October 22, 2019
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The First Christians (2019) #9: Death


Jeffrey Seif: Death is
a tough subject, isn’t it? We’re going to look at it today
with grace, and we can do so because we know we’re
going to a better place. We’re going to consider that
today on “Zola Levitt Presents.” male announcer: Brethren,
my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that
they might be saved. For there is no difference
between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over
all is rich unto all that call upon him. “Zola Levitt Presents.” ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ David Hart: We thank you
so much for joining us today on “Zola Levitt Presents.”
I’m David Hart. Kirsten Hart:
I’m Kirsten Hart. Jeffrey: I’m Jeffrey Seif. And I am reminded of a verse
where Paul said, “O death, where
is thy victory? Where is thy sting?” We get the better of it all
because of the Lord, don’t we? Kirsten: And it’s fascinating
to learn about the traditions of death, I know we don’t like
talking about death, in the first century that
Zola’s been teaching us throughout the whole series. But now we talk about, what
did they do when someone dies? Jeffrey: Yes, yes. Zola’s gone on to his reward,
and we all will eventually, and it’s great to have a look. David: I think it’s
interesting we started this series with the birth, and
we end the series with death. Jeffrey: That’s right,
from the womb to the tomb. Kirsten: And that’s what
we’ve been talking about this whole series. “The First Christians,” first
taught in 1995 with Zola Levitt, our founder. And it’s been fascinating to
learn all about the traditions of the first
Christians, and today death. David: And right now, we go
to a first century tomb with archaeologist Bob Mullins. Bob Mullins: We are situated
in an authentic rolling stone tomb of the first century. This is exactly the same kind
of tomb that Jesus was buried in almost 2,000 years ago. Several tombs of this type are
known throughout the country, including Jerusalem, where today
visitors can see Herod’s family tomb. This particular site is located
in the Shephelah region of Israel, about 20 miles
southwest of Jerusalem. This tomb is hewn right
out of the solid rock. To gain entrance into the tomb,
one passes by means of a low doorway. And you recall that in the
gospels, Mary Magdalene had to bend down and peek through
the door in order to see into the tomb. This door is sealed by
means of a large rolling stone. Once you come into the
tomb, there are two rooms. And one passes into an inner
room, where the body was laid and allowed to decay for
the period of about one year. Later, the bones were collected
and transferred to the first room, where we have these
channels where the bone boxes, or ossuaries, were placed. And in this way, many, many
generations of people were buried. Zola Levitt: Here on the
Mount of Olives and nearby Bethany, archaeologists have
uncovered some very interesting stone coffins or ossuary. Some of these boxes bear the
sign of the cross, while others have Hebrew inscriptions that
way “to Jesus son of Joseph,” and “to Jesus the Lord.” Inscriptions bearing the names
of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were also found,
followed by the cross mark. Archaeologist Clermont Ganneau,
who unearthed the Bethany site, said, “In this group of
sarcophagi, some of which have Christian symbols, we are, so
to speak, witnessing the actual unfolding of Christianity.” Bob: The body was first
washed and anointed with spices and perfumes. Since there was no embalming of
the body, decay was imminent, thus the spices and perfumes
would help counteract the smell of the rotting corpse. After coating the body with
spices and perfumes, the body was then wrapped
with linen cloths. Now, this was based on a ruling
made by Rabbi Gamaliel in the first century that bodies should
be wrapped in white cloths. You see this practice carried
out in the case of both Lazarus and Jesus. After the body had been
prepared, male relatives carried it on a bira with a woman
carrying a jar of perfume walking in front. Death in Jesus’s day was not a
hushed up affair, and there was much wailing and even
tearing of clothes. Once the body arrived at the
tomb, the male relatives would carry the body through the
main entrance, where the rolling stone had been rolled back. And passed directly into the
inner room, the second room, where the body was
placed on a burial bench. Once the body was in place,
perfume would be poured on the linen cloths. They would then leave the
tomb, roll the stone into place, sealing the tomb, and then
allowing the body to decay. Zola: This is the Mount of
Olives, and it is a mountain of graveyards. Under my feet are layers and
layers, centuries of graves. Chosen people lived here, and
they were buried here at least from the announcement of
Zachariah that Messiah would come to the Mount of Olives. They have been buried here. Zachariah 14:4 says, “His feet
will stand that day on the Mount of Olives,” which is next
to Jerusalem on the east. And that’s where we are, and
up on the summit is when he will–he will come. And they read it as, of course,
the first coming if they don’t believe in Jesus. But nevertheless, the Messiah,
whoever he is, will come down this mountain. So, they’re buried here so
they can be in the resurrection. And where did they get the
idea of the resurrection? Well, those who know the
Scriptures certainly read it in the Old Testament. The Scripture is full of it. We have say Isaiah 26:19, which
is very clear, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my
dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in
durst; for thy dew is as of the dew of herbs and the earth
