THE PROPHETS LIVED MORE THAN ONE LIFE
The Bible gives numerous indications that the holy men-of the scriptures have lived before. The Lord actually revealed to David two of his previous lives. He wrote: “This he ordained in JOSEPH for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I HEARD A LANGUAGE THAT I UNDERSTOOD NOT. I (the Lord) removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots. Thou callest in trouble, and I delivered thee; and answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I PROVED THEE AT THE WATERS OF MERIBAH.” Psalms 81:5-7
David here gives us the startling revelation that as Joseph in Egypt he heard a language he didn’t understand. Read the scripture carefully and see that when David said “I heard” he was referring the strange language that Joseph heard when he was taken captive in Egypt.
The Lord also told David that he was proved (or tested) at the “waters of Meribah”. This is a flashback to his life as Moses where he smote the rock at the place he named Meribah and brought forth water for Israel to drink, but at that time Moses failed the test and did not give glory to the Lord; thus he was not allowed to enter into the promised land. (See Exodus 17:5-7)
Seeing then that the Lord was aware of David’s valiant lives as Moses and Joseph he called David “a. man after his own heart” (I Sam 13:14) when he was but a lad. We can also see why “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (Ex 13:19) when he left Egypt, for Moses was once Joseph. In a strange way Moses was taking the bones of Joseph with him by merely taking himself out of Egypt. It was quite fitting for this entity to deliver Israel, for it was because of him that Israel moved into Egypt in the first place.
The prophet Daniel was promised a life at the end of the age: “And he said, Go thy way Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end…But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:9~13. The New English version gives a clearer rendering of that last verse: “But go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of the age.”
The scriptures also give a prophesy about the coming of Elijah the prophet to do a great work on the earth: “Behold, I will send you ELIJAH THE PROPHET before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6
Here we have a clear prophecy that Elijah the prophet will come back before the Lord comes. When the Bible speaks of the “fathers” it is usually referring to the prophets and patriarchs of Israel. Thus his work will be connected with turning the hearts of the children (humanity today) to the teaching of the fathers (the prophets). If the teachings of the prophets are not planted in the hearts of this generation then the earth will be smitten with a curse.
Now if Elijah is to make an appearance before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord”, commonly called the second coming, does it not make sense that he would also precede the first coming of Christ?
The disciples were curious about this possibility so they asked the Lord: “Why then do our teachers say that Elijah must come first? He replied, Yes Elijah WILL COME and set everything right. But I tell you that ELIJAH HAS ALREADY COME, and they failed to recognize him, and worked their will upon him; and in the same way the Son of Man is to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that HE MEANT JOHN THE BAPTIST.” Matt. 17:10-13 New English
Notice how definite the statement made by Jesus is here. Even so, orthodox interpreters refuse to accept it. They say that John was not Elijah reborn but was merely like Elijah. They quote Luke to support their case: “And he (John) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” Luke 1:17 (Remember that Elias is Greek for Elijah)
This was spoken by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, and objectors tell us that this proves that John was just similar to Elijah. On the other hand, if John was Elijah reborn it would certainly explain why he could go forth “in the spirit (with Elijah’s spirit) and power of Elias”. This scripture does not in any way void the words of Jesus.
Another objection is that both Elijah and Moses appeared to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. If Elijah was later John why didn’t the apostles recognize him as such?
It’s quite possible they did recognize Elijah as John. There’s not enough information to tell for sure, but a few verses later as Jesus was talking about Elijah it is written: “Then the disciples understood that he spake to them of John the Baptist.” Matt. 17:13 (read all of verses 1-13)
This appearance was shortly after John was killed and we have no way of knowing whether he appeared in the form of Elijah or John, but it could have been either for an advanced entity can appear in any of his bodies. This was demonstrated by Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Mark says that “He appeared in another form unto two of them (disciples), as they walked and went into the country.” Mark 16:12 When Jesus was in this other form we are told they could not recognize him. See Luke 24:13-31
Those who do not think that John is Elijah quote one more scripture. The Jews sent priests and Levites to John to find who John was: “And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.” John 1:21
Here we have an interesting contradiction. Jesus said definitely that John the Baptist was Elijah and John says he is not. Jesus said that he was the prophet to fulfill the prophecy of Malachi (Matt. 11:9-10) and John said he was not. What is the explanation.?
First, we must realize that the words of Jesus are reliable above all other men so let us accept them as true. Why did John contradict them?
The answer is quite simple. As John the Baptist he had lost all memory of his life as Elijah. It is quite possible that he was not aware of who he was in the past. It is also possible that he did not know that he was the prophet that Malachi predicted. He was probably looking upon himself as merely a man who was seeking to teach the truth.
