WHAT IS THE FINAL DESTINATION OF HUMANKIND?


Author: Vincent Anane Denteh (Rev.)

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…” (Eccl. 3:1, 2, RSV).

This question is necessary because our perceptions influence our actions and behaviour, particularly our lifestyle in this world and how we relate to God.

Thus examining the following old riddle and drawing inferences from it can help us to put into perspective what is required of us to do with our lives now:

“What is that animal which in the morning walks on four legs, at noon on two and in the evening on three?”

The riddle refers to human beings. We are the only creation of God who, as babies, crawl on two legs and two hands (all fours). As we grow up we walk upright on two legs while at old age we walk on two legs and are supported by a walking stick (three legs).

There are many significant lessons in this riddle for all of us. Those of us who will have the grace of God to live long in this world will one day get to the last stage of this riddle – that is, walking on three legs.

But what happens to us after this stage is a crucial issue that every living person in this world has to consider. What is our final destination after this stage? Death (if Christ tarries) and the final journey to eternity shall be the next incidents.
However, every information about the origin of humankind, his nature, and where he would spend eternity is provided in the Holy Scriptures as can be seen in Ecclesiastes 3:19:

“Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.”

Biblical Description of the Destiny of Humankind

Heaven and hell are the two different types of destinies stated in the Bible for humankind. Those who obey God’s Word in this world will spend eternity with Him in heaven while those who reject the Word of God and His Son Jesus Christ will be with Satan in eternal damnation in hell (Rom. 8:1-3).

These two places cannot be occupied by one person simultaneously, nor can one avoid both of them and live on a neutral ground in eternity. Citizenship in any one of them will depend on the kind of lifestyle and the type of faith one professes on this earth. Christians will join Jesus Christ in heaven while unbelievers of the gospel will join Satan and his agents in hell.

How will that situation be determined? The answer is in Hebrews 9:27: “… it is appointed for man to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). The inference from this is that God will judge our deeds in the world when we die.

The apostle John’s description of the Judgment Day events gives us the details of how the situation on that day will be:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12-15, NKJV).

The implication of all the passages we have examined is that there is no impunity in matters concerning the judgment of God, but there is good news for some people in this world. While the verdict will go against those who refuse to accept Christ in their lifetime in this world, the same verdict will exonerate the righteous children of God – Christians.

The Desire of God

God desires that every person spends eternity with Him in heaven. But this does not come on a silver platter. True repentance for one’s sin and renouncing it in order to be discipled for Christ are the prerequisites for entering the kingdom of God. That is why He gave us His only begotten Son to atone for our sins by His death on Calvary and those who believe in Him will not perish (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:2).

God is still looking up to embrace as many as would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal Saviour and that has been clearly stated in John 1:12: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (NASB).

Means of Salvation

Accepting Jesus into a person’s life is the only way he can go to heaven. The Bible describes Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Him (Jn. 14:6). However, repentance of sin and expression of faith in Jesus Christ are the twin-pronged approach for everlasting life in Christ.

Dear beloved, to have your sins forgiven, you need to repent of and frankly denounce all your sins. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).

This implies that if you accept Christ all your sins committed in the past, irrespective of their gravity, would no more have any negative effect on you because Jesus has wiped them off (Ac. 17:30; Rom. 3:25).

You have now been ushered into a new lease of life in Him. Your old nature with its disgraceful marks has been rendered powerless and you are now laced with a new and a glorious nature: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17, RSV cf. 1 Pet. 2:24, 25).

The Benefits of True Repentance

True repentance pertaining to Christianity should be able to take you to another level – which is faith in Christ. This calls for total submission of your will and whole life to Jesus Christ as you make a serious and consistent effort to live by His word as His disciple. Being in Christ consistently implies that your salvation is intact as the Bible says in Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (RSV).

With this freedom from the bondage of sin by Jesus, you are urged to “…walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4, RSV). So far, it has become very obvious that no one is above repentance. Without it no one can be accepted into the Lord’s kingdom. Again, no sin is so serious that it cannot be forgiven by God (Isa.1:18). Once the sinner turns to Him in genuine repentance and confession, his sins are forgiven.