shall cast out the dead.” That is very clear. Or Daniel 12:2, “And many of
them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel even shows the
destinations, heaven and hell, of the people who have slept. They will all arise. Every soul that was ever
conceived is conscious for all eternity. The question is not,
do they live again? The question is,
where do they live again? Job 14 is a magnificent
passage of resurrection. And Job, you know, has been in
the ground for so long, this is one of the most
ancient Bible books. Most commentators make it 4,000
years old, way back around the time of Abraham. And Job said this to the Lord,
“as the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and
drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be
no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out
of their sleep.” If we stopped reading there, we
would think, well, Job is simply saying what we suspect, men die,
they don’t live again, and so on. But Job goes on and he says
this, “O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou
wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou
wouldest appoint me a set time and remember me.” A set time, in Hebrew a tmunah. It’s a precise time, it’s the
time of the military hitch. It ends at a given moment. Job is simply saying to God,
“Give me the time you want me to be in the grave. And when the time is up,” he
goes on, “If a man die, shall he live again?” What a question. And he says, “All the days of
my appointed time will I wait, until my change comes.” Change as in the New Testament,
they shall not all sleep, but they shall all be changed. And he says this, Job 11:15,
“Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee. Thou wilt have a desire to
the work of thine hands.” Job’s body is the work of God’s
hands, and he will want it back as he wants back
everybody he ever made. Why don’t the Jewish people
today talk about resurrection? The synagogue just doesn’t seem
the read the Scriptures because it’s here and I’ve
just read it to you. In Matthew 22, the Messiah
commented on the same thing in a debate about the resurrection. It says, “Jesus answered and
said unto them, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the
power of God–‘” If they don’t read the Scripture, of course
you don’t know the Scriptures. He says, “For in the
resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage,
but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection
of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you
by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead,
but of the living.'” His point being whenever you
sleep, it doesn’t matter, God will wake you. He’s the God of the living, and
resurrection is a Jewish thing, a normal thing, a thing that
will happen to every soul. Those believing in Jesus Christ,
those believing in the Messiah, are raised to the kingdom
and eternal life and eternity. You know, even Jewish
commentators, extra-biblical, spoke of this. Baruch tractate of the first
century, rabbinical writing, said in regard to the Messiah
when he comes, and quote, “All who have fallen asleep in
hope of him shall rise again.” This is a concept in Judaism
that when Messiah comes at least, he will raise the
dead like Zachariah said. But the problem is people today
who, gosh, some Jewish people have given up
waiting for the Messiah. It’s like the scene in “Fiddler
on the Roof,” where they’re packing to leave because there’s
a pogrom, they have to get out of their little
town in three days. And people come to the old rabbi
and they say, “Rabbi, we’ve been waiting so long for the Messiah. Wouldn’t this be a
wonderful time for him to come?” And the rabbi has nothing more
to offer than to say, “We’ll have to wait somewhere else.” They lose the hope, and then
they forget that Messiah has the power, he does, and he
has the retroactive power. If Job of 4,000 years ago
expects to be raised, I expect to be raised if I fall asleep. And all who have fallen, as
Baruch said, in hope of him shall rise again. The New Testament puts it very
clearly, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “The Lord himself will descend
from heaven with a shout, with a voice of the archangel and
the sound of the trump of God. And the dead in Christ will rise
first, and we which are alive and remain shall join together
with them in the clouds.” The resurrection of the church,
the Rapture, all the dead rise first he made the point. The Thessalonicans had evidently
written to Paul about, “Well, what about those who have died? Are they going?” And Paul said not
just going, going first. So, we see it clearly in 1
Thessalonians 4:16 and 17, the great Rapture Scripture. Or in 1 Corinthians 15:51
and 52 I alluded to before. “At the sound of the last
trumpet, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed at
the sound of the last trumpet. For this corruptible flesh must
put on incorruption, this mortal body must put on immortality.” As we stand here on this
mountain, a busy mountain, tourist buses going by on all
sides, funerals in progress, people being buried in hope of
resurrection, soil being taken from the mountain to send back
to the United States and other places where Jewish people are
dying and cannot be transferred here for one reason or another
to be buried with that soil in the hope of the
resurrection to come. Back after this. ♪♪♪ announcer: Our offer on
this program is the first three courses in the Institute
of Jewish Christian Studies compiled by Zola Levitt
and Dr. Jeffrey Seif. These shortened college-level
mini-courses include Old Testament survey, New Testament
survey, and Jewish history. Each course comes in a
three-ring binder with audio CDs, easy to follow
outline, and a mail-in test. A unique blend of Jewish and
Christian perspectives, this self-paced program
