Listen to this blog post.
This afternoon I’d like to do a study on the Old Testament saints that were contained in Paradise. Last Sunday, I drew some parallels between the atmosphere they maintained while waiting for Christ the Deliverer and the Bride today who is waiting on Her hour of deliverance (1 Thess. 4:16). Today, I’d like to dig deeper into what exactly happened in Paradise and what the Bible tells us is waiting for us right around the corner.
Reason to rejoice
First, let me start by saying that we, the universal Bride of Christ, have every reason to be excited about what’s going on in the world. Every sign, every prophecy shows us that the Coming of the Lord is at hand–and that everything the saints have cried out for throughout the millennia is about to be realized. Be excited! Rejoice and don’t let the negativity of this world sap your enthusiasm for the one that’s about to shatter the gloom.
Prior to Christ’s death on the cross, those who died in faith (Heb. 11) could not enter the presence of God. Because the blood of a perfect lamb had not been shed upon the earth to redeem them, they still suffered some of the effects of the curse and had to remain outside the direct presence of God. They did not deserve to go to hell because they couldn’t help that they came to earth before the Messiah was born and they all died in faith. So God sent them instead to Paradise which, according to Christ’s parable of the unjust ruler, was separated from Hell by a great divide (Luke 16:23-26).
So, whereas Abel, for example, died believing in the coming of the Lamb of God, he still could not enter the presence of God until that Lamb came to earth and paid the ultimate price for his sin. We see right away how seriously God takes sin and how grateful we should be for the perfect Atonement that has been offered for us through Jesus Christ.
Now, because this atonement hadn’t been offered, those who died still wore the form/body that they held when they died. A classic example of this is Samuel. The witch of Endor pulled up his spirit from Paradise (1 Samuel 28). When Samuel’s spirit stood before Saul it looked just like it did when he was on Earth. Samuel was an old man and he still had the robe that was associated with him in this life. That physical robe may have been rotting away in a grave but it also existed with Samuel in Paradise. It goes to show that our actions, our clothing, and our very words live on after we leave this world.
So, sisters, when God says to dress modestly you see how important it is! I wonder how many women are associated with bikinis and other immoral dressing in God’s sight? It never leaves you and will meet you again at the judgment.
How did this witch bring Samuel up? Let me break this down a little by God’s grace. Paradise lay next to Hell or the prison house of the lost. Using her gift, the witch could break into that dimension of Paradise because it was the dimension right below the dimension we all inhabit now. We may think that’s incredible but the reality is it’s very simple. Whenever we believers break into the atmosphere of the Holy Ghost we are also crossing dimensions but toward Heaven instead of Hell.
Some of us are gifted to break into the realm of tongues, prophesy, etc. It just depends on which way your soul is aligned and what abilities God has placed within you (Romans 11:29). But note this: whatever body a person died in, that body would be the the one in which he would be judged before God (2 Cor. 5:10). So all the souls that didn’t repent in the days of Noah etc. were awaiting judgment in the form that they died in when Jesus came and preached to them (1 Peter 3:19-20). Let me share a quote from Brother Branham here that might make this a little clearer.
Another example is on Mt. Transfiguration where Peter, James, and John all recognized Moses and Elijah in a moment. While this also shows us that, in the Rapture we will know each other instantly, the truth is that these men looked like they did while they were here in flesh and the disciples were able to know who they were.
So what happened in Paradise?
While the saints were no doubt grateful to be in Paradise, it wasn’t the end product. It wasn’t what they had fought for, believed for, and died for while they were in the flesh. As beautiful as it may have been, a prison covered in gold is still…well… a prison. So all they could do was look forward to the day when the Woman’s Seed would come and set them free. I imagine they had some very powerful testimony meetings in that place as they shared stories about their experiences in this life. Still, they were prisoners.
But Jesus was about to change everything.
Every demon in hell knew the Lion of Judah was on the prowl. There was no corner dark enough for them to hide. No evil spell that could bind the conquering Son of God who had come to rescue that group of His Bride from the hands of His enemy. Jesus came like a whirlwind, shattering every wall that death, hell, and the grave had erected. The Bible says He grabbed the keys from Satan (Rev. 1:8). And then, when His enemy cowed in the dust, He turned His eyes toward that great gulf that separated His children from the children of Hell.
Remember that God still sets a gulf between the sinner and the saint. We are to be different, to walk differently, to live in a different atmosphere even though we’re in the same physical location as the sinner. Let us keep our atmosphere a heavenly one that shows we are “set apart (Eph. 4:1-6).”
Then when Jesus came to Paradise, all the saints that waited in expectation were thrilled beyond measure to see the answer to their prayers. The hour of deliverance had finally come! Adam took Eve’s hand. Eve took Abel’s. Then Seth. One by one the great family of God linked hands and followed their conquering Lord, their Deliverer, out from their prison house.
Jesus left Paradise as a heap of rubble. Frankly He destroyed it. The hour of deliverance had come and He led capitivity captive.
Leaving Paradise was only the beginning
Let’s zero in here on a few things that I trust will do you a lot of good. It’s important to note that, as the saints left Paradise, their bodies changed. It became like Christ’s body. No longer old. No longer wrinkled. Now it became a glorified body that reflected His own great glory. The blood price had been paid and they no longer had to endure the shame of grey hair and wrinkles. Adam could look into Eve’s eyes again and see the original sparkle they once had in the Garden before sin ever dulled their shine.
How do we know this? Because of what happened next.
The Bible says that when Christ arose, many of the overcoming saints rose with Him (Matt 27:52). But not only did they arise–they APPEARED to many other elected Bride members. Listen to me church. This was a family reunion of both Old and New Testament saints. Have you ever realized how much detail Peter and the others went into about Abraham’s life? Did you ever consider the fact that they sat down and had conversations with Enoch and the others? The Bible said they did. “They appeared unto many” for 40 days before they took the flight home with Jesus.
Now here’s where it gets really good to me. Brother Branham shares how Abraham wanted to see the city of Jerusalem. While he and Sarah were exploring prior to the Ascension, a little something happened that tells us quite a lot.
Jesus’s glorified body allowed Him to fly. To appear and disappear. To change appearance so His friends didn’t recognize Him. And now Adam could once again do the things he once did prior to the fall. Now all the saints could act as Jesus did. The Hour of deliverance changed their bodies.
What does this mean for us?
The happenings of 2,000 years ago were a foreshadowing of what will happen–and is happening–to the Bride. Our bodies will be changed to be like His just as their bodies were changed so many years ago (Philippians 3:21). Whereas Abraham once ached and groaned, now he no longer has that problem. Whereas we groan, our day of deliverance is at hand.
Just like that early church, this end-time church will have a spiritual “Family reunion” and will gather in the skies.
In the days that are to come, the Bride will be translated or changed from this earthly house into a theophany (or spiritual body) according to 1 Corinthians 15. But that’s not the end. Lord willing we’ll drill down deeper into what happens in the Millennium and New Jerusalem next time.
What we learned:
- Souls of the just were sent to Paradise before Christ’s atonement
- Paradise was next to hell and was a prison/waiting house until the Redeemer came
- The souls of those who die are in a body like the one they inhabited during this life
- Christ shattered the power of hell and rescued that portion of His waiting Bride
- The souls of those in Paradise came forth unto the earth and met with the New Testament saints
- We, at this junction, will also have a family reunion with the saints at the time of the Rapture
This week, feed your soul on the message An Absolute and focus your reading on 1 Corinthians 15 (whole chapter) as well as Philippians 3 (whole chapter).