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THE IMPACT OF ETERNAL LIFE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
A swift Overview
The Counsel of the King does not change
but the grace gathers like a storm, not of evil but of goodness, into the New Testament
EVERLASTING LIFE AWAKENS IN DANIEL AND PSALM 73
This is like an introduction to buildings in a city. We look first at those most outstanding.
Of course, at once we turn to Psalm 73:22-226.
"So foolish was I, and ignorant. I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You have held me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You ?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside You.
My flesh and my heart fail,
but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."
Here the measured continuity in our time becomes the immeasurable eternity in His; and the limits of our time become the limitless liberties of His. THIS is the heritage, here lies the inheritance, this the possession, allocation as with Daniel 12, and in this is everlasting sustenance, eternal life.
Thus the closeness of this earth is found through faith, reliance, in assurance complete, fulfilled in the holiness of heaven, and the wants of this earth lie subdued to the desire for emplacement with its Maker, the summit of desire in the Deity Himself. In this despite weakness lies certainty. Here are to be found no limits because this corruptible body is our current implant; indeed the God who by His strength both made it and instituted heaven for the saved, is not only strong forever, but manifests His own strength in the saved soul, and this as an accredited and sustained portion, to which John 14 refers, like Daniel 12:13, its last verse.
So informed, we turn to this same Daniel. In Chapter 12, likewise, we find that great is the assembly of those to be raised when that great time like no other comes, one disparate from any since the creation of Israel the nation (12:1). Then those found in the Book of Life (as in Revelation 20:12, cf. Ephesians 1:4 with Colossians 1:19ff.) will be delivered. Great is the realisation that from as far back as you like to go (even to Genesis 3:15 where the certainty of eternal deliverance and removal of the cursed blot of sin by means past the power of man, but through one in his format, was introduced, in the proto-evangelion), there are those to be raised even from the dead.
The curse and the consequence were at once alleviated by the news of divine action to come, more powerful than the lust of the devil to ensnare, or the corruption which resulted, even in death. It has a beginning and for those who put their faith in the Father of lights and the God of all comfort, where He has granted access through His covenant in blood, it has an end, even in the environment, just as already in heart (Galatians 3, 5).
Thus many who sleep in the dust of the earth", declares Daniel with that brilliant clarity that can be abused by no rational speech, will awake," and of these some to eternal life.
Many are these so blessed (Revelation 7), finding the culmination of faith and the consummation of foreknowledge expressed in the sure predestination of God, amply securing what He first found before time was (Romans 8:29ff.). These, there they go to their place, but look! It is that of eternal life!
It is true that there is another grouping, as in Matthew 13:37-43 and 3:12 with Luke 3:17. The finger points to another group for everlasting shame, obscured from the first group, in a sort of glance at the gloom (Daniel 12:2).Shame ? it is because the light was from GOD (no contribution required for photon aid, from man). The Messiah came and in Him was life, and this was that everlasting life, and He was the light of man (John 1:3), as now He remains for those in whom He dwells (Col. 1:27), and the one who walks with Him, is delivered from stumbling (Jeremiah 31:9), for He has "the light of the world" to shine upon his way. Though one justified, redeemed, in the light, may totter sever times, yet he does not lie unprotected (Proverbs 24:16, John 5:24). Yet what is outcast, a castaway, casting their lot with the outlandish, far from the continent of Christ, His family, His faith, even their prayer is sin (Proverbs 28:9), whereas "the prayer of the upright is His delight," Proverbs 15:8. It is like that with a family, for the Head of the house hears (Proverbs 15:29).
What then of their shame who remain alienated, immovable in disbelief, impregnable in irrational cynicism, impious in imagination, all their own in heart, to whatever folly they may have opted to be attached, or by which yielding, they remain subdued despite the free access to the Lord of liberty ?
It is sad but they have exercised, by decision or specious indirection, their inalienable right to be wrong, the necessary attribute of liberty, which has seduced them, with the elastic frontiers of the lying devil, which have deceived them, following both lust not love, and will not wonder in the Lord. The reverse in shown in the Lord's perfect sanctity, as in Matthew 4, in the exhibit of the lust for the worship of Christ, displayed by the devil. MAN, said this same Jesus, "shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD which proceeds out from the mouth of God," as in Matthew 4:4. That lamentable but sequestered grouping is found in Daniel 12:2, where our eyes are lifted from the blessed many, to the distant alternative tour group, grappling with darkness; for of the totality there are many saved, but we find this also, a lingering group, left in the mists of "everlasting contempt." The eye thus moves from the saved in their multitude (as in Revelation 7), to the residue unspecified here as to number, and all are covered.
