CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Adam sinned and brought death to this world and all are reckoned sinners as a result of Adam's sin.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12
 

SCRIPTURAL DEFINITION OF DEATH

There are three kinds of death mentioned in the bible1 (the consequences of Adam's sin Gen 2:17), viz,

i)  Physical Death - the separation of the inner man from the body.

      "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is   dead." James 2:26.

 Also note that the body of Adam was lifeless until God breathed into   him the "breath of life". Refer Gen 2:7. Another verse for reference   would be Ecclesiastes  12:7, viz ....

 "....... and the spirit returns to God who gave it."

ii)  Spiritual death - separation from God because of sin.

 "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in   which you used to live when you followed the ways of this   world...."  Eph 2:1

 "But your iniquities have separated you from your God;  your   sins have hidden his face from you...." Isaiah 59:2.

iii) Eternal death - eternal separation from God because man chooses to remain separated from God in sin.

"He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with  everlasting destruction (living bible uses word 'hell') and shut out from the presence of the Lord...."  2 Thess 1:8,9 (Addition mine).

To summarise, death is actually our separation from God's intended purpose for us.

The apostle Paul in  Romans 8:21, looked forward to the day when we will be completely redeemed in our body. This verse says".. (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corrruption (and gain an entrance) into the glorious freedom of God's children. "Amplified (Emphasis mine). In other words, our bodies have been (since Adam's time) and will be, subject to decay and corruption a process known as  ageing until physical death ultimately ensues. We can be redeemed spiritually (and eternally) by accepting Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross, but physical death is an inevitable process affecting all mankind (the only ones exempted will be those raptured up when Christ comes again).
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CHAPTER 2

SOME LIFE SPANS.....

I have appended below the ages at which some of the better known bible characters died. You will notice that man's life span has progressively become shorter from the time of Adam to the time of David. Take a look at the following  table ...

Table No.1 - Life Spans of  Some Bible Characters



 

            BIBLE CHARACTER                AGE AT DEATH             BIBLE REFERENCE
               Adam                         930                        Gen 5:5
               Noah                         950                        Gen 9:29
               Shem                         600                        Gen 11:10,11
               Shelah                         433                        Gen 11:14,15
               Eber                         464                        Gen 11:16,17
               Peleg                        239                       Gen  11:18,19
               Nahor                        148                       Gen  11:25
               Terah                        205                       Gen 11:32
               Abraham                        175                       Gen 25:8
               Isaac                        180                       Gen  35:28
               Jacob                        147                       Gen  47:28
               Joseph                        110                       Gen  50:22
               Moses                        120                       Deut 34:7
               Joshua                        110                       Josh 24:29
               David                          70                       1 Kings 2:10,11

We can draw the following conclusions from the table above, viz,

1.  Beginning from Adam, all men had to die physically. The only exceptions mentioned in the bible include Enoch, who was translated at the age of 365 years (Gen 5:23, 24), Elijah who was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11) and those who are alive when our Lord Jesus comes again (l Thess 4:16,17). Some commentators believe that the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation chapter 11 will be Enoch and Elijah. If this is the case, then these two men of God would still have to die at a future date.

2. Adam lived a total of 930 years i.e. 70 short of 1000.The oldest man who ever lived was Methuselah who lived up to 969 years (31 years short of 1000).Therefore no man actually lived up to 1000 years on earth since the time of Adam.This seems to agree with what the Lord said in Genesis 2:17" ..for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die". Since one day is like a thousand years in God's calender (2 Peter 3:8), man did not in reality finish the 1000 years in God's calender and did surely die (as God said) on that day that he sinned.

3. Since Adam, man's life span has progressively become less.There was a dramatic drop in man's life expectancy.This drop as you can see in table 1 is most dramatic after the flood. It is believed that there was a "water vapour canopy"2 before the flood.This canopy could have filtered some of the harmful rays from the sun and atmosphere and helped to prolong man's life span on earth.

4. From the time of  David onwards, man's life span has stabilised to around an average of 70 years. This is also mentioned in Psalm 90:10. We will refer to this verse again later on. It is interesting to note how long King Solomon actually lived before he died. This is because God told him that he would give him (Solomon) long life (1 Kings 3:14), although this promise is conditional upon Solomon's obedience to God's statutes and commands. The Bible does not actually mention the number of days that Solomon lived. However, when I referred to Josephus' writings3 (Josephus was a jewish historian), I found that Solomon lived up to the age of 94. If this is correct, then God did very likely bless Solomon with long life. Though his life was not entirely blameless it is
also likely that he repented towards the end of his life.

As a foot-note, I would like to venture an opinion as to why God allowed the life span of man to drop from nine hundred plus years to about seventy (from the time of Adam to the time of David). Adam had a command from God to be fruitful and to multiply and fill the earth (Gen 1:28). Adam had to produce sons and daughters so that they can intermarry, multiply and populate the earth. I believe there were relatively few genetic mutations at that time, and God allowed brothers and sisters to intermarry. So Adam and his progenies needed the time to multiply and populate the earth.When the population reached a certain number, God saw it fit to progresesively cut down  man's life span till it flattened out at about seventy years. This, however, is a theory and not a bible doctrine.
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CHAPTER 3
 

THREESCORE AND TEN

Psalm 90:10 is a key verse for the subject under study. Let us see what the King James' version says ....

THE DAYS OF OUR YEARS ARE , *THREESCORE YEARS AND TEN; AND IF BY REASON OF  STRENGTH  THEY  BE FOURSCORE YEARS,YET IS THEIR STRENGTH LABOUR AND SORROW; FOR IT IS SOON CUT OFF, AND WE FLY AWAY." (emphasis mine)

*A score is twenty. So threescore and ten years would be seventy years.

Psalm 90 has been credited to Moses. Some commentators say that the above verse only referred to the Israelities above twenty who rebelled against God and wandered in the wilderness for another forty years before they died. As we delve deeper into this subject of man's life span, we will prove to you that Moses not only referred to the Israelites in the wilderness but also referred prophetically to man's final life span in the not too distant future.

SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT

The bible speaks quite definitely of a fairly fixed life span for man as can be deduced from the following Scriptures,viz,

"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span." Exodus 23:25,26 (emphasis mine).

"Look, today I have set before you life and death, depending on whether you obey or disobey..... if you are drawn away to worship other gods-then I declare to you this day that you shall surely perish; you will not have a long, good life in the land you are going in to possess... Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and to cling to him, for he is your life and the length of you days... Deut 30:15,18,20 TLB (emphasis mine).

Here again, notice that a long, good life is directly related to obeying God.Verse 20 speaks of the "length of your days" implying a specific life span for man. It must be emphasized that the promise of a full life span is conditional upon obeying God's commands (Ex 23:24,25,26).

"I will satisfy him with a full life and give him my salvation". Psalm 91:16 TLB (emphasis mine).

Notice that "full life" implies a certain span. If  there is a full life there must also be a "half life" for those who do not live out the total number of their days.

Finally, two more scriptural support of  a fairly fixed life span for man. The first is 1 Chronicles chapter 17 verse ll, where God spoke to David saying....

"When your time here on earth is over and you die, I will place one of your sons upon your throne......"  TLB (emphasis mine)

The other scripture comes from a well-known verse in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, viz ....

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die ......"Ecclesiastes 3:1,2. (emphasis mine)

We have mentioned previously that David lived up to the age of 70 years.The bible has these words to say of David ...

"...His heart's desire was always to obey me (God) and to do whatever I wanted him to". 1 Kings 14:8 TLB (addition mine)

"..David had obeyed God during his entire life except for the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite." 1 Kings 15:5 TLB

No wonder the bible calls David a man after God's heart. So we find that a life of faith, obedience and righteous living as examplified by David resulted in a fairly full life span of 70 years.We also mentioned previously that Solomon, David's son, was promised a long life by God and lived up to the age of 94 (this was beyong the average of 70 and to be considered a bonus!). Now let us see what happened to the descendants of David after Solomon so that we can draw some more inferences regarding man's life span on earth.

LIFE SPANS OF SOME KINGS OF ISRAEL AND JUDAH

Look at table #2 which contains a list of the kings of Judah (Rehoboam was king of Israel before his kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah). Careful scrutiny of this list will help us elicit the following deductions,viz,

l. None of the kings of Judah lived above the age of seventy. The oldest was Azariah who lived up to the age of 68 years.

2. Now look under the columns "Manner of Death" and "Comments".  Other than those whose "manner of death" were not recorded in the bible, the rest had unnatural deaths (by unnatural we mean that they did  not die peacefully at an old age).When you look under the column  "comments" you will find a probable cause of their early demise which is basically disobedience to God's will (There is another cause of early death which we will discuss later that comes under the category of  "Persecution for righteousness' sake").

3. The other spiritual principle that we must learn is that the bible teaches that the sins of the fathers are credited to the children up to the third and fourth generations. This is another cause of early (premature) deaths. Scriptures to support this fact include the following:

"..I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me....." Ex 20:4

"See, here is my decree all written out before me: I will not stand silent; I will repay.Yes, I will repay them-not only for their own sins but for those of their fathers too, says the Lord......" Isaiah 65:6,7 (TLB).

The above principle is repeated again and again in the following scriptures Exodus 34: 5-7, Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 5:8,9 and Lamentations 5:7. This principle is repeated six times in the scriptures mentioned above. If a principle is mentioned one time in the bible it is important.Therefore, if it is mentioned six times then it must warrant our utmost attention and obedience (otherwise we will reap the consequences of our disobedience to God's repeatedly expressed will).

Take a look at two more Scriptures on this same theme,viz ...

"...... But because of Solomon's sin I (God) will punish the descendants of David-though not forever)." 1 Kings 11:39 TLB (addition mine)

"Yes, Elijah answered I have come to place God's curse upon you (King Ahab)  because you have sold yourself to the devil ... he (God) will not let a single one of your male descendants survive! He is going to destroy your family as he did the family of King Jeroboam and the family of King Baasha.... "1 Kings 21:20-22 TLB (addition mine).

Notice that the converse is also true, viz ....

"Since you (Solomon) have not kept our agreement and have not obeyed my laws, I will tear the kingdom away from you and your family and give it to someone else. However, for  the sake of your father, David, I won't do this while you are still alive.... " 1 Kings 11:11,12 TLB (emphasis and addition mine).

From the discussion above, we can deduce that sin or disobedience to God's will can result in a shorter life span not only for the person concerned but also for his family and future generations.The other important point to note is that the higher you are in position  (e.g. leaders and kings)  the higher would be the accountability and judgement of God. Two examples would suffice. The first would be that of Moses who was not allowed into the promised land because he struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it ( Numbers 20:11,12) and that of David who took a census in defiance of God's will resulting in the deaths of 70,000 (2 Samuel 24:15). Notice that in the latter example the sin of a leader was imputed to his followers too (Some commentators believe that the Israelites who were numbered also sinned by not paying the census ransom mentioned in Exodus chapter 30 verse 12). Another scripture in support of this would be 2 Kings 24:3,viz...

"Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord's command, in order to remove them from his presence  because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done......." emphasis mine.

Just another point of note , though Manasseh was an evil king, he later came to his senses (presumably repented). This may be the reason why God allowed him to live up to 67!

Foot-note

It is interesting to note that the books of 1 and 2 Kings  and 1 and 2 chronicles contain records of the life spans of the kings of Judah (though not all) but not that of the kings of Israel (except Rehoboam who was both). The kings of Israel were generally evil. Concurrent with the reign of King Azariah of Judah (reign of 52 years), were three Israelite kings Zechariah, Menahem and Pekak who had short reigns of 6 months, 10 years and 20 years respectively. These kings were considered evil in the bible (Refer 1 Kings chapter 15) and died violent deaths (assassinated).

STATISTICAL EVIDENCE

Now let us see how the statistical evidence supports the biblical statement of threescore and ten for a man's life span. Take a look at table # 3 which shows the life expectancy at birth for several specified years in Malaysia and the United States. For those who are not familiar with the interpretation of statistical data, the figures show how long a male or female in Malaysia or the United States could expect to live. These are,of course, average figures. Take for example under the year 1990 the figures for Malaysia would be 69.5 for male, 73.9 for female and the figures for the United States would be 72.0 for male and 78.8 for female. Therefore, a male in Malaysia in 1990 at birth could expect to live 69.5 years whilst a female could expect to live 73.9 years.The corresponding figures in the United States are slightly higher viz, 72.0 years and 78.8 years respectively. The figures in Table 3 thus support the biblical statement that man's life span is approximately seventy years. Please also see Appendix D at the end of this book for more supportive evidence. Two more points need to be brought up at this juncture. Firstly, you will notice that there is a progressive increase in the life spans mentioned in table 3 (both male and female) from 1980 to 1990.
The figures for 1940 for the United States (from the same source) showed life expectancies of a male at 60.8 years whilst that of a female stood at 65.2 years. It has been said that improved medical and health facilities have enabled men (and women) to live longer in 1990 when compared to 1940. This, however, is only partially correct (and could also partially explain why the figures  for the United States are much higher than that of Malaysia for the same year). I feel that it has always been God's will for man to live up to seventy years since the time of  David and failure to reach the level set by God could be due to some other factors which we will mention later on. Secondly, take note that the life span of a woman is a couple of years longer than that of a man. It has been medically shown that female hormones protect women from heart disease until the age of menopause. It is also a fact that women are generally exposed to less stress in life and this could also partly account for their increased life spans.

EVIDENCE FROM THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

It is common knowledge that animals also have fairly fixed life spans. For example, most dogs live between 8 and 15 years (average of 11.5 years) whilst a household cat can live between 11-15 years4. Even in the life of such a small creature as the mosquito, you will notice that its various stages of metamorphosis have fixed periods e.g. its larvae live for 7 days, whilst its pupae live for 2-3 days. Whilst we are on this subject it is interesting to note that the longest living mammal  (other than man)  is the asiatic elephant which can live up to 78 years. Thus, the animal kingdom which is also God's creation illustrates this order of  life spans  which appears to be both common to man and animals.

CONCLUSION

From the evidences presented above, you can see that there appears to be a concept of an average life span in God’s order of things. Common sense will tell us that even an inanimate object such as a car has a fairly fixed life span depending on how much use you put into it per unit time. Even insurance companies are prepared to give you so many times your premium should you die before your policy matures (they know very well that you are expected to live up to at least 70 years!). Another point to consider is that it is God’s will for us to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1:28). It is also God’s will for us to raise and bring up our children (Deut 6:6,7; Proverbs 22:6). Therefore, it is only proper that we should be able to live a "reasonable" number of years to see our children grown up and well taken care of. For example, if you have four children and the first child was born when you were about 25 to 30 years of age, by the time your fourth child reaches an independent 22 years of age  (spacing of children 2-3 years), you would be about 59 years. It would be very difficult to bring up a child  (as the bible admonishes)  if your life span were to be terminated when you were 37 years of age (when your fourth child would probably be in his infancy). Another point that the bible mentions is that we are expected to live to see our grandchildren. Deuteronomy chapter 4 verse  25 says..."after you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time..." Notice that a long life, children and grandchildren are associated with blessings from the Lord. Another supportive verse would be Exodus 10:2 which states ...that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians...." This  assumes that you are alive to see your granchildren. Yet another verse Psalm 128 verse 6 says "May you live to enjoy your grandchildren!...". Thus seeing your grandchildren is certainly a blessing from God.  So extrapolating from the example mentioned above, you should live beyond 59 years to see all your grandchildren.  Taking things one step further, you may even live to see your great grandchildren as in the case of the patriach Job.  Remember that Job passed the test of his faith and God blessed him a double portion of sheep, camels, oxen and donkey after the 'test'.  Then the last verse of Job chapter 42 has this to say......