On the other hand, even if John suspected his true identity the priests and Levites would be the last ones he would want to tell who he was. The Jews kept pestering Jesus to identify him self as the Christ, and this he didn’t do until he was ready to die. John knew that if he identified himself as either Elijah or a great prophet then the Jews would try and put him to death for blasphemy. Even if John knew or suspected he was Elijah in a past life he was technically telling the truth because in that life his name was John, not Elijah.
Whatever the case John had to keep his identity from the Jews until his mission was finished.
We will close this train of thought with a second powerful statement from Jesus: “…Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John…A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold I send my messenger before my face, which shall prepare thy way before thee (This is a quote from Malachi near the prophesy of Elijah) Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven (Christ) is greater than he…For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, THIS IS ELIAS, which was for to come.” Matt. 11:7,9-11,13-14
This is really a poor translation evidently because of bias against reincarnation. The Concordant version says it most accurately: “And if you are willing to receive HIM, HE IS ELIJAH…”
Now we can see why Jesus called John the Baptist the greatest prophet. He was aware of his past lives. He was possibly other great prophets besides Elijah.
It seems at this point that one would have to go out on a limb to claim that John was not Elijah, but merely one like Elijah. For one thing his mission was quite different from the historical Elijah and most importantly Malachi says that Elijah, THE PROPHET (Malachi 4:5) shall return, not Elijah the personality.
Accordingly, we may look for the appearance of Elijah again in this age to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. Rest assured though that his name will not be Elijah in this life, but it will be the entity that was Elijah and John the Baptist nevertheless.
Paul tells us that he lived a past life where he was not under the law of Moses: “FOR I WAS ALIVE WITHOUT THE LAW ONCE: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Rom 7:9
Here Paul could only be speaking of a previous life because in his life as Paul he was born under the law of Moses. So when was the time that he “was alive without the law”? He could have only been referring to previous lives when he was not subjected to the law of Moses. “When the commandment came” refers to the period of Moses. When he was born on earth after this period “sin revived” and he suffered spiritual death.
The scriptures make it clear that John the Revelator will have numerous incarnations. Peter, wondering about the future of this man said: “And what shall this man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said NOT unto him, he shall not die; but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” John 21:21-23
It sounds as if disciples have been misinterpreting the words of Jesus from the beginning. Some believe that John was translated so he would not suffer death, but John’s own book declares that Jesus did not promise him that he would not die, but indicated that it was his will that John tarry till he come. If then John did not have the promise of deathlessness the only way he could tarry here on the earth until the Lord comes is by a series of lives.
Indeed he will have to be born again to fulfill the prophesy that is written of him: “And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, THOU MUST PROPHESY AGAIN BEFORE MANY PEOPLES, AND NATIONS, AND TONGUES, AND KINGS.” Rev. 10:10-11
Have we heard any announcement over the news lately that John the Revelator has prophesied to kings and is appearing in many different lands speaking in numerous languages??? No, we have not, nor will we for when he comes he will not be known as John the Revelator, but will be in a different body having a new name.
Jesus gave us an interesting indication as to what was in store for his disciples. He said: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, and sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but HE SHALL RECEIVE AN HUNDREDFOLD IN THIS TIME, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the WORLD TO COME eternal life. And many that are first shall be last and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31
Here Jesus talks about two time periods or ages. The first he calls “in this time” or the period of our mortal existence. The second he calls “the world to come”. In the world to come we receive “eternal life”, but in this age or period of normal earth life if we accept the gospel we will receive “an hundred fold” of houses, at least a hundred brothers, a hundred sisters, a hundred mothers, a hundred children, and a hundred different lands or places where we will live. This prophecy cannot be liter ally fulfilled without reincarnation. On the other hand, Jesus knew that “in this time” or period of human existence we go through more than a hundred lifetimes. Thus he realized his words would be accurate.
Up to the time that Paul wrote the letter to Timothy we see that Jesus Christ was the only man that possessed immortality, or deathlessness: “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he will shew, who is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; WHO ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY, dwelling in a light which no man can approach unto.” I Tim 6:14-16.
Even though we have an indication that others came out of their graves at the resurrection of Jesus (Matt 27:52-53) we see that only Jesus had obtained the resurrection of-life or “put on immortality”. Before we can achieve the same immortality we have to overcome all things as Jesus did.
We are told that “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” I Cor 3:13. Paul had the hope “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Col 1:28. Paul spoke of God “WHO WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” I Tim 2:4
I believe that God has power to carry out his “will” and the scriptures say that he “WILL have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Every man will be tried in the fire, and Paul has the hope that “every man” will be perfect. These scriptures cannot be fulfilled if every person is merely given one shot at life, but if men are born over and over until they fulfill the commandment to “overcome” exactly as Jesus did (Rev 3:21) then these passages can be literally fulfilled.
Copyright by J J Dewey
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