It is EVERLASTING LIFE to which the former come, and there is a place, lot, abiding place for each whether as seen in Daniel 12:13 or John 14. Indeed in Daniel 7, we find the Son of Man, not some incomprehensible figure but One in our own format, though glorified, who receives power over all the nations. Brought near to the Father, He receives in His glorious meekness as Messiah, the authority over all peoples, every language group. This dominion, unlike that of the empires, is undismissable, for His kingdom is the one "which will not pass away."
In Him, each saved soul has its place (Daniel 12:13, as in II Corinthians 4-5), and the corruptible like the mortal is swallowed up in the incorruptible and the immortal (I Corinthians 15). No more does thought alone seek the wings to find these things, but He whose they are, having come to secure the inheritance to those who seek and find Him, grants it freely (as in Isaiah 55), in stark contrast to any manner of buying in (as with Simon who wanted to use his own hand in holy things, and participate where God alone both grants and does so with ground! - Acts 8:17-24, Galatians 3).
So does Isaiah become as Romans 3:23-27; and the resonance
of the passages throughout the ages, found in the word of God, is intense,
sober, strong, resilient, mutually reinforcing and lively.
GENESIS 3 AND EXODUS 3
Long before, as we have seen, God had introduced (Genesis 3:15) the glory of the removal of death itself through the mediation of the One to be called the Messiah (as in Psalm 2). But we find again the matter in Exodus 3:6. There we find that to Moses, the Lord declares Himself to be the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. In continuity, He then transfers the attention to the current plight of His people, then in Egypt, as they proceed down the encapsulated generations, and the horror then current, in virtual slavery. The LORD is there found to be sending another, His servant Moses, and God does this as the "I am," as in John 8:58, as the God who has consistently revealed Himself, in continuity with change.
For those whom He knows, He does not cease to be God. HE is eternal, as are those though in their case at one time begun, are those whom He knows. It is not the case that He was the God of these, or that these knew Him as a leaf a tree; but there was a sentient, conscious communion between Him and these patriarchs, and He arises beyond any time as their God. What with them He has done, remains, and what is to be, is to come; but in all, over all and for all He continues, ineffaceable the communion and its consequence, as He sent one to die as far as the flesh is concerned (as occurred with Moses), and another to live, and that, through the power of an endless life which, though sacrificed vicariously for sinners, is unbreachable through any and all vicissitudes (cf. Hebrews 2, 4, Acts 2:23-24). Through His gift of this life (I John 1:2, 5:11-12), indeed eternal also are the lives of those whom, in His eternity sent into time, He knows. THESE are HIS people, and life and death in the flesh are as one in the sanctity of HIS friendship (cf. James 4:4). They come; their duration finishes; but HIS LIFE continues unquenchable, their state, status and station in Him as always, for always, though the sin is banished forever (Revelation 21:4, Micah 7:19).
As to God, HIS very ways are eternal (Habakkuk 3:6) and in Him there is no iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4). Death is the blight of sin (Genesis 3, Romans 6:14), removable by Him as Saviour (Isaiah 43:10-11); and just as there IS no other Saviour, so there is no other life: indeed it is HIS life which is the light of men (John 1:3), just as He made man from the outset (Colossians 1:15, John 1:1-3). Thus when HE comes to man, when He becomes a friend of a person, when HE owns and possesses a man or woman freely given to Him on His own terms, then the result is interminable! It is the alternative to the abominable, the site of horror and the pit of contempt (Psalm 143:7, cf. Luke 16:26).
It is well that Christ, as the Apostle's Creed declares, and I Peter indicates at 3:19-20 (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 4, Aspects of the Glory ... Ch. 5), for eternity is not subject to chance, but the desire of the Lord for all (Col. 1:19ff., I Timothy 2). No technicality intrudes, for God knows all, always did and has the annals of time and eternity all before Him, with His OWN desire as stated, and fulfils all for all according to His word in His own terms, all of them, as stated. Our God is reliable, and we rest always in Him. Not only is He this, but He always shows Himself so (II Timothy 2:13, Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 119:86, Revelation 19:11).