"Job lived 140 years after that, living to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren too. Then at last he died, an old, old man, after living a long, good life." Job 42:16 TLB Emphasis mine.

As far as christians are concerned, unless there is a direct calling from God for you to give up your life for his kingdom's sake (we will also call this Persecution for righteousness' sake), you can expect to complete you full life span of 70 years or so!  We shall expand further on this as we go along.
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CHAPTER 4

CHANCE, PROBABILITY AND LUCK

Before delving into the causes of premature deaths, let us first deal with the subject of chance, probability and luck with reference to God’s Word. Let me state categorically that the Bible does not support any principle involving chance, probability and luck. We worship a GOD who is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing)  and omnipresent (all present). Nothing happens in this world without the approval and consent of our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. We will explore some scriptures to support this statement.....

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered..."Luke 12:7

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground APART FROM THE WILL OF YOUR FATHER." Matt:10:29 (Emphasis mine).

Notice that two sparrows were sold for one of the smallest unit of money at that time and even such an insignificant creature has to have the permission of God before leaving this world. This also shows that every creation of God is important to Him.

Let us look at two more examples from the Scriptures to show that every decision on earth must be sanctioned in heaven before it can be implemented, viz ....

"To this John replied, ‘A man can receive only what is given him from heaven ." John 3:27

Let us look at the story of Job in the old testament for our second example. Remember that Satan went into God’s presence and told the Lord that because He (God) had blessed him and put a hedge around him for protection, Job fears and respects Him (Job 1:8-10).To this the Lord replied......

"Very, well, then everything he has is in your hands (implying that it was not in Satan’s hands before) but on the man himself do not lay a finger....."(notice that the permission was conditional).  Job 1:12 (addition mine).

Then later the Lord said to Satan again (when his first test failed) ....

"Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life." Job 2:6.

Notice that life and death are not in the hands of Satan unless permission has been granted by God. Satan is the agent of death but the ultimate permission still comes from God.

From the Scriptures and discussion above, we have more or less ruled out any possibility of chance, probability and luck in the so-called "destiny" of mankind. Just to emphasize our point more forcefully, take a look at the following Scripture from Isaiah chapter 65 verses 11 and 12 ...

"But as for you who forsake the LORD and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword....." Emphasis mine.

First of all,  notice that the words Fortune and Destiny are in capital letters. Capital letters in the bible refer to persons and places and in the context of the above Scripture the implication is that Fortune and Destiny refer to spirit beings (possibly demons). The Israelites could not spread a table or  fill bowls of mixed wine for something abstract. In other words, when they forsook the Lord, they began to worship demonic beings called "Fortune" and Destiny". Secondly, the hebrew word for "Destiny" is "Meniy" which also means "FATE". From our discussion above we can conclude that Fate is definitely not from God (unlike FAITH) and most likely refers to a spirit  (demonic)  being with such a function. Christians should thus be wary of any kind of activity where chance, probability, luck or fate is involved as you may be involved in more than what you bargained for!

WHAT ABOUT ACCIDENTS?

The natural response when we hear of someone involved in an accident would be words like "poor thing" or "poor fella" implying that the person involved was a victim of bad luck! What does the Scriptures have to say regarding accidents?

First of all, let me say that accidents like everything else on this earth can only happen with the prior permission of God. Secondly, accidents can be caused by our own negligence or carelessness. God has given us common sense and an in-built self-protective mechanism which prompts us to look right and left before crossing a road (not taking reasonable precautions would be in essence tempting God). There is another explanation in the Scriptures which we will now consider. Look at Luke chapter 13 verses 1 to 5.......

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galilieans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered,'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I TELL YOU, NO ! BUT UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU TOO WILL ALL PERISH. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam FELL ON THEM -do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I TELL YOU, NO ! BUT UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU TOO WILL ALL PERISH.. '" (emphasis mine)

Very interesting Scriptures which if you study carefully will yield some deep spiritual insight. First of all, notice that our Lord Jesus Christ said categorically that those who were killed by Pilate and those on whom the tower in Siloam fell upon (notice that he mentioned an exact figure of eighteen who died) did not die accidently. They did not die because they were more wicked but they died because they refused to repent. In other words Pilate did not kill them by accident and the tower of Siloam did not fall upon them because its foundation was weak (though this may be the physical cause). They died not accidently but because they did not repent. In other words, a person can only be killed (on earth)  either by the sword or by a tower falling upon him, or by some other ‘accidental’ cause only if  his life has been written off in heaven  first for a definite reason and failure to repent is one of the reasons ...

Ps 7:11-12
11 God is a judge who is perfectly fair, and he is angry with the wicked every day.
12 Unless they repent, he will sharpen his sword and slay them. He has bent and strung his bow
(TLB)

An accident, whether fatal or non fatal should therefore not be the norm walking in the will of God.............

Ps 34:19
19 The good man does not escape all troubles-- he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.
(TLB)

Our Lord Jesus did not have any accidents whilst He walked on this earth and Moses lived a hundred and twenty years without encountering one accident!

As a closing thought, I recall Derek Prince the well-known teacher of God's Word mentioning that repeated accidents could be the result of a curse running upon a person or his family.

IS THE CASTING OF LOTS SCRIPTURAL?

There were many instances in the Old Testament and some in the New Testament where lots were cast to determine God's WIll in the matter to be decided. The fact that the Lord's Hand was  upon the casting of lots is without a shadow of doubt (refer Lev 16:8-10; Num 33:54; Joshua 18:10). Even in the New Testament, Peter and the Apostles cast lots to decide between the choice of Barsabbas and Matthias as the twelfth Apostle (God's choice for the replacement of Judas Iscariot). The reference is in Acts 1:23-26. This, however, was the norm before the Holy Spirit came to dwell with each believer. Notice that there was no more mention of lots after Acts Chapter 2. Now that we Christians have the Holy Spirit, we should resort to other Scriptural ways of determining God's Will for our lives.

From the discussion in the previous few pages of t his book, you will be convinced that it is God's Will for us to live an average of 70 years (with one Scripturally accepted exception called 'Persecution for righteousness' sake). Why then do some people die before their full life spans? Why do we see babies dying at an early age? The Bible is the only instruction manual for MAN from their Creator- our Lord Jesus Christ. It does not contain all the answers. Some things are revealed to us from God's Word which we have referred to and will refer to.

29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
(NIV)Deut 29:29

Hence, we do not claim to know everything but a careful study of the Bible will yield practical and useful information about God's plan for our lives. ALL Scriptures are profitable for our learning and our walk with God and we need to pay heed to His Instruction Manual in order to live the life that He intended for us.

2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(NIV)

Now let us see what we can garner from the Scriptures regarding premature deaths.
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CHAPTER 5

PERSECUTION FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE

This is the only scripturally acceptable cause for an early death  for a christian. It must be emphasized that for a christian, death is actually the fulfillment and completion of God's purpose, plan and will for him on planet earth. Moses died at the age of 120 years, a fairly full life span for that time period (Deut 34:7) after finishing God's task for him to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and towards the promised land as can be seen in Exodus chapter 3 verses 8 and 17 (He did not enter the promised land because of his sin of striking the Rock twice at Meribah instead of speaking to it as the Lord directed....refer  Numbers 20:8-12 and Deut 32:51,52).Take also the example of Moses' successor Joshua. His call was to take possession of the land of Canaan militarily and to give the people their inheritance  (Joshua 1:6,10,11,14). Now take a look at the following verses ....

"Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance. After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten." Joshua 24:28,29 (emphasis mine).

Notice that he succeeded in conquering the land (though he did not completely drive all the canaanites out). He fulfilled his original call to give the Israelites their inheritance and then he died at the age of 110 which was the acceptable age at that time.  In other words,he finished and fulfilled his call on earth, lived a full life span and went to be with the Lord.This is the norm for men of God walking and fulfilling  God's call on planet earth with one, notable execption. Further on,we will take a look at this exception ... the men of God who fulfulled their tasks on planet earth but did not live out their full life span.The figure below helps to summarise and illustrate the above discussion.
 


 
 

THOSE WHO LIVED A FULL LIFE SPAN

The bible is very clear that all christians walking right with God will suffer some form of persecution ....

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Tim 3:12.

Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also...."John 15:20

Thus you will notice that every christian is called to endure some kind of persecution for Christ's sake but only some are called to give up their lives for His sake (Matt 24:9). As examples, however, we have singled out the prophet Daniel and John the Apostle because these two appear to have undergone more persecution than most of us anyway.You will remember that Daniel was sent to the lion's den for praying to Jehovah God (Daniel chapter 6). Although the bible does not record the age of Daniel at his death,we know that he was taken to Babylon at approximately 604 B.C. and lived until at least the reign of Cyrus (Daniel 10:1) at approximately 536 B.C. This makes him at least seventy plus in age before he died (quite a full life span). These facts may be referred to from the New Unger's Bible dictionary 1988 edition pages 269, 274 and 275. The apostle John was believed to have died in exile at a ripe old age  (after having survived being thrown into boiling oil!).
 

THOSE WHO DID NOT LIVE A "FULL LIFE SPAN"
 
 

The first thing to note is that MARTYRDOM is a definite, direct calling from God and not all christians are called to die for their faith.

"Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, SOME OF WHOM THEY WILL KILL and others they will persecute.'" Luke 11:49 (emphasis mine)

Notice that  the above prophecy mentioned that some will be killed whilst others will only be persecuted (therefore not all will be killed). In fact Matthew 10:23 specifically asks those who are persecuted to flee!

"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another....."

Secondly notice the "voluntary element" involved when Paul speaks of matyrdom in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 3 ....

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I GIVE MY BODY TO BE BURNED, and have not charity (LOVE), it profiteth me nothing." KJV (Emphasis and addition mine)

Paul says "I give" and not "I am forced to give."

Thirdly, take note that the call to men of God to give up their lives is rather specific in most cases ....

"From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and BE KILLED, and be raised up on the third day. Matt 16:21 NASB (emphasis mine)

Notice that Jesus knew that he had to die some time before the actual event and He also knew the manner of His death.......

" ... and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and CRUCIFIED......" Matt 20:19 (emphasis mine)

Take note also that Jesus not only had a call from God to give his life for our sins but also gave it voluntarily in obedience to God's will....

"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life- only to take it up again. No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down OF MY OWN ACCORD....." John 10:17,18 (emphasis mine)

Notice that in the case of Apostle Peter there was a prophecy regarding his martyrdom long before it happened....

"Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God....."John 21:17,18,19.

Notice from the above Scripture, that martyrdom brings glory to God.

Another example to illustrate this point would be the case of Apostle Paul....

"When he (Paul) had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him.What grieved them most was his statement that  "THEY WOULD NEVER SEE HIS FACE AGAIN." Acts 20:36,37 (addition and emphasis mine).

"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my DEPARTURE. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim 4:6,7 (emphasis mine)

Notice that Paul considered life on earth as a race.

One final point to add. Men of God walking in God's perfect will cannot be killed anytime and anywhere at man's whims and fancy. The calling to die is very specific as you can see in the case of our Lord Jesus. No harm could come to Him before the time of His death....

" 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!' At  this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." John 8:58,59.

They got up, drove him (Jesus) out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. BUT HE WALKED RIGHT THROUGH THE CROWD and went on his way. Luke 4:29,30 (addition and emphasis mine).

Notice that Jesus went on His way as though nothing had happened because it was not the time and place for Him to die yet!

Take a look at table 4 which shows a list of some of the men of God mentioned in the bible who were martyred. This list is not complete and some of the notable persons not mentioned would include the other ten apostles of Christ who suffered matyrdom according to tradition (only apostle John died of old age in exile).  A close look at this list would help bring out some important and pertinent points, viz,
 

  i) There were relatively few martyrs compared to the jewish , christian or   world population. If you take a count you will notice that there were probably less than ten men of God in the old testament who were called to give their lives for the Lord or His work.When Moses brought the Israelites out of  Egypt, the census of males above twenty was 603,550 (Numbers 1:46). If you include the women, children, levites (who were not counted) and foreigners, the figure should  be  at  least 2 million. When  King David took another census in 2 Samuel 24:9 the figure was 1.3 million fighting men alone. Hence, the proportion of  men of God who actually gave their lives according to the call of God is relatively small (many others died for other reasons and not  because of a calling from God!). At about the period when apostle James and Stephen were martyred, there were more than 8000 christians (add up the figures mentioned in Acts 2:41 and 4:4). Then you may ask what about the thousands who died in the arena in the  hands of the mad emperor Nero? Take the number of matyrs from the time or our Lord till today and compare it with the number of persons who had lived during the  same  period of time (should be a few billions by conservative standards) and you will find that the figure is also relatively small!

ii) Notice that the call of martyrdom is very specific in most of the cases   mentioned and some even had  foreknowledge  of  how they were to   die...... e.g. Our Lord Jesus, Apostle Peter and  Apostle Paul. There   are no random killings in our christian walk.

iii) In many of the cases, there is a willingness and divine enablement for   the man of God to be martyred. In other words, not only is one called   to be matyred but God gives them the divine strength and courage to  go through with it. It is just like the command to "love our enemies"  (Matt 5:44).Both requires divine strength and  enablement  to  fulfill   because in the natural we would not want to love our enemies and there is also a built-in self protective mechanism which causes us to love our lives. Willingness to lay down their lives is illustrated in the  following-Our Lord Jesus when he said that He gave His life on His own   accord, Apostle Peter who requested to be crucified upside down as he found himself  unworthy to be  crucified  in  the  same  position as his Lord (according to tradition) and apostle Paul who throughout his writings had no qualms about laying  his life for the Lord. Refer  Acts 20:36,37:2 Tim 3:6.7; Philippians 3:8.

OTHER CAUSES OF PREMATURE DEATHS

We shall now discuss the "non-scriptural" causes of premature deaths. By "non-scriptural" we mean that these causes are apart from God's divine perfect will and are all related to sin. We have divided these causes into three broad categories.......
 

Click to see figure 2

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CHAPTER 6
 

JUDGEMENT UPON ONE SELF
 

TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The bible is very clear that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." 1 Cor 3:16,17.

Take heed, your body is sacred and God's spirit dwells in You. You must not only be sancified for His spiritual purposes but also be physically kept "pure and fit" so that it (your body) can continue to serve His purpose on earth. General hygienic principles must be adhered to.

OVEREATING

"..... many live as ENEMIES of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame...." Philippians 3:18,19. Emphasis mine.

Notice that making your god your stomach makes you an enemy of the cross of Christ. It is also an invitation for destruction!  Another verse to take note of...........

"'Everything is permissible for me'- but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible  for  me'- BUT I WILL NOT BE MASTERED BY ANYTHING. 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food'-but God will destroy them both..." 1 Cor 6:12,13 (emphasis mine).

