Month 7:6, Week 1:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year 5935:177 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 3 October 2011
Universal Graded Salvation
Indentifying the Many and the All
Continued from Part 2
Don't you love it when revelation just cascades down from Heaven when you are on a correct track? This has been my experience as I have been working on the thorny and contentious doctrine of Universal Salvation, better described as Universal Graded Salvation. When I first wrote the first part of this series I cannot explain to you the elation I felt or the great motion of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the sense of liberation and the powerful impression that I was on a track that the Enemy did not like. I had a lot of doubt and 'spiritual cramps' as a result which I have since repented of and have chosen to allow the Ruach (Spirit) to move freely in this matter once more.
I am very grateful that my brother in the Gospel shared Daniel 12:2. It was intended as a proof text to demolish the Universal Salvation doctrine but has proven to be a key that unlocks many truths about it instead. I have one - perhaps two - more to share with you today as once again the Ruach (Spirit) is strongly working in me. Let us once again remind ourselves of this passage, bringing together all we learned yesterday:
Yesterday I skimmed over the very odd construction at the beginning of this passage where Yahweh uses the word rab to describe those present who would be judged at the beginning of the Millennial Aeon (Age), both those who would be resurrected to chayim (life) and those who would be resurrected to contempt and shame. Why, we asked, didn't Yahweh use the word rav, meaning "many", and not kol meaning 'all'? For in traditional Evangelical Christian and Messianic theology everyone is judged and resurrected at the beginning of the Millennial Age. Yet here Yahweh says that this is not so. The truth is, I didn't know why when I prepared yesterday's devotional, but later on in the evening I came to understand. That's what I want to share now. The answer is to be found in the Apocalypse of John (Book of Revelation):
"And many (rab) of those who sleep (the dead) in the dust of the earth (decomposed) shall awake (be physically resurrected), some to everlasting (olam/aeonian) life (chayim), some to shame (cherpah - disgrace) and everlasting (olam/aeonian) contempt (dera'on - repulsion) [in Hell/Gehenna]" (Dan.12:2, NKJV).
When Yah'shua (Jesus) returns at the final Yom Teruah, the devil and all the demons are sealed in the bottomless pit for the duration of the Millennium. At this time the Yom Kippur Judgment commences and the righteous and wicked are separated. All of them? No, but rather, "many" of them. Why? Because the Final Judgment is not executed until the end of the Millennium.
"Then I saw a malak (angel) coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while" (Rev.20:1-3, NKJV).
Over the thousand years that Yah'shua (Jesus) is Regent on earth, the world population will grow. The planet will be populated by both those "many" who inherit the First Resurrection who are resurrected and immortal and by mortals. There will be children being born into the world. Not only that, but we are told that at the end of the Millennium Satan and His demonic hosts are released for a while to tempt mankind one last time. This means that many will fall away requiring a final judgment of them at the end of the Millennium. (Whether they are solely mortals and not just resurrected persons is not clear) - that is, the rest of the "many" making up the full compliment of human beings who have incarnated from the pre-existence. How else can one explain that not 'all' are to be judged at the beginning of the Millennial Aeon?
Now I don't have all the answers to many related questions yet. I know there are some in the Messianic community (and elsewhere) who believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) does not return until the end of the Millennium (post-millennialists) and whilst this is an interesting thesis it is not one I believe agrees with Scripture. For one thing, I am not convinced that man could rule righteously without the Messiah physically present and visibly in charge even with the demons locked away; for another, Scripture says men will be reigning with Him for the Millennium:
I don't believe this is invisibly, just as I don't believe the Jehovah's Witness teaching that Yah'shua (Jesus) returned invisibly in 1914 is true either - the parousia (presence) is always visible and literal. So it is, I believe, with the Reign of Messiah during the Millennium.
"They lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years" (Rev.20:4, NKJV).
But what is perhaps the most interesting to us in our discussion about Universal Graded Salvation is why Yahweh would use "many" instead of 'all' if the passage was not talking about aeonian time but what follows in eternity. This means that the Millennium cannot be the final judgment as to chayim (life) or shame but a preliminary one to decide who shall inherit the Millennium and who shall not. The Millennium is not Eternity - it is a foretaste of it. If it were, Satan would not be allowed to run amock one last time in a final test of humanity's faithfulness of lack thereof. If there is a rebellion at the end, with masses falling away, with the true Jerusalem being besieged by millions of demonised humans (not today's Edomite-controlled Jerusalem, which is Hagar - Gal.4:25), then clearly there has to be a final judgment to decide who is to both inherit chayim (life) for the first time (of the mortals), those who are to continue in chayim, and those at the end of the millennial earth who are to inherit shame and join those already sent to hell at the beginning of the Millennium. Thus the Final Judgment inaugurates the final aeon of aeons' - the one that actually lasts forever - at the end of the Millennium, the one which commences with the heavens and earth melting in fervent heat (2 Pet.3:10-12) prior to the full glory of Yahweh envelloping the planet, recreating the Garden of Eden on a planet-wide basis with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, along with the tempting Serpent, forever banished.
