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Waiting for the Ascension and Amos 4:11

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Question #1:  I was reading some of your writings and got to thinking about something.  When Jesus descended into 'hades', the land of the dead believers, after his crucifixion, where did all the believers -"go"- while Jesus came back to earth for the 40 days before his ascension (when he would've taken them up to heaven with him)?

Response #1:  As you have read (see especially “The Resurrection”; and “The Holy Place”), our Lord "led captivity captive" taking all departed believers into heaven with Him when He ascended to the third heaven (Eph.4:8; cf. Ps.68:18).   Before Jesus' sacrifice, the "bill" for sin had not been paid, and before His ascension, the heavenly "curtain" of partition (separating sinful man from holy God) had not yet been pierced.   

(19) Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence in this entrance of ours into the [heavenly] holy of holies by the blood of Jesus, (20) an entryway through the [heavenly] veil [of separation] which is new and alive and which He has consecrated for us, that is [through the sacrifice] of His flesh (cf. Heb.10:10; 10:18), (21) and since we have [this] great high priest over the household of God, let us approach [the throne of grace (cf. Heb.4:16) to pray] with a truthful heart in complete faith, (22) our hearts sprinkled [clean] of [any] bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water [of the Word (cf. Eph.5:26)].
Hebrews 10:19-22
 

Therefore all those in Abraham's bosom (i.e., the subterranean pre-cross “paradise”; cf. Lk.16:19-31) must have remained where they were until that day, just as we will stay where we are until our Lord returns and we rise in resurrection to meet Him (unless, of course, we are called home before that day of glory; cf. 1Thes.4:13-18; 1Cor.15:50-55).   Our Lord did not, however, leave those believers in suspense.  His proclamation of victory to the fallen angels in Tartarus (1Pet.3:19-20) was undoubtedly delivered from Abraham's bosom, for Jesus says to the penitent thief on the cross "today you shall be with Me in paradise" (and we know that the rich man could see both Abraham and Lazarus in paradise even though he was in his own compartment of Hades, namely "torments" - the same may well be true for the Abyss: Lk.16:19-31).  Therefore the departed believers of the past had three days of fellowship with the Lord, and, after He rose, the assurance of knowing that their release and transfer to the throne room of God was imminent, even though a delay of some 40 or so more days was necessary. 

Please see also "The Ascension and Session of Christ" and "The Transfer of Believers from the Subterranean Paradise to the Third Heaven" (in Basics 4A: Christology).

In Him in whom we shall on that day know even as we are known, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Bob L.

Question #2: 

In Amos 4:11, “I have overthrown some of you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah”, it sounds like God is speaking apart from himself?  Please explain.

Response #2:  

Even the better commentators have nothing convincing to say on this verse.  I notice, by the way, that you quote the KJV.  The NIV avoids the problem by changing “God” to “I” (a little lesson in the liberties that versions often take).  I suppose one could see this as a case of God speaking of Himself in the third person (the way that certain celebrities are wont to do), but you are right to find this as unusual - it's not the sort of thing we find the Lord doing that often.   

Another (better) way that one might choose to explain this (neither of which are to found in the major commentaries).  First, one could consider the word "God" here as a qualifying genitive, something the governing noun of a construct phrase in Hebrew (and that is the sort of phrase we have here) often exhibits.  This would result in the translation "like the divine destruction upon" or "destruction [ordained] by God upon" . . . . 

Even so, I would prefer to see this as another indication of the Trinity in the OT, with the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to Amos, and attributing the destruction of Sodom to the Father - not because the Father was the Agent rather than our Lord, but because the Father is the One from whom the plan of God comes in terms of ultimate authority (cf. “The Trinity in the Old Testament”). 

In Him who is the Arm of the Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ, 

Bob L.


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