Notice that we must not allow food to master us. Do you eat to live or live to eat? Judge yourself lest you be judged. I am not referring to that occasional extra feasting that we all enjoy but the continous stuffing of edible materials  more than your body can take! Your stomach takes 4-6 hours to empty and as a general rule you should discipline yourself to eat  about 3 times a day. All the excess calories that you take will  finally be converted mainly to fat and cause your heart arteries to be blocked at a premature age (besides other fatal consequences!). Just a few concluding scriptures and comments relevant to this section.....

"...a companion of gluttons disgraces his father." Proverbs 28 : 7

"..Cretans are always liars, evil brutes,  LAZY GLUTTONS."  Titus 1:12 (emphasis mine)

The bible does not speak too kindly of gluttons (or companions of gluttons who are probably also gluttonous!). A fat guy once said that fat people (fat christians presumably) go to heaven early. In that case, I told him, you would only probably see fat people there!

INGESTION OF TOXINS

Under this heading, I refer particularly to commonly ingested toxins like alcohol and tobacco  (more of inhalation than ingestion). Although the bible does not  prohibit drinking of alcohol there are very strong verses condemning drunkards and drunkenness ....

"..... nor theives nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor 6 : 10

"The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,........ drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."- Galatians 5:19,21.

You may say that a sip will not cause any problems but there is a tendency for one sip to progress to one jug or a bottle sooner or later. So it is safer not to sip than to cause yourself and others to stumble (others especially young christians may follow your example). Besides, alcohol consumption is associated with heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver and pancreatitis  apart from being one of the major cause of marital breakdowns. Beware ... many lives have been shortened because of alcohol. Remember that the bible places thieves, the sexually immoral and drunkards under the same category!
 

 Smoking like alcohol is also hazardous to your health and body. It is medically linked to lung cancer, emphysema and vascular diseases to name a few. Ingestion or inhalation of toxins does not bring glory to God but brings destruction upon oneself!

"So whether  you eat or drink or  whatever  you do,  do it all  for  the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble....." 1 Cor 10:31,32. Emphasis Mine.

OVER-WORKING

Many people may not realise it but this is one of the most dangerous health hazard! It shortens your life-span by giving you additional stress and physically exhausting your body. It is true generally that the longer hours you work the greater will your income be. But just like a new tyre which has say a life span of x no of miles, extra stress will shorten your life span as will extra mileage each day cause your tyre to wear out faster....

"Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest;  even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest."  Exodus 34:21

Although the above commandment is not obligatory to new testament christians by law it is a good rule to follow. God rested on the seventh day long before the law was introduced  (Genesis 2:2) as an example for us to follow. We should,  therefore,  rest  (for the christian rest and worship) at least one day a week not necessarily on the seventh day which is the jewish sabbath.

What about the number of hours we should work a day. Are there any guidelines in the bible? There are no direct guidelines but take a look at the parable of the labourers in Matthew Chapter 20. This parable by our Lord tells of a landowner who goes out to hire workers for his vineyard. Spiros Zodhiates' commentary6 of this chapter in his Hebrew-Greek key study bible says that a jewish day begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. Giving allowances for breaks in the morning, afternoon and evening, this would probably amount to about 10 working hours a day. Today, our normal working hours extend from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour lunch break giving a  total of 8 working hours. Therefore, it is fairly safe to postulate that an average of 9 hours would be fairly close to the ideal working man hours a day. Even whilst studying in the University, I have found that the number of teaching hours a day fairly approximate what we just mentioned.The human body can take a certain amount of normal physical and mental stress a day. Exceeding this limit everyday over a long period of time will wear out your body faster (hence shortening your life span). A recent article7 from a magazine called the Medical tribune on  "Job Stress" states the following... "Job Strain does appear to be a significant risk factor for hypertension among healthy working men and may contribute to the rate of coronary artery disease...."  Remember longer hours mean more stress!

Just one last word about stress.The bible in John Chapter 14 verse 27 says ... "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

As christians walking obediently in the will of God, we will inherit a kind of peace which the world does not know and cannot experience. This peace is certainly the opposite of "stress".

You can therefore see that it is not only vital but also our responsibility to keep our body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, fit for the Lord so that we can continue to serve Him and carry on His will for us on planet earth. In this connection, I would also like to mention that exercise besides the observance of the other health points mentioned above would also help to keep our body in good physical shape. Exercise not only burns up the extra calories ingested but also has been shown to raise the level of  High density lipoproteins (so called good cholesterol) in your blood thus giving you protection against heart attacks.

Although I have made particular reference to christians, the health principles mentioned above (except God's peace) applies equally well to non christians.  For example, the command to rest one day (in the sabbath) in the old testament refers not only to man but also to animals  (Ex 20:10).  We know that animals do not worship God.  This commandment therefore, also emphasizes physical rest.

"As estimated 10,000 Japanese salarymen (and women) have collapsed and died from overwork in recent years, often toiling for more than 100 hrs a week" 8
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CHAPTER 7

JUDGEMENT FROM GOD

Not all judgements from God (upon sins) necessarily result in premature deaths. We will discuss below some of the conditions which may result in premature death according to God's word.

JUDGEMENT ON INDIVIDUALS

REBELLION AND SELF-WILL

Example of Saul

King Saul was Israel's first King but not necessarily God's ideal or perfect choice (God gave the Israelites a King at their insistence. See 1 Samuel chapter 8 for details). Saul started off  life well. In fact, he was so humble, he even hid himself when Samuel wanted to declare him as the 'king' (1 Samuel 10:20-22).Verses 22 and 23 of the same chapter say..."So they asked the Lord, 'Where is he? Is he here among us?' And the Lord replied, 'He is hiding in the baggage'. So they found him and brought him out..." Notice that God knows exactly where we are hiding! However, during the second year of  his reign, he  disobeyed Samuel's instructions and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings (which he did not have the right to do). Please see 1 Samuel chapter 13 verses 8 onwards for details. Saul again disobeyed God when he spared Agag the king of the Amalekites and the sheep, oxen and lambs against God's explicit instructions  (1 Samuel 15:3,8,9,10,11).What was even worse was that shortly after this the Word of God says that Saul intended to built a monument to himself at Mount Carmel!   .... the beginning of self-worship (1 Samuel 15:12). The prophet Samuel then made the following statement ....

Obedience is far better than sacrifice.... For rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubborness is as bad as worshipping idols...1 Samuel 15:22,23.TLB

CF Dake paraphrased verse 23 as follows.... "For rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and self-will is as wicked as having teraphims." Notice from the above scripture that Rebellion, witch craft, self-will and idolatory are all inter-related. Therefore, Saul's sins were essentially those of rebellion and self-will (as opposed to God's will) and his failure to repent led to more depravity (tried twice to kill David and also sought advice from the witch of Endor) culminating in his early, violent death (1 Samuel 31:3,4).  Notice that his sons also died with him (verse 2).

Example of Korah

Exodus  chapter 6 verses 16 to 22 suggest that Korah was a cousin of  Moses.  Later, we find in Numbers chapter 16 that Korah with Dathan and Abiram incited a rebellion against Moses  (essentially against God). Refer particularly to verses 2 and 11. They not only rebelled themselves but also incited 250 other members of the assembly to go against the leadership of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:2). They also stirred up the entire nation against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:19). The anger of the Lord was aroused and He would have destroyed all the rebellious Israelites but for the intercession of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:22). Finally, the earth split open and Korah, Dathan and Abiram with their families were swallowed down alive into Sheol. Then fire came upon the other 250 leaders and consumed them (Numbers 16:31-35). Another sad story of rebellion and its end result-premature deaths (certainly not God's will for them).

OTHER EXAMPLES

In Numbers chapter 11, we have another example of the Israelites complaining again against God. The anger of the Lord was aroused again and fire from the Lord began to destroy the people (verses 1,2). Here again, but for the intercession of  Moses, many more would have perished. If you look carefully at verse 20 of the same chapter you will notice that they were in essence 'rejecting' the Lord (by rebelling against Him) ....

"..... For one month you will have meat until you vomit it from your noses; for you have REJECTED THE LORD who is here among you, and you have wept for Egypt." Numbers 11:19,20.TLB (emphasis mine).

Notice finally that the meat they 'demanded' was supplied but because of their sin of rebelling against  (and  rejecting) the Lord, large numbers of them were killed by a plague (Numbers 11:33).

Again in Numbers chapter 21 the Israelites commited the sin of murmuring against God (essentially a sin of rebellion). This resulted in the premature deaths of many of them (killed by poisonous snakes). See verses five and six of this chapter for the reference.

Rebellion and lying....

Now take a look also at the book of Jeremiah chapter 28. A false prophet called Hananiah  prophesied lies to the people of Israel. Listen to what Jeremiah (the true prophet) said to him....

"Listen, Hananiah the Lord has not sent you, and the people are believing your lies.  Therefore the Lord says you must die.  This very year your life will end because you have rebelled against the Lord." Jeremiah 29:15,16.TLB.

Notice the relationship between prophesying lies and rebellion against the Lord. We have to beware of what comes out of our mouth as admonished in another Scripture ...

"Do you want a LONG, GOOD LIFE? Then watch your TONGUE! Keep Your lips from LYING. Turn from all known sin and spend your time in doing good..." Psalm 34:12-14. TLB. Emphasis mine.

There is some association between a long, good life and NOT TELLING LIES. Doing 'good' also appears to contribute to a long, good life.
 

IDOLATORY

Idolatory has always brought the wrath and judgement of God upon the nation of Israel in the old testament ...

"After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time-if you then become corrupt AND MAKE ANY KIND OF IDOL, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, l call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly PERISH from the land that you are crossing the Jordan  to possess. You will not live there long BUT WILL CERTAINLY BE DESTROYED (premature death)." Deut 4:25,26. Addition and emphasis mine.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he saw that the Israelites had made a golden calf. The Lord then said to Moses ...

" ... I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed. Let me alone, so that I MAY DESTROY THEM AND BLOT OUT THEIR NAME FROM UNDER HEAVEN"  Deut 9:13,14  (Emphasis mine)

In a previous incident, when the Israelites indulged in sexual immorality with moabite women and worshipped Baal of Peor, God ordered the leaders to be killed and also sent a plague which killed 24,000 Israelites (Numbers 25:1,2,3,4,9; Psalms 106:28-30).

In both old and new testaments, the worshipping of idols is equated with the worshipping of demons ....

"They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable IDOLS. They sacrificed to DEMONS which are not God....." Deut 32:16,17 Emphasis mine.

"Therefore, my dear friends flee from IDOLATORY ... Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to DEMONS,   not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons." 1 Cor 10:14,19,20. Emphasis mine.

Idolatory is essentially the worship of anything other than the true God (Jesus). It is an extremely serious sin in the sight of the Lord and whether it be a physical idol or something which we abnormally cherish,  it is a terrible abomination in God's eyes. It could bring serious and fatal judgement from God!

OUTWORKING OF A 'PRONOUNCED' CURSE

To provide an illustration of this sub-heading, please turn to the story of Rachel the wife of Jacob. God told Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers in Genesis Chapter 31 verse 3. But when fleeing from Laban, her father, Rachel stole his household gods (Gen 31:19). So when Laban caught up with Jacob  (and Rachel), Jacob pronounced a curse by saying" ..if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live... " This is found in Genesis chapter 31 verse 32. Not knowingly, he had pronounced a curse on his own wife who was hiding the idols under her camel's saddle (Gen 31:34). If you follow the story carefully, you will find that Rachel died during her second child-birth (Gen 35:18). Now Rachel was not an old woman when she died, as a woman cannot give birth after her menopause (so she must be less than approximately 45 years of  age). Therefore, essentially she died prematurely as a result of a curse. We must be careful of things we pronounce out of our lips because the bible says "The tongue has the power of life and death...."(Proverbs 18:21). This does not mean that everyone we pronounce a curse on will die. Proverbs 26:2 says.....

"An undeserved curse has no effect. Its intended victim will be no more harmed by it than by a sparrow or swallow flitting through the sky." TLB

"..........a curse without cause does not alight....." NASB

Take a look at another supportive Scripture.......

"...whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake". Eccelesiastes 10:8

From the above Scriptures, we can  see  that there must be a cause first before a curse can work. Rachel did wrong by stealing Laban's household gods (this also implies that she was putting her trust in the idols). So that opened the door for Jacob's curse to take root. In any case, beware of what you say because our tongue can be a source of blessings or curses ....

"Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing..." James 3:10

Another scriptural example of the 'outworking of a pronounced curse' is illustrated in Joshua chapter 6 verse 26 ....

"At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: 'Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: 'At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates'"

Remember that Jericho was 'destined' for destruction by Joshua and the Israelites because of the sins of its people (and so were the other canaanite cities). Please refer to Genesis chapter 15 verse 16 and Deuteronomy chapter 31 verses 3 and 4 for scriptural support. So after the 'destruction' of the city,  Joshua  (led by God's Spirit) pronounced a curse on Jericho. This curse was fulfilled when Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho and lost Abiram his firstborn son and Segub his youngest son (refer 1 Kings 16:34). Herein lies another example of the outworking of a pronounced curse as a result of a direct disobedience of God's Word (as pronounced by Joshua).
 

GENERATION CURSE

This is different from the previous sub-heading of 'Out working of a pronounced curse', because a generation curse may not be necessarily be pronounced. It is carried downwards as a result of the sin or sins of a preceeding generation or generations.We have discussed this topic briefly in chapter 3. Let us look at some supportive Scriptures.

The first says that we can be born under a curse.......

"These are the men who delight in daylight self-indulgence; they are foul spots and blots, playing their tricks at your very dinner-tables......THEY ARE BORN UNDER A CURSE, for they have abandoned the right road and wandered off to follow the old trail of Balaam, son of  Beor....."  2 Peter 2:14-16. The New Testament in Modern English by JB Phillips. Emphasis mine.

Now, take a look at another Scripture ....

"You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the father's sins into the laps of their children after them". Jeremiah 32:18.

Notice that punishment for one's sins extends to their children and also to their grandchildren and great grandchildren (third or fourth generations according to Exodus chapter 20 verses 5). Conversely, blessings are passed down from generation to generation without any definite qualifying time period of generations (refer also Exodus 20:6). At this juncture, it is needful to mention that the Scriptures referring to "children not dying for the sins of their fathers" pertains to the powers delegated to the State of Israel to impose judgement on guilty parties and not to curses coming down as the result of the judgement of God. Please refer to Deuteronomy 24:16 and 2 Chronicles 25:4.

We will consider a few biblical examples of generation curses to illustrate our point further....

THE EXAMPLE OF ADAM AND HIS DESCENDANTS

Now when Adam first sinned, he brought upon all his descendants the penalty of death (refer Gen 2:17,Gen 3:19).Thus began a process of corruption and decay in all the descendants of Adam (Romans 8:21) which will eventually lead to our deaths. Hence, all men will see death (Hebrews 9:27)  unless raptured up by the Lord before death (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).This penalty of death results in a process called ageing in all the descendants of Adam.This poorly understood process is now believed to be mediated via our genes10. Hence, our body parts degenerate day by day as a result of original sin (Adam's sin) whether we ourselves sin or not. One example would be the so-called thickening of our arteries as we age resulting finally in a reduction of blood supply to the heart to such a degree as to cause a heart attack and death. In other words, all men will still have their arteries narrowed whether their diet is rich in cholesterol or not. Extra cholesterol only hastens the process!