There is no middle way, for with God there is, if you will, no other bank, no other property, no other way: He is His own and owns those whom know Him, having bought them (I Cor. 6:20, 7:23); and as in HIM is life, so in them is it for ever, these being His terms, the ways of His domain, of His kingdom, where death has no further entry, neither by violence nor by wriggle, by word power or by force . Indeed, I Corinthians 15 expounds this, but it is always present from the first case in Eden, where magnificence itself entered, and mull-headedness and foppish-heartedness intervened for a severance, where eternal life was already placed, and ready - Genesis 3.
Thus we come to:
The Imprint of the Testimony of
in the Exposition of Exodus by the Messiah.
Therefore it is scarcely any great surprise to find Christ rebuking the superficial and slithery scholars for their arithmetical conundrum about husbands and wives in heaven, where this mode of reproduction is all past with its pain, with this delicious realism, as in Mark 12:26. HE exposits the word of God, the scriptures of Exodus in this way. Citing such a word as Exodus 3:6 provides, He asks His attackers whether they have never read this, that God spoke to Moses declaring Himself the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ? He is NOT referring to a past relationship, but a living texture of relevance.
He is NOT musing on things past with no effect on the present, but on the presence of the One who being God, has so far been with His people, has not reneged, divorced, dithered or differentiated, but is that self-same God in continuity with these things, which do not die, but continue in the annals beyond time, God being timeless and fitting into no parcel of history as if contained by it. It is THIS overarching all time, continuing past all modes, this part of the annals of God in history, where what is living continues so, when past all curse, HIS imprint and impact is duly registered, which continues uninterrupted.
When you deal, or indeed are dealt with by God, what is established in reality, has no end.
God, said Jesus the Christ, concerning these things,
"is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living;
you therefore, do greatly err."
Indeed, as in Mark 12:24, they were subject to an even keener scrutiny in their mixing of models and gaunt misapprehension as they mixed, as do so many today. These slurry the realm of the supernatural with the natural, vitamise, compound, as if they were the same, as if the natural had its own domain and ways and works, spurning its source, centre and upholder, declining its own Maker, acting as its own creator, before even being there to do so! In magic it all writhes, what is not at first there being the base of what is to be, a nothing argument to dispense with God who, having the advantage of actually being there and having our type of time as a creation, simply creates at will, and in this case, created beings WITH a will of their own. This imaginative and creative will of mankind, however, does not create truth by reflection, but may find it. With his remarkable gifts, man IS susceptible to truth's perception, available for its reception, as guest, as God; though not always so!
It often loves instead to flirt with fiction, gamble with powers not adequate and pretend there is an answer in nothing or begging the question, with various imports from nowhere as a domain of nothing, tangled in the logical dilemma in which they always place themselves.
So does man dither, and so do models become mere confusions, as people seek to put their own disbelieving and irrational concepts into the place of the eternal model, where oncoming darkness has good reason, even treason to truth, as practised first by Eve, and followed soon enough by Adam. Neither HAD to do it, but both did.
When therefore the Sadducees trotted out from the stable of confusion their concept of one with seven spouses on earth, found in heaven, they received no mean answer.
Thus Christ lacerated their puny lordliness as one might prick a bulging but airy balloon.
He declared in the midst of their assault,
"know neither the scriptures nor the power of God!"
The resurrected do not partake of the pains, curses, pangs and positions of flesh in its mode, but are in this as angels, not reproducing, for their bodies are now no more natural but spiritual (cf. I Corinthians 15:35-48).
This alerts us to our present perils, for the slumbering. Expositing the Bible from an unbiblical model is precisely what liberalism did, as one knows who has audited it long enough, and the confusions were everlasting, dull without point, like a child's babble*1, mere mental muddle. If you discuss the characteristics of fairy floss when the topic is aluminium wings on an aircraft, it is a case of monstrous irrelevance and a merely wandering mind. If you are interested in aluminium, investigate that in its own terms; and if in culinary delights, then that; but there is no place for confusion, except as an escape, facetious or dour, from reality.
Small wonder then that Christ in speaking of eternal life in the day of the revelation concerning Moses, mocked their folly, and broke the point and tip of their thrust in a word. The creation was real, the call of Abraham was real, the family covenants were real, the friendship of God was real, and He does not slay His friends are make mockery of their lives, the Eternal deals in eternity, for which man is made, and in eternity there is what is fitting for eternity. They erred greatly indeed, as have so many ever since, merging models and forgetting what they were talking about, while pretending to interpret it. As for God, it is One alone, and without comparables, and in His trinitarian magnificence, equipped to love since there are THREE persons, He has the divine competence not only to create, but to redeem and to do so by incarnation not merger.
What however of further Psalms in their attestation on Eternal Life, in the Old Testament ?
