Is it really appointed unto a man once to die and then the judgment? Let me ask you a question. How many times did Lazarus die? Unless you believe he is physically alive today then you know that Lazarus died and was raised from the dead, but then some years later he died a natural death again. He died twice. Plus, what about all those thousands of people in our day who were clinically dead for some time and then came back?
So maybe, just maybe this verse has been used out of context. Maybe we should be willing to revisit our assumptions. Maybe our idea of a future judgment isn't even in the Bible either! So let's re-read the passage:
Hebrews 9:24 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God FOR US; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now ONCE at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die ONCE and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ ALSO, having been offered ONCE to bear the sins of many, will APPEAR a SECOND time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
What a life-giving passage when understood in it's historical and biblical context. Remember, Hebrews is written to Jews before the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The author is warning the believers not to return to the Law system because it was going to be destroyed at his "coming" that coincided with it.
Do We die Once, Twice, Three Times?
First of all let's address this idea that this is speaking about all people. This is not a simple question actually because on the one hand the word 444 ánthrōpos – man, also the generic term for "mankind"; the human race; people, including women and men (Mt 4:19, 12:12, etc.). Relates to both genders (male and female) as both are created in the image of God – each equally vested with individual personhood and destiny (cf. Gal 3:28).
But this word is plural (men) and sometimes it just refers to a few men in front of them not all mankind. When Jesus calmed the wind and waves in front of the disciples, the word men means them in particular not everyone:
Matthew 8:27 N-NMP
GRK: Οἱ δὲ ἄνθρωποι ἐθαύμασαν λέγοντες
NAS: The men were amazed, and said,
KJV: But the men marvelled, saying,
INT: and [the] men marveled saying
So there is some ambiguity here but I think the answer is found in the representative nature of Jesus as the High Priest here in the passage. That is the context... a once for all mankind sacrifice.
So it is appointed for a man to die once. Ok, but Lazarus died more than once. All those raised from the dead died more than once. So he cannot be talking about a strictly physical death. This must be referring to Christ's representative death for all mankind.
2 Cor. 5:14, "Christ died for all, therefore all died with him."
Romans 5:18, "So, then, as through one offence to all men [it is] to condemnation, so also through one declaration of `Righteous' [it is] to all men to justification of life;19 for as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted righteous."
Eph. 2: "2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins...4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)"
Because Jesus is the Son of Man (same Greek word, anthropos), he represented all mankind in himself. So his death was the death of all. His being made alive, meant all were made alive (born again) with him. It was all grace. You had no role in it whatsoever. So the death spoken of that collectively all mankind was appointed to is the one Jesus died for all already. You can never spiritually die!
[Food for thought... there is another view that the men who were appointed to die once were the priests and Jesus is the one who ever lives to make intercession as the Great High Priest.]
Let's Judge the Timing of the Judgment Shall We?
In the very next chapter the author quotes from the book of Deuteronomy/Law and speaks of this judgment as something near to them:
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of JUDGMENT and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
First I want you to see that this "judgment" wasn't about sin, but about going back under the Law system at that time. Then notice what he says about this coming/judgment... 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. 37 For yet in a VERY LITTLE WHILE, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
So when in chapter nine he says Christ was coming again regarding judgment it is clear that this judgment was something that had to do with those who were staying under the Law, ie Jews (and/or those Gentiles who converted to Judaism then to Christ), as well as coming soon. This can be no other generation or scenario except AD 70.
Peter speaking of the end of the old covenant age (AD 70) said, "they will give an account to Him who is READY to judge the living and the dead...But the end of ALL THINGS is at hand...For the TIME has come for THE judgment to begin at the house of God..." (2 Peter 4:5,7,17). The judgment was AT HAND where God was READY and the time HAD COME.
Notice what Paul teaches: Romans 14:10-12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” But in the previous chapter, Romans 13, he tells us when that judgment was going to take place “It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.” (Romans 13: 11-12)
Jesus said, "For the son of man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels and reward each man according to his deeds. Assuredly I say to you there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom" (Mt 16:27-28).
Romans bears out the timing of the judgment too as he quotes Jesus... Romans 2:5, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds." That is an exact quote from Jesus (vs 6) and Jesus tells those disciples that this judgment was coming in their lifetime.
Put On Your Happy Pants: There Is No Future Judgment!
