Month 7:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year 5935:179 AM|
SHABBAT (SHUVAH) 7:1, Teshuvah 38/40
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 5 October 2011
Universal Graded Salvation
Shabbat Shuvah & the 30-60-100 Truth
Continued from Part 4
Shabbat Shuvah Shalom kol beit Yisrael - a blessed final sabbath before Yom Kippur in two day's time for all the House of Israel! I hope you will bear with me as I continue to wrestle with 'flu as I speak to you today.
"Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!...Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his lev (heart). This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with simcha (joy); yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt.13:3-9,18-23 NKJV).
We resume our study of the Universal Graded Salvation doctrine by looking at an interesting part of today's scripture on multiplication. Today we want to ask the question: Does how much fruit we produce also determine which of the three degrees of glory and resurrection we inherit? To remind you what Paul said, I quote from 1 Corinthians:
Most critics of a graded salvation choose to ignore this passage of scripture and focus instead on another one and assume that it is talking about the same thing. I speak of the parable of the Labourers:
"There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor.15:41-42, NKJV).
This parable does not have anything to do with eternal rewards or resurrection but about lev- or heart-attitudes and the reasons we serve Yahweh. Many commentators agree that the last verse of the previous chapter has been artifically detached from Chapter 20 by those who versified the Bible, remembering that the original Scriptures were not divided up into chapters and verses. The verse in question reads:
"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.' So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the labourers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' But he answered one of them and said, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen" (Matt.20:1-16, NKJV).
Indeed the two categories of workers are distinguished from each other because one is mistrusting - contracting to labour for a fixed wage - and the other completely trusts the landowner (Yahweh) to be fair at salary time. The first do not understand or want to know about grace - unmerited favour - at all, one of the twin hallmarks of Elohim (God). Indeed, Yahweh judges them as having an "evil eye", a Hebrew metaphor which David Stern renders: "Do you begrudge My generosity?" (CJB). They resemble, in this respect, the elder brother of the Prodigal Son who resented his father's generous treatment, revealing a dark and flawed side of his character that needed fixing. Indeed, the father told the elder son that he already had "all that I have" (Lk.15:31) so there was no cause or grounds for resentment. All this parable is saying is that salvation cannot be earned and it doesn't matter whether you come early or late in the day. This is not about resurrection or rewards for the faithful.
"Many who are first will be last, and the last first" (Matt.19:30, NKJV).
A critic of Universal Salvation has proposed that all three degrees - solar, lunar and stellar - belong alone to those who are saved - the last, therefore, is not (it is claimed) describing those who emerge from hell at the Cosmic Jubilee at all, the time when all prisoners are released. The Parable tells us that those whose levim (hearts) are right with Yahweh are the good ground in which the Word of Emet (Truth), as a metaphorical seed, flourishes and bears fruit:
Inasmuch as they do this "with patience" (this means they do not 'chop and change'), they must be stable, consistent and reliable. In the Parable we are told of three different harvests of these obviously saved people:
"The ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good lev (heart), keep it and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15, NKJV).
Thus, the argument runs, the 100-folders receive the First Resurrection, the 60-folders the Second Resurrection and the 30-folders the Third Resurrection...and all of them are saved, having been born-again while alive, but varying in their obedience. Unfortunately there are at least four problems with this thesis that I can see:
"He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt 13:23, NKJV).
Clearly this Parable is not talking about resurrections! The numbers are, moreover, precise: 100, 60 and 30, something that we as humans can measure, and might therefore be tempted to try to 'calculate' who is worthy of which resurrection, something I am sure you'll agree is folly and carnal. The numbers must, therefore, mean something else. Indeed, Yah'shua (Jesus) stressed that this was a mystery, and indeed He pauses half way through the parable to explain that he was speaking of hidden truths that the unsaved could - and should - never understand. They were to be discerned only by those with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
- 1. The Scriptures don't ever speak of a 'Third Resurrection', which you would expect if there are three categories of the saved - rather, we are told chronologically that the disobedient disciples and those bound for hell are resurrected at the same time, at the end of the Millennium;
- 2. If this is about resurrections, what are we to make of the Parable of the Talents (discussed the other day) which says the third steward produced nothing and was cast out? They both therefore can't be talking about the same thing;
- 3. If this Parable is describing resurrection based on fruitfulness, then is this not [the false doctrine of] salvation by works? and
- 4. Why in the third, stellar category, does every single individual have a different (albeit it feeble) glory? It's as though there is no oneness at all.
So what do the numbers 30, 60 and 100 refer to? In a nutshell, these are descriptives of the fruitfulness of believers at the three primary markers of spiritual growth that are to be found in the annual festivals of Messianic Israel, namely, Pesach (30x), Shavu'ot (60x) and Sukkot (100x) (see diagram at top of article). It means, quite simply, if you are born again and become an Evangelical Christian, you will be operating in the Thirtyfold Spirit of Multiplication; if you are a born-again Evangelical Christian and covenant to obey Torah you will be operating in the Sixtyfold Spirit of Multiplication; and if you persist in this, overcoming the flesh to a full deliverance, you will be operating in the Hundredfold Spirit of Multiplication. These are descriptives of your spiritual capacity and therefore productivity as you first surrender to Yah'shua (Jesus) as your Messiah and are born again, then covenant to obey all the mitzvot (commandments) and then complete the journey to become a complete, overcomer and perfect Hundredfolder in Messiah!
Why these particular numbers? That is a very interesting question. Let us start with 100 which defines itself as the tenfold of ten number of completion. It is the number of Sukkot, of those who are the spotless Bride of Messiah arrayed in white for they alone enter the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. These alone are those who dwell in the presence of Yahweh in the resurrection in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant and Yahweh's Throne resides. The rest are incomplete, and that incompleteness is identified by what they lack: the 60'ers lack 40 (60+40=100), and the 30'ers lack 70 (30+70=100)! By examining what they lack we will be able to identify them.
One thing is certain: that whilst the 30'ers and 60's are saved, they're not in Yahweh's presence - they are in the Holy Place of the Temple, not in the Holy of Holies. Then we have to ask the question: are both after the Lunar Glory or are the 30'ers after the Stellar glory? And how do we relate numbers concerning productivity to degrees of brilliance? One thing we must not forget is the vast differences between the luminosity of these objects. So we must first of all understand that different types of symbol are being used here. The numerical differences between 100, 60 and 30 (40 and 70) are not as important as what these numbers symbolise. And what do they symbolise scripturally? 70 symbolises the number of years of captivity in Babylon and 40 symbolises the number of years Israel needed purging in the wilderness of Sinai. What the 60'ers and and 30's lack, respectively, is therefore:
In other words, the 30'ers are those levim (hearts) which are born again but choose to remain in 'Egypt', the pagan lifestyle, where they are physical slaves to the system - just as the Judahites had done in remaining behind in Persia when Haman tried to exterminate them...that's the risk you take if your lev (heart) tries to have one foot in the world and one in the Besorah (Gospel) -- and the 70'ers are those levim (hearts) who, though covenanted to Torah-obedience, refuse to adhere to divine tavnith (pattern) and be refined by overcoming - they choose the desert rather than the land of Plenty because they rebell against Torah (worshipping idols - 'golden calves') and are scared off by the giants (nefilim) there.
- 70. Freedom from Captivity (the first three [spring] festivals were celebrated in EGYPT, and particularly Pesach (which embraces all three); and
- 40. Freedom from Bondage to the Flesh (he process of having the carnal nature burned out through a wilderness trek in SINAI, beginning at the first Shavu'ot).
These choices face all believers - new believers in Messiah and those who have decided to get out of the system but have rebelled and been scared off by the opposition whom they cannot possibly hope to defeat without a proper, full '100-Salvation' of perfect enumah (faith) and obedience. These (the 30'ers and 60'ers) are both lunar-glory people whose differences and instability are reflected the constantly changing phases of the moon - sometimes shining and sometimes dark, depending who they're facing at any one time. Half of self is permanently dark, like the moon, because it loves the world, and half of self is permanently shining because it loves Messiah. Only the sun has no dark side or phases at all. It's glory does not consist of double-minded people who are unstable in all their ways (Jaa.1:8).
Why can't the 30'ers be descriptive of those in hell? Because they are productive (30-fold) born again believetrs and the born-again don't share the same fate as those who rejected Messiah completely. The 30'ers are Pesach children who have applied the blood of atonement on the doorposts of their levim (hearts). They are productive in something for the Kingdom whereas the children of hell are productive of nothing. Even the 60'ers hanker for Egypt at times, murmuring and complaining, showing their 'lunar' fellowship with the 30'ers, whereas the 100'ers never look back - their eyes are on Messiah all the time and so they head for the Promised Land, the scare stories of giants told by ten or twelve faithless spies notwithstanding.
Therefore I firmly believe that those of the stellar resurrection glory do not figure in this parable, save those who were devoured by birds, burned themselves out for lack of lev-(heart-) depth, or those choked by thorns (notice the three parallel negative categories). It is possible for both the 30'ers and 60'ers to fall away, but not so the elect 100'ers - the 144,000 - who are not deceived (Mt.24:24; Mk.13:22). To see an account that includes the children of hell, we must go to the Parable of the Talents (Mt.25:14-30) where the final tally of talents reveals an interesting series of numbers: 11, 4 and 0:
|Parable of Talents »
|1st Resurrection (100'ers)
|2nd Resurrection (60/30'ers)
|3rd Resurrection (Hell)
Do these numbers have any symbolic significance? Provided we don't regard 11 as a number per se but as two separate numbers (the glory of the sun and the original glory of the stars), then I believe there definitely is. The children of the First Resurrection (the 100'ers) start with 5 talents (grace, favour) and multiply it to 10 (completeness of order); the children of the Second Resurrection (30'ers + 60'ers) start with 2 talents (symbolising the divisions caused in Sinai - that is, the rebellious 30'ers and 60'ers) and multiply it to 4 (representing the four points of the compass, the physical creation - that which is of the earth and the flesh); and the children of the Third Resurrection (Hell) start with 1 talent (simple beginning), fail to multiply it, and lose it to the children of the First Resurrection: 10 + 1 therefore represents both completeness and oneness (echad) - two kingdoms effectively in one.
Why are the 30'ers and 60'ers grouped together and placed in one resurrection category? Because the metaphorical climb to the peak which is Sukkot is a bit like climbing a slippery mountain. If you don't keep going, you slide down. All those who stop or stagnate in their journey start sliding back (backsliding or apostacising) towards Egypt with the risk of losing their salvation altogether if they consciously decide they don't want the mountain journey at all. Therefore those who stop moving forwards, whether they have got no further than Pesach or have gone as far as Shavu'ot, do eventually meet and combine forces...at Pesach. Then they face the terrible choice of whether they remove the blood from the doorposts of their levim (hearts) or not...whether they reject Messiah and their first and most important Salvation.
What is the relationship between the three grades or degrees? And is it strictly true to say that those coming out of hell are in a place that is 'outside' the Kingdom? That in part depends whether you define the Kingdom as a Unitary State or a Plural One, and since it is a Plural one, then clearly it is the most accurate to say that the former inhabitants of hell are in the lowest degree of the Kingdom of Messiah, having done nothing to earn their aquittal at the Cosmic Jubilee and doubtless having come to understand the emet (truth) of their state, once the lies have been stripped from them by the fire in that place - and coming to a knowledge of just who Yah'shua (Jesus) really is. All are saved by grace - undeserved loving kindness - but for those emerging from hell, there are zero works and therefore basically no rewards of any kind from their walk in mortality. They have totally failed the test devolving on all who are born into the world.