OTHER PSALMS WITH ISAIAH 26:19
Psalm 21 keeps up the Old Testament emphasis on eternal life. Here we find King David rejoicing in the salvation of God, and declaring this, that God has not failed to answer his prayer. Blessings of goodness from God grow like flowers in Spring, and in particular, David reveals that he asked life from God. What kind of life was this, since already he had physiological and mental life, and life of the soul ? It was
"length of days for ever and ever,"
Psalm 21:4. THIS is the nature of the length of days in Psalm 23:6. It concerns relationship with God, and it is eternal
This was no small request, like that for an eternal house with site supplied, but instead of a divine demur, or even murmur, there is the acknowledgement: request granted, eternity supplied. Hence he is "most blessed for ever," 21:6, and exceedingly glad. He abounds, his joy rebounds, his blessings redound to the glory of God. His satiety spiritually is complete.
It is no mere formal arrangement, for "you have made him exceedingly glad with Your countenance," Psalm 21:6. Indeed, David knows already from the same God as that of Paul, the very face of God, later to be even more definitively expressed in Jesus the incarnation of the Word of the living God (II Corinthians 4:6). Here is no faceless authority, divine bureaucracy; for God is so intimate that David is feeling delighted by the presence of His very countenance.
Faith has been the entry vehicle into this kingdom, since the works are all done by God Himself (Psalm 32), so that this comes about because "the king trusts in the LORD," and "through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved." The final view and vision does not remove the presence of the Lord on the way! What is consummated in the end continues from what is current in the present. To be sure, others tried to blot out this glorious adventure and advent of salvation, and indeed did imagine a "mischievous device," no doubt such as slander, a rather normal enterprise of those who forsake the Lord and look for some justification of their folly. However, this "they are unable to perform," Psalm 21:11.
Let this send your soul soaring if such 'mischief' is practised against you! Many are the tribulations of those justified by the Lord (Romans 8:29ff.), and we "must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," Acts 14:22. However, what is not sanctioned by God in our trials and testimony, the evil one and his adjuncts, adjutants and activists, are just as unable to perform as they were in the case of the babe to be killed by the will of the King Herod, who nevertheless failed in his partial genocide attempt.
ETERNAL LIFE is thus the conferment, trust the
vehicle, certainty for ever the donation, and presence of the Lord the joy.
In this Psalm, we find not only the detail of the means of death chosen for God when He came as man to save mankind, as many as put their trust in Him (as in John 1:12-14), but the record in advance of the ultimate confrontation with death, that by God Himself in human format, so that the power to condemn sin, transferred through merciful love to the power to break the penalty by bearing it in entire innocence Himself, is a double positive! Not only is the power broken (Titus 1:1-3), but it is desolated, like an exported rodent ulcer!
Thus when in the midst of the most hideous extradition from the earth, the body of the Lord on earth becomes a subject for clouting (twice), striking, thorn pressure on the head, scourging as in John 19:1 and display after that to the multitude, then the state of things even prior to crucifixion was indeed something to "behold"! That was the word unjust judge Pilate used in presenting Christ to the mob, before abandoning Him to them.
"Behold," he said, "the man!"
Christ is then abandoned by the puny judge, his own condemnation since he declared Him innocent in the trial. Moreover, He is next publicly set on display in dying anguish for some 6 hours, so that the calamitous nature of the case is unambiguous. As an introduction to death, say for a straying child who stops to watch, it would be incomparable.
Thus when the prayer goes up, the answer comes down as in Psalm 22:24. The Messiah here shown in pangs and anguish, just before verse 24, indeed stricken by those as predicted in Psalm 2, who want to cast off the cords, bonds of belief and fealty, here arises with words of praise and intention to declare His deliverance by the One who heard. This is a necessity to tell "the great congregation" many of whom had seen His inundation in the outflow in the sins of man, for death in its godless gore is now transcended, and not merely amended. It is crushed, because He was, who arisen testifies to the same great epochal event.
Thus those who have seen His arising from this superior mode of inflicting mortality on life, this slow mode, this public display model, this callous cruelty and complete crushing of the body amid mockery, now find the stricken able to speak, to address a multitude, with praise and triumph flowing. In Psalm 2, we similarly see, in a parallel but longer scope of presentation, the efforts to kill, to make irrelevant this Messiah, which leads on there, to the end of the Age with a caution to 'judges' to repent and seek the Lord while they may; for THEIR just judgment is to come.