Now, when dealing with the subject of generation curse, we would like to side-step the effects of  the curse of original sin (sin of Adam) which automatically comes on all mankind and concentrate on the effects of the individual's sin or sins passing on to his progeny or progenies. Take a look at figure No. 3 and you will begin to see and understand more clearly the whole concept of a generation curse ....
 
 

 Click to see figure 3
 

A careful study of figure 3 will yield some interesting facts, viz....

l. Adam had three sons, viz, Cain, Abel and Seth. Abel was considered as one of the heroes of faith and the bible also says that he was righteous before the Lord (Gen 4:4, Hebrews 11:4). Abel was killed by Cain (Gen 4:8) and in his place God gave Adam and Eve another son called Seth (Gen 4:25). Notice that in the time of Seth and Enosh, his son, men began to call on the Name of the Lord (Gen 4:26). In other words, there was a spiritual revival going on during Seth's time-a testimony of Seth's godly nature (Notice that Seth was God's replacement for Abel and he inherited Abel's God fearing nature). Now, when you trace down Seth's lineage, you will find that there were two descendants of his who walked with God namely Enoch and Noah. In fact, Enoch was the first person ever to be translated (to be with God). When the flood finally came, Noah and his family were the only ones saved. Blessings appear to be passed down from generation to generation.

2. Conversely, unlike Abel and Seth, Cain was an ungodly man. Sometimes we wonder why the same parents i.e. Adam and Eve can produce two offsprings of such contrasting characters-Cain whose ways were evil and opposed to God from the beginning (Gen 4:3-5; Jude 11 ) and Abel who was godly and a man of faith. One may surmise that Cain being the first born may have been given such overwhelming attention which only nursed his fallen nature to such an extent that he would rather walk in his ways and not in God's ways. His stubborness and refusal to repent  (Gen 4:6,7)  led to his commiting the first murder against his own brother Abel. Cain was also the first person to build a city as mentioned in Genesis Chapter 4 verse 17 (building a city is not sinful in itself but if one's life consists of building cities without God, then something is really amiss!). The city was named after his son which implied that the son was also moving in the same direction as the father. When we come to the fifth generation from Cain, we come across Lamech who was the second murderer and first polygamist! You can see that like begets like but in a greater degree of depravity. Then finally when we reach Noah's time in Genesis chapter 6, we find that all the surviving generations of Cain were destroyed by the flood because of their wickedness (which has presumably multiplied through the generations). This wickedness was so intense that God could no longer tolerate it any more. Many descendants of Cain thus had their lives cut short during the flood (premature deaths).

EXAMPLE OF DAVID

David was a man after God's heart (Refer 1 Samuel 13:14 when Samuel the prophet spoke prophetically about young David). The Bible says that David obeyed God thoughout his entire life except in the case of Uriah the hittite ...

"For David had obeyed God during his entire life except for the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite." 1 Kings 15:5. TLB.

Look at figure 4 below which summarises the sins of David and the consequences which came upon his descendents as a result of his sins....

Click to see figure 4
 

 

CONSEQUENCES OF DAVID'S SINS AND THE LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING.

You will notice from the preceeding chart, that David lost four sons mainly as a direct consequence of his own sins, viz, the baby of Bathsheba as a result of his adulterous relationship (2 Sam 12 : 18), Amnon, Absalom and also Adonijah. This illustration clearly shows how a generation curse can result in the premature deaths of one's descendants. Notice also that the consequences of David's sins appear to be greater than his actual sins. He commited adultery with Bathsheba secretly but his daughter and concubines were raped (the latter in public). He murdered Uriah the hittite but subsequently lost four sons  (? one of the old testament principle of four fold restituition mentioned in 2 Samuel 12:6). His son with Bathsheba was only seven days old when he died- one example of why infants and children die prematurely! The other sons who died were Amnon, Absalom and  Adonijah ( also well before their time). It is highly probable that Amnon,
Absalom and Adonijah were also held accountable for their own sins in addition to their father's (David's) sins. Please also see the comments of  our Lord Jesus in MATTHEW 23:31,32 (NKJV).

Foot-notes

1. As we are discussing the death of an infant, it would be appropriate to bring up another example of the death of a young one as a consequence of a father's sins. When King Jeroboam's son became sick, the Lord had this to say to him through the prophet Ahijah....

"..you have done more evil than all the other kings  before you ... And since you have refused to acknowledge me, I will bring disaster upon your home and destroy all of your sons-this BOY WHO IS SICK and all those who are well." 1 Kings 14:9,10 TLB. Emphasis mine

Here again, notice the direct relationship of the death of a child as a result of the father's sins. In the same chapter verse 13 we see the bible clearing the son (who died) of any 'wickedness' ... "..this child is the only good thing which the Lord God of Israel sees in the entire family of Jeroboam."

2. Take note that cancer is also associated with a curse. This is illustrated in the statement of David when he heard that Joab had treacherously killed Abner...

"When David heard about it he declared, 'I vow by the Lord that I and my people are innocent of this crime against Abner. Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May each of his CHILDREN be victims of CANCER, or be lepers, or be STERILE, or die of starvation, or be killed by the sword!"  2 Samuel 3:28,29. TLB. Emphasis mine.

In the above example the curse of cancer on Joab's children was on account of his (Joab's ) sin. Notice that sterility is also a curse!

3. For one more example as to why 'children' do not live pass their prime of life take a look at the story of Eli. Eli was a  priest during the time of Samuel. He sinned by honouring his sons more than God  (1 Sam 2:29). His sons Hophni and Phinehas also commited heinous acts against God and Man- treating the Lord's offerings with contempt  (1 Sam 2:17)  and  sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of the Meeting (1 Sam 2:23). Take a look at what was pronounced by God.....

"....there will not be an old man in your family line..... and YOUR DESCENDANTS  WILL  DIE  IN  THE  PRIME OF LIVE  (Living Bible uses the words 'their children shall die by the sword')." 1 Sam 2:31,32. Emphasis and Addition Mine.

Admittedly, 'children' in points 2 and 3 above could also refer to those outside infancy and early childhood.

SOWING AND REAPING

At this juncture, let us consider God's law of sowing and reaping first mentioned in Genesis chapter 8 verse 22 ....

"As long as the  earth  endures, SEEDTIME AND HARVEST,  cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Emphasis mine.

Although the above scripture is primarily concerned with physical sowingand reaping, another scripture in the new testament gives us some insight into its spiritual implications ....

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to  please the Spirit, from the Spirt will reap eternal life."  Galatians 6:7, 8.

This law of sowing and reaping is of paramount importance as it holds a man accountable for his actions. First of all,  it says that our consequences are a direct result of our actions. For example, David's four sons died as a direct consequence of  his sins (the three older sons' sins probably added upon David's sins). In 2 Samuel chapter 24 and 1 Chronicles chapter 21, David numbered the fighting men of Israel against God's will as a result of which 70,000 men died in a plague (some commentators say that the men were also partly responsible because they failed to pay the "temple" tax required during a census as mentioned in Exodus chapter 30 verses 12 and 13). In any case, David moved against the will of God (1 Chronicles 21:1) and all his subjects had to bear a collective responsibility for his action. All the more reason why we need to pray for our leaders as mentioned in 1 Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 and 2.  Conversely, doing  good brings forth  'good' consequences as examplified in the case of Jonathan and David. Jonathan was kind to David and even helped save his life (refer 1 Samuel chapter 20). In return, David showed kindness and took care of Mephiboseth (Jonathan's son) when he became king (2 Samuel 9:7). Thus the law of sowing and reaping not only holds us  ( and our descendants)  accountable for our actions but also endorses the principle that "like begets like".  Secondly,  notice that you always reap more than what you sow. For example, when you plant a seed from an apple, you get an apple tree producing many apples.  So are the consequences of sin... the fruits of sin are always more than the original sin.  David murdered Uriah the Hittite but subsequently lost four sons!  Look also at the following Scripture....

"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for,  for  she has received from the LORD's hand DOUBLE FOR ALL HER SINS."  Isaiah 40:1-2. Emphasis mine.

Thirdly, notice that repentance does not necessarily remove the consequences of your sowing. In the first example of David and Bathsheba, it must not be forgotten that David did repent when the prophet Nathan confronted him with his sins (2 Samuel 12:7-13). God spared his life (2 Sam 12:13) even though the penalty for adultery and murder according to the law of Moses is death (Lev 20:10 and Numbers 35:16-19) but allowed his son with Bathsheba to die (2 Samuel 12:14) and also caused a sword (violence and rebellion) to be in his household (2 Sam 12:10).

In the second example you will notice that David after numbering the fighting men of Israel against God's will, did repent before the Lord (2 chronicles 21:8) but could not avert the disaster that befell his people subsequently. What I am trying to emphasize is that repentance can cause God to have mercy upon our sin or sins but generally speaking we still have to reap the consequences of that sin or sins (law of sowing and reaping). For example, if a man robs a bank and subsequently accepts the Lord and repents, does that mean that he will be spared a prison sentence? Probably not (unless God in his mercy decides otherwise). God forgives him at the spiritual level but at the physical level he still has to serve the sentence imposed by law (do not forget that human justice and law are also from the Lord as stated in Romans chapter 13 verses 1 to 5). Thus you can see that there are two dimensions in operation- the physical dimension and the spiritual dimension. God's promise to forgive us our sins (upon repentance) operates at the spiritual level (1 John 1:9). The physical consequences of the sin or sins may or may not continue to operate and this depends on God's mercy and grace.  He may in his mercy and sovereignty  reduce the sentence to a certain degree. If every man by repentance can escape the consequences of his own sin or sins then God in that sense is actually "mocked" by us!

THE PRINCIPLES OF INHERITANCE

We know from God's Word that curses (and blessings) are passed down from generation to generation.  What is the actual mechanics by which we pass these curses or blessings to our progenies?  Illustrated below are the three possible ways.....
 

Click to see figure 5

 
"PHYSICAL" INHERITANCE

Physical inheritance like wealth being passed down from one generation to another generation is quite self-explanatory. In other words, a hard-working and diligent father will pass his money and properties to his children whilst a drunkard and lazy father will  pass nothing to his children or probably leave his debts behind for them!  Hence, to a certain degree we are able to pass material wealth to our progenies using whatever gifts and talents that the Lord has given us to start with.  Many millionaires are not actually self-made, but have become so by  dilligently  multiplying the  capital passed down from their fathers.
 

GENETIC INHERITANCE

INHERITING CURSES THROUGH GENES.......

In  this modern age of scientific advances and  progress,  new break-throughs have been made in research about our genes and the genetic transfer of characteristics from generation to generation.What in actual fact are genes? Genes are the most basic units of hereditary traits located in chromosomes in human cells. In simple english, cells are the most basic structures of the parts of our body (e.g. hairs are formed from many hair
cells and muscles are formed from many muscle cells) and genes are structures located in strands called chromosomes in these cells. Click to see Figure showing anatomy of human cell. Genes are instrumental in controlling our characteristics. For example, whether  we are tall or short or whether our hair is black or brown will depend on the genes we inherit from our parents. Genes are therefore, passed down from generation to generation (with or without changes in the process).
Now, let us come to the subject of curses being mediated through genes. What is the evidence in this present scientific age? First of all you will noted that the only likely way whereby characteristics can be passed from one generation to another is vai genetic inheritance (you will notice that the Bible in Genesis Chapter 5 verse 3 states that we reproduce after our kind).
Read on and you will find some new revelation beginning to unfold.  Recent studies have shown beyond doubt that illnesses i.e. diseases are transmitted from one generation to another via genes.

What is new is the realization that heart disease, cancer and other major disorders are triggered by defects involving two, three or more genes.  This helps explain why such seemingly " non hereditary" illnesses run in families. Scientists suspect the genes involved in these diseases confer only susceptibility to illness. The disease may not occur unless some harmful environmental factor triggers it. So a person predisposed towards lung cancer may not get the disease unless he or she smokes."

SOURCE:  Article entitled "Genetics: Medicine's amazing leap" published in the Reader's Digest November 1991 issue.

The above article makes two every important points, viz.......

1.  Diseases are carried by genes - a combination of genes (hence they are passed from one generation to another).  However, single genes can also be disease-carriers. Two recent scientific articles have even named single genes as  the  agents  responsible  for causing diseases conditions, viz the RB gene causing retinoblastoma11 (eye cancers)
and the P53 gene linked to recurring cancers12. A newly published genetics text book entitled "The New Genetics and Clinical Practice" lists several disease conditions  which are congenital i.e. born with and carried by genes. Another recent article13 in a popular weekly magazine reports that the gene responsible for a common childhood
leukaemia (medically called acute lymphocytic  leukaemia) has now been found!

2. Apart from the genetic predisposition of a particular disease in a   particular individual. There are external or environmental factors which are necessary to trigger the disease off.  The figure below will illustrate this point more clearly....

click to see figure 6

Foot-note
          There is recent evidence to show that regression of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries including those of the heart) occurs with modification of lifestyle risk factors, i.e. diet, exercise and smoking habits.14

You will notice that the environmental factors  to a certain degree are within our control. In other words, by cutting down our blood cholesterol level through proper diets and by abstaining from alcohol and smoking,  we can in effect reduce our chances of getting a heart attack prematurely. But, we cannot control the passage of defective disease-causing genes down from one generation to another. This is almost invariably under God’s control  (To a certain degree we can "avoid" passing down certain genes through our selection of marriage partners). Remember again what God said...

"....Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers (plural-implying ancestors of more than one generation) to the third and fourth generation. " Num 14 : 18 Emphasis mine.

Notice also that in the above example, I used the term "premature heart attacks". Premature heart attacks occur at an earlier than normal age.It is not necessarily abnormal for an eighty year old man to die from a heart attack as we have shown in the previous chapters that our body tends to degenerate as a result of the  original curse of Adam and narrowing of the coronary (heart) arteries with age is a natural sequelae of this curse.

From our discussion so far, we have established that genes are carriers of disease. Since genes are transmitted down from generation to generation, diseases generally speaking are therefore passed to successive generations as the bible suggests. But is there any relationship between curses and diseases? Take a look at the following Scriptures....

"The LORD will send on you CURSES, confusion and rebuke you in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The LORD will PLAGUE YOU WITH DISEASES until  he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess."  Deuteronomy 28:20, 21 (emphasis mine)

Notice the direct relationship between  ‘Curses"  and  "Diseases’  from the above Scripture. Both are also sequelae of disobedience to God.  Now read on as we go further down to verses 45, 46  and  59  of the same chapter....

"All these CURSES will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and wonder to you AND YOUR DESCENDANTS FOR EVER "  Emphasis mine.

"The LORD will send fearful PLAGUES on you AND YOUR DESCENDANTS, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering ILLNESSES."  Emphasis mine.

Notice from God’s word that curses can come as illnesses on succeeding generations as a consequence of one’s sin or sins. This is one avenue whereby a father’s sins are transmitted to his children to the third and fourth generations as mentioned in Exodus Chapter 20 verse 5 (and other related Scriptures).

Illnesses can be fatal or non-fatal. We have dealt with two examples whereby a father’s sin or sins have led directly to the deaths of their sons (Refer to 2 Samuel 12:14,15,18 and 1 Kings 14:9,10,12,13 and 17). Now let us look at the example of a non-fatal illness being passed down from generation to generation from the Word of God...

