrow may come to anyone, anytime, regardless of social status, religion and nationality. Even King David, the man after Yahweh's heart, had his share of troubles and sorrow. The same is true of Paul and many of Yahweh's own people.
   Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but Yahweh delivereth him out of them all, Psalms 34:19.
Someone said that “all things happen as Yahweh allows it to happen." So the question is: Why does Yahweh allow adversity and suffering to befall mankind? For the many, the heartrending loss of a loved one, home or livelihood is difficult to understand. We septuagenarians were witnesses to such happenings on a global scale during World War II, when an estimated 72 million military and innocent civilians perished. Actual losses in property and livelihood are anybody's guess, and thousands, if not millions, of shattered lives became relics of man's inhumanity to fellow man.
   Aside from war, disease is another cause of suffering and anguish. In a Manila suburb there's a Chinese businessman who was proud of his Filipino wife and loved her so much. Theirs was a happy and contented family life for many years. Then one day the woman fell ill and was found to have a serious kidney disorder. Dialysis enabled her to live a few years more, and then she died. Grief-stricken, the man wept and between sobs uttered, "We don't deserve this. Why should it happen to you? There are many bad people in this world. Why not them?"
   There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless, Ecc. 8:14 NIV.
Ageing and Death
Animals, trees and plants are living matter. As such, all are subject to the irreversible law of ageing and eventually die. After death, the erstwhile living matter begins to decompose until it becomes part of the soil. What about man? Let us see what Yahweh Elohim told Adam.
   By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken, for dust you are and to dust you will return, Genesis 3:19.
   Most humans have an inherent fear of death. In fact, medieval alchemists even tried to find the elixir of life. Nowadays, science has come up with cosmetics, creams, mudpacks, surgery, etc., and partially succeeds in temporarily keeping the good looks of a woman. However, the ageing process goes on and science can do nothing more.
   On the other hand, there are many, who, heavily burdened with guilt, shame, grief or hopelessness, overcome the fear of death and choose to extinguish their own lives. Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun committed suicide. Hitler's aide Joseph Goebbels and his wife first poisoned their six children and did likewise.
   In times of war, considering the mass slaughter of both combatants and civilians alike, human life seems to be very cheap. Is human life of no more value than animal life? From the scientific point of view, when a man dies, it's just like when your dog or cat dies. Biologists say the end has come and there's nothing more to expect. Is that true? We'd better let the Holy Scriptures enlighten us.
   While Yahshua was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the Teacher anymore?” Ignoring what they said, Yahshua told the synagogue ruler, “Don't be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Yahshua saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep,” Mark 5:35-39.
   So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David, 1 Kings 2:10.
   Contrary to what the scientists tell us, Scriptures reveal that the dead are just asleep.
Earthly Life Isn't Complete
The Sadducees of Yahshua's time, and today's scientists, motivate people to live as if this present life were everything to be desired. And many, even supposedly upright men, are sometimes tempted to set aside time-honored moral or spiritual values in exchange for material possessions and convenience. Because of the desire to have more of this world's goods, many, if not the majority, tend to forget that life on earth is transitory.
   As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more, Psalms 103:15-16 NIV.
   Sadducee teachings and science's viewpoint on man's life refers only to the first part or stage of human existence. The Sadducees, and the “bright boys” of science, believe that life in this world is all that it takes for man and nothing more. This prompted Paul to remind the Corinthians.
   If only for THIS LIFE we have hope in Messiah, we are to be pitied more than all men, 1 Cor. 15:19.
   It behooves all who claim to know the truth, and profess to know Yahweh, to avoid trying to accumulate and hoard much of this world's wealth. King Solomon tried it, but in the end found it all in vain.
   Here is Solomon's testimony:
   I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well - the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet, when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun, Ecc. 2:8-11.
Hope of Life Beyond
The Sadducees, as represented by Caiphas, the High Priest, flourished during the time of Yahshua until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. They accept only the writings of Moses and, unlike their rivals, the Pharisees, they don't believe in the resurrection and the existence of angels and spirits. They belong to the wealthy class and, as such, were arrogant, conservative and better connected politically.
   Their mindset is centered on materialism and on secular matters. They think only of physical Israel - nothing more. And their understanding of the Messiah's coming is to get rid of the hated Roman legions and restore the Kingdom of Israel to its former glory. So when Yahshua did nothing about it, they rejected Him as the Messiah and instead, executed Him.
   Strangely, Sadducee doctrine is a conundrum of conflicting beliefs or ideas. Consider: The Sadducees insist on strict observance of the Torah, yet they reject the existence of angels and spirits. But, in the books of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, Moses repeatedly wrote of the Angel of Yahweh. They say there is no such thing as a spirit, but profess to know the Elohim of Israel. Surely, they do not think of Yahweh Elohim as a mortal being.
   The apostle Paul sternly admonished the Corinthians who were somewhat influenced by the teachings of the Sadducees.
   Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning, for there are some who are ignorant of Elohim - I say this to your shame. But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or something else. But Elohim gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives it its own body... So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body, 1 Cor. 15:33-38, 42-44 NIV.
The Holy Writings (OT and NT) repeatedly tell us of a much better existence in the resurrection of the dead. Since ancient times, Yahweh's people knew that this present life is just a transient existence.
   If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my CHANGE come, Job 14:14.
   Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall 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.
   The life of King Solomon is a most fitting example and proof that having everything in this life - power, wealth, worldly pleasures, etc.- still falls short of a really fulfilled life. Solomon says nothing, really, is gained under the sun. It means that all the things he got are temporal and sooner or later will be gone.
   However, as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what Elohim has prepared for those who love Him,” 1 Cor. 2:9 NIV.
   So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal, 2 Cor. 4:18 NIV.
   All things considered, the resurrection of Yahshua assures Yahweh's people of a much better existence beyond the grave. This was the assurance made by the Savior to Martha, the sister of Lazarus,
   Yahshua said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” John 11:2,.
   Some 3500 years ago, Job knew that physical life is transitional - that after death there is another life in a higher dimension for the righteous. Believe and trust in Yahweh through FAITH in Yahshua, the true Messiah. And when your appointed years in this life come to an end, be rest assured that, indeed, Earthly Life Isn't Everything!
-Elder A. S. Untalan, Sr.

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