Monday, May 6 2013
Abraham's View of Heaven and Hell
"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be"
Hebron (see also Haran To Hebron) is located south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem (see also Bethlehem In History And Prophecy) on the main road to Beersheba. Although in a shallow valley, it's actually over 900 meters (about 3,000 feet) above sea level, and over 1,300 meters (about 4,300 feet) above the nearby Dead Sea. Abraham was given by the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see The Kingdom Of The LORD God) to make his home (his tent; see Camped Out In Canaan) in Hebron, a place where he would witness not only the natural geographic heights and depths of the area around Hebron, but also the prophetic heights and depths of heaven and hell.
"13:12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly [see Sodomites].
It was at Hebron that the LORD told righteous Abraham that all his descendants would become a great multitude of nations (see Abraham's Seed: From The Nile To The Euphrates), as numerous as the stars of heaven.
"15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
The children that the LORD spoke of were not only Abraham's physical descendants who would inherit the Kingdom of God; they would be anyone, anywhere, who chooses to be righteous, as Abraham was.
"3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Matthew 3:8-10 KJV)
Abraham himself understood that it was a prophecy of the future Kingdom of God on earth (see The Gospel of The Kingdom of God). In the meantime, he was "dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."
"11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Hebrews 11:8-10 KJV)
The "coming out of the world" was foreshadowed by the Exodus - that Abraham was given to know about centuries before it happened (see The Exodus Prophecy).
"15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 15:14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance." (Genesis 15:13-14 KJV)
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly"
It was also at Hebron that Abraham was visited by the LORD and two angels who were on their way to deal with Sodom.
"18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
While the LORD remained with Abraham, the two angels went to Sodom where they were attacked by the men of perversion there. The LORD then rained hell fire upon the city and its inhabitants.
"19:23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar [see Who Saved Zoar?]. 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." (Genesis 19:23-25 KJV)
The next morning, Abraham, from Hebron, witnessed the "hell" at Sodom: "the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."
"19:27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 19:28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt." (Genesis 19:27-29 KJV)
The destruction of Sodom was itself a prophecy of the hell to come for those who refuse to repent.
"2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2:8 For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds; 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." (2 Peter 2:4-9 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why did Lot's wife hesitate to leave Sodom?
This Day In History, May 6
636: (date approximate) The Battle of al-Qadisiyah; a military engagement in which Arab forces defeated the Sasanid Persian Empire (Persia is known today as Iran) and completed the conquest of Iraq.
1527: 40,000 mercenaries, hired by Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, sacked the city of Rome, destroying two-thirds of the houses. They killed clergy and laity alike, and forced Pope Clement VII to flee, disguised as a gardener (see also The Struggle For The Papacy).
1536: In further defiance to the Pope in Rome, King Henry VIII ordered English-language Bibles to be placed in every church in England.
1576: The Peace Treaty of Chastenoy ended "the Fifth War of Religion."
1626: The mythological incident in which a Dutch settler, Peter Minuit, "bought" what is today Manhattan Island from the "Indians" for a handful of trinkets. At most, the native Americans regarded the "purchase" as a simple gift from a visitor; they had no actual custom or legal practice of owning or selling land - they regarded the earth as owned by the Creator.
1682: King Louis XIV of France moved his court to Versailles.
1757: Frederick II of Prussia attacked Austrian troops defending Prague in the Seven Years War. The attack succeeded and Prague fell with 10,000 Austrian casualties.
1778: Connecticut-born U.S. soldier and frontiersman Ethan Allen was released after being captured in Montreal in 1775 (in which British forces of "New England" invaded the then France-held territory of Quebec i.e. "New France"). After his return, he did not serve in the Revolutionary War of the New England colonies, but devoted his time to local affairs in Vermont, working for separate statehood along with the existing thirteen former colonies. When that didn't happen, he attempted to negotiate the annexation of Vermont to Canada.
1840: The first adhesive postage stamps, the "Penny Black" and the "Twopenny Blue," went on sale in Britain.
1877: About 1,500 Sioux, led by Sitting Bull, entered Canada to settle at Wood Mountain, in present-day Saskatchewan. They fled north after the Battle of The Little Big Horn. The warrior Crazy Horse was the actual Sioux leader of the battle; he later surrendered to stop the retaliatory slaughter of entire Sioux villages, but was bayoneted to death "while trying to escape" Army custody. Instead of being allowed to live on a reservation, as officially agreed by both sides at the time of his surrender, Crazy Horse was taken by "the white devils" (as whites became known to the native Americans) to a common prison where he would have spent the rest of his life in a tiny concrete and steel cage.
1882: British statesman Lord Cavendish was murdered by Irish nationalists soon after arriving in Dublin as chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
1884: Judah Benjamin died. In 1852 he became the first professing Jew to be elected to the U.S. Senate, but during the U.S. Civil War he was took the side of the Confederates, serving as Attorney General. He fled the country after the war.
1889: The Eiffel Tower in Paris was completed.
1910: Edward VII, king of Great Britain and Ireland from January 1901, died.
1919: At the end of the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the Paris Peace Conference disposed of Germany's colonies; German East Africa was assigned as a League of nations mandate to Britain and France, while German South-West Africa was mandated to South Africa.
1937: The German airship Hindenburg burned at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 36 people lost their lives.
1942: During the Second World War, Coregidor fell to Japanese invasion forces.
1954: British runner Roger Bannister became the first officially-recorded human to run a mile in under four minutes, recording a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
1994: Queen Elizabeth and French president Francois Mitterrand officially opened the English Channel tunnel at Folkstone, England. The first fixed link between Britain and the European continent since the Ice Age.
1996: The apparently-drowned body of former CIA director William Colby was found on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he disappeared.
2001: During an official visit to Syria, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to enter a Muslim mosque (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).