What About Us? This is one of the most often asked questions that preterists hear. And it is an important question!
I do not remember meeting Terry Cropper face to face, but, I have read his writings for some time, and he is a good student of the word. I am pleased to share with our visitors a recent article by Terry that addresses the question of “What Now, What About Us?” One of the most common objections to Covenant Eschatology is the claim that if the Lord came in AD 70, then there is nothing for us today– the end came, and the end is the end! That is a totally fallacious claim, based of misguided presuppositions about what was to come to an end. In this the first installment of Terry Cropper’s article, he begins to share some thoughts on what now, What About us? This is an important article and helpful, so be sure to be looking for the follow-up conclusion.
What about us?
I often see people ask the question if all scripture has been fulfilled and there is nothing more to take place, what about me, what about us, how do we fit into God plan? What is our relationship to God? If the resurrection is past, what is my future? In this area all the back and forth disagreement take place. The one and only greatest messages in the Bible; that gets buried in the sands of time, is the promise of a Redeemer to Adam.
In order to fully understand our relationship to God it is important that we start from the beginning of God story of redemption. The story of our future is revealed in the past redemption story of Israel.
In the book of Genesis we see God creating man: After creating man, God placed him in the garden of Eden and gave him a command. Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV) Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
God warned Adam, regarding the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The Serpent speaks to the woman and asks the first question recorded in Scripture: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” This is not an innocent conversation starter. The Serpent reduces God’s command to a question. Satan is so subtle. He does not directly deny God’s Word, but introduces the assumption that God’s Word is subject to their judgment. Notice how Satan spins the question. He does not say, “Why would God keep you from eating the fruit of one tree?”
It was couched in more deceptive words as he implies that God, who has forbidden one tree, has forbidden them all. However, the issue was one tree, not “[every] tree of the garden.” The Devil’s words were misleading, and that is the way temptation always comes. Satan focused Eve’s attention on God’s one prohibition. He suggested that God did not really want what was best for Adam and Eve but rather was withholding something from them that was essentially good. He hinted that God’s line of protection was actually a line that He drew because He was selfish. The Serpent wants God’s Word to appear harsh and restrictive. Satan is cleverly attempting to plant a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s Word and God’s truthfulness and goodness.
God said Adam would die the day he ate and we know that God cannot lie. Adam did not die physically that day, but he did die spiritually. The moment Adam disobeyed God spiritual death entered in and Adan was separation from God. Adam lived at least 800 years beyond the day he ate the fruit.
Immediately after the fall, God promised a Redeemer to Adam. Geneses 3:15 (NKJV) “…it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.”
Death (is separation from God) death then reigned from Adam to Moses. Romans 5:14 – “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”
The prophet Isaiah also illustrates this point. Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”
Prior to Jesus’ messianic work, no one went to Heaven. (John 3:13) Where did people go when they died? They went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is Sheol. In the New Testament the Greek word is Hades. This was a waiting area for disembodied spirits.
All people were believed to go to place of the dead when they die: Psalm 89:48 “What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his life from the power of the grave?” David was dead, and he also did not go to Heaven. Acts 2:34 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.”
God had promised one day to redeem His people from the grave: Hosea 13:14 (NKJV) “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.”
David expressed his hope in God promise to provide salvation beyond the grave. Psalms 49:15 – “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah.” This is a voice of confidence that God would keep his promise. This one of the few Old Testament references that expresses of hope of life after death.
The apostle Peter likewise clearly understood that the hope of Israel was the resurrection of the dead. The Apostle Paul explained to king Agrippa. Acts 26:6-8 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” It is clear from this last verse that Paul sees the resurrection of the dead as that which fulfills “the hope of the promise made by God unto our fathers.” Christ was “a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8) (The Jewish patriarchs).
The Apostle Paul, when he was speaking before Felix, the governor of Judea, said that (he had “hope toward God” of a resurrection), in which, affirmed Paul, the Jews also believed. He plainly told Felix “that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15).
According to the Bible, when was the resurrection to take place? The Scriptures testify that the time of the resurrection was to be at the end of the Old Covenant age. In a conversation with Jesus about her brother Lazarus Martha said unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (John 11:24) We see from Jesus’ discussion with Martha that Martha had no doubt as to when the resurrection would be.
DKP– For more on the issue of the the nature of the resurrection and when it was to be, see my book, We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings. The book greatly expands on Terry Cropper’s excellent thoughts, and also offers some thoughts on What About Us?
In the conclusion of Terry’s article, he will share with us the answer to the question “What About Us” in a way that is both Biblically correct and personally applicable, so stay tuned!