What happens after our physical body expires is of great concern, not only to most Christians, but to many non-Christians as well! Will we ever see our dear departed again? Will we ever again hold ( or be held by ) them again, to feel their warm embrace & to make them know how much we love them? What could be wrong with our natural longing to live free of the everyday aches & pains that we suffer, to say little of the evils which we must persevere in the midst? What happens to that hope if we believe that we have been raised ( resurrected ) to New Life already?!
Yet another implication of Fulfilled Eschatology that is of great concern to most Christians is that if Heaven has indeed come to Earth, as Jesus taught His disciples to pray for ( Matthew 6:5-13 ), then why is our beloved world in such disarray? Why is evil an ever-present & even worsening problem? If The Peace of Heaven is in our hearts alone, what of the Promise of the wolf laying down with the lamb ( Isaiah 11:6 ( 6:25 ), of the cow & the bear feeding together?! Can we ever hope for the peace of God which passes all understanding to be manifest on this earth in a physical sense, for this evil generation to know the same Peace of Heaven that we do?
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus stated many times that His Advent here was in fulfillment of the Promise made to Israel under that 'first' ( covenant-AKA 'Old Covenant' )! This Promise, in different words, maybe, was the redemption & salvation of His People. Let's us look at several of these statements from our Greek Scriptures;
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
( Matthew 1:22-23 )
To be precise, this was the whole point, the End, you might say, or Goal of Redemptive History! Isaiah quoted these words to Ahaz, king of Judah when he was facing a similar situation to what we face in our day ( Isaiah 7:14 ). Jesus, God in the flesh, introduced Himself to His Creation in a way that we could understand &' comprehend; He limited Himself through the weakness of humanity to show that the blessings of Heaven were indeed attainable on earth, in the midst of this present evil world!
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
( Matthew 2:14 & 15 )
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”
( Matthew 4:14-16 )
Isaiah revealed this Promise as well ( Isaiah 9:1 &' 42:3 ) in prophesying of the Coming Messiah of Israel! Egypt, with its Ten Plagues especially, was used throughout Scripture as a metaphor for the ravages of sin & death, so when God called His Son ( Israel &' Jesus-Hosea 11:1 & Matthew 2:15 ) out of Egypt, He was speaking of the Coming Redemption in which He would 'save His people from their sins' ( Matthew 1:21 )!
Because of this Great Redemption &Salvation, God's People, both Jew & Gentile, were set free from the ravages of sin & death! Those who sat in darkness ( sin ) saw that Great Light & that Great Light gave Life & Light to the whole world, that 'whoever believes in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life' ( John 3:16 )'! The Government of Christ, inaugurated with His Advent, was in fulfillment of this Promise!
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.'
( Matthew 8:16 & 17 )
To truly understand this passage, as with many other like passages, one must approach them with the understanding that the original audience might have have! Think first of the question, 'why would Jesus need to be casting out demons among God's Holy People, those chosen to host His Temple?' Secondly, we might ask the question, 'why is He casting out demons in fulfillment of 'He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses'?'
Israel had become filled with demonic influence, which was metaphorized by the many diseases that Jesus healed, including the lameness & blindness! This demonic influence was allowed to infiltrate the ranks of God's Chosen People when they disobeyed His Word &committed adultery against Him with the nations around them, by worshiping their gods ( idols ) & trusting in the ( false ) strength of these idols to save them from their enemies!
Fulfilled Eschatology has many glorious ( and frightening ) implications, but it is only through sincerely exploring these Implications and making Application of them in our lives that that this world will ever experience The Peace of Heaven that resides within us! Realizing this Glorious Truth can make a huge difference in how we understand Scripture & ultimately, how we view God Himself! John 14:23, which was already mentioned, reads, 'if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'. Although this statement of Jesus' has to do with Eschatology, we see that Jesus only gives one requirement ( for lack of a better word ) for the Dwelling of God to be with man ( and woman ), to keep His word. It is only those who keep His Word & love His Law that He comes in to & makes His Home with!
Heaven is simply the Blessed Presence of God & since the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, He dwells in the midst of His People! Although individuals within the corporate Body of Christ are building stones within the Temple of God in the Spirit ( I Peter 2:5 ( Ephesians 2:22 ), it is most gloriously as the corporate Body of Christ that we shine, as 'the light of the world' ( Matthew 5:14 )! We may hope for a better world to come, we may hope for a disease-free & blemish-free body; these are certainly noble aspirations & to a degree, achievable, but these are things that we, as the Body of Christ & the Temple of the Holy Spirit, can have the greatest impact on! We can, to whatever extent, eat healthier & by eating healthier, we may, to whatever extent, stave off or even heal our biological bodies of whatever disease or ailments may threaten them! By governing our lives according to the Law of God, we may, to whatever extent, impact the world around us, having an ever-widening effect on the world at large!
Charles Haddon Shank