Christ's coming into His kingdom at the end of the Age, comes into focus in the last verses of Psalm 2, in the very face of the writhings to write Him off! Then, trials past for humanity, when this Gospel of God's love and merciful action for man has been applied over a long period (in which, as in II Peter 3:9, a day is as a thousand years - making so far 2 such days of patience), they are told to "kiss the Son lest He be angry," and they are broken with a rod of iron, of truth unyielding, for all their unshriven sins!
In that case, His rule is disruptive of the cause of death, the sin which grabs mankind and makes of him an enemy of truth, to be rescued as in Psalm 22. In the end, rescue dismissed, death finds its home in the rebellious as in Psalm 2, and they who disciplined truth by death, are now themselves if unrepentant, to suffer the discipline of liars, quasi-lords, pretenders.
Here however, in Psalm 22, it is pre-dust-bin time, and in the arising of the Lord, whose body has been on such display before being rescued by the immortal power of the God of all creation, there is good news for the brethren. "You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you, the seed of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all you, the seed of Israel."
Here is the epochal victory, the defeat of the end of the potentially endless, of the send-off for the folly of sin! Here is the victory over death. As in Isaiah 25:8 has it,
"death is swallowed up in victory,
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
and the rebuke of His people, shall He take away from all the earth;
for the LORD has spoken."
Thus in Psalm 22:24, we remember we have heard this, of the Messiah: "When He cried to Him, He heard Him." Death as due scourge (vicariously born for others) was the criterion of the call; deliverance from it was the answer. Hence (Psalm 22: 23,24) there is room for glorying in God:
"You who fear the LORD, praise Him...
for He has not despised nor abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
nor has He hidden His face from Him;
but when He cried to Him, He heard."
It is as in Isaiah 48:16, where God the Sent comes from God the Sending, accompanied by the Spirit, and the trinity in so acting, has solved truth's clamour for justice, in a manifesto of mercy so profound that "my praise will be of You in the great congregation," Psalm 22:25. Isaiah 49-55 then proceeds to itemise the account, showing the phases of the glory and the actions of the Almighty to send free salvation for man.
Now the MEEK, not the proud, strong and arrogant, will have what is to be eaten in the company of eternity (Psalm 22:26), namely the eternal substitute for the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God as in Isaiah 53 (cf. John 1:29), that is "Christ our Passover," I Cor. 5:7. Now David, in the latter part of this Psalm, can utter the foreseen reality for the uttermost has been foreseen, and the ultimate has been pronounced: death the destroyer no more indestructible, but itself destroyed. The recipients by faith put on immortality, as in I Corinthians 15. The rich too will eat, and indeed who can save his own life ? all categories will eat (Psalm 22:26,29), FOR "the kingdom is the LORD'S and He is the governor among the nations." So does the Psalm turn to the supra-chronological family, ONE only Head, many from future times to this event, to be the generation!
It is a spiritual eating therefore, whether for meek or mighty, which is in view, precisely as in John 6, where Christ explains His becoming the sin-covering sacrifice: it is one satisfying to the poor and the rich alike, in that none can preserve from death, his own life (22:29); and in this, all equate. It is here that we learn of the "seed" that will serve Him, as explained more fully earlier, in Ch. 1, a generation of His very own, of which He is the progenitor by spiritual seed.
Thus amid 22 statements of fact or command to be found from Psalm 22:22, at number 12 we have this:
"They shall praise the LORD who seek Him; your heart will live forever."
This is set in the very midst of the cause for praise as the One dealt death in vividly insulting, crushing and slow form stands now vigorous in declaration before many. In testimony of victory, with a message of what through Him has been attained, the Messiah is exhibited praising - and bringing praise for - the LORD from all; for even he who cannot keep alive his own soul, the sinner rich or poor, here has the antidote to the misery of mortality, supplanted with the elixir of delight. Life has won since God bothered to take action, available only to Him as immutable, eternal and without iniquity, who now has made a new thing*2 for man, to be taken by faith. Long prophesied, always applicable, it is nothing less than the way to be quit of this horrifyingly macabre commentary on sin, this sentence of death on humanity, one espoused by justice, and irremediable by any remedy but that provided, and that, in this way, by God Himself.
FROM this accomplishment, this divine deed, this transformative task, this triumph for many, there is from a full heart, praise in terms of a wonder and a marvel of accomplishment. From Psalm 22:22 on, indeed, there is thus a litany of praise, gift and result, a conferment and a relish, an achievement notified, a necessity met. HE has done it. WE are to receive it. MANY are the consequences of the Messianic mercy. A huge spiritual 'family' is the result, one passing through many generations. Statement after statement glows with the glory of it all, as the Psalm proceeds on from verse 22 to the end.