Here is where you will put on your happy pants or get your panties out of a wad (your choice ;)). Notice too in Hebrews that Christ appearing (spiritually) was to be a "second time" to bring salvation. This has to be one of the most misused word in all the scriptures, especially by Evangelicals! You will never find the word "saved" and "going to heaven" together in the NT. There is no passage that says "believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven." To save is to deliver. What did the believing Jews get delivered from in AD 70?
Well, what was the problem in the book of Hebrews? They were being persecuted and threatened if they did not come back to Judaism! We find the persecution in the NT was primarily from their brothers the Jews. Acts 17:Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the JEWS...5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the EVIL MEN from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
Again Paul in 1 Thessalonians said, 2:14, "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men..."
They were going to be saved at his coming from the persecution they were enduring from their apostate Jews because at that time the Jewish system would be judged once for all.
So what was THE judgment?
1. It was the Self Inflicted Judgment of the Apostate Jews.
Therefore, Rome, though postured as "God's judgment" was nothing more than the effect of the Jews rebellion prophesied by Jesus. In other words it was temporal not eternal and God wasn't the author of anyone's death. Instead Jesus and the apostles pled with them to flee Jerusalem when they saw the Romans coming (Mat 24; Luke 21).
Jesus came to save HIS PEOPLE from their sin(s) (plural actions, not just the sin which is a noun in the NT). He came to turn them back from the AD 70 event... but many of them would not listen and killed him instead. His forgiveness of them did not stop the fruit of their actions from taking place. Instead he gave them wisdom... trust me and flee Jerusalem when you see the Romans!
The word for judgment can mean separation. When the believers saw the Romans approach Jerusalem, they fled the city just as Jesus said. The ones left behind were the unbelieving, apostate Jews. This was the separation... of the sheep and the goats and the wheat and the tares. That is a form of judgment. They separated themselves from each other.
2. THERE IS NO ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE BUT IT WAS THE JUDGMENT OF THE LIVING AND THE DEAD.
So Peter said the judgment included the dead. Yes. So what was the judgment of the dead? Jesus preached the gospel to everyone in Hades and raised them all up into the presence of the Father. What did this coming have to do with?
He said in Hebrews 9 that it would be without regard to sin. Sin wasn't being judged by God. In the eternal, spiritual, relationship with God perspective he already put away sin at the cross and doesn't relate to humanity regarding sin.
"They will give an account to Him who is READY to judge the living and the dead. For this reason THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED also to THOSE WHO ARE DEAD, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, BUT LIVE according to God in the spirit. For the end of all things is at hand." (1 Peter 4:5-7).
That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead--SO ALTHOUGH THEY WERE DESTINED TO DIE LIKE ALL PEOPLE, they NOW LIVE FOREVER with God in the Spirit. (1 Peter 4:6, NLT)
In other words, he judged humanity "right" with himself and made all who were dead in Hades alive and brought them into the presence of the Father in a literal way (instead of just representing them before the Father).
There is no future judgment coming for you. There is only the expectation that you will see him face to face. What about those who don't believe? They will believe and bow their knee willingly as they are overwhelmed with his love in that face to face moment!
This Greek word "coming", parousia, simply means presence, ie, he at that point (AD70 with the fall of the Jewish Temple system) would only relate through "presence" directly to all mankind. In other words, his presence was an end to institutional religion from his perspective.
Today we live in Revelation 21:3, Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT), "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying “Behold— the dwelling of God is with MANKIND. And He will dwell with them. And they themselves will be His peoples. And God Himself with them will be their God."
For Heaven's Sake? What REALLY Happens At Death?
n this online seminar, I want to take you on a journey to answer one of the most universal questions: what happens to YOU after YOU die?
For most of us, we were taught some metaphorical images of heaven (Peter standing at the gates, streets of gold, New Jerusalem, etc) without understanding the more important answers:
- Where is heaven?
- What is heaven?
- Who is in heaven?
- Who REALLY gets to go to heaven?
- Is it limited to believers in our particular denomination?
- Do Hindu's or Buddhist's go there?
- Or will everyone get to participate in it?
In this seminar I want to explore another way of approaching this topic, while still maintaining a Christ-centered world-view.
Where is Hitler? What happened to your grandmother you so dearly loved? What REALLY happens to YOU after death?
The scandalous grace of God will give you the ability to see through various doctrinal perspectives without being critical of them. It will be theologically challenging and intellectually stimulating.
Audio #1- For Heaven's Sake? What Really Happens At Death.
Audio #2- What About Hell and the Judgment?
Bonus Audio: Interpreting the Images: Wipe Away My Tears and The New Heavens!
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