We too were like the multitudes of people who live in such ignorance about what actually happens after we die. Both Paul and Peter help us to understand what we were once like … whether we like it or not!
Eph 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Although ignorance before God is no excuse, it does however control our belief about who we are and what happens to people when they die. Daniel is very helpful about the future of the race.
1) There is an eternity. All people born will die and once dead in the flesh, their eternal fate is sealed. As real as there is life on this earth for human being, so there is life after death for all who are human beings.
Da 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
(1) “Sleep in the dust of the earth” means to die physically and be buried in the ground. As you read through Genesis 5 you see that everyone born dies. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that:
Heb 9:27 Just as man is destined to die once.
Today there are three main methods of burial … in a grave or tomb in the ground; at sea and cremation. None of these are against any teaching of Scripture.
(2) “Will awake” is a reference to the resurrection. There is life after death. Many might not like it because it does not fit their religion or evolutionary ideologies, but the Bible teaches it rather clearly. This means the physical body of the human has a physical as well as a spiritual dimension. This implies that the body is temporal but the “soul” (spiritual dimension) is eternal, meaning that when the body dies the real person continues to live. There is a difference between the human race and the animal kingdom.
Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
The main point here is that there is life after death.
(a) There is life in God’s paradise for those who are His … some to everlasting life. As uncomfortable and as harsh as it might seem … the word “some”, used twice, reminds us that not every person born will go to be with God and not every person born will be excluded from God’s presence forever. The exciting thing is that death does not mean going to some place people call … “soul sleep or purgatory”. These are not Biblical concepts. The person born of God has life in the soul and enjoys God and His goodness whilst on earth … and at death his or her soul departs to be with God forever!
1Th 5:10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
Awake is in the flesh and asleep the afterlife. Note that for the believer, which ever one, be it on earth or in the afterlife, we are with the Lord!
(b) There is life apart from God … others to shame and everlasting contempt. By life here I refer to a conscious existence … but this life is really eternal death. Separation from God is eternal hell. The unsaved soul is living in spiritual death and once physical death arrives that person is banished to eternal death!
2) There is a general resurrection. The Divine messenger here is not referring to the general resurrection once Jesus returns, ushers in the Judgment and then sends saved souls to heaven and lost souls to hell. Because of the prophecy brought informing that many saints will die in the ensuing wars (over the many years that follow), the Divine Messenger gives Daniel comfort, reminding him that all God’s people, chosen before the creation of the world, will be with God whether they are in the body or away from the body. The apostle Paul says the following
Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
My point here is that he confirms that whether one is on earth serving Jesus or in heaven serving Jesus, we are with Jesus. Daniel was to encourage his people with this awesome motivation! For you and me this is so glorious because one could become despondent as we live in this world of sin, evil, corruption and decay. This is why as His people we need to keep focus on Him throughout life’s journey.
3) There are rewards in heaven.
Da 12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Although this reference is firstly made about those mentioned in chapter 11:33-45, the real encouragement is for all God’s people of all times, throughout all ages. One gets the picture of a child of God radiating the beauty and majesty of God in the present and particularly in the eternal future. Stars shine brightly on clear nights. It is always so beautiful to gaze into the night skies and see God’s masterpiece. His people will conform to the likeness of the Lord Jesus and shine the beauty of God. But … those who serve Him more on earth will shine more in glory. This addresses the rewards Jesus promised. Read the parable of the talents, etc. Those who are wise … are the ones who are godly Gospel people. They are wise because they seek holiness daily to combat the remnants of the sinful disposition. They are wise because they study God’s Word daily. They are wise because the seek God in prayer daily. They are wise because they desire Christlikeness. They are wise because they try hard to avoid being tarnished by the world and its offerings. But they are wise because they lead lost souls to Jesus. Jesus is God’s righteousness … and to … lead many to righteousness … means to live the Gospel and share the Gospel to introduce others to Jesus. As followers of Jesus we must never think that introducing people to Jesus (Righteousness) is only for those who are fulltime or part time Christian Workers in the Church. Every believer is a messenger. You pray for souls. You live the life before souls. You earn the right to share the Gospel with souls. Everyone has a Gospel duty and is not the promise of shine like the brightness of the heavens … like the stars for ever and evernot an awesome motivation.
O Lord, the deeper we dig into Your Wonderful Word, the more we realize what You intend for Your faithful children. Thank You we are able to prepare for eternity. Amen.