God is aware of our sufferings, and even when sparrows fall dead to the ground
God has never promised us that we will never ever suffer nor die. Sometimes we might think that God is not aware of our sufferings, but the Bible says that not even a sparrow will fall to the ground without the Father knowing about it. He even knows the amount of hairs on our heads.
Matt. 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
In Luke it is phrased ”not one of them is forgotten by God”:
Luke 12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
The price for the above mentioned sparrows was very low (birds were the cheapest animals that you could offer) and sparrows are rather insignificant animals which can often be found in large quantities. Still, God takes interest in the life of each little sparrow because they too are animals and part of God’s creation. Our journeys on earth are sometimes filled with misery and agony, but thankfully we will not have to live in this world for ever. We have something greater to look forward in the life to come, and God’s kingdom will last for ever. When we start to live in the new Jerusalem we will not complain that our struggles on earth was not worth it, because in the new kingdom there will be total bliss, with no tears or sorrow.
Rev. 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Matt. 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
From the beginning animals were not supposed to be for consumption – those animals that were considered nephesh cayah, i. e. living animals as in animals with blood and that can breathe. This was before Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out from the garden of Eden and away from the life-bringing Tree of life. Ever since this incidence, death has ruled over both man and animals, and this is a consequence of sin and the need to get our life spans shortened and ended so that we will not have to live eternally in a cold and hard world affected by much sufferings. The wages of sin is death, and death is considered an enemy that must be conquered (1 Cor. 15:26). Until then, death is something inevitable and even essential in this world (after sin made its entrance) and can be seen as a gracious gift from God to limit our pain. He has something better in store for us which will be ever-lasting.
It was not until after the flood that God gave the permission to eat meat. (It is quite possible that some people ate meat before then, but in that case it was against God’s will and permission.)
Gen. 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
Gen. 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
In the teachings of the sparrows we are told that we are even more valuable than they are, and God even knows the number of hairs on our heads. It is natural to fear for our lives if the enemy wants to harm us, but our general attitude should be to not fear people (at least not more than fearing God) because people can at the maximum only kill our bodies. The one we really should fear and respect above everyone else is our Creator because he has the power to do much more than that. In the final Judgement, our Creator has the power to throw people in Gehenna (those who reject him and who want nothing to do with him) which is far more serious than the fact that all human beings will one day die and decay. All that decays can be restored by the power of God, but not the body that is thrown in Gehenna.
The first person who died was killed by his own brother. God does not hinder people to disobey him and commit crimes in this world where man’s free will is a factor, but God sees everything and does not forget.
Gen. 4:10 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Jesus makes yet again a comparison with the birds below. Jesus speaks about faith, which results in security and expectations of what God can do for us. If we allow the troubles of this world overpower us and our spiritual lives, we will have a harder time having faith in that God hears our prayers and sees our needs. The promise is that we must first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all the rest shall be added to us.
Matt. 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Heb. 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
The peace that Jesus provides is different than the one the world provides:
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
The topic of suffering is hardly spoken of from the pulpit; maybe at a funeral perhaps, despite the fact that Jesus promised that we would have tribulation. Nobody including Christians want to suffer as we naturally want to avoid any kind of suffering. However that is not the attitude these believers in Hebrews 11 had as they voluntarily chose to suffer rather than to accept their release:
35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, [k]were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
This passage states that these believers chose to suffer torture not accepting their deliverance in order to obtain a “better resurrection.” That is not the mind set of the typical believer today (including myself). The pertinent question then is what is the better resurrection? And why did these people think that they had to suffer in order to obtain it?
More to follow if you’re interested.
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Right, the individuals listed in Hebrews appear to be more than willing to go through extra hardship and suffering, because they new they wouldn’t be suffering in vain. I don’t believe anyone would actually seek to suffer for no particular reason, but these people ended up in circumstances where they had to make certain choices. They didn’t fear the option that hurt the most and that is pretty amazing. We do know that “books” will be opened and “the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).
This topic deserves a blog article as well!
Like the sparrows of the earth, God not only notices when we suffer, but rewards us for our suffering through our trials and tribulation – whatever they may be. My premise is that our reward for suffering is the promise of eternal life/salvation. Note that Heb 11:39-40 states “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” This verse states that their actions were commendable but they did not yet receive what was promised until “together with us” they would be “made perfect.” I believe this verse refers to the first resurrection when Jesus comes back to the earth to gather his church at the Second Coming described in Jn 5:28-29; Acts 24:15. Contrary to popular Christian belief, BOTH the just and the unjust dead are resurrected when Jesus returns to face his judgment. I believe Paul refers to this same event which he looked forward to but he admitted that he had “not yet obtained it” in keeping with the Hebrew saints who had not yet received what was promised in Phil 3:10-12 (so that together with us, we will all be made perfect).
I believe Rev 20:12 refers to the second resurrection when only those who die during the Millennial Age are judged in Rev 21:5. The goal of every Christian should be to attain to the first resurrection when those who do so, rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years. The implication of this is that we have confused eternal life/salvation with living with God forever in heaven when it actually refers to ruling and co-reining with Jesus during the Millennial period. Our suffering may include potential beheading referenced in Rev 21:4. I realize what I’ve written is controversial but if it is true, then what we have been traditionally taught is in error.
Yes, it makes sense that the promised big goal still lies ahead of us and we aren’t there yet.
It’s hard to know the ordeal about suffering, because we also know that many animals are suffering and I would assume they aren’t either good or bad. But not all of them are suffering. I believe you have a dog as as well (a labrador)? Sometimes it’s really hard to take in the torture that some dogs have to endure in order to end up on a dinner plate in China (as an example). Other dogs end up in a loving family and perhaps even die at an old age rather instantly and without much pain. Will all animals end up in heaven (or only some), and will they live an equally blessed life regardless of their past on earth? At least we know that Death was not even planned by God from the beginning, and had sin (through Adam) never entered the world, no one would have died. God isn’t the bad guy, and he still did something about our predicament.
Our afterlife, in the form of paradise, Hades, the new Jerusalem or Gehenna, etc, still seems to be an open subject and it’s good to be open minded. Perhaps the majority of Christians still believe that death for all non-Christians will be eternal as in never ever ending, but as we know from our discussions, this is not so sure based on the Bible (and what we know from the book of Enoch). It’s a very deep topic.
I also wonder what will happen to all those women (and men like Paul) who have not had the benefit of having children here on earth. I believe the compensation will be great of course, but it’s hard to know in which way. It’s all in God’s hands, and we know that the reward will be great for each person who has placed God ahead of worldly things.