Genesis 15:15, Gathered to My People, I of II

And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

//That’s God’s promise to Abraham, regarding his ultimate end. God promised a long, good life, after which he would “go to his fathers.” And that’s what happened ten chapters later:

Genesis 25:8, Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

Often the statement is made that the Old Testament authors did not believe in a resurrection. This appears to be true; there’s little hint about any idea of resurrection (bodily or otherwise) until the book of Daniel, penned in the Maccabean period, about 165 BC. Nor did Old Testament authors dream of living in heaven with God. Heaven was reserved for heavenly beings; not people. Abraham’s reward for obedience, like Job’s, was on earth, while he still lived, after which he went “to his people” … wherever that is.

But Abraham’s “people” would soon develop higher expectations than earthly reward. The mistreatment of Jews in the Maccabean period spurred the rise of a belief in reward after death. If bad things happened to good people on earth, with no hint of justice, then reward must apparently come later, right? This sort of thinking is natural: In 1997 a Gallop poll in America reported that 72% of Americans believe in heaven. That’s 1997, when unemployment hit a 28-year low and the Dow reached 7,000. Who needed heaven? Ten years later, the poll was repeated. After 9-11 and a serious recession, belief in heaven had risen nine points to 81%. Thankfully, we imagine, a better life awaits.

Comin’ for to carry me hommmmme. More on this topic on a couple days, when we’ll learn about Abraham’s “people” that preceded him in death.

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1 Comment

  1. Definitely planning to come back for more. Thanks.

    Would love to read Revelation: The Way it Happened. (Especially curious about Mount Vesuvius–a place I’d love to visit sometime.)

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