Friday, April 16, 2010

IT'S FRIDAY!!! But Sunday's Coming!

I must admit that I did not agree with Calvin's initial statement in this morning's reading.  In reference to Psalm 73:2-3 and 16-17, Calvin wrote "how rarely or never God fulfills in this world what he promises to his servants..."  I do not believe this.  I personally think that we as humans misinterpret God's promises thinking they would be fulfilled in the present life when God has even better plans for us.  Calvin then quotes a number of passages from the Psalms of David including Psalm 55:22-23, "Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  But you, O God, shall bring them down to the pit of destruction; Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in You."  Rather than saying that the righteous will not be permitted to move, other translations say that the righteous will not fall or Calvin says the righteous will not die.

Though the righteous may feel that they are suffering for much of their lives, they are reminded in Scripture that this suffering is but for a moment and eternal reward waits for them.  Psalm 30:5 reads, "For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning."  We have morning to look forward to.  I attended a service several years ago when Tony Campolo came to Memphis.  A good bit of his sermon centered around the idea that "It's Friday...but Sunday's coming!"  In fact, it was a refrain that was used a number of times between thoughts.  This life may be difficult, but we have the hope of eternal life.  The reference was not how we think of Friday being the start of the weekend, but being the day on which Christ was crucified.  Sunday is the resurrection of Christ therefore our hope of eternal life.  I think Campolo was exactly right and I think this is what David is speaking of in many Psalms.  Calvin writes that the ancient fathers knew that, "however the saints were buffeted about, their final end was to be life and salvation, while the way of the wicked is a pleasant felicity by which they gradually slip into the whirlpool of death."

Calvin moves away from David here to get another perspective.  He writes, "More remarkable than the other passages is this saying of Job's: 'I know that my Redeemer lives, and I shall be resurrected from the earth on the Last day;...and in my flesh I shall see God my Savior.  This my hope abides in my breast' [Job 19:25-27, Vg.]"  Job knew that he would be resurrected and he looked forward to seeing Christ.  Calvin states that declarations like this were not limited just to Job or even a secret among a few prophets, but they were spread throughout God's people.

The later prophets spoke of eternal life as well.  In fact, Calvin puts it his way, "For, if we proved our point without difficulty as far as David, Job, and Samuel were concerned, in the Prophets it is much easier."  He goes on to reference Malachi, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and more.  In reference to Ezekiel, he wrote a little commentary on the story about the dry bones.  The people of Israel initially saw this story as a fable thinking that Ezekiel really meant that these corpses would literally be restored to life.  They saw it as just a restoration of the nation of Israel from Babylon.  This prophecy from Ezekiel also showed that God was able to raise up others to take the place of the Jewish people.  Calvin then encouraged his readers to read the story of the dry bones in light of Isaiah 26:19-21.  He then quotes two more passages - Isaiah 66:22-24 and Daniel 12:1-2 - as further evidence.

Calvin then summarizes the similarities between the Old and New Testaments regarding eternal life.  The promises made to the Israelites was not limited to earthly rewards as some thought, but the promises were made for an eternal life.  In fact, Christ acknowledges this in Matthew 8:11 when he says, "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

Tomorrow's reading: 2.11.1-2.11.6

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