Preparation towards Death, the Judgment of God, and Eternal “Rest”

Another point established in our discussion is that none of us will live forever on this earth. We are in transit and our time of departure is inevitable and fast approaching. Death is our necessary end as individuals and as the clock ticks every day, our time on earth is running out. When that time comes, no excuses or other human methods can save anybody.

This affirms the biblical statement that there is a time to be born and a time to die (Eccl. 3:2) and afterwards a time to face the judgment of God (Heb. 9:27). When a person passes through all these processes his final destination is either hell or heaven, depending on his relationship with God during his lifetime in this world. While there is “Rest in Peace” for the children of God going to heaven (Matt. 25:46), their colleagues bound for eternity in hell will be restless because of the horrific nature of that place:

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8, KJV cf. Matt. 13:50; Rev. 20:14, 15).

Since accepting Christ is the only way to avoid eternal condemnation to hell, you should seek earnestly to be His faithful disciple as long as you live in this world. That would enable you to have eternal life and live forever with God in heaven. Jesus needs you and your family (Ac. 16:31) so do not hesitate to respond to His call!

AN ARTICLE: “WHEN YOUR BROOK DRIES UP”


“And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kgs. 17:7, NKJV).

Whether we are able to identify the providence of God for our lives or not, it is factual to say that our source of living and life itself is God. Without His providence, no one can survive in this world.

For example, both human beings and all other living organisms in this world need rains to survive. We need air to breathe and natural resources to live on. Acknowledging this fact implies that every person would have to submit his life to the sovereignty of God.

Elijah’s Encounter with Ahab

When the prophet Elijah encountered King Ahab of Israel he realized that the king had failed to acknowledge the providence of God which was the cause of his ungodly behaviour that displeased God. Ahab was indeed a wicked king and could pursue his evil plans against other people (for example, his wickedness towards Naboth). He was also arrogant towards God.

When Elijah realized that Ahab was not ready to repent, he came onto the scene. This time he was to prove to him the supremacy of God over His creation. It was also to tell Ahab that God is the source of survival of Israel and the world at large and what He was going to do through Elijah would reveal the vulnerability of the world in the hands of the Creator – God.

Elijah then declared that it was not going to rain for three-and-a-half years, except by his word and it really came to pass (1 Kg. 17:1 cf. Jas 5:17). As characteristic of every stubborn sinner, Ahab received the message very clearly but he never showed remorse, let alone repentance. He was rather arrogant and had a false sense of security in his wealth and achievement. Perhaps, he thought a king of his calibre should not bow to a ‘mere’ prophet.

God honoured Elijah’s prayer but He spared his life from the starvation that people on the land suffered. This is a clear evidence that anytime God brings judgment upon the wicked, He shows mercy towards His faithful children. His sparing of the lives of Noah and his family during the Genesis Flood as well as Lot and his children from the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah are typical examples of this claim.

This assures us that as ungodliness is becoming pervasive in our society today, God still knows His own (Jn. 10:14) and would grant the righteous in Christ mercy on the judgment day (Rom. 8:1, 2). He will never make a mistake to condemn the wicked together with the righteous. He knows His sheep and His sheep hear His voice (Jn. 10:27).

Elijah Sent to Brook Cherith

While the ungodly were suffering in Israel, God directed Elijah to Brook Cherith (near the Jordan River) to stay there for a raven to feed him (1 Kg 17:3). Throughout the period that Elijah remained there, God prepared ‘special food’ for him as He used the raven as a courier for that supernatural assignment (1 Kg 17:4).

Although we do not have so many details about the menu and the mode of preparation of that food, we can infer that it was part of God’s provisions for His children in times of hardship. This is a source of great assurance to us that if we continue to submit to the will of God, He will intervene in our situation during defining moments in our lives. His intervention will be at the right time and with the perfect solutions.

The Cutting out of Elijah’s ‘Supply Chain’

Suddenly, the circumstances under which Elijah was able to survive by the Brook Cherith changed without his prior notice. One day, Elijah realized that the raven failed to bring his food to him while the brook too was dried up. The implication was that he was struck with both water and food shortage at a time that the whole nation was lacking these two basic necessities.

