Today’s readings.. (2 Kings 24,25), (Ezekiel 13), (Luke 9)
One of the puzzling things in Scripture for many people are the references to the death of “souls.” We have this in our Ezekiel reading today (ch.13) where the prophet writes, “The word of the LORD came to me” to speak against “those who prophesy from their own minds” [v.1,2].
They are challenged by the LORD, “Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive. You have profaned me … putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to people, who listen to lies.” [v.18,19]
Those who have the idea that “soul” means some inner part of us that lives on somewhere (up there or down there!) after the body dies misunderstand God’s word; long ago the thinking of non-Christians was adopted by some – it arose in R.C. theology long after the time of Christ.. When we come to ch. 18 we will see God’s blunt statement, “the soul who sins shall die” [v.4 and again v.18] A ‘soul’ is not part of a person, it is the person, the phrase ‘immortal soul’ is not to be found anywhere in the Bible
Our chapter in Luke’s gospel today (9) helps us to reach a true understanding if we have any doubts on this. Jesus “called the twelve …and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal” [v.2] Later “the crowds …. followed him and he spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing” [v.11].
Jesus is “rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes” [v,21] and eventually killed at their instigation. They had their minds set on their position and prestige in this life! But Jesus asked, “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses of forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels,” [v.25,26] That will be the time of reward or punishment, then will be the resurrection. The true hope of life after death will become very clear when we come to ch. 20 v.35,36.
The chapter ends with Jesus responding to someone who said, “I will follow you where-ever you go” [v.57] But it is clear from the answer of Jesus that following him has to mean you give priority to the work of Jesus – the chapter ends by Jesus saying, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Will you be fit for the kingdom of God?
Nowhere does it say anything about being fit for a place in heaven! In Matthew’s gospel the phrase “kingdom of heaven” occurs – that is, a heavenly kingdom – on earth. Remember the words in ‘The Lord’s prayer’ “your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth.” [Matt 6 v.10] When you use the Lord’s prayer in your prayers be conscious of what you are praying about.