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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Was Jesus' Promise to the Thief in Luke 23:43 Referring to an Earthly Paradise or a Heavenly One?

Christ’s promise to the thief in Lk 23:43 can only be speaking about a resurrection to an earthly paradise. Christ's use of the definite article: "You will be with me in THE paradise" indicates he was specifying a particular paradise well known to the Jews. And the major usage in the Jewish Scriptures and their lore is in reference to the EARTHLY paradise of Eden. The Jews did not have any idea of inheriting a paradise in heaven but they looked to a restored earthly paradise.

So the Jewish thief would only have understood this to be speaking of his resurrection to the future restored paradise on earth. He would only have known about the explicit promises of the righteous living on the earth “FOREVER” (Ps.37:9,10,29; 104:5; Ec.1:4).).

The fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham demands a fulfillment on “all the families of the ground” “all nations of the earth” (Gen.12:3; 22:18).

The OT prophets indicated that the resurrected ones would return to a new earth (Isa.24:1-6; 26:19; 65:17-25; 66:19-24; Hos 13:14).

Being familiar with Daniel's prophecy, Martha looked for her brother to be physically resurrected in the "last days" (Dan 12:1-2,4,13; Jn 5:28, 29; 11:23,24).

A resurrection to a paradise earth is demanded by the enunciation of God’s original purpose (Isa 55:10,11). God’s declared and unchangeable PURPOSE was for Adam’s offspring to “become many, fill the earth and cultivate it.” (Gen.1:28; 2:15). His purpose MUST come true.

Christ explicitly stated that God's will for the earth would certainly come about (Mt.6:9,10).

At Mt. 5:5 Christ adopted the words of Ps.37:10,11,29 to show that the earth would be humanity’s eternal inheritance as God originally decreed. It is God's stated purpose "to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth" (Eph.1:10).

In the Bible, only the 144,000 are clearly said to be "bought from among mankind”–taken from the earth and are the only humans ever seen in heaven (Heb.12:22-24; Rev.7:4; 14:1,4;21:10; 22:5). Daniel shows that these "holy ones" in heaven will rule “over the earth” and over "nations, people of all languages" which refers to “mankind” on earth (Dan 7:9,13,14,18,22,27; Rev. 5:9,10; 21:3,4).

The context of Rev. speaks of the resurrection and shows that "HUMANKIND" would live in the earth! (Re 20:11-21:4)

Revelation repeatedly states that "heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb.12:22) would figuratively "descend" and "come down out of heaven from God" to rule over “nations” and “the kings of the earth” (Re 3:12; 21:2,10,24-26; cf. 21:3-4).

So a future paradisaical earth is a teaching which is demanded by many Scriptures

It is also clear that Scriptures hold out two destinies for humans

In the Bible two groups are consistently differentiated in the Bible a small, numbered group and a large numberless group, both who believe in Christ and gain salvation.

According to Rev. 7:4 and 7:9-10 we see these two groups, only one of which are said to be taken from the earth (Rev.14:1-4; 5:9,10; 20:4-6; Heb 12:22-24).

Agreeing with this John chapter 10 mentions one "fold" of sheep (10:1ff) but then mentions "other sheep" not in the first "fold" (10:16) and they would both would be united as "one flock" following him (Christians).

Matthew the 25th chapter also details two separate Christian groups. One is called the "brothers of Christ," and the other group are others who showed kindness to his "brothers." Christ's brothers are definitely those called to heavenly life (Rm.8:28-30; Heb.2:10-12; 1Jn.3,2,3).

We also are told about a "first" resurrection of the "Kings and priests" and then "the rest of the dead gain life" (Rev.20:4- 6).

Further corroboration is found in God's stated purpose "to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth" (Eph.1:10). Also with God's "will being done on Earth as it is in heaven" (Mt.6:10), and God residing with MANKIND forever (Rev.21:3).

So we always have two Scriptural groups who gain salvation because of spiritually eating and drinking of Christ's sacrifice. But only one which has the destiny of being kings in heaven. The other clearly would be a great multitude of subjects who have the destiny of fulfilling God's stated purpose to live eternally on the earth.

SOURCE: This is an answer provided by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

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