7 Aug 2019

Adult Sunday School - Part 23 - Paradise

The Eight destinations  after death – Part 3 – Paradise - by P.K. Odendaal – August 2019
We are continuing our excursion into places we might go to after death and next it is Paradise’s turn, a name we associate with bliss.
The central theme of the whole Bible is Paradise Lost in Genesis and Paradise regained in Revelation, but what a long and treacherous route that is. Some of us lose our way there and end up in other destinations which I write about in other parts of this series.
That is such a sorry state of affairs, but fully understandable due to the fact that the way leading there it is so narrow and beset with crooks and diverse temptations, most of all by our own choice and making. We are literally the masters of our fate and it should not be difficult to recognize the evil which meet us on our way to Paradise.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
We start off with Paradise and with Adam and Eve where they lived in bliss and peace and without sin having dominion over it. Can you think – having a life long lease over the whole planet! Happy were they when God visited them at dusk in the evening wind as their guest on this planet to converse and hold communion with them. Paradise indeed!
However, there were terms and conditions attached to it: they had to dress it and keep it and was forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was not in the middle of the garden for then you will die (spiritually).
And so it was not too long afterwards that, when they minded their own business and forgot to guard the entrance to Paradise, when some evil fairy entered the garden by jumping over the fence.
The above paragraph is not biblical language and this is for sure not a fairy tale, but it is nearer to our own understanding of how things go.
Death set in and we later find those who died in another sort of abode – a place I described in part 1 which is called The Grave – and there they had to wait for redemption.
Redemption came at great cost on a hill called Calvary as we find three persons hanging on crosses for dear life and painful death – and more terribly, the two crucified next to Him ‘cast the same in His teeth’. The latter is mankind at its hypocritical best – making a laughing stock of people superior to them.
But …
Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends Unexpectedly (from Beauty and the Beast)
And he says: Lord, remember me when thy comest into thy kingdom.
Jesus Christ answers: To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
What a lesson for us!
Our attention now turns to The Grave where people are waiting for this day for millennia and we find that written in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus:
AND while Satan and the prince of hell were discoursing thus to each other, on a
sudden there was a voice as of thunder and the rushing of winds, saying, Lift up your gates, O ye princes; and be ye lift up, O everlasting gates, and the King of Glory shall come in.
When the prince of hell heard this, he said to Satan, Depart from me, and begone out of my habitations; if thou art a powerful warrior, fight with the King of Glory. But what hast thou to do with him? And he cast him forth from his habitations.
And the prince said to his impious officers, Shut the brass gates of cruelty, and make them fast with iron bars, and fight courageously, lest we be taken captives.
But when all the company of the saints heard this they spake with a loud voice of anger to the prince of hell:
Open thy gates that the King of Glory may come in.
And the divine prophet David, cried out saying, Did not I when on earth truly
prophesy and say, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.
For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder. He hath taken them because of their iniquity, and because of their unrighteousness they are afflicted.
After this another prophet, namely, holy Isaiah, spake in like manner to all the saints, did not I rightly prophesy to you when I was alive on earth?
The dead men shall live, and they shall rise again who are in their graves, and they shall rejoice who are in earth; for the dew which is from the Lord shall bring deliverance to them.
And I said in another place, O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?
When all the saints heard these things spoken by Isaiah, they said to the prince of hell, Open now thy gates, and take away thine iron bars; for thou wilt now be bound, and have no power.
Then there was a great voice, as of the sound of thunder saying, Lift up your gates, O princes; and be ye lifted up, ye gates of hell, and the King of Glory will enter in.
The prince of hell perceiving the same voice repeated, cried out as though he had been ignorant, Who is that King of Glory?
David replied to the prince of hell, and said, I understand the words of that voice, because I spake them by his spirit. And now, as I have above said, I say unto thee, the Lord strong and powerful, the Lord mighty in battle: he is the King of Glory, and he is the Lord in heaven and in earth;
He hath looked down to hear the groans of the prisoners, and to set loose those that are appointed to death.   
We find this corroborated in:
Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 
Mat 27:52  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 
But … it is not so easy to imagine Paradise, as it has two sections called The Bosom of Abraham and the other Hell as we can learn from this scripture:
Luk 16:22  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. 

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