The Example of Abraham’s family

The following table illustrates how a curse, in this case infertility can pass down through succeeding generations (possibly mediated by genes).

Click to see figure 7

 
Notice that the curse of infertility  (though finally reversed by God)  passed through three generations (Refer Ex 20:5). Since we reproduce after our kind, there is every possibility that undesirable traits are passed down from one generation to another. However, we must point out that changes can also occur in our genes (something akin to mutation) independent of our forefathers. There is every likelihood that this could also be related to our sins.

Conversely, blessings could also be inherited genetically from our father or forefathers. Take a look at the story of Job. When Job had finished his trial of faith, God rewarded him with a double portion (compared to what he had before) of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. He also had his children restored. Now take a look at the following verses...

"The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.......And he also had seven sons and three daughters...Nowhere in all the land were there found women as BEAUTIFUL as Job’s daughters....." Job 42:12,13,15. Emphasis mine.

The bible says that the Lord blessed Job with the most beautiful daughters in the land. Beauty is certainly a blessing and beauty is also without a doubt genetically inherited (natural beauty that is).

As a concluding note for this section, it must be menioned that curses could also come upon us and our children in the form of famine and violence.  This will be dealt with in a later section.
 

SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE

The Spiritual Blessing

Once again  let us look at the  example of Abraham  (who in spite of his minor failings is still  the father of our faith).  God spoke to Abraham (then known as Abram) when He called him to leave his country and home...

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you...I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;  AND ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU."  Genesis 12:1 and 3. Emphasis mine.

You will notice from the above Scripture that the blessing God gave through Abraham to all the people of the earth is a spiritual blessing and not a physical one  (It is not difficult to see that all the peoples of the world are not materially prosperous today).

Take a look at the following two Scriptures...

"I (God) will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and YOUR DESCENDANTS after you for the generations to come, to BE YOUR  GOD AND THE GOD OF YOUR DESCENDANTS AFTER YOU."  Gen 17 : 7.  Addition and emphasis mine

"And in thy SEED shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice." Genesis 22:18 KJV. Emphasis mine.

From the second scripture, we find that the ultimate blessing is definitely a spiritual one for the seed refers to our Lord Jesus and he has blessed the whole world (not necessarily materially though he has often done it)  through His sacrifice on the cross thereby offering the gift of salvation to all mankind. God being the God of those who accepts His salvation (His spiritual descendants).

"The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham : 'All nations will be blessed through you.' So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." Galatians 3 : 8.

Abraham the man of faith not only blessed his natural children Isaac and Jacob but from him came the nation of Israel and the prophets (who brought God's Word to the people ). Finally from his seed came our Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation first to the nation of Israel and then to us the gentiles. This is what I mean by spiritual inheritance.

FAMILIAR SPIRITS / TRANSFERENCE OF SPIRITS

Just as we can receive Godly spiritual blessings from our godly forefathers, so it is also possible to receive ungodly spirits from ungodly forefathers.

"Nevertheless, as surely as I (God) live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times- not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers....But because my servant Caleb has a DIFFERENT SPIRIT and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his DESCENDANTS WILL INHERIT IT."   Numbers 14: 22, 24. Emphasis and addition mine.

Notice from the above Scripture that Caleb has a different spirit from the rest of them that rebelled against God. If Caleb had God's Spirit  then it is obvious that the rest of them had the devil's spirits (evil spirits). The above scripture also implies that Godly Spiritual anointing is passed downwards (to Caleb's decendants). Conversely, we can also assume that evil spiritual anointing (if there is such a name) will be passed on to one's descendants (not inevitably though).

"You belong to YOUR FATHER, THE DEVIL, you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning....When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."  John 8:44. Emphasis mine.

From the above Scripture you will notice that the Devil has spiritual sons and possibly grandsons i.e. those who carry out his (the devil's) desire. Notice also that lying is one of the traits of evil spirits (when the bible says that it is his native language it means that it is something he is completely at ease with!).

There is another scripture which clearly demonstrates the tendency for  'idol worship' to be inherited (implying some kind of spiritual transference)......

"So while there nations feared the Lord; they also served their idols;THEIR CHILDREN LIKEWISE AND THEIR GRANCHILDREN, AS THEIR FATHERS DID, SO THEY DO TO THIS DAY".   2 Kings 17:41. NASB Emphasis Mine.

Coming back to the example of Abraham again, we find that although Abraham had Jehovah God for his father, he still had little 'weaknesses' which appear to be transmitted to his children (spiritually mediated). The following figure will serve to illustrate this point........

click to see figure 8

Notice that the lies have become greater in magnitude through succeeding generations. The lies of Abram and Isaac were motivated by fear, but the lie of Jacob was a well-planned, downright deception for personal gain!
The bible is very clear that we should give no place for the devil  (Ephesians 4 : 27) as the consequences could become progressively worse! Sins and its consequences are probably multiplied through the generations.

One word about familiar spirits before we leave this section. I would like to quote from the book "Hereditary Traits" by Bill Basansky15...

"Familiar spirits are 'familiar' with a person, place or thing. They are the spirits who are familiar with you. They know about you because they lived with you and around you long enough to become familiar with you."

The author continues by saying that these spirits could be passed down...

"Spirits are passed down from one member of the family or from a member of a closely related group to another."

The word 'familiar spirits' is mentioned a few times in the Old Testament. Refer to the following passages in the King James Version- Lev 20 :27;
2 Chronicles 33 :6, Isaiah 29 :4. King Saul also sought to enquire of a familiar spirit as mentioned in 1 Samuel 28 verses 7 and 8.

CAN WE OVERCOME A GENERATION CURSE?

There is a teaching going around which says that a curse can be "cut off" just by a prayer like some kind of an "on-off" switch. First let me mention that there is no Scriptural basis for such a teaching and secondly if one could cut off a generation curse just by a proclamation, then God's Word as mentioned in Exodus Chapter 20 verse 5 (and many other such verses) would become null and void. The law of sowing and reaping would also be nullified if cutting off a curse was just that simple! Please see Appendix A for further explanation. So what shall we do if we find some kind of "hereditary" condition in our family tree? There are essentially three main steps to observe.....
 
 

1.ASK GOD FOR HIS MERCY

"....... 'I am Jehovah,the merciful and gracious God, ' he said, 'slow to anger and rich in steadfast love and truth. I, Jehovah show this steadfast love to many thousands by FORGIVING THEIR SINS; or else I refuse to clear the guilty, and require THAT A FATHER'S SINS BE PUNISHED IN THE SONS AND GRANDSONS, AND EVEN LATER GENERATIONS.' "  Exodus 34:5-7. Emphasis mine. TLB

Take a careful look at the underlined words in the above Scripture and you will notice that there is a relationship between non-forgiveness of sins by God and the transmission of curses down the generations. It is important therefore to ask the Lord to forgive our sins and to appeal to HIS Mercy as mentioned in the first line of the above Scripture. A genuine plea for forgiveness must be accompanied by a true act of repentance-a total forsaking of our sinful way or ways, restituition and a resolve to do what is right in God's eyes.

Another point to remember is that The bible says that those who show others mercy will also receive mercy themselves...

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
Matt 5 : 7

"....judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement! "  James 2:13  Emphasis mine.

James Chapter 2 verse 13 above clearly states that he who shows mercy would in essence receive a more "merciful judgement" (from God) upon himself.

You will remember that David spared Saul's life twice (1 Samuel 24 : 3 - 7 and 1 Samuel 26 : 8, 9). This probably explains why God spared his life after he had committed adultery and murder later on in his life (2 Samuel 12 : 13)- the penalty for these sins being death according to the Mosaic Law.
 

2. DO WHAT IS RIGHT IN GOD'S EYES (ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL AND GOD'S WORD)

OUR HEAVENLY ACCOUNT

Both Old and New Testaments teach (both implicitly and explicitly) that there is a heavenly account for every human being (or groups of human beings) who ever lived on planet earth. Early on in Genesis we have an interesting Scripture which clearly illustrates this principle.....

Gen 15:16
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
(KJV)

Here, we have God speaking to Abraham about his descendants entering and possessing the promised land. The LORD told Abraham in no uncertain terms that Judgement on the Amorites (inhabitants of Canaan) will have to wait until their cup of iniquity has reached its full measure. This explains to some degree why God commanded Joshua to kill men, women and children (and even animals) when they entered the land of Canaan (their sins -direct and imputed- being ripe for judgement).

Later on in the Book of Daniel, we have these Scriptures....

Dan 5:25-28
25 "This is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN
26 "This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
(NIV)

Verse 28 above clearly states that King Belshazzar's sins have been weighed on the scales and have been found wanting implying that his sins have greatly "out-weighed" whatever good deeds he had done. Here is another Old Testament Scripture which speaks of new sins being "added" upon old one(s), a sort of spiritual accounting principle...

2 Chr 28:13
13 "You must not bring those prisoners here," they said, "or we will be guilty before the LORD. Do you intend to ADD TO OUR SIN and guilt? For our guilt is already great, and his fierce anger rests on Israel."
(NIV) Emphasis Mine

In the New Testament, we have our Lord enunciating  the same principles mentioned above...

Matt 23:31-32
31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.
32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
33 "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
(NIV) emphasis mine
 

The Lord clearly states that sins are counted in measures and that we can fill up or add up to the measures that have already been incurred by our father(s).Remember that judgement comes when the measure or measures of our sins (fathers' sins included) reach a certain level!
 

Conversely from the event in Genesis Chapter 18 VERSES 24 TO 33, we can deduced that the "righteousness of men" can act as a form of credit to help stay God's Judgement to some degree...

Gen 18:32
32 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
(NIV)
 

Another Old Testament Scripture to illustrate the above point would be Psalm 106:30......

Ps 106:30-31
30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.
31 This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.
(NIV) Emphasis mine

Here because of a righteous act of Phinehas, judgement on Israel was checked and he (Phinehas) was given a positive credit in his account (see underlined Scripture) lasting for endless generations i.e. his descendants were perpetually blessed.
Even in the resurrection of the righteous, rewards are given according to what has been accrued in our heavenly accounts...

2 Cor 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
(NIV)

In the light of the Scriptures above, it would thus be imperative for us to do what is right in God's eyes and according to what He says in His Word. Not so much for HIS sake but also for our own sakes. We are saved by grace but good works (according to God's will and God's word) certainly do help to balance out our heavenly accounts thereby averting any impending judgement. Remember that Judgement always begins in the House of God....
 

1 Pet 4:17
17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin first among God's own children. And if even we who are Christians must be judged, what terrible fate awaits those who have never believed in the Lord?
(TLB)

Doing what is right in God's eyes and according to His Word can result in persecution and righteous suffering but in the process we are filling up our "righteous" heavenly accounts! So be encouraged when you are persecuted for His sake!
 

3. EXAMINE FAMILY HISTORY FOR 'HEREDITARY DISEASES'

Now that we know that diseases (many if not all) are transmitted by genes, it would be prudent to examine your family history carefully for any such diseases. Breast Cancer for example runs in families and careful scrutiny in high-risk families could help in early detection, resulting in a more favourable prognosis. It has also been found that the presence of an antibody to the Epstein Barr virus when present in your blood stream could result in a higher possibility of your developing nasal cancer. So it would be wise if you have a family history of nose cancer to check for the
presence of the Epstein Barr virus antibody in your blood. If this antibody is present then you would be advised to go for regular check ups of your nose so that any early cancer may be detected. The same goes for say diabetes. It would be wise to check your blood sugar and also your urine regularly if there is a family history of diabetes. It has also been reported that individuals with a family history (close relatives) of prostatic cancer have about five to six times the normal risk of developing this cancer. Such high risk individuals would be well advised to have their prostate checked up regularly by digital examinations. They should also have their blood prostatic specific antigen checked as a high titre of this antigen means a higher risk of developing this disease.
 
 

 OTHER CAUSES OF GOD'S JUDGEMENT

NOT HONOURING FATHER AND MOTHER.....

"Honour your father and mother, that you may have a LONG, GOOD LIFE in the land the Lord your God will give you."  Exodus 20:12  TLB (emphasis mine).

"Regard (treat with honour, due obedience and courtesy) your father and mother, that YOUR DAYS MAY BE LONG in the land the Lord your God gives you." Exodus 20:12. Amplified Bible. Emphasis mine.

"Honour your father and mother...; if you do so, you shall have
A LONG PROSPEROUS LIFE  in the land he is giving you."  Deuteronomy 5:16. TLB. Emphasis mine.

"For God said, ' Honour your father and mother ' and ' Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. ' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ' Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God, ' he is not to ' honour his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition." Matt 15:4-6.

There are several points to consider with regards to the above Scriptures...

1.  To honour one's father and mother is a command from God. It is repeated many times in the bible and we must be very careful to pay heed to Scriptural commandments which are repeatedly emphasized.

2.  The command to honour includes the provision of financial support (Matt 15:4-6), treating with honour, courtesy and RESPECT. ( Younger children should obey their parents in the Lord as commanded in Ephesians 6:1).  'Emotional support' should aslo be regarded as a form   of honouring one's parents. Sending one's parents to an old folk'shome, in my opinion, would consititute a form of lack of 'emotional  support'.  Our  parents  are  humans-they  also  need  company (our company) in their old age. Notice also that our Lord Jesus asked his  cousin John to take care of His mother (John 19:27) before his death  setting an example for us to follow. He is in essence handing His mother to a close relative for personal care.

3. Failure to honour one's father and mother could result in premature death and a lack of prosperity (the New International Version has this scriptural interpretation of Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 16).....
    "Honour your father and mother...  so that you may live long
     and THAT IT MAY GO WELL WITH YOU in the land the
     LORD your God is giving you."   Emphasis mine. In other words,
     things may not go well with you if you do not honour your parents.
     In addition, Ephesians chapter 6 verse 2 says that this is the first
     commandment with a promise!

4. If we do not take care of our parents, there is every likelihood that our children would not take care of us when we are old.  Remember the Bible says that we are to do unto others as we would have others do unto   us! Please refer to Matthew chapter 7 verse 12 for Scriptural support.

5. Lastly, notice that the penalty for striking or cursing one's parents is death in the Law of Moses (Refer to Exodus 21: 15,17 for Scriptural   support). Death is also the penalty for murder and adultery in the Old Testament hence the seriousness of not honouring one's parents.

BEING UNEQUALLY YOKED......

God's Word is very clear that we should not be 'yoked' with unbelievers ....

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"  2. Cor 6:14. KJV

"What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between THE  TEMPLE OF GOD AND IDOLS? For we are the temple of the living God....." 2 Cor 6 :15,16. Emphasis mine.

A 'yoke' is a wooden cross - piece fastened over the necks of two oxen. In other words, each ox cannot move according to its own will but have to follow the other in whatever direction the other may take. So when we are 'yoked' with a non christian, we are essentially commiting ourselves to follow the 'will' of the non christian (or non christians). Since non christians do not acknowledge or seek the Lord, their will cannot be in accordance with God's perfect will (at least most of the time). Most people associate the above Scriptures with marriage (between a christian and non christian) but if you look at verses 15 and 16 carefully, Paul was speaking about a believer and non-believer having nothing in common as would the temple of God and idols. So this implication could be extrapolated beyond marriage and very likely be extended to cover even business partnerships. The bible is very clear that two cannot walk together except they be agreed  (Amos 3 : 3).  Now take a look at the following Scripture from the Old Testament...
 

