ETERNAL KINGDOM / ETERNITY
In the Davidic covenant, God promised David an heir from him whose kingdom will be everlasting (2 Sam 7:13-16). According to Daniel, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Dan 7:14). Peter wrote: “Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:11). According to John’s vision at the Island of Patmos, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever’ (Rev 11:15).
A scribe’s question to test Jesus was, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk 10:25). A rich man also asked Jesus the same question (Mk 10:17). The inheritance of eternal life was a controversial issue between Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Mk 12:18-27) and Pharisees who believed in life after death (Acts 23:8). Even for those who believed in the life after death, the question of what one must do to inherit eternal life was unclear.
There were teachings on the life after death in the Old Testament, but they were less and often were unclear. “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead” (Isa 26:19). Daniel 12:1-3 is another example of the prophesy of the resurrection and ultimate reward or punishment. However, the issue was that these and similar writings on the life after death were prophetic works or psalms, and not in the earlier laws of Moses in which the Sadducees focused. Moses gave importance to a long and fulfilling life in the promised land in Canaan for those who keep the commandments of God. “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (Ex 20:12).
Jesus gave more clarity on resurrection of the dead, the last judgement along with reward or punishment after death. The reason must be because Jesus opened the gates of heaven for humanity after his resurrection. Until then the deceased righteous were at the “bosom of Abraham.”
Even in the modern society, people differ in belief after death. Some do not believe or care about what would happen to them after life in this world. Our faith in Jesus’ teaching on the last judgement and eternal life in heaven should motivate us to lead a righteous life with faith, hope, and charity.