It has also been suggested to me, in defence of the opposite position, that those who are released at the end of the millennium are not only the demons but also the wicked in hell. It has been proposed that it is these souls, released back on the earth, resurrected unjust (Ac.24:15), and fully demonised, that will be attacking Yahweh's people. It's an interesting scenario but without any sort of scriptural support - all we're told is that Satan and his demonic host are released for a short season, with the obvious implication that they will test those who are alive on the earth, just as they have always done.
Finally, what does Paul mean when he says that "one star differs from another star in glory"? As one looks into the night sky it is immediately obvious that, due to their size, distance and composition, stars have different brilliances, luminosities or "glories". If those emerging from hell have no works of any kind to their credit, why are they not all of the same luminosity? I don't fully know the answer to that question yet though I have some speculative ideas based on the thought that we are what we are when we are born because of choices made in the premortal world. Or it could be that those who shine brigher committed less evil acts then those who are dimmer, though I doubt that. In other words, I believe they are left with the glory that they had when they were first born into this world, their works in mortality having counted for nothing. Or it might be that as they did not accept Yah'shua (Jesus) means they are in the outermost kingdom in the spectrum of Yahweh's Light, but this does not mean that their 'evil' is the same. Did not Yah'shua (Jesus) identify three categories of those who did not receive Him in the Parable of the Sower? It would not surprise me - because this bespeaks fairness - that there might different catgories even in the stellar resurrection. I'll explain why.
Once thing that I have noticed in the sayings of the Master Yah'shua (Jesus) is that He strictly upholds the Torah-teaching (which He authored, incidentally), that "the punishment should always fit the crime". In the Torah there are all kinds of different punishments for different transgressions, a graded system based on the seriousness of the crime. In other words, Torah contains a system of perfect Justice and Equity. And yet we are being asked by many Christians to believe a totally non-Torah notion that we are either saved or damned, with no graded system of justice - if you believed in Yah'shua (Jesus), no matter the degree of faithfullness, you go to heaven, and if you didn't - whether you were an atheist who kept to yourself and did no one any harm, or a mass murderer like Stalin - you go and burn forever in the same place. What was Yah'shua's (Jesus') view of punishment?
Yahweh's justice demands that we serve our sentence until we have "paid the very last mite". That is Yahweh's Justice. But there is also His Grace which grants us pardon if we will repent and accept the substitute payment for our sins made by the Messiah. That is the beauty of receiving Yah'shua (Jesus) while we are alive for there is no way we can enjoy the kind of benefits of His salvation after we have died. If we refuse His atoning blood, we must pay for our own sins to "the very last mite". So those in hell would be paying forever, like the eternal damners say, were it not for the Cosmic Jubilee - Yahweh's undeserved loving kindness toward His rebellious children - yes, even them. Those in hell will know they deserve what they get because they spurned so great an ahavah (love) and they will weep bitter tears at first but afterwards they will be satisfied with their pardon and the stellar glory that they receive. They will never know what the wonderful glories above them are like but they will know that Yahweh is both just and merciful. And Yahweh will be satisfied.
"Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you shall not depart from there (prison) till you have paid the very last mite" (Luke 12:57-59, NKJV).
As for the righteous malakim (angels) in the final scheme of things, my understanding is that they will be slightly less in glory than the faithful and obedient 100'ers of the First Resurrection, but much higher than the rebellious 30'ers and 60'ers of the Second Resurrection, since the malakim (angels) were faithful and obedient in all their tasks. As for the fallen malakim(angels) or demons, I have not yet arrived at a position yet. Truth told, I am far less concerned about them than I am about humans.
