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    PROMISES OF REWARD

    With the foregoing facts before us, we can understand why the Bible promises respecting the reward of God’s people are made in the manner they are. The reward is an event invariably connected either with the coming of Christ, the resurrection, the reception of immortality and eternal life at the resurrection, or the possession of the kingdom beyond the resurrection of the dead.HPGO 18.2

    We now refer to a few instances illustrative of the whole scope of Scripture promises of reward. Job, when speaking of death, says, “If I wait, the grave is mine house; I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, Thou art my father, to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?” Job 17:13-18. He certainly does not speak here as though his hope would be consummated at death; but rather to the contrary, as though it was otherwise than the realization of his hope. Job does not speak thus because of a lack of knowledge of the true hope; for, in chapter nineteen, he sets the matter forth in its true light. He says: “Oh, that my words were now written! Oh, that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:23-27. Here he points, in a clear manner, to the resurrection as the time when for himself he shall see God.HPGO 18.3

    The above is in harmony with other testimony of Job. “Oh! that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.” Job 14:13-15. The change to which Job here refers is not death, but the change from mortal to immortal at the resurrection. For Job simply to say, I will wait until I die, would not settle the question as to whether he should “live again” if he did die. But he is willing to risk it, to “wait” in the “grave,” his “house,” all his “appointed time,” till his “change,” the resurrection, comes.HPGO 19.1

    When Ezekiel had his vision, recorded in the thirty-seventh chapter of his prophecy, he clearly portrays the resurrection of God’s people. He says, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of a valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.” It looked like a doubtful matter to Ezekiel that they could live again, but he meekly submits it to the Lord. “O Lord God, thou knowest.” Now the Lord shows him how it is: “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live; and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” This clearly describes the resurrection. “They lived,” that is, they came to life.HPGO 20.1

    But Ezekiel continues, “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel”-Israel meaning all God’s people in any age. “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29. “Behold they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts.” This was the language of Israel when they lost sight of God’s promise to redeem them from the curse, and from death. When we look at the grave, the body moldering back to its mother earth, we gain no light respecting our hope. Infidelity, looking at death, has said, “Death is an eternal sleep.” Israel despondingly said, “Our bones are dried, our hope is lost.” But God replies to them: “Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O my people [called house of Israel in verse 11], I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel;” the “land of Israel,” referring to the land promised to Abraham-the future kingdom. “And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” See Ezekiel 37:1-14.HPGO 21.1

    These words of Ezekiel are not only clear evidence that the hope of God’s people is to be consummated beyond the resurrection, but, if the resurrection does not take place, the “hope” will indeed be “lost,” and God’s people “cut off” for their parts.HPGO 21.2

    Paul, when desirous of placing the true hope before his Thessalonian friends, says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.HPGO 22.1

    These words of Paul are very important in the bearing they have on the subject of the true gospel hope. Let us look carefully at what is embodied in Paul’s preface to the grand statement he here makes. 1. We learn that those he addresses were sorrowing like those who had no hope. 2. That the reason why they were thus sorrowing was because they were ignorant concerning their friends who had died. 3. He tells them he would not have them ignorant, which proves conclusively that he was not ignorant concerning them. 4. Having intimated to them that they were ignorant concerning their friends, that he was not ignorant, and that he would not leave them in ignorance, he could not discharge his duty as a faithful apostle of Christ, unless he should write in such a manner as to remove all their ignorance on the subject, and place the true grounds of hope before them.HPGO 22.2

    But what, under these circumstances, does he tell them? That their friends are in Heaven, receiving their reward? That they are already happy in the full fruition of their hope? No! he has no such statement to make; but, that the Lord is coming to raise their friends from the dead, and take them up, with the living saints, to meet the Lord in the air when he comes, to be forever with him. And he concludes by saying, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” This, then, is the true hope, and the comfort he gives to relieve their sorrow.HPGO 23.1

    The beloved apostle John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3. Here, again, we are pointed to the coming of Christ as the time of the realization of the hope.HPGO 23.2

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