brings the seminary to you. Call 1-800-WONDERS. announcer: For insightful
perspectives on Israel and Bible prophesy, ask for our
free monthly newsletter, the Levitt Letter. At levitt.com, you can read
the newsletter, watch the TV program, or visit
our online store. Stay current with us on social
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or Petra, or a cruise to Greece and Ephesus. Please contact us
for more information. Kirsten: Come join us on
all our social media sites. We would love to
connect with you there. And to the few that don’t know
what social media is or if you don’t have a computer
still, we will still love you. And you can receive the Levitt
Letter and the personal letter, which are periodicals that are
sent out every month from the ministry. Now, let’s go back to Israel
on the Mount of Olives with Zola Levitt. Zola: We’ve
moved our location now. And behind me, you can see the
East Gate, where the church will enter with the Lord, and all
the saints at the day of the resurrection. Around that gate, you can
perceive gravestones too. These are Moslem graves in
another one of those attempts to prevent the entrance
of the Jewish king. You can remember Pharaoh in
Egypt and the infanticide. You can remember Herod in the
Bible killing the children in Bethlehem. And here is another
of these attempts. They suppose that the king of
the Jews cannot walk through a graveyard to enter Jerusalem
through that East Gate. They’ve blocked it
up, they suppose. Well, they underestimate
the king of the Jews. The Bible delivers us from what
it calls the last enemy, death. The message is that it
is not a permanent thing. It is a kind of a transition
onto eternal life, and the issue is location as they say. Are you going to be with God,
or are you going to be somewhere else? The first Christians had
lives full of hope and joy. Their leaders
showed them the way. Jesus Christ was the first
man permanently resurrected. He wasn’t the only
one resurrected. They saw Lazarus
come out of his grave. They saw a striking thing when
he was resurrected in Jerusalem and the graves were opened. “And many bodies of the saints
which slept arose and came out of the graves after his
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and
appeared unto many.” I mean, people were walking the
streets that other people knew. Dead people were
walking the streets alive. And the passage goes on, “Now
when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus,
saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they
feared greatly saying, ‘Truly this was the Son of God–‘” They
gave the credit to the Lord. Some commentaries kind of
skip over that passage. There is an explanation for it
that’s quite nice, we’ve said it on the program before. Once an old lady called my radio
talk show and she said when she was a little girl, her old Bible
teacher taught her this passage, so this goes back I guess to
the Lincoln administration. But what her old Bible teacher
said was this, “The festival that day was firstfruits. The people that were
raised therefore were Jesus’s offering.” On firstfruits, the farmers
brought the first of their crops to the temple as a
thank offering to God. Well, Jesus is not a
farmer who raises crops. Jesus raises people. So, on that
Sunday, he raised a few. We should be calling what we say
Easter as firstfruits, that’s its biblical name. Easter is the name of Ishtar,
the Babylonian goddess of fertility, nothing at all to do
with the Lord, with the Bible, with resurrection,
or anything at all. It’s just about fertility
and we need to get rid of it. Firstfruits, Leviticus 23:10 to
12, is very clearly what’s being meant here. And if we quote the Scripture,
we see there was a festival. “Speak unto the children of
Israel, and say unto them, ‘When ye be come in the land which I
give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye
shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your
harvest unto the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf
before the Lord to be accepted for you. On the morrow after the Sabbath
the priest shall wave it.” This is the week of Passover. The context shows Passover
and the 14th day of the month. And then unleavened bread, a
festival of a week starting on the 15th. And on the Sunday whenever it is
during that week is the festival of firstfruits. That is its correct name. And if we learn to say first,
we realize there’s a second, a third, a fourth. 1 Corinthians 15:22
points out in Adam, all die. All natural men see death. But in Christ shall
all be made alive again. But each man in his
own order, it says. Christ the firstfruits, then
we which are his when he comes. It’s appointed to all flesh to
die, except the generation in the church when the Rapture
comes, they shall not really see death. But all other Christians and Old
Testament saints died, but it’s not an important issue. In Christ, all are made alive
again, each in his own order. We evidently all have a
number in this resurrection. You know, the dead in
Christ will rise first. Well, they must
have lower numbers. It’s like one of those busy
places that you go in, they give you a number, you
know you’ll be served. Well, I can tell you you’ll be
served in this resurrection if you believe in Jesus Christ. He not only demonstrated, he
appealed–appeared before his disciples 40 days. He taught them the
things of the kingdom of God. It says in Acts 1:3 they talked
to him about the coming kingdom, and they said, “Will thou at
this time restore the kingdom of heaven unto Israel?” And he said, “It’s not for you
to know the times and seasons of my Father,” but implying that
it should surely would be in Israel. And so, we look forward not just
to resurrection, but to 1,000 years with the