"WHEN THE LORD brings you into the Promised Land, as he soon will, he will destroy the following seven nations, all greater and mightier than you are.... DO NOT INTERMARRY with them, nor let your sons and daughters marry their sons and daughters. That would surely result in your young people beginning to worship their gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be hot against you and  HE WOULD SURELY DESTROY YOU."  Deuteronomy 7:1,3,4. TLB. Emphasis mine.

Notice from the above Scripture that inter-marrying with people outside God's covenant (essentially non christians in today's context) could result in DESTRUCTION (early death). Let me bring you forwards from Deuteronomy to the story of Ruth. Remember that Naomi's two sons married moabite (non Israelite) women and died shortly after their marriages (Ruth 1:4,5). I would like to quote three well-known bible commentaries on the cause of their early deaths...

"After the death of their father,  the two sons married Moabite women. This was a violation of the mosaic law (Deut 7:3; Ezra 9: 2,14 ;Neh 13:23), and jewish writers say that  the early deaths of both the young men were divine  judgements inflicted on them for those unlawful connections."  Jamieson, Fausset, Brown16.

"..Her husband died and her two sons soon after their marriage, and the Chaldee says, Their days were shortened, because they transgressed the law in marrying strange wives."  Matthew Henry17.

"And Mahlon and Chilion died. The Targum adds, 'And because they transgressed the decree of the word of the Lord, and joined affinity with strange people, therefore their days were cut off.'"  Adam Clarke18.

Notice that three widely accepted bible commentaries quite categorically state that being unequally yoked in marriage could result in premature death. Just to remind us of the seriousness of the situation, look at Ezra 10 verses 3 and ll. They refer to the Israelites who had married foreign wives whilst in exile. Notice that they  (the Israelites)  had to put away their foreign wives and children in order to turn away the fierce anger of the Lord  (Ezra 10:14).

EXPLOITING WIDOWS AND ORPHANS

"You must not exploit widows or orphans; if you do so in any way, and they cry to me for help, I will surely give it. And my anger shall flame out against you, I AND I WILL KILL YOU with enemy armies, so that your wives will be widows and your children fatherless." Exodus 22:22-24. TLB. Emphasis mine.

Notice from the above verses that it is extremely dangerous to take advantage of widows and orphans! A father is the provider and protector of his family and God takes upon himself this role for the fatherless and widows ....

"...his name is the LORD - and rejoice before him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."  Psalm 68:4,5.
"The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow ....." Psalm 146:9.

There are many bible verses commanding the Israelites to leave something behind after the harvest for the widows and orphans (Refer Deut 24:19-21). They are also exhorted not to forget the levites, foreigners, widows and orphans during the festivals of weeks and shelters  (Deut 16: 11,14).  Notice also that in the new testament there are provisions for the needs of the widows (Acts 6:1,3;1 Tim 5:9). Orphans are also mentioned in James chapter 1 verse 27.
 

FAILURE TO WARN OTHERS OF THEIR SINS

This rather unusual heading warrants some attention. Take a look at the following verses from Ezekiel Chapter 3.....

"Son of dust, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel; whenever I send my people a warning, pass it on to them at once. IF YOU REFUSE TO WARN THE WICKED WHEN I WANT YOU TO TELL THEM'; you are UNDER THE PENALTY OF DEATH; .......they will die in their sins, but I will punish you. I will demand YOUR BLOOD for theirs." Ezekiel 3:17,18. TLB. Emphasis mine.

Ezekiel was appointed as a prophet (by God) to the nation of Israel. It was a very high calling with an equally heavy responsibility. When God commanded him to deliver a warning to the Israelites regarding their sins, He was to have no option but to do as he was told. You will notice from the above Scripture that the warning from God carried the death penalty (if defied by the Israelites). It was just not any ordinary warning. If he failed to deliver the warning or message, he would have to bear the same punishment that the unrepentant Israelites had to bear i.e. the penalty of death. That explains why in this case 'a failure to warn others of their sins' could result in such serious consequences. It is quite obvious that not everyone of us are called to do the same kind of task! The example above should also not be extrapolated to each and every sin that a brother or sister in Christ commits. The new testament has quite explicit guidelines as to the steps to take if and when a brother sins against us (Matthew 18:15-17). There is even provision for 'accusations' against an elder of the church (1 Tim 5:19,20). We have also brought up the example whereby Paul dealt with a brother living in sin with his father's wife (1 Cor 5:1,5). It can be deduced that this brother must have been warned before Paul decided on such drastic action. What I am driving at is that it is a Scriptural principle to 'warn' God's people of their sins. This, of course, is done so as to give them a chance to repent and to be brought back to the 'fellowship'. It would also be prudent to bear in mind that should we receive a specific command from God for a special duty as in the case of Ezekiel, we should be very careful to do what God says (who knows, the consequences of not doing could be the same as mentioned in the above Scripture). Notice that Ezekiel's job and responsibility was only to warn them. Whether they repented or not was not his direct responsibility......

"But if you warn them and they keep on sinning, and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins, but you ARE BLAMELESS-you have done all you could." Ezekiel 3:19. TLB. Emphasis Mine.

We need to be reminded that the above discussion applies to christians only. Non-christians do not come under our jurisdiction unless there is a specific Word from God to the contrary..........

"What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside....." 1 Cor 5:12,13. Emphasis Mine.

 JUDGEMENT ON A NATION'S  SINS

King Solomon whilst dedicating the temple in Jerusalem made the following prayer..

"If there is a famine in the land caused by plant disease or locusts or caterpillars, or if Israel's enemies besiege one of her cities, or if the people are struck by an epidemic or plague... then WHEN THE PEOPLE REALIZE THEIR SIN  and pray towards this Temple, hear them from heaven and forgive and answer all who have made an honest confession ...... " 1 Kings 8:37-39 .TLB. Emphasis mine.

Without doubt, the bible clearly teaches that the sin of a nation will bring God's wrath and judgement on its people. Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 28 has already listed the kinds of curses which will come upon the Israelites if they chose not to listen to the Lord or obey his laws. Inevitably, some of these curses will result in the premature deaths of some of the Israelites.  When the people of Israel commited idolatory, God sent the prophet Ezekiel with the following statement ...

"..you are going to perish from war and famine and disease."  Ezekiel 6:11. TLB.

Jeremiah the prophet had this to say...

"He (the LORD) will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins .... I  (God)  will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague." Jeremiah 14:10,12. Addition mine.

Now back again to Ezekiel and look at the following two Scriptures ...

"The word of the Lord came to me 'Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals....'"  Ezekiel 14:12,13.

"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgements-SWORD AND FAMINE AND WILD BEASTS AND PLAGUE ....." Ezekiel 14:21. Emphasis mine.

Notice the fourfold judgement of God upon sin and the principle that judgement not only comes upon man but may also come upon his children (Refer Jeremiah 11:22), and sometimes on his animals too. We have also seen previously, that when a leader sins, judgement could come upon his subjects (Refer to 2 Samuel chapter 24 and 1 Chronicles chapter 21). The other ways in which judgement can come onto a nation is through exile and captivity (Jeremiah 20:4). Just a point to add at this juncture. Even though there is 'collective' responsibility and 'collective' judgement when God deals with a nation, not all the people of the nation that is judged will necessarily receive the full 'punishment' of God . For example, when Joshua and Caleb gave a good report (in faith) as opposed to the other ten spies, the whole nation went in a wilderness 'wandering' but Joshua and Caleb were finally blessed with entry into the promised land  (Numbers Chapter 13 and 14 and book of Joshua.). Again in Luke chapter 21 verses 20 and 21, our Lord Jesus told those in Judea to flee when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies. Those who heeded His advice were spared their lives when Titus destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. Israel was God's covenant people in the old testament just as the church is God's covenant people today. Judgement can also come upon the church  (its members) today as shown by the following Scripture ....

"For if he eats the bread and drinks from the cup unworthily, not thinking about the body of Christ and what it means, he is eating and drinking God's judgement upon himself ... That is why MANY OF YOU ARE WEAK AND SICK AND SOME HAVE EVEN DIED (prematurely)." 1 Cor 11:29, 30. TBL. Emphasis and addition mine.

Even the non-covenant people (non christians in today's context) cannot escape the judgement of God.......

"As a result Joshua and his troops crushed the army of Amalek, putting them to the sword.... I (God) will utterly blot out every trace of Amalek"  Exodus 17:13,14 TLB Addition mine.

The Amalekites attacked the Israelites at Rephidim and suffered the consequences of their own sin.

A few more scriptures before we leave this topic of Judgement on a nation's sins. There is a very interesting verse  (or rather verses)  associating criminal activity with man's rebellion ...

"In their times of rebellion against God there was no peace. Problems troubled the nation on every hand. CRIME WAS ON THE INCREASE EVERY WHERE. There were external wars, and internal fighting of city against city, for GOD WAS PLAGUING THEM WITH ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE." 2 Chronicles 15:5,6. TLB. Emphasis mine.

Notice that when we rebel against God, He allows criminal activity to 'beseige' us. The godly, however, can call to the Lord for his help and protection.

"O LORD, DELIVER me from evil men. Preserve me from the violent ..... Keep me out of their power. Preserve me from their violence...." Psalm 140 :1,4. TLB

The last example comes from the book of Jeremiah. The people of Judah refused to free their hebrew slaves (after six years) as commanded in the law of Moses (Ex 21 : 2, Jeremiah 34:14). By not obeying God's law they are indirectly profaning and defiling His Name (Jeremiah 34:16) and the Lord therefore decreed the following...

"Therefore, says the Lord because you will not listen to me and release them, I will release you to THE POWER OF DEATH by war and famine and disease..." Jeremiah 34:17 TLB. Emphasis mine.

Notice that the power of death refers to a 'person' and war, famine, disease are the means by which this power works. Look also at the following supportive Scriptures...

"...I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." Revelation 6 : 8

"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire."  Revelation  20 : 14.

The bible quite clearly implies that 'Death' and 'Hades' are spirit entities. See also 1 Corinthians 15 : 26 and Hebrews 2 : 14.
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CHAPTER 8

JUDGEMENT BY MAN

The final source of all judgement is still from God. John Chapter 3 verse 27 says..

"To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven."

Although the above Scripture has in mind 'good things' from God, it would be fairly safe to deduce that 'bad things' have to have the explicit permission of the supreme authority of this universe i.e. God. A study of chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Job will make this point very clear. Sometimes, instead of direct judgement from 'heaven', God uses man  (leadership or goverments) to execute his judgement on sinners ....

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves... For he (governing authority) is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid for he does not bear THE SWORD FOR NOTHING. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to  BRING PUNISHMENT ON THE WRONGDOER."   Romans 13:1, 2, 4. Addition and emphasis mine.

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account...." Hebrews 13:17

The Bible is very clear that both christians and non christians alike must obey the governing authorities e.g. the leaders of our country. The christian, in addition, must also submit to his spiritual leaders as shown in Hebrews 13:17. Even in the old testament, when Korah and company rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron, Moses had this to say...

"It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?' " Numbers 16:11.

Rebelling against God's appointed 'servants' is in essence going against God. There is only one scriptural exception to this i.e. when man's law goes against God's law.....

The high priest (religious leader) had this to say to Peter and the apostles ...

" 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,' he said. 'Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's (Jesus') blood."  Acts 5 : 28. Addition mine.

The response however was...

"Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!" Acts 5 : 29.

Christian leaders are however reminded not to 'lord over' those under their care ....

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers...not lording it over those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock." 1 Peter 5:2,3.

"Not (as arrogant, DICTATORIAL and overbearing persons) domineering over those in your charge, but being examples...." 1 Peter 5:3. Amplified bible. Emphasis mine.

Christian leadership should not be dictatorial but should be a leadership by example. In like manner, christian wives are also commanded to be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22)

So the Bible quite clearly says that rebelling against authority brings upon the wrongdoer the 'sword of punishment' (Romans 13:4). If you break the law of the land you are liable to pay the full penalty of such an offence e. g. if you commit murder you are liable to be executed by the state  hence your death will be a premature one. Even in the church, a christian leader has authority to commit a brother who sins (not for all sins though) to Satan for the destruction of his flesh (?leading to premature death).  The apostle Paul has this to say......

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife....... I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. " 1 Cor 5:1,5 NASB

In the Old Testament, the leaders had the authority to execute the death penalty for certain offences.  See table No. 5 for a list of these offences.   Even though these 'laws' were primarily for Israel (a theocractic nation), the gravity of such offences in God's eyes must not be forgotten in our present day context.

From the above examples, it is very clear that judgement by men ( the authorities) can result in premature death.
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CHAPTER 9

SOME  CONCLUDING REMARKS....

IS THE OLD TESTAMENT RELEVANT TODAY?

We can classify the contents of the Old Testament into three broad categories, viz,

1. God’s Spiritual Principles (till the end of the age)
2. Examples set for us
3. God’s Laws for the different dispensations before Christ’s Resurrection

God’s Spiritual Principles (till the end of the age)

Gen 8:22
22 "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
(NIV)

After the flood of Noah, God decreed that seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease till the end of the age. Man, in spite of his overwhelming breakthroughs in scientific advances and knowledge can never undo God’s decree as stated in Genesis 8:22. Another good example is God’s decree that Man (and the other living creatures) will reproduce after their kind......

Gen 1:24
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine

Gen 1:27-28
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
(NIV) Even though “after his kind” is not mentioned in Gen 1:27-28, this is implied in Genesis 5:3 below...

Gen 5:3
3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
(NIV)

Surprising as it may seems, our children not only look like us but also inherit our traits and characteristics, be they good or bad. It should also not come as a surprise to find the Bible mentioning that sins can be passed down from generation to generation (Exodus 20:5; Ezekiel 18:2). This applies to both Old and New Testaments till the end of our present age.

These, therefore, are examples of God’s decrees as stated in the Old Testament (there are many more), which cannot be undone by Man’s ingenuity till the end of this age.

Examples set for us

1 Cor 10:7-11
7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry."
8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.
9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-- and were killed by snakes.
10 And do not grumble, as some of them did-- and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
(NIV) Emphasis Mine

The context of 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 verses one to eleven is with reference to the disobedient Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years. They committed sexual immorality (verse 8) and also tested the Lord (verse 9) and reaped the consequences of their own sins. The Apostle Paul states in verse 11 above that these things happened to them to serve as examples and were written down as warnings for us. It has been said that History is the study of men’s past mistakes so that “History” may not repeat itself. The Old Testament is God’s History lesson for us not to make the same mistakes (or sins) that our “forefathers” committed. Conversely, acts of faith by our “forefathers” should serve as good, guiding examples for us in the present time.

God’s laws for the different dispensations before christ’s resurrection

Theologians have classified Biblical History into various dispensations, a dispensation being a period of time under which mankind is answerable to God for how it has obeyed the revelation of God which it has received. There are seven dispensations in Biblical History, as illustrated below....