The eternal damners understand Yahweh's Justice but I think they totally miss His ahavah (love) and grace for those who are even less deserving than those of us who decided to trust and obey Him. If He expects us to forgive seventy times seven (Mt.18:21-22), do you not think this is a reflection of Yahweh's own lev (heart) as far as we are concerned too? And what is His lev (heart)?
Do you think that Yahweh's desires can ever be frustrated? If He desires all to come to the emet (truth) and all be saved, do you think there is anything in this Creation that will prevent Him from seeing this happen? For we must always understand both His Justice and His Ahavah (love). To let those who refuse to trust or obey off scott free or to inherit the same reward as the righteous would be an indictment of His Justice; to allow them to be tortured for ever or to be annhilated would be an indictment of His ahavah (love). And whether we care to admit it or not, when it comes to these two Cardinal Principles we as humans fail to exercise and execute them as Yahweh does - always. Only He has the right balance - we tend to be either too lax or too harsh in both directions. That is in part why we are commanded to have a default mode of forgiveness and to resist the tendency to judge over-harshly or over-weakly. Ultimately we have to let go and simply trust that Yahweh will see us, and all humanity, right - the good as well as the wicked.
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of Elohim (God) our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the emet (truth)" (1 Tim 2:3-4, NKJV).
Above all, what I want us to get from this series of discussions on Universal Graded Salvation, is a sense of Yahweh's total fairness without minimising the very, very serious and painful consequences that follow for those who reject them - consequences that are eternal. What a loss, even if you are not tormented eternally, to be living far, far away from the Throne of Elohim (God) as a servant (0'er) to the servants (30'ers and 60'ers) of the Firstborn (100'ers) with little in terms of the rewards you could have had. Moreover, there is no further increase for these souls because you cannot multiply zero. The children of the first and second resurrections, we must suppose, can continue to multiply what Yahweh gives them. I believe they do. I do not believe the resurrection is the 'end' of our activity for I believe we will be growing and learning and multiplying ahavah (love) in eternity, especially for the Firstborn who will be multiplying their 10's (or 11's) even as the children of the second resurrection will be multiplying their 4's. I have never accepted that the righteous 'will be playing harps in the clouds for eternity' myth which I think is just as warped and sterile as 'the wicked will be burning in hell for eternity' myth. Yahweh created us too much like Himself to be doing anything so banal.
These and many other reasons I have not had time to treat today (perhaps another time) are why I believe in Universal Graded Salvation - and I do stress the word 'Graded' - unconditional universal salvation I do not accept, a doctrine which I think is just as corrupt, na´ve and ultimately perverse as 'all in heaven' or 'all in hell' for eternity. We have to get the bigger picture of heaven and hell, beyond the na´ve infant (and potentially destructive) version we have been spoon-fed by Christendom. I still warn people about hell because it is just as real as it ever was but at the same time I am going to expound Yahweh's Love and Justice in such a way that people will be attracted by the Kingdom of Heaven rather than be terrorised into it. For as I have said, those who are terrorised, once they discover a lie, have a tendency to throw out the baby with the bathwater in understandable anger. Indeed I would go so far as to say that I think many atheists are made by this destructive eternal hellfire-amd-damnation doctrine. And I for one do not want to be the instrument of influencing someone into hell because of a false teaching.
May you be blessed as we complete our annual teshuvah or repentance in preparation for Yom Kippur in two days' time. Selah!
Continued in Part 6
 Noah Russel, 30-60-100-fold?
Comments from Readers
"When Yah'shua (Jesus) mentioned that "Many are called but few are chosen" (Mt.20:16; 22:14), was He referring to those individuals who will be part of the first resurrection (the Sun) or something else?" (SJ, USA, 5 October 2011).
I think that is a valid conclusion because had He been referring to the whole body of the saved, he would have used "all" and not "many". I conclude, with you, that the "many" are all those who actually choose salvation and the "few" are the 144,000 (Lev-Tsiyon, 6 October 2011).