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After all the allegations of prescription drug abuse; of child molestation and parental payoffs; of rumors of failing health; of rumors of a deteriorating face; of rumors of bleached skin; of financial woes, and a host of other charges, Michael Joseph Jackson is dead. Just typing these words rocks my soul; leaving the foundation of my very being unsettled. Though he's been dead for a week now, I'm stunned as I type in a fog, alternating between fantasy and reality. I'm waiting for someone to wake me up so I can tell them about this awful dream I had of Michael being dead. It seemed just yesterday that, at the family's request, I was taking on haters, skeptics, and the world media in defending the family's reputation. Being a spiritual man, Michael believed that all sins--either real or imagined--are forgiven in death. You see, "Sin pays off with death." (Rom. 6:23; Contemporary English Version) But, according to the Bible, what exactly is the condition of the dead? Will there be a resurrection? Here's what Michael believed:
The Condition of the Dead: The Bible says very plainly, "The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing. They have no further reward, nor are they remembered. Whatever they did in their lifetime--loving, hating, envying--is all long gone. They no longer play a part in anything here on earth... Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom." (Eccl 9:5, 6, 10; New Living Translation) Billions are in the grave right now with no signs of cognitive activity. And it's the same for everyone, irrespective of your station in life. "You can't depend on anyone, not even a great leader. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans." (Ps. 146:3, 4; CEV) This can clearly be seen in Michael's case. Although he had grandiose plans to put on fifty glorious concerts, once he died, that was 'the end of all his plans.' Michael was aware of the state of the dead. But he was also aware that they would be resurrected.
Restored Life in the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible, often called the Old Testament, says that Yehowah Elohim (Jehovah God) purposes to bring back the dead. "He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces." (Isa. 25:8; New World Translation) Those tears that we shed when Michael died will be wiped away by Jehovah when he kills death forever. "Your people have died, but they will live again," says the inspired Prophet Isaiah. "Their bodies will rise from death. You who lie in the ground, wake up and be happy! The dew covering you is like the dew of a new day; the ground will give birth to the dead." (Isa. 26:19; New Century Version) For a certainty, countless millions of dead loved ones will "wake up and be happy"!
The faithful man Job knew that death was in actually a deep sleep from which only God could raise you from. When experiencing all his troubles, he told the Lord, "I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death." (Job 14: 13, 14; NLT) Job had confidence that if he died right then, he could very well have a calendar date with life. This, my friends, is what Michael believed.
And then there's Prophet Daniel. In his old age he was told, "be faithful until the end! You will rest, and at the end of time, you will rise from death to receive your reward." (Dan. 12:13; CEV) But it wasn't only Daniel that would "rise from death." "Huge numbers of people who lie dead in their graves will wake up," wrote the faithful prophet. "Some will rise up to life that will never end. Others will rise up to shame that will never end." (Daniel 12:2; New International Reader's Version) Again, Michael wholeheartedly believed this. But what does the New Testament have to say about the resurrection?
Restored Life in the New Testament: The second section of the Bible-- commonly called the New Testament (or, Christian Greek Scriptures)--is not silent on the matter. Jesus Christ himself made this shocking revelation: "Don't be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God's Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment." (John 5:28, 29; NLT) If you're surprised, like the Lord said, "don't be." It's really going to happen. "But how can we be so sure?" you ask. Well, five men in the Bible performed resurrections. These were Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter, and Paul.
One time, Jesus resurrected his friend Lazarus. If circumstances permitted, I'd resurrect Michael. But, I'm no Jesus; and he's not Lazarus. However, like Lazarus, the dead are asleep. Here's what Jesus told his disciples: "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up." Now, this puzzled the disciples. In fact, they asked: "Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine." But, as it was, "Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap. Then Jesus became explicit: 'Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him.'" (John 11:11-15; Message Bible) The vast majority of mankind that has died is like Lazarus--taking a nap. Are all of them good people? Absolutely not! But, many bad people weren't given a fair chance in life. That's precisely why the apostle Paul declared: "All people, good and bad, will surely be raised from the dead." (Acts 24:15; NCV) This, too, is what Michael believed.
So, where is Michael Jackson now? Well, instead of being in good hands with Allstate, he's in the best hands of the Almighty. That being the case, we need not worry. As Michael would tell you: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort." (2 Corinthians 1:3; NWT) Indeed, Michael would want you to be comforted with this message. It's what he believed. So, in the meantime, stay up, stay strong, and keep the faith. Peace be unto you all. Amen.