Click to see diagram

Each dispensation portrays the way or ways in which God in His Sovereignty relates to MAN vis a vis His (God’s) Laws and commandments. In the Garden of Eden, God had only one commandment i.e. Not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Sin in the Garden of Eden was therefore missing God’s Mark or commandment of “not eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and Evil.” Sin, in the time of Moses, was the transgression of the Law of Moses given by God to Israel on Mount Sinai. It follows, therefore, that God deals differently in different dispensations. Each new dispensation (with its Laws and commandments) supercedes the previous one. The commandment “not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” ended with Adam’s Fall and is therefore not relevant to Noah who lived in a different dispensation. The dispensation before the Resurrection of Christ was the Dispensation of Law whereby obedience to the Law of Moses was the index of righteousness....

Rom 2:13
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. NIV

No one has fulfilled all the requirements of the Law except Christ. The Law, therefore, only served as a schoolmaster pointing us to Christ and today,  it is faith in the finished work of Christ that saves and justifies us before God (Galatians 3:11, 24, 25). The finished work of Christ, therefore, spelled the end of the Law......

Rom 10:4
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
(NIV)

Once again we would like to stress that Jesus had fulfilled all the requirements of the Law of Moses (Matt 5:17,18; Galatians 3:13) and those who strive to the keep the law, in fact, put themselves under a curse...

Gal 3:10
10 All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
(NIV)

What does all this mean to us as New Testament Christians? In simple terms, the Old Testament as a whole, including the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments (which by the way, also contains the Sabbath ruling) is not binding on the New Testament Christian. What then is binding on us as New Testament Christians? Appended below is an excerpt from my article entitled “Knowing God’s Will”....

“The Logos (Or General Word) as contained in the Scriptures is divided into the OLD and NEW Testaments. New Testament teachings and principles (with qualifications below) reflect the General Will of God for all Christians. Having said thus, we should further clarify that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain practices and principles pertaining to the Law of Moses and also Kingdom principles and practices taught by our Lord Jesus Christ (Remember that Jesus lived in the dispensation of Law but taught Kingdom principles at the same time).  For example. Jesus’ teaching pertaining to tithing (Matt 23:23) is valid only during the dispensation of the Law of Moses and is not binding on New Testament Christians. Whereas his teaching on divorce (Matt 19:3-9) is a New Testament Kingdom Principle applicable to all New Testament Believers. In addition, we must also bear in mind that there is a distinction between principles and practices before the advent of the Holy Spirit (before Acts Chapter 2) and principles and practices after the advent of the Holy Spirit (Acts Chapter 2 and following). The drawing of lots (Acts 1:26) to find an apostolic replacement for Judas (who hanged himself) is not the norm for Spirit-filled Christians, for this method of discerning God’s Will was before the advent of the Spirit in Pentecost. To recapitulate, let me just say that Kingdom principles taught in the Gospels and the New Testament Scriptures after Acts Chapter One reflect the General Will of God and is a General Guide for every Born Again, Spirit-Filled Believer.

Just an example to illustrate this point at this juncture...

Rom 13:7
7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
(NIV)

We are commanded to pay our taxes to those in authority (Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar). It is therefore not necessary to pray whether to pay our taxes or not because this commandment is already incorporated in the New Testament “LOGOS” and is binding on every Born-Again believer.

Here is another Scriptural example......

Eph 4:28
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
(NIV)

The Thief who has become a Christian must no longer steal (true repentance) but instead engage in productive activity so as to be able to provide for needy brothers and sisters. In other words, a Christian need not have a direct WORD (Rhema) from the Lord to refrain from stealing. The General Will of God for a Christian (as mentioned in Ephesians 4:28) is that the Christian who has been stealing, must stop stealing, repent of his sin and do something productive instead.”

To sum it all up, only the Kingdom Principles taught in the Gospels and the “Logos” after Acts Chapter One are binding on the New Testament Christian. There are, however, certain relevant passages (not all) of the Old Testament which contain spiritual principles, examples and warnings which we need to pay heed to, so that the lessons of Biblical history need not repeat itself.
 

WHAT ABOUT JOB AND THE BLIND MAN IN JOHN CHAPTER 9?

THE CASE OF JOB

The story of Job in the Old Testament appears to pose a problem to the general trend of thought garnered from the Scriptures in the preceding chapters- that sin and sickness are directly related one to another. Does Job represent the exception rather than the rule? Let me state categorically here that our God is a Sovereign God. He makes the rules and He also makes the exceptions. There is no doubt in my mind that the sickness that befell Job was not due to his sin or sins. In the case of Job, we are given the background spiritual scenario that preceded his illness (and calamities).
 

Job 1:8

8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."

(NIV)
 

In verse 8 above, we have four spiritual attributes of Job stated no other than from the mouth of God.......

1. He is blameless
2. He is upright
3. He fears God
4. He shuns evil

Notice that God did not say that Job was sinless but that he was blameless. In other words, he (Job) puts himself continually "right" before the Lord. Being upright is the opposite of being "crooked" and fearing God is a consequence of one being blameless and upright. Anyone who fears God would invariably shun evil.

Job 1:9-11

9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied.

10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.

11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

(NIV)
 

Here in verses 9 to 11 above, Satan attributes Job's fear of God directly to the latter's (God's) blessing on him (Job). So if God were to take His blessing and protection (Verse 11) away, Job would no longer be blameless, upright and would no longer fear God or shun evil. After having destroyed Job's animals, servants and children (notice the order of the destruction), we move on to Chapter 2 where God says the following......
 
 

Job 2:3

3 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."

(NIV) Emphasis Mine
 

In verse 3 above, God categorically says that THERE WAS NO REASON (implying no sinful cause) for the calamities that befell Job. Satan then takes the spiritual conflict one step further....
 

Job 2:4-5

4 "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life.

5 But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face."

(NIV)
 

Here in verses 4 and 5 above we have Satan asking God's permission to inflict physical affliction on Job and God says "Go ahead" in verse 6 but Satan cannot take his (Job's) life.
 

Job 2:6

6 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life." (NIV) Emphasis Mine.

Here is one very important spiritual principle. Only God can give life and only God can take it away.
See also verse below......
Deut 32:39
39 "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.
(NIV) Emphasis mine
 

So from the above discussion (and Scriptures), we can plainly see that the physical affliction inflicted on Job's body (in physical terms, these were "boils"- see Job 2:7) was not related to his sins but was a result of God allowing Satan to test him (Job). Therefore, we can conclude that the case of Job is an exception rather than the rule- an exception to the general spiritual principle taught and illustrated in the Bible that sin is directly related to sickness. Having said all this, we would also have to acknowledge several deductions from the story of Job.....
 

1. That no one else in the Bible (other than Jesus who was one step ahead in that He was sinless) was counted worthy to be called "blameless, upright, one who fears God and shuns evil" by God HIMSELF. In fact God Himself says in Job 1:1 that "...There is no one on earth like him..."

2. That not many in the Bible have been blessed materially as Job had been (see Job 1:3 for a list of his properties). So his "testing" was directly related to his blessing.

3. That Job's testing did not materially affect his Life Span on planet earth. In fact, his life span was extended such that he could see his great grandchildren (Job 42:16).

4.  That all the calamities that befell Job appear to happen in a rather short period of time (something quite unheard of even in terms of biblical precedent), viz, Sabeans took his oxen and asses and killed his servants, followed by fire from heaven destroying his sheep and servants, followed by Chaldeans taking his camels and killing his servants, followed by a great wind causing his eldest son’s house to collapse (killing the young men there)- Job Chapter 1 verses 15 to 19.

5. That at the end of Job’s testing, we find him being doubly blessed as far as material possessions are concerned. He also had his children restored with three daughters who were the most beautiful in the land.

DO you know of any sick christian brother and sister fulfilling the criteria mentioned above? Do you know of a christian brother or sister suffering from cancer being doubly blessed and being able to live long enough to see his or her great grandchildren? In the first place how many sick christians are blameless, upright, fear God and shun evil? What am I getting at? It is simply this, the case of Job is an exception and God does allow a trial of physical affliction or "sickness" as a test of faith but this appears to be a very rare exception. Interestingly, take note that there were no more cases of "Job" (someone like him) after this in the Bible!
 
 

THE CASE OF THE MAN BORN BLIND
 

John 9:1-2

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
(NIV)

You will notice from verse 2 above that the disciples were aware of the Generation curse enunciated in Exodus Chapter 20 verse 5 and other related verses. Before you write this 'Generation Curse' off as a vestige of the Old Testament Mosaic Law (and hence not being applicable to the New Testament Christian), let me assure you that the Generation Curse is only one aspect of the Law of Sowing and Reaping which was instituted in the early chapters of Genesis. Exodus Chapter 20 verse 5 merely "spelled out" this law in more explicit terms. Again if you go back to the Book of Genesis you will see that there was an infertility "curse" on Abraham/Sarah which was passed down to Isaac/Rebekah and finally to Jacob/Rachel long before the Mosaic Law (see figure 7). In the New Testament, Jesus quite clearly stated that we can "fill up" the measure of our forefather's sins and He also in no uncertain terms equated sickness with sin (see verses below).........
 

Matt 23:32

32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
(NIV)
 

Matt 9:2

2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."

Matt 9:5-6

5 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

(NIV)
 

Going back to John Chapter 9, let us now see how Our LORD answered the disciples' questions.....
 

John 9:3

3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. (NIV)

John 9:3

3 "Neither," Jesus answered. "But to demonstrate the power of God.
(TLB)
 
 

In verse 3, Jesus stated quite clearly that the blindness was not the result of this man's sins or his parents' sins. I would like to mention three points here.......

First of all, that Jesus specifically said that the Blind Man in John Chapter 9 was not blind because of his sins or his parents sins. He did not make a blanket statement saying that all sicknesses are not due to one's sins or one's parents' sins. If sicknesses are not due to sins why does James Chapter 5 Verse 16 require that we "confess our trespasses to one another.....that we may be healed"?
 

James 5:15-16

15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

(NKJ) Emphasis Mine.
 

Secondly, Jesus only said that the man's blindness was not due to his sins or his parents' sins. He did not mention the possibility that it could be due to the sins of his grandfather or great grandfather. Remember that the generation curse goes down to the third or fourth generation.

Thirdly, Jesus went on further to say that "this happened (his blindness) so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" [addition mine] or as the Living Bible paraphrases it so as to "demonstrate the power of God." In other words, God allowed this sickness or infirmity (for some reason not disclosed) in this man so that the miracle of healing by the Son of God would show forth the power of God and in so doing bring some to Christ.

Later verses of John Chapter 9 showed what the power of God did to the blind man's life....
 

John 9:35-38

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and said, "Do you believe in the Messiah?"
36 The man answered, "Who is he, sir, for I want to."
37 "You have seen him," Jesus said, "and he is speaking to you!"
38 "Yes, Lord," the man said, "I believe!" And he worshiped Jesus.

(TLB) Emphasis Mine
 
 

In short, he accepted Jesus as his Lord as a result of the healing miracle in his life.

Admittedly, we do not have all the answers in this case but I think it should clearly be made known that the spiritual principle relating sin to sickness is definitely not negated by the example in John Chapter 9.
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CHAPTER 10

MANNER OF DEATH

We have looked at the normal life span of man as illustrated and examplified in the bible. What about the manner of one's death? Has the Bible anything to say about the manner in which one should depart from this world? Take a close look at the two sets of tables No. 6 and 7 showing the 'manner of death' of some of the bible characters.

l. The first table #6 shows the men of God who lived full live spans (during their particular period of time). These were men of faith who, though not entirely sinless, walked according to the light that God gave them most of the time. You will notice that they all died peacefully at a ripe old age (death being the end of their calling and hence the end of their life span). In fact God told Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 verse 15 the following words ....

"(But you (Abraham) will die IN PEACE, AT A RIPE OLD AGE)" TLB. Addition and emphasis mine.

Take a look at another interesting supportive Scripture ....

"Then Ahijah said to Jeroboam's wife, 'Go on home, and when you step into the city, the child will die. All of Israel will mourn for him and bury him, but he is the only member of your family WHO WILL COME TO A QUIET END. FOR THIS CHILD IS THE ONLY GOOD THING which the Lord God of Israel sees in  the entire family of Jeroboam." 1 Kings 14:12,13. TLB. Emphasis mine.

There is a relationship between 'godliness' as examplified by Abraham, the 'goodness' (in God's eyes) of the child and quiet, peaceful deaths.

The other point to note is that they were generally aware of their impending deaths (death should not come as a shock to one walking in God's perfect will but should actually be a well planned event e. g. Jacob had time to bless and prophesy for his sons before he died and Moses and Aaron could likewise pass on their respective anointings before they died).
As a general rule, God makes known  his secrets and plans (though not all) to his servants and the timing of death should be no exception.....

"Then the LORD said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do ?' " Genesis 18:17

"Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7

2. Now take a look at table #7 which has two sections. Section A shows those who were persecuted  (and died)  for righteouness' sake. They as a rule had an idea of their impending deaths. In the example of Jesus, his suffering and death were even prophesied many years before He was born (see Isaiah Chapter 53). There is another interesting verse which says that Jesus the Lamb of God was slain even as far back as the foundation of the world.....

"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb SLAIN FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD."  Revelation Chapter 13:8. KJV. Emphasis mine.

In other words, death by matyrdom is a high calling planned in advance and in great detail by God.  It is not a co-incidence or an accident. God sometimes uses suffering to glorify His Name  (John 21:19). In John chapter 17 verse 4, Jesus said that accomplishing God's will on earth causes HIM (God) to be glorified (with or without suffering)....

"I glorified thee on the earth, having  ACCOMPLISHED THE WORK which thou hast given Me to do." NASB. Emphasis mine.

However, for those called to suffer and die for the Lord's sake, divine enablement is definitely bestowed from above. Even though their 'time' on earth has been essentially shortened, we must remember that in God's eyes, they have in effect lived out a 'full' life span.

On the other hand, section B has a list of bible characters who were essentially covenant people  (both new and old testament saints), initially walking right with God but subsequently abandoning their calling. As a general rule, notice that their deaths were sudden, unexpected and premature and except in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, all of them died violently! Two more examples to illustrate this point. 1 Kings Chapter 13 has the story of a man of God who defied the 'Word of the Lord'-essentially going against God's Word and expressed Will. He also died prematurely, violently and suddenly (Refer 1 Kings 13:21-24). Turn the pages of the bible backwards and you have the story of the twelve spies sent out to spy the land of Canaan. Two said (in faith) "let's go in" whilst the other ten said "no don't go, the people there are stronger and taller than we are  (in defiance of God's Word and Will again)." See Deuteronomy Chapter 1 verses 19 to 32. Then when they (those who rebelled) had a change of heart and wanted to go in, Moses told them not to because  God will not be with them. But again they rebelled against God, went in without the LORD and some were killed (Deut 1:42-44).

Dear Christians... you may be men or women of God but please make sure that you are walking according to God's Word and in accordance with His expressed Will. Otherwise He will not be with you  (See  Deut 1:42 again) and His hedge of protection will not be around you! The demons will have you for supper and you may even die prematurely (and so have some christians sad to say). Remember that there is a curse when you trust in man (essentially moving in the 'flesh') instead of in God and surely we would not want to allow curses to accumulate upon ourselves.....

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on FLESH  for his strength...." Jeremiah 17:5.  Emphasis mine.

Learn from the examples above... Saul, Samson, Ananias and Sapphira, the man of God in 1 Kings 13, the ten spies in Deuteronomy chapter 1. These were covenant people, essentially old and new testament saints, well, christians, so to say.

