Friday, November 4, 2016

Water and Living Water

"Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'" - John 4:10
Living Water, the Woman at the Well"
by Judith Fritchman
Water is universal. Life is not possible without water. We know what it feels like to be thirsty - and to have our thirst quenched by a clean, cool glass of water.  What a powerful way for Jesus to teach us about spiritual truths. He takes something we know so well - life-giving water - and applies it masterfully to give us understanding and insight into the mysteries of eternal life and God's Spirit.

Isn't it so clever and considerate of the Lord to use familiar life realities to illustrate spiritual realities to us? As I've thought about these illustrations, it seems even more likely that these earthly creations were designed specifically to teach us about Him and our eternal life to come. After all, Jesus spoke in parables for a reason.

For example, the Father-Son relationship - definitely tailor-made to help us grasp our Heavenly Father's heart (Heb. 12:7-9). He gave us marriage - the most intimate union - to paint a picture of Jesus' love for the Church (Eph. 5:25-27). There is the shepherd with his sheep (John 10:11-16); food itself (bread, manna) (John 6:51); the birth of a baby (John 3-7):; the death and growth of a seed (John 12:24); the gold, silver and precious stones of the earth (1 Cor. 3:12-13); and one of the most poignant… the Passover lamb (John 1:36, 1 Cor. 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19)… the physical illustrations from life go on and on - all pointing us to God, His Son and the spiritual realities of God's Kingdom.

How wonderful.

There are earthly things that reflect eternal things. There are things now that foreshadow things to come. The tabernacle was patterned after the one in heaven (Heb. 8:4-5). Jerusalem will be replaced by the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2). There will be new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13).

So, let me spin this thing around and relate it to our topic at hand: final punishment. Let's take a look at two illustrations that give us insight into Judgment and the fate of the wicked: 1) earthly judgments by God and 2) physical death

In the same way that the images above demonstrate spiritual truth, please consider these sobering examples and shadows of things to come.

Judgments by God are examples of the wrath to come

The Passover

The Passover Lamb was mentioned above, but what about the Passover event itself? The Lord passed judgment on Egypt: "For I will go through the land of Egypt…and will strike down all the firstborn…and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD." (Exodus 12:12, 1 Cor. 5:7)

For Christians, this event is packed with symbolic meaning as Jesus, the ultimate sacrificial lamb, was killed - His blood our covering and protection from Death.  ‘The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13) Those who were 'covered' by the blood were saved from the judgment of death.

The flood

Genesis 6 describes the awful scene of wickedness and evil that was on the earth. God's judgment brought destruction: "The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart…Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.'"

In the same way, God's final judgment will also be a complete destruction. Just as those who survived the flood were preserved on the arc, those who survive Judgment Day will be found in Jesus (1 Pet. 3:20-21, 2 Pet. 2:5). The New Testament makes it very clear that the flood is a picture of future judgment - and that judgement is destruction (not everlasting torment as Traditionalists teach):

“…by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (See 2 Peter 3) 

“And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:27)

Sodom and Gomorrah

The famous destruction of Sodom and the surrounding cities is mentioned throughout Scripture. Images from that historical event are used to illustrate spiritual truths. Lot's wife and smoke rising are two examples. The majority of references to that horrific event point to a future judgment of the ungodly, that being destruction, not lingering torture:

"… in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them allIt will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”  (Luke 17:26-30) 

“...the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe... just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, ... are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." (See Jude) 

“He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter.”  2 Peter 2:6


Physical death (the first death) is an earthly illustration of eternal death (the second death).

This is really the point that I wanted to make from this whole study. I have turned it over and over in my mind. God has given us all these earthly representations of spiritual realities. The temporal reality corresponds to the spiritual one. The examples are endless!  Eyesight/spiritual vision; earthly riches/spiritual riches; earthly anchors/Jesus our anchor; heirs and heritage/spiritual heritage; the wind and fire/the Holy Spirit; physical refiner's pot/God's refining fire; etc, etc!

So, death. Why should death, which is as universal and revered as any earthly reality, be any different? There is physical life, there is eternal life. There is physical birth, there is a spiritual birth. There is physical death, and then there is eternal conscious torment… …. hmmm. Doesn't really correspond, does it? 

Have you wondered why the lake of fire is called the second death"…This is the second death, the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:14)  "….the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8)

You may ask, "what about Revelation 20:10?" That is a valid and relevant question and I will dedicate a post to that verse alone. But for now ask yourself - should an entire doctrine have for its cornerstone one verse from an allegory? The beast, the brimstone, the smoke, the lake… these symbols all represent a truth. The book of Revelation is given to us for a purpose, not to completely dumbfound us, but to illustrate realities that exist and are to come. 

I will also focus a post on Revelation 20:14, which was the beginning of my study on final punishment. I read that verse over and over and wondered, "what does it mean?". Well, the Bible answers that question very clearly. Basically, we see that physical death is temporary (1 Cor. 15:26, Rev. 20:14) the second death is permanent (eternal, forever, never to be reversed).

For this study, as we consider the ways God reveals truth, we are able to see clearly that there is a day of Judgment coming. That judgment will result in salvation or condemnation. The condemnation results in destruction in the lake of fire, the second death.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Rom. 6:23)

Oh, the shame of the punishment of death! May we instead all come and drink freely from the Living Water! As I drink my clean glass of water this morning, I will ponder all the ways God teaches us from His word and His creation.

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I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!