What does it mean “the God of the living”? It means the God of those who do not die. Jesus says that the ones who believe in him have passed out of death into life (John 5:24). Those who believe in Jesus do not die (John 8:51). Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26). This is the reason why Jesus said, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Luke 20:38). In order for the Father to be God to someone, this person has to pass out of death into life (John 5:24). To pass out of death into life is to be born again (John 3:3-6).
Death reigned since Adam until Jesus Christ. “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned trough the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, JESUS CHRIST” (Rom. 5:17). If death reigned until the time when Jesus came to the world, and God the Father is God of the living and not of the dead, any child can see that the true God was not God to anyone before Jesus came, because death reigned then, that is, everybody was spiritually dead. There was a man who wanted to follow Jesus and asked him permission to bury his father who had died. Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
The Old Testament is the story of the dead and of those who die. In the Flood, Jehovah destroyed humanity by death (Gen. 6:7). If Jehovah has killed, he is the God of the dead, for he is God of those who die. Also, in the cities of the valley, Jehovah found death to be the only way of eliminating evil. Sodom and Gomorrah were burnt with fire and brimstone (Gen. 19:24-25). The medicine against sin, to Jehovah, was death. “The soul who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4).
Nobody would escape. Jehovah saved Israel from the Egyptian oppression and afterwards killed those who did not believe, in the wilderness (Jude 5). Jehovah is the God of death. Adam sinned and Jehovah condemned all humanity to death because God is the God of death (Gen. 3:19).
Let us read the episode of the Red Sea: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. And as for you, lift up your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. And as for me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen’” (Ex. 14:15-17). “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore” (Ex. 14:30). Moses sang a song on that day: “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea” (Ex. 15:3-4).
Jehovah is glorified in the death, and Jesus in the resurrection.
Let us prove now that Jehovah is not only the God of death, but also the God of the dead. Judah, son of Jacob, had three sons from his wife Shua. “Now Judah took wife for Er, his first-born, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s first-born was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ And Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so it came about that when he went in to his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord; so He took his life also” (Gen. 38:6-10). We have in this episode two important truths. The first one is that the author of this law in which, when a man died without children, his brother married the widow, and their first-born would assume the name of his dead brother, was not Moses, but Jehovah. Moses was born one hundred and fifty years after that. The second important truth is that the dead man had children. If a dead man could have children, Jehovah was the God of the dead man, that is, the God of the dead.
In the New Testament, a few Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, asked Jesus about the specific law above, relating the following situation: “Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died childless; and the second and the third took her, and in the same way the seven also died, leaving no children. Finally the woman died also. In the resurrection therefore, which one’s wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife” (Luke 20:27-33). Jesus answered them saying, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; for neither can they die any more, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” Luke 20:34-36).
The sons of the resurrection do not need to have children in the after life, because they do not die anymore. Whoever dies does not have life; therefore they need to have children so that their name is not extinguished from under the sun. It is important to observe that Jehovah’s goal was not the child that would be born, but the name of the dead man, which Jehovah wished to preserve (Deut. 25:6).
This proves that Jehovah was the God of the dead, because the way in which to preserve the name of the dead man was to give him children. Jesus solved this problem by resurrecting the dead man, and so there is no need of procreation, and this is why Jesus is the God of the living, and not of the dead. To make it very clear that Jesus has nothing to do with the death established by Jehovah, Paul says that Christ has abolished death (2 Tim. 1:8-10).
The Old Testament declares that the dead are of Jehovah: “For the Lord will execute judgment by fire and by His sword on all flesh, AND THOSE SLAIN BY THE LORD WILL BE MANY” (Is. 66:16). “And those slain by the Lord on that day shall be from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, gathered, or buried; they shall be like dung on the face of the ground” (Jer. 25:33). These texts remind us of the piles of corpses in the Nazi concentration camps. In the same way which the authors of that massacre were judged and condemned, Jehovah as God, will be judged and condemned for the death of billions of blind, ignorant, and captive people of demons and of evil.
ALL GLORY BE GIVEN TO JESUS CHRIST, THE GOD OF LIFE!
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira