Jehovah took the people of Israel from Egypt with a mighty hand. After the crossing of the Red Sea he led the people through the desert to Mount Sinai. “For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, storm, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, for they could not stand that which was commanded, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned;’ and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, ‘I am terrified and trembling’” (Heb. 12:18-21).
In this terrifying scenario Jehovah made the concert of the law with his people, and established a kingdom in which he was going to be the king: “And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).
We pose the following question: Was the kingdom of Jehovah constituted of live or dead? It is important to explain that in the Holy Scriptures there are two concepts of dead people. The first one refers to those who are physically dead. The second one, to those who sin, and though physically living, are dead to God. Paul said: “Even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Eph. 2:5). And Jesus Christ speaks of two kinds of dead to a disciple who asked him: “Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ Another of his disciples said to him, “‘Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead’” (Matt. 8:21-22). When we spoke about the kingdom of Jehovah, we were referring to these dead because of sin. The question we asked is: Was the kingdom of Jehovah formed of living or of dead? That is, of sinners, or of not sinners? If it was formed of sinners, then it is a kingdom formed only of dead.
Someone might answer, quickly: The kingdom of Jehovah is formed of living, and not of dead, for God is not God of the dead, but of the living (Matt. 22:32). But Paul says: “For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Now, Moses gave the law; grace and truth came by Jesus (John 1:17). If only those who receive the abundance of grace rule in life, and this grace came only with Jesus, and not with Moses, the kingdom of Jehovah was formed only by the dead. Paul also says: “Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Jesus said: “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). Now, Christ died for our sins according to Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3). As Christ died for our sins we are without sin, pass from death to life, and rule in life with Jesus. The people of the Old Testament were under the law, and without the sacrifice of Christ they were soon all dead in their sins. This is the kingdom of Jehovah! Life came only through Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies” (John 11:25).
The ministry of Jehovah was a ministry of death and of condemnation, according the gospel of Paul (2 Cor. 3:6-9). Therefore, the kingdom of Jehovah was only a kingdom of dead. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Now, the people of Israel walked in darkness. The psalmist said concerning the people of Israel: “Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron, because they rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the counsel of the Most High” (Ps. 107:10-11). Darkness combines with death, therefore the kingdom of Jehovah combines with the dead.
The prophet Isaiah says: “For by fire will Jehovah execute judgment, and by his sword, on all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be many” (Is. 66:16). Now the prophet Jeremiah says: “The slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground” (Jer. 25:33). Jehovah is the god of the dead. In the New Testament we read that Christ partook of our flesh and of our blood, so that by death he might destroy the one who had the empire of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver the captives (Heb. 2:14-15). If Jehovah is the god of the dead, and the devil has the empire of death, they are partners.
When Jehovah condemned Adam to death, he said: “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:17-19). Dust, in the biblical language, is death. The psalmist David, said: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have brought me into the dust of death” (Ps. 22:15). And Jehovah, narrating the creation of the new heaven and of the new earth, declares that dust will be the food of the serpent, like in Gen. 3:14. If there will be death in the new earth and in the New Jerusalem, and dust will be the food of the serpent, then Jehovah is the god of the dead, and his kingdom is constituted of dead men (Is. 65:17-25).
Jehovah, to punish the lewd and voluptuous Solomon, divided the kingdom in two. Ten tribes would be with Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and one tribe, the tribe of Judah, would remain with Rehoboam, son of Solomon (1 Kings 11:11,35-36). The Jews of the time of Jesus were the remnant of the kingdom of Judah. And a Jew who became a disciple of Jesus told him: “Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead’” (Matt. 8:21-22). As for Jesus, therefore, the kingdom of Jehovah was formed of dead men: dead in the flesh, and dead in trespasses and sins.
The law of Jehovah is not sin, but makes aware of sin and feeds the desire of the flesh (Rom. 7:7). The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56). Paul declares that all those who are still in the flesh, the passions of sin, which are aroused by the rules of the law, are at work in the members of the flesh to bear fruit unto death (Rom. 7:5). All of those who are under the law fall by the passions. Since the law ruled the kingdom of Jehovah, he is the god of the dead, and ruled over the dead, even as he calls himself the god of all the flesh (Jer. 32:27).
We read in the letter to the Hebrews: “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Jesus takes away sins: “You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). As the sacrifices of the law did not take away sins, were a deceit and did not make anyone perfect (Heb. 10:1), and we read in this letter to the Hebrews: “(for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Heb. 7:19), we see here that no one gets to God by the sacrifices of the law, but gets to Jehovah, who is pleased with sacrifices (Lev. 1:9-17). As the sacrifices of the law did not remove sins, all the people of Israel were under sin, and sin kills (Ezek. 18:4). So we see that the kingdom of Jehovah was a kingdom of dead men.
But Jesus tears the dead away from the hands of Jehovah, and gives them the eternal life. Jesus declared: “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira