Says Daniel 12:2, speaking of the resurrection: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth [speaking about the dead] shall awake [in the resurrection], some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise" — and the Hebrew implies more than wisdom, it implies the ability to teach; it is as elders, wise ones, teachers that these are resurrected, having a mature and complete grasp and concept of reality and life and its purpose — "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness [here is an educational teaching process] as the stars for ever and ever." And then Daniel is told in verse 4: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end" — and it zeros in on two characteristics of that time — "many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased." What is it that is happening here — in the world today — in human life? It's experience, learning, education. I think we have to go back to the beginning to understand.
In the Garden
In Genesis 2:16 we are told clearly: "And the Lord [Eternal] God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [or, be dying]." Maybe you have wondered, Why is it that God didn't want me to have the knowledge of good and evil? Have you wondered about that? I have, many times. I couldn't see anything wrong with the tree. Neither could Adam and Eve. I had an occasion over in England to hear a lecture by a doctor in literature on "The Place of Original Sin in Literature." This lecturer related all of the literature in the last 1,500 years — English, American, French and other nationalities and ethnic groups. She was an intelligent woman, but the first thing she did was make the mistake of entering the area of the Bible. Because she didn't know anything about that. She said, first thing, they should not have eaten that apple. And in about two minutes I picked out seven biblical errors. I felt like telling her it wasn't an apple, and they didn't "fall," and on and on and on. It is amazing how humanity is misled through "knowledge." It was very obvious throughout. She was excellent on literature; she just didn't understand her premise, which leads into trouble. And that's what happened to Adam and Eve. You see, it isn't bad to have knowledge about good and evil, if you have a criterion that's true to base it upon. Now Satan understood that, so he came along and disturbed the entire process. I want you to understand something about Adam and Eve. There is a lot you can get out of Genesis 2 if you just think about it. Think about Adam and Eve. Adam was created on the sixth day and immediately given responsibility with Eve to take care or the Garden of Eden and told to rule and dominate the earth, over everything God had created. This was quite a responsibility. Now the question is, what did Adam know? What did Eve know? These two beings, Adam and Eve, had only lived for a short time, and they decided to act like they had all knowledge.
The result of lack of experience
As Herbert W. Armstrong has stated, at first human nature is neutral. It's neither good nor evil but it soon becomes a mixture of good and evil, and it can go toward either the good or the evil. Satan came along in Genesis 3 and started to speak to Eve. Eve replied in verse 3: "But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." Now why "die"? Obviously, after they ate the fruit, they didn't instantly die. In fact, they lived nearly 1,000 years before they died. Something about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did produce death, however. But why and how? It's a process that develops. You pursue either life or death. God knew His creatures He created would function a certain way toward life and a certain way toward death. So He said, "Don't take that which produces death." But they couldn't understand it, because Satan came along and logically said: "Well, listen! You're not going to die. You're now going to know the difference between good and evil."
As Herbert W. Armstrong has stated, at first human nature is neutral. It's neither good nor evil, but it soon becomes a mixture of good and evil, and it can go toward either the good or the evil.
We read in verse 5 — Satan states, "For God doth know that in the day that ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye [you] shall be as gods [or judges], knowing good and evil." It's just like taking a child just born or maybe 2 years old and expecting that child to take care of himself. Everything's available — but with no guidance, no education, no development. Just "Here it is. It's yours. Choose." What do you think will happen to that child? To see how that functions, you need to understand how you develop as a person towards spiritual growth. Then I think you'll see the correlation between Genesis and Daniel 12:2. Notice in I Corinthians 15, looking ahead to the resurrection, some interesting facts.
After we have experience and character
The first thing that's interesting and, frankly, very positive is that we're not all going to be the same when we're resurrected. Sure, we'll have the same character. We'll have divine nature. We'll be like God, who is "... the same yesterday, today, and for ever" in nature and character (Hebrews 13:8). The reason you won't sin is because you won't like it. That's better, isn't it? You won't lie, not because you're going to have to fight this terrible nature, but because you have God's nature, and you won't want to lie. You won't steal, not because you're going to have to fight your nature to not steal, you won't want to steal. In fact, it would hurt you to steal. It would hurt you to lie; it would hurt you to commit adultery. It would hurt you to break the laws of God. But there are differences in the resurrection. In I Corinthians 15:39 the apostle Paul writes: "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts [animals], another of fishes, another of birds." Then verse 40: "There are also celestial [or heavenly] bodies, and bodies [that are earthly or] terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [heavenly] is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another." He makes comparisons with physical things that we can see. You can see, and you can compare them, and you can understand they are not the same. Then he summarizes and draws a conclusion. He said, verses 41-42: "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another ... in glory [or power or magnitude]. So also is the resurrection of the dead..." Just as there is uniqueness and individuality in physical existence, there will be uniqueness and individuality in spiritual existence — one person having more power than another. I think the important question at this juncture is: Who determines that? The answer is: You and I do to a great degree. We make that choice in the full capacity of whatever God has given us to become. Paul goes on, "... So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption" (verse 42). In other words, we decay in this physical body; it is temporary. But when we are resurrected, we are to be given a body that is not temporary, but permanent. "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (verse 49).
The life of experience
As the Feast of Tabernacles pictures, now we dwell in temporary dwellings. The apostle talked about this in II Corinthians 5:1, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [destroyed], we have a building [again he talks about a place in which you dwell] of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Now what is especially interesting is verse 2: "For in this [in this temporary physical body — this instrument in which we can function and operate to gain experience and to learn] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven [the body of Spirit, which is to be given to each of us at the resurrection]." All you are doing in this body of flesh is temporarily residing in it. But it's something you can use. For you have your five senses, which give you discernment. You can observe', you feel, you taste, you touch. These feed through your nervous system, register in your brain, and everything starts to come together. You figuratively "groan," as Paul says, but you come to certain "understandings," don't you? You come to decisions of good and evil, right and wrong, in combination with the effects of your environment and the genetic makeup of your "house." You amass experience, and you build character — and it can, be either good or bad character — by the process.
You must make decisions
Now since God has given mankind free choice; you have to make decisions. You feel limited, unequal to your task. And as you get older, you generally have less energy. I heard a question the other day on the air: When does a person physiologically hit the apex of his strength and begin to decline? I thought about 29, give or take three or four years. Do you know what the answer was? Twelve, biologically. It shocked me (if it is correct). In use this "house" wears out. So life does not get easier, it gets harder. Nevertheless, the point is, this body is a vehicle of use, of development, which is supposed to be the temple of God (see I Corinthians 6:15; II Corinthians 6:16) through God's Spirit. Your body starts to wear out. What's happening to you? Why is it that God told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "When you eat it you're going to die"?
The possibilities in this physical life are almost limitless... but are we equipped to handle it? Now we are told that change, escalated, puts a monumental amount of pressure and stress on the human creature.
You groan with all life's problems and even with life itself. But you get fond of your body. You would like to stick around with it a little longer. The possibilities in this world, this physical life, are almost limitless. And there is a whole universe ahead... but are we equipped to handle it? Now we are told that change, escalated, puts a monumental, goliath amount of pressure and stress on the human creature.
It all comes together in time
We have been going through a transition period in society. The funny thing is, the more man learns about what he is not yet equipped to handle, the deeper he goes, the more confused he gets. That's why you see people in some of the disciplines of education who have gotten so far over their heads that they start to go insane. Now what would a Being do, who is omnipotent and omniscient, all-knowledgeable, all-knowing, who has created everything and plunked you into this universe, in the garden spot of the earth, and you are wide-eyed and innocent, neither good nor evil, neutral, knowing really very little? You are like a little child except the little child at birth does not even have the awareness that it is. That was not only Adam and Eve, but it is still humanity today. God would say, as He said to them, "Do it my way. I know all the answers. And I'll show you the way." But they chose not to do it the easy way; they set out to learn it the hard way. So you see, we groan to receive a body that is not limited. We have an element within us that God gave each being that is beyond being temporary. It is something infinite. And God gave it to every human being, converted or unconverted, the spirit in man. God told the children of Israel, " I set before you life and death, choose life" (see Deuteronomy 30:15-19, paraphrased). And it's your free choice too. What happens — or should happen — in mankind that doesn't happen to animals?
The spiritual key
Elihu in the book of Job knew. He said in Job 32:7: "I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom." In other words, the progressive experience from the time of birth, if God be with you, should start to produce wisdom in a human being that in the beginning was neutral. Do you understand that at the end you don't end up neutral? Elihu understood that. "But there is a spirit in man" — and here is that divine essence — "and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (verse 8). Mr. Armstrong has likened the spirit in man to the tape on a tape recorder. Our human bodies are the recorders, all the genetic makeup, the five senses. You know, they can't even tell where the mind is today. You always thought it was in the brain? They're not so sure. They found that when you make judgments, evaluations, it's even in the cells of your fingers. Isn't that something? Everybody is trying to find the spot. Where is the mind? Maybe you can't find that which is spirit. How can humanity understand that, when people don't even know how to define what electricity is (though they can use it). Ask someone to tell you what wind is. Scientists don't know what light is. Does it come in particles, waves, or in particles and waves? And mankind's greatest problem: Try without God to define good and evil. It's a real problem when you don't acknowledge God as the One who tells you right from wrong.
What is good?
What is good? How do you tell with your children? How do you explain to them? How do you explain to yourself everything that's happening, what's right and what's wrong? What music is right? What clothing is right? What entertainment is right? If you're going to be the one who decides right from wrong, there's no way to decide it — except at the end you're all dead, then you know it wasn't right. That was the trouble with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now move along to our time. There will be greater technological miracles in the future — and greater problems. Greater computers (which, by the way, can't think, so can never take over the human mind), fantastic machines from self-correcting typewriters to fruit-pickers, laser magic, riches — and unemployment, more disease, war and death. Things will get richer and better, seemingly; knowledge will increase more and more; people will travel to and fro. There's going to be a lot more leisure time, and people will go nuttier. The world is pursuing materialism. They are going to get it. That's what is prophesied, just before the resurrection, a great, apparently prosperous, world-spanning trading society. It's called Babylon the Great. And because the majority don't and won't understand about spiritual things, and have not grown properly through their experience in character and knowledge, they will cry at the return of Christ and shake their fists at the seven last plagues.