I also wanted to add a thought for those who believe that the inhabitants of hell will be annihilated at some point - totally cease to exist, a doctrine adhered to by the Jehovah's Witnesses, incidentally, who believe that Adam (amongst others) is scheduled for final termination for what he did in Eden. I also have a new thought for those who believe these souls will burn forever in eternal torment.
I am sure that all will agree that there is no glory attending anyone who is in Hell. How can there be, when it is a place of shame and contempt? Like the steward who was given one talent to multiply, did nothing, and had his talent removed, so those in hell have zero rewards, for they earned none. If these souls are in hell forever, then who are those of whom Paul speaks who have a glory like the stars shining in the background of the firmament? These souls have glory, however dim. Who, then, are they? If the First Resurrection is for the souls who trust Messiah and obey Torah (the glory of the sun), and if the Second Resurrection is for the souls who accepted Messiah but disobeyed the mitzvot (commandments) (the glory of the moon), then who are those who inherit a twilight glory like the brilliance of far distant stars? What categories of man are left?
There is only one: those who rejected Messiah and the mitzvot (commandments). And if those who are in Hell are at some point annihilated, then there should be no third glory at all, should there? Such a glory, even if in the unlikely event that it came into being for a while (which makes no sense since those in hell have no glory at all), should disappear with the exterminated inhabitants of hell. Therefore we are left with only one possible conclusion: those who inhabit that twilight stellar glory are those who are released from hell at the announcement of the the Cosmic Jubilee, and what little glory they do have (and it won't be much in comparison with the others) will be because of Yahweh's unmerited favour, His undeserved loving kindness, His grace. For just as a master who releases his slave after his indentured service is over is obliged to send him away with provisions so that he can survive and start a new life, so Yahweh, whose lev (heart) insisted on this Torah practice, must do the same thing in behalf of those being released from their sentence in hell...because that is the way He is. And that, incidentally, is the way we are supposed to be too.
Let us conclude today with the last part of the quotation we have been studying in Daniel, remembering that the symbolic use of stars in this verse is a little different from that used by Paul in his three degrees illustration of the three resurrections:
So there is a reason to continue preaching, witnessing and evangelising, to turn those who are in darkness away from their lack of emunah (faith) and from their disobedience to Torah so that they will not have to spend an entire aeon waiting in a disembodied state in the spirit world (if they believed and were disobedient) to inherit an inferior glory, or for yet another aeon after the Millennium until they are set free from their torment from hell to receive virtually no glory at all. And does it matter?
"Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever" (Dan.12:3, NKJV).
Yes it does - as the glory of the sun differs from the glory of the stars, it matters - as living in the presence of Messiah differs from not living with Him, in a twilight zone, it matters. It matters very, very much. It matters because we want no one to be tormented by their folly and it matters because we don't want them to spend eternity eating crumbs of light when they could be feasting with the Lamb of Elohim (God) in the fullness of simcha (joy) in the blazing Light of the Father.
And yet Yahweh must surely have know this was going to happen, which is why He set sun, moon and stars in the heavens as a mute testimony that this would be the way things are going to be in eternity too.
Finally, what is the difference in our evangelical approach between the two doctrines of salvation? I suggest it is huge for by presenting the true reality of eternity we no longer have to terrorise people into heaven (which in my opinion never leads to a full and true conversion) but bring them in by ahavah (love) alone. This does not mean we should cease teaching the fear of Yahweh, or that we should stop warning them of the consequences of sin, for we absolutely must. Their consequences are dire. But at least we now know that Yahweh is not a sado-masochist - it is Satan who is into BDSM and who is at home in a place of eternally tormenting others, it is the Jewish Talmud that takes glee in the thought of Yah'shua/Jesus boiling in a sea of semen forever - but it is Yahweh-Elohim alone who is the perfect combination of Grace and Justice, the character we are destined to inherit as we walk in all emet (truth) and righteousness.
And that is why when I prepared the first part of this series I had so much simcha (joy) in me and wanted to shout it out to the world. That's wht I am doing now. The other 'gospel' would have required me to kill a part of my lev (heart) and so destroy something tender and most desirable - a part I believe is from Yahweh and a part I have no intention of ever surrendering to the Enemy of my soul.
So this is my testimony as it is today. I have no doubt there will be a lot more to say and some refining to do. May all the glory be Yahweh's.
Comments from Readers
"Just read you writing about UGS (Universal Graded Salvation)...I agree (of course). I thought about Matthew 5:17-19 and how it confirms that doctrine, where Yah'shua (Jesus) says that lawless ones are the least in the kingdom of Heaven, and the Torah-obedient [are] called great" (SW, Germany, 3 October 2011).
A very good reference. Also it is important to point out that the Kingdom of Heaven is two-tiered and that those 'ex-cons' from hell do not belong to the Kingdom but are outside it because they are not in the 'Temple' proper but in the courtyard. Though they are saved from hell they are not saved in the Kingdom but are its servants. That distinction is important to make (Lev-Tsiyon, 3 October 2011).
Continued in Part 4