king in Israel here. I’m glad to show it to you on
television, but the good news is you’re going to see it live. Everybody’s going to go on an
Israel tour, some for 1,000 years at government
expense if you understand me. The king of the Jews will
see that you get there. Someone who watches our program
indicated to me that a certain pastor somewhere was saying
it’s foolish to listen to Zola Levitt, he’s obviously a
double agent for the Israeli government. I love it, it’s true in a sense. I’ve been working for the king
of the Jews for 25 years, and that is the real
government of Israel. He is the one on the throne, and
when he returns, you will see righteous government in Israel. And you will see it last, a
peace process that works, 1,000 years of peace. They shall not learn war
anymore in my holy mountain. They’ll beat their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks when the king
shall have judged the nations. Well, as the Lord said so
succinctly to his disciples on the occasion of his
resurrection, they all would come, they would sit on 12
thrones, they would judge the 12 tribes of Israel. Every Christian, good, bad, and
medium, will be resurrected from the dead. Nicodemus came to
Christ by night. He was convicted. He’d heard the teaching. He wasn’t sure about his sins. He spoke to the Lord about
what it is to be born again. The Lord was very clear with
him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever shall believe in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.” If you believe in the Son whom
God hath sent, then we’ll meet together at the gate
you see behind me. In the day of the resurrection,
he’ll come down the Mount of Olives with all of us who
believe in him, and we’ll enter that gate and take our kingdom. ♪♪♪ [singing in foreign language] David: Kind of hard to
believe that this footage that we see today of Zipporah
Bennett was back in 1995. She’s still active today. We love her messianic
leading and her music. Thank you, Zipporah. Kirsten: Great style, and
thank you for being with us in every program in this series. It’s been a good series. Jeffrey: And it’s tough, it’s
tough to end on death, you know? But it’s interesting,
speaking of singing. You know, the last thing they
did after the last supper, it says they sung. And then Yeshua went to the
Garden of Gethsemane and he faced his end. Kirsten: And we all go. I mean, we were just talking
about that, there’s only one way out unless the Rapture
happens, and that could happen. But most of us face death. And it’s just interesting to
hear about, learn about the first century
Christians who were Jewish. Jeffrey: Yes, and let me
tell you about a 21st century Christian who’s Jewish who deals
with death a little, and that’s me. At 64 years of age, I realized,
truth be known, that he better part of my life has been lived. And frankly, I
think about death. I do that in part, my wife and
I, who’s 65, we take the Lord’s Supper every morning. And of course, whenever someone
takes the Lord’s Supper, we’re remembering someone’s
death until he comes. And when I think of death,
it’s not a scary thing, but I do think about the verse where
the Lord says, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where rust and moth don’t consume.” And I say that, it’s not like
I want to get utility out of death. And I don’t want to be fearful,
but I want to be careful. But I want to give you a
challenge, please, like me, if you’re thinking about things to
come, by all means lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. And I’d like to ask you from the
bottom of my heart, please to put some of those treasures in
heaven through a deposit slip that has Zola
Levitt Ministries on it. I believe and we believe, and I
hope you believe, that there’s value in what we do here. Please, I want to challenge you. For every dime, for every
dollar, for every $100, $1,000, whatever it is, God sees. Lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven. David: That’s right. I was on Facebook
today, this morning. I like to give
birthday greetings. And two people that have passed
away came up to give a birthday greeting today.
You know what? None of us are
exempt from death. Kirsten: And that’s why we
hope, as you just said, that all of you know you’re going. We’re here for one purpose here
at “Zola Levitt Presents,” and that’s to present the good
news of Yeshua and eternal life. Jeffrey: Amen. You know, we’ve heard from our
late founder, Zola Levitt, back in 1995. And I know he’s
singing where he is. We’re going to see him
one day and see the Lord. As you go now,
[speaking in foreign language] pray for the
peace of Jerusalem. [singing in foreign language] announcer: Our monthly
newsletter, the Levitt Letter, is free and full of insightful
articles and news commentary from a messianic prospective. Visit levitt.com to find our
newsletter, along with current and past programs,
our television schedule, and much more. female announcer: Don’t
forget to order this week’s resource by calling
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our store at levitt.com. announcer: Your donations
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organizations bless Israel. announcer: Thanks again
for joining us this week. Zola Levitt Ministries and this
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from viewers like you. ♪♪♪ announcer: This has been a paid program brought to you by Zola Levitt Ministries.

Jean Kelley

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1 COMMENTS

  1. LD Hablizel Posted on October 9, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Not what I pictured in my mind. Very eye opening. Thank you for posting this again. I still miss Zola.

    Reply
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