The old man sat in dust and ashes, scraping the festering sores that covered his body from head to toe. He had never known such pain. He had lost almost everything — all his wealth, his livestock and, most painfully, all of his children died together in a catastrophic windstorm that destroyed the house they were gathered in. His wife spoke in her grief, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” He scolded her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”
Surely he would have imagined death to be preferable to his tragic circumstances. Yet, he was a man who had always trusted in the righteousness and justice of his creator. He learned in his life to acknowledge God in everything that happened. But he struggled within himself to reconcile the recent turn of events in his life with what he thought he knew and understood about the heart of God.
It is pretty universal that when a man faces a great crisis, or even the threat of his demise, he begins to consider the course of his life and his own mortality and what lies beyond…
Job wondered, “When a man dies will he live again?” He determined, “All the days of my struggle I will wait, until my change comes.” He knew instinctively that death itself was not final, but there would be a transition, a change, but that he would continue to exist. He considered the tree, though it is cut down and its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, yet at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. He understood in his heart that his Creator would raise man from the dead at the end of time to stand before Him, that there was hope for a second life. Job said, “You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands.”
Job lived thousands of years ago when men were much more in tune to the instinctive knowledge of God within them. This knowledge of good and evil and the consequences that each carry is also called the “conscience.”
We all have this intrinsic knowledge of righteousness and justice, yet we are bombarded from an early age with conflicting messages about what is good and what is evil. Some even say there is no evil, only good, and that God is in everything and will not hold us accountable for our actions, because “His love is unconditional.” Others will say that there is no creator, no spiritual realm, and that man is a highly evolved animal who simply ceases to exist when he dies.
All man-made religions and philosophies have one thing in common — their ultimate aim is to convince man that he is just fine living a self-centered life.
But there was one special man who had a different spirit and a different message. He not only called people to a radical new way of life, but He lived as example of true justice and a transcendent righteousness. For He loved like no one else before Him. He lived His whole life for the well-being of others.
His radical message: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” This was the way to life and peace, the way of healing and restoration, the hope of the world. For only in living for others, as He did, could we truly come together in a sustainable way.
It is selfishness that is destroying mankind, leaving us isolated and alienated, while lost in the crush of humanity all around us. In the society in which we live, we are forced to look out for ourselves and our own needs. It has become “the way of life” in this culture to live and think independently from others. That is why the Beatles sang, “All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
But Yahshua understood that living for yourself is actually the way of death. He said, “If anyone wishes to save his life, he will lose it. But whoever loses His life for My sake and the sake of the good news, will find it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul?”
So death comes, as He said in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor beggar. For the rich man, death was a place of torment. For the good-hearted beggar there was comfort. Like Job, they would be raised from the dead and give an account for the life they had been given, the choices they made along the way, the consequences of those choices, and even the motives of their hearts.
Yahshua said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
Yes, the dead will rise again and be judged according to their deeds, not their religion or their vain notions of their own goodness. The truth about a man’s human worth is evident in his deeds, whether good or evil, whether selfless or selfish.
But in the confusion of these days, where good is called evil and evil is called good, and man has strayed so far from the foundations that once provided solid footing for a righteous life, there is hardly any support or motivation to live according to the instinctive knowledge of God man was born with. Mankind is not only living recklessly in this age, but as they abandon all human worth, they are setting themselves on a course for eternal destruction.
Yahshua came to understand that His whole purpose in life, and ultimately His suffering in death, would be to provide a way of escape from death. For His Father, our Creator, desired to show mercy to those who had a heart to turn from their deep hurtful ways. As the only sinless man who ever lived, Yahshua took the righteous wrath of God against our sin, then rose from the dead in victory. Now in following Him, we can also overcome our sin and have our human worth restored to us. In Yahshua, we can overcome the deep selfishness that works in all of us. He can deliver us from the temptations of the evil one, which delivers us ultimately from death.
This is what Yahshua was referring to when He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.” This was a call to rise from your dead “life” in this world of living for yourself, and to follow Him in living the rest of your life for the will of God, which is to live completely for others.
Yahshua’s message has been reduced by the churches of Christianity to be a call to say a little prayer asking Him into your heart so you can go to Heaven when you die. But this is a perversion of the Man and His message. The True One can’t be found in Christianity, which is a dead, self-centered religion, bearing no resemblance to the over-flowing, self-sacrificing love that was in Yahshua.
Yahshua can be found in a people who are no longer living for themselves, where all who believe live together and share all things in common, just as His early followers lived in Jerusalem. Once again there is true salvation on the earth, but it costs everything to obtain. For to belong to Yahshua is to make Him your only possession, which means forsaking everything else that would possess you.
Come and see the life we have in Yahshua, that we are so grateful to be able to share with you. It may be what you have been longing for, as it was for us…