Sometimes outward appearances and actions can be deceiving. Remember God looks at the thoughts and intentions of our heart....

"...Men judge by outward appearance, but I (God) look at a man's thoughts and intentions (NIV uses the word 'heart')."  1 Sam 16:7. TLB. Addition mine.

Remember that people in the light have a higher accountability before God (and are therefore more prone to early judgement). Also a more matured christian would be more accountable when compared to a babe in Christ. So would a person holding a high leadership position in God's Kingdom when compared to an ordinary church-goer. Refer to Luke 12:48 and John 15:2 for Scriptural support.

We have not discussed in detail the lives and manner of death of non-convenant people, because God's primary purpose for them is to get them to repent and come to Christ (2 Peter 3:9).  We are not to envy them if and when they prosper (Psalm 49:16,17,19) for 'judgement and punishment' escapes no man even up to eternity!  They are also not exempted from the effects of a generation curse.
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CHAPTER 11

GOD’S PLAN AND MAN'S PURPOSE

As we come to the end of this book, let us take a look at God's plan for mankind and our purpose in this world.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about . Your workmanship is marvellous-and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born  AND SCHEDULED EACH DAY OF MY LIFE BEFORE I BEGAN TO BREATHE. Every day was recorded in your Book!" Psalms 139:13-16. TLB. Emphasis mine.

The above Scripture clearly shows that God has a plan for everyone born into this world even before they leave their mother's womb. Since one cannot be a christian or non-christian in his or her mother's womb,  it follows that God has a perfect plan for every human being born into this world. The  non-christian would need to receive Christ before he can begin to move in God’s perfect will  (the Bible says in Ephesians Chapter 2 verse 2,  that every non-christian is essentially a child of disobedience). A christian would need to know and obey God's Word and would need to yield to the Holy Spirit so as to be in God's perfect will. Both christians and non-christians have the free-will and free choice to decide.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew (chose) you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5. Marginal note in brackets.

From the above verse, you will notice that the prophet Jeremiah was chosen before he was even 'formed' in his mother's womb. Did you realise that God has already chosen a vocation  (essentially a calling)  for you before you were even born? And if He has chosen a vocation for you, He would naturally give you the gifting, talent and enablement to 'fulfill’ this  calling. The question is whether 'are we willing to follow God's plans for our lives' or to go our own way. Adam went his own way when he took the 'forbidden' fruit. So, did King Saul and Judas Iscariot and the thousands and millions who finallly perished and are awaiting judgement. God's way is not necessarily the easy way as our Lord said...

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and MANY enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and ONLY A FEW FIND IT." Matthew 7:13,14. Emphasis mine.

God's way involves denial of self and sometimes persecution and suffering....

"Then he (Jesus) said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must DENY HIMSELF (put God's will above his own will) and take up his cross DAILY and follow me."  Luke 9:23. Emphasis and addition mine.

Notice that the walk with God is a daily walk of self denial and self crucifixion.

"..everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." 2 Tim 3:12.

True followers of Jesus (doers of the Word) cannot escape persecution in this world.

"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or me his prisoner. But join with me in SUFFERING FOR THE GOSPEL..." 2 Tim 1:8. Emphasis mine.

"But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But IF YOU SUFFER FOR DOING GOOD AND YOU ENDURE IT, THIS IS COMMENDABLE BEFORE GOD. TO THIS YOU WERE CALLED, BECAUSE CHRIST SUFFERED FOR YOU, LEAVING YOU AN EXAMPLE, that you should follow in his steps. 'He commited no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth.'"  1 Peter 2:20-22. Emphasis mine.

Notice that the only Scriptural basis for suffering is FOR THE GOSPEL'S SAKE (or in the old testament because of one's faith in Jehovah). Suffering for doing wrong e.g. stealing and being put in prison, is just sowing unrighteousness and reaping unrighteousness. Peter compares Scriptural suffering with that shown by Christ because he suffered even though he  commited no sin!  His suffering is  a calling to fulfill God's purpose for his life in this world-not because of wrongdoing, sin or because of a generation curse! Cancer is therefore not a form of godly suffering (if cancer is godly suffering why do we pray to be healed of it?) Cancer cannot bring God any glory!  James says that we should rejoice when we face trials (directly from God) because these trials are tests of our faith and help us develop perseverance (James 1:2-4).

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, remember that our Life Span is essentially the time alloted to us to do God's will on planet earth...

"For David, after HE HAD SERVED THE PURPOSE OF GOD in his own generation, FELL ASLEEP (DIED), and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay;" Acts 13:36. NASB. Addition and Emphasis mine.

The above verse says that David died only after he had fulfilled God's plan for him on planet earth (nothing sooner). It is definitely God's Will for us to live out our full life span (the exception being a call to be matyred for righteousness' or the gospel's sake). I wish,  however,  to add that good health should accompany a full life span as it would be difficult or even impossible for us to accomplish God's Will for our lives  (to the end)  if we are crippled with a disease like a stroke or afflicted by a debilitating disorder. Remember Moses had good eye-sight and was as strong as a young man (Refer Deuteronomy 34:7  TLB)  at the time of his death  (end of calling at 120 years of age!). In fact he (Moses) could climb Mount Nebo (estimated to be about 4000 feet above sea level) just before he died.

The list of causes of premature death in this book is not exhaustive. We also realise that not everyone who has gone against God's Word or His expressed will necessarily die young.  This goes for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren  too (God's mercy and ways are higher than ours).  WE do not have all the answers, but knowing some of the causes of 'Premature and early death' could help us steer ourselves from some potentially dangerous situations.

If you are already a christian, continue to serve God and to walk according to His Word and His Will. Keep on developing and cultivating the FEAR OF THE LORD. Remember that you are in the light and your accountability is higher (than that of the non christian). Those in leadership positions and those actively engaged in spiritual warfare should particularly make sure that they are not only grounded in God's Word but are also sincere "DOERS' of His Word as cautioned in the following scriptures.......

".....my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge..."  Hosea 4:6

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."  James 1:22 KJV

If you have not accepted JESUS as your Lord and Saviour, ask Him to come  into your life today.  In the Old testament there were only two classes of people-covenant people and non covenant people e.g. jews and gentiles.  Today, there are also only covenant people (christians) and non covenant people (non christians).  The bible says in Romans Chapter ten verses 9 and 10...............
 

Rom 10:9
9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(NIV)

God grants all those who accept Him, forgiveness of sins and eternal life...
Do as the prodigal son did in Luke 15:18 confess and acknowledge that you are a sinner, repent and accept the work that Jesus did on the cross for you (He died for your sins). Jesus died for sinners and only repentant sinners can enter heaven......

"Repent (Turn completely away from your old ways), then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out ....."  Acts 3:19. Addition mine.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (JESUS), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. Addition Mine.

AMEN!
 
 

Bibliography

l.  Finis Jennings Dake (1963). Dake's annotated reference bible page 213   (new testament section). Dake Bible Sales Inc, Georgia.

2.  David Rosevear (1991). Creation Science pages 135, 136. New Wine   Press. England.

3. WM Whiston (1981). The Complete works of Josephus page 183.   Kregel Publications Michigan.

4.  Guinness Book of Records (1992) 39th Edition pages 29, 30. Guinness   Publishing Ltd UK.

5.  Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume 15. Article on 'mosquitoes' page   844. Encyclopaedia Britannica Ltd. England.

6.  Spiros Zodhiates (1984). The Greek-Hebrew Key Study Bible page   1171. Baker Book House Michigan.

7.  Medical tribune (1992). Article entitled 'hypertension' 19 : 488-494.

8.  Asia Magazine (January 15-17, 1993) volume 31 page ll. Asia   Magazines Ltd Hong Kong.

9.  Finis Jennings Dake (1963). Dake's Annotated reference bible page   309  (old testament section). Dake Bible sale Inc Georgia.

10.  Life Magazine October 1992. Article on "Ageing" pages 34-38.

11. The Malay Mail April 10th 1992. Article on "Gene Analysis may help bladder cancer study" page 34.

12. The Malay Mail July 3rd 1992. Article on "Bad gene link to recurring  cancer" page 44.

13. Asiaweek January 13th 1993. Article on "A key to leukemia" page 40.

14.  Medicine Digest May 1993 issue. Article on "Diet tips for the Coronary  Patient" page 3. Medicine Digest Limited.

15. Bill Basansky (1992). Heriditary Traits page 10. Longwood    Communication Florida.

16. The Bethany Parallel Commentary (1985). Section on Jamieson,  Fausset, Brown page 494. Bethany House Publishers Minnesota.

17. The Bethany Parallel Commentary (1985). Section on Matthew Henry   page 495. Bethany House Publishers Minnesota.

18. The Bethany Parallel Commentary (1985). Section on Adam Clarke   page 495. Bethany House Publishers Minnesota.
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APPENDIX  A

CAN CURSES BE CUT OFF?

There is a teaching going around which says that curses can be cut off by just a prayer (as Jesus had already taken away our curses). Well, if this is true, then no christian would essentially be sick or face any kind of disaster which you can quite easily see is not the case.

There are basically five kinds of curses, viz...

1. CURSE OF ORIGINAL SIN (ADAM'S SIN)
2. CURSE OF THE LAW OF MOSES
3. GENERATION CURSE
4. CURSE OF OUR OWN SIN
5. CURSE OF A NATION'S SIN

That the curse of original sin still stands is quite evident.....

a) The ground is still cursed and we still die (Gen 3:17-19).
b) Women still have pain on childbearing (Gen 3:16).

That the curse of our own sins still exists is evident by the fact that homosexuals develop aids and promiscious people contact venereal diseases. We have seen from the chapter on Generation Curse that illnesses are also transmitted by genes (due to the sins of our forefathers) e.g. diabetes, haemophilia to name a few. Generation curses certainly do exist today!

That a nation can be cursed for its sins is also quite clearly illustrated in chapter 7.

So what curse or curses did our Lord Jesus remove when He died on the cross? Look at the following Scriptures....

"ALL WHO RELY ON OBSERVING THE LAW ARE UNDER A CURSE, FOR IT IS WRITTEN: 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW...' "  Galatians 3:10

"CHRIST REDEEMED US FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW BY BECOMING A CURSE FOR US, FOR IT IS WRITTEN: 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO IS HUNG ON A TREE....' " Galatians 3:13. Emphasis mine.

From the above scriptures, it is quite clear that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law of Moses for everyone who does not observe all the requirements of the law automatically comes under a curse. He has redeemed us from this curse (by being the only person ever to fulfill all the requirements of the Mosaic law) and has brought us into the dispensation of grace.

Therefore, we can deduce from the above discussion that the curse of original sin, the generation curse, the curse of our own sin and the curse of our nation's sin or sins are not removed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. He only removed the curse of the Law of Moses.
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APPENDIX  B

WHAT  ABOUT  LIFE  INSURANCE?

From the points and discussion brought up in the chapters of this book, you may deduce that a person walking in the will of God should expect to live a full life span of seventy years or slightly more  (the exception being those persecuted for righteousness' sake). In that case, is there a need for a christian to take up a life insurance policy? There are no hard and fast rules on this matter. There are, however, several points to reflect on when deliberating on this issue. Firstly, do not forget that life insurance does not give you the same amount of returns as other avenues of investment e.g. fixed deposits. This is because the Insurance companies are guranteeing you a hefty return for the amount you invest should you die. Remember that the Life Insurance companies have studied their statistics well and from the 'odds' alone, they know that very few of those insured would die before seventy or eighty (the insurance companies would be put out of business if too many people die prematurely!) That is also why they are willing to make such a big pay out for such a relatively small sum collected. The sum collected by them (the company) would in essence be quite large if you pool all the premiums of the investors of life polices together. I feel that it would be wise to invest in a policy which would allow you to 'redeem' at least the capital you invested if you do not die say after 10 or 20 years. In that way, we would in effect have an insurance 'cover' without loss of the capital invested  (the potential interest is of course lost). Secondly, it must be borne in mind that most of us may not be walking in God's perfect will one hundred percent of the time (though we must make every attempt to do so all the time). Thirdly, we must remember that sometimes generation curses come down without our so-called 'consent' and these add on to our own sins. Of course we can seek God's grace and mercy but remember that finally His sovereignty prevails. My advice in this matter would be for each individual christian to seek God's leading and Rhema Word as to whether to "invest" in a policy and if so, how much to "invest".

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APPENDIX  C

TABLE SHOWING THE MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY FIGURES OF SEVERAL COUNTRIES FOR 1991

NAME OF COUNTRY  WITH MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY IN YEARS
JAPAN       76
GREECE       75
HONG KONG      75
SWEDEN       75
CANADA       74
COSTA RICA      74
ISRAEL       74
ITALY       74
NETHERLANDS      74
NORWAY       74
SPAIN       74
SWITZERLAND      74
AUSTRALIA      73
AUSTRIA       73
BELGIUM       73
FINLAND       73
FRANCE       73
W GERMANY      73
NEW ZEALAND      73
BRITAIN       72
DENMARK       72
IRELAND       72
PUERTO RICO      72
SINGAPORE     72
UNITED STATES      72
JAMAICA       71
PANAMA       71
PORTUGAL      70
URUGUAY       70
YUGOSLAVIA      70
GEORGIA       69
SRI LANKA       69
TRINIDAD/TOBAGO     69
ARGENTINA      68
ARMENIA       68
BULGARIA       68
CHILE       68
CZECHOSLOVAKIA     68
MALAYSIA       68
SAUDI ARABIA      68
AZERBAIJAN      67
CHINA       67
MAURITIUS      67
MEXICO       67
OMAN       67
POLAND       67
ROMANIA       67
SOUTH KOREA      67
TAJIKISTAN      67
TUNISIA        67
VENEZUELA      67
BELARUS       66
BOTSWANA      66
COLOMBIA      66
HUNGARY       66
JORDAN       66
THAILAND       66
UKRAINE       66
UZBEKISTAN      66
ALGERIA       65
DOMINICAN REP.     65
ESTONIA       65
IRAN        65
LITHUANIA      65
MOLDOVA       65
PARAGUAY      65
SYRIA       65
ECUADOR       64
KAZAKHSTAN      64
LATVIA       64
NICARAGUA      64
RUSSIA       64
TURKEY       64
BRAZIL       63
EL SALVADOR      63
PHILIPPINES      63

SOURCE: ASIAWEEK - ISSUE OF 25TH AUGUST 1993<

FOOT-NOTES

1. The figures above show the number of years that a newborn infant  would live if prevailing mortality patterns remain the same throughout his life.

2. The average male life expectancy for the 76 countries listed above  (calculated by adding up all the life expectancy figures and dividing   by 76) work out to a figure of 69 years.  This certainly supports  the biblical figure of three score and ten.
 
 

About the author.....

Dr Eddy Cheong is a Born-again, Spirit Baptised Christian who reveals God's Word with a deep, new spiritual insight (This is the Lord's gift to His humble vessel). He is author of the Books "Man's Life Span according to God's Word", "Deceiving the Elect" and "From Creation to the Fall". Dr Cheong is a medical specialist by profession.
 
 

Dr Eddy Cheong
PO Box 441
75760 Malacca
West Malaysia
Internet: eddys@pop.jaring.my

Copyright 1998

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