At that moment, everything that Elijah was relying on for his survival by the brook was gone. His ‘supply chain’ had broken. The famine too was still persisting in the country. To the ordinary mind, this could have been a very frustrating issue or even the end of his life, but what followed next indicates that there is a divine alternative to every situation (Gen.18:14; Jer.32:27).

While we as humans see life as full of uncertainties, but God’s purpose for our lives is always certain and it is not determined by current situations that confront our society. It was against this backdrop that Elijah neither devised any personal strategy by digging a well into the brook for water nor going out to search for the raven. He did not run ahead of God and neither was he ‘smart’ before God. Instead, he depended on Him, knowing very well that God would never leave nor forsake him.

Dear reader, when your brook dries up as the case of Elijah what becomes your reaction? Do you attempt to dig a well in the desert without the will of God or you look up to Him for solution? Do you resort to complaining and murmuring or you look up to God in prayer? This is a food-for-thought!

On the Journey to Zarephath: an “Upgrade” of Elijah’s Status

“God came to Elijah’s rescue again at the dried brook and directed him to go to Zarephath. This time round, Elijah was to be fed by a widow who was also at the verge of dying with her family as a result of the famine” (1 Kgs 17:8-13).

Elijah was now being served by a human being and not a raven. His status in the crisis has been upgraded by God, although the crisis was not yet over. This implies that whenever the world is desperate and confused about dealing with some apparently insurmountable situations, God would still have His neat provision for His children. Even while the problem persists, God still has provisions that can upgrade the status of His children.

It is obvious from this lesson that God is the source of our living and not the material things that we have hoarded for ourselves. Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk 12:15, NIV cf. Ps. 62:10).

It would be a grievous mistake for anybody to think that his life is secured by the material things that he has acquired for himself. No matter how ‘stuffed’ your bank account is or how abundant your resources, there may be a situation in your life that can cause your “brook” to dry up and when that happens, depending on God would be best solution.

If the abundant and ever-flowing water in the Brook Cherith could dry up suddenly and the source of supply of food to Elijah could also cease without notice, then it can rightly be asserted that no condition is permanent. What happened to the prophet Elijah can also happen to any of us today. There could be dryness in everyone’s life, which would need divine intervention.

Your ‘raven’ too may stop providing you with your needs at a time that you are really in need but that must not disrupt your success story. Even as you think you are alone, that is where you would see God standing by you and directing you to a specific person in a specific city known as ‘Zarephath.’ A problem may persist around you but God can upgrade your status from that situation.

Perhaps the dried brook symbolizes sickness, loss of property or a bread-winner, a friend or business partner, whose activities were really impacting positively your life. It could also be the loss of a much paid job or even disappointment from someone you trusted.

In such circumstances we are asked to “Call upon Me [GOD] in the day of trouble; I [He] will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me [Him]” (Ps. 50:15, NKJV). (Bracket mine!).

The prophet Jeremiah has also re-echoed this point: “Call to Me [GOD], and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). These are all assurances from the Lord Almighty.

Bear in mind that, what the world considers as good times may not last forever. As humans living in this depraved world the dark side of life, unpleasant situations, or the days of sorrow are inevitable in our lifetime.

However, having Jesus in your life in advance before ‘evil days’ set in (Eccl. 12:1-3) is the best decision that you can take for yourself. God would shore us up whenever He knows that our lives are at stake. Thus when your brook dries up, remain calm and follow the will of God because He alone can provide for His children the best and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17) in accordance with the glorious riches in Christ (Phil. 4:19).

Another vital lesson is that life in this transient world would one day dry up. Regardless of how we try to secure it or what we have acquired because it cannot not be everlasting. Our properties will tear and wear out while our own lives will grow old and become faint.

A new glorious day created by the Lord will come to replace what we have now. The Bible says, “And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 Jn. 2:17, NET).

Securing your life in Christ so that you can have everlasting life is the best decision to make now. It is through Christ that all the promises of God in your life find their ‘YES’ and Christ in your life, you bear the hope of glory.