Indeed, you find here
1) the gift is universal where faith applies, for it is for all the families of the nations (22:27) who are to worship.
2) It is vertical - as we have seen, the
meek will eat and be satisfied, and the rich. It is the new Paschal Lamb,
3) It is total in this, that it is to
issue in the culminating rule of the Messiah (22:27-28)
4) It is exclusive, in that while all are
invited, none who do not receive it,
5) It is without exemption, since what it
offers is the only remedy for going down to death,
6) It passes all time, being
supra-chronological, the "family" thus created from believers in Him,
7) it has a special low door height for the
meek! Pomposity cannot stoop far enough
Thus in Psalm 22:26, as in Matthew 5, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," there is this amazing differentiation from the callous and callow norm. As in Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11, there is to be a time prior to the final removal of this universe, to be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth (II Peter 2), and in this period as in Revelation 20, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the earth as the waters cover the sea," as written in Habakkuk 2:14. Actually, we are all initially made in the image, or fellowship-option, of God, and one is not unaware of this aspect. Thus when we feed the sea-gulls, what are those most avoided ? the bullies. Which are the ones most sought to feed ? it is those thrust aside, not pushy, waiting with hope!
Bullying is destructive of any good thing; judicious use of power with good heart for good, this is an entirely different matter.
Thus "the meek will eat and be satisfied; they will praise the LORD who seek you." There is no silencing through efficient secretaries, though some sectaries may accomplish this in their own religious gatherings, such as those who once would not, in some parts of the USA, admit those of negro extraction!
And what comes next in the gift package, the triumphant announcement of what passes through the triumphal gates of death into life, God as man and for man ? It is this: "Your heart shall live for ever." This is the next fact of conferment, information for spiritual formation, restoration of what was first in view, now achieved through righteousness and justice, in mercy and sovereign solicitude (cf. Genesis 3:22).
That, living forever, as there in view, was NO MORE available to man, as obviously available had he not fallen, in that Autumn of the soul, that Fall; but it had been nearby (Genesis 3:3,22), and to achieve it was not simple, once was initial garden was gone. Nor was it easy for fallen goods, to have this opportunity restored. The way back, not to the garden but to God who first gave the test site and conditions, called for an information, for an incarnation that the One to crush the head of Satan, the barrister for sin's lust and results, should endure what was required for such a reversal of the reverse of man from blessing. It called for such a triumph in such a setting, as Psalm 22 depicts and Psalm 16 annotates. Only then is to be found such a liberty in place of a bondage of horror as is the blessing divine, the re-acceptance mode and model.
Alas, for two millenia this world has seen past the prophecy of these things, to their fulfilment; but this same the world, having seen, at some times taken in part, at others forsaken, now enhances if it be possible, its doom as in the days before the flood (Genesis 6), turning yet wilder in the macabre exhibition of its supposed might amid multiplied millions of murders, including that of morality with many, till the end of the Epoch of Evangel. As it was to be (Matthew 24), so it is. As it was to progress, so it has done (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8).
Whatever the response, then, be it to become a holy nation over time, or a godless ghetto, wide in expanse but fallen in kind, what God has done cannot be undone; and the results are sure, whether as in John 3:16-17 in its buoyant offer, or in 3:19 in its reasoned ruin, for dismissing this wonderful work of God, this new thing, long foretold but in the end done, the precipice for some, and the vast and glorious height for viewing, as from a cliff-top, for others. This is not the region of mere human hope, but of holy resultants. This is not for experiment but the result of the greatest test of all: God as man passing through death as an aeroplane passes through cloud and mist by vast mountains, and comes out in the sunshine without crashing.
He has done it, and in the dynamic of this Messianic achievement, therefore in Psalm 22 we have heard that liberating joy, "when He cried to Him, He heard," 22:24, so that NOW He declares the name of the Lord to the brethren (Psalm 22:23). As in Psalm 69, where the forecast of His being given vinegar to drink occurs, we find once more this sudden deliverance from the One of whom it is said, "Reproach has broken My heart," (69:19-21), so in Psalm 22, there is the magnificence of the result of this achievement of redemption.
Thus "the humble shall see this, and be glad; and your heart shall live that seek God." It is not what YOU accomplish, but what GOD has accomplished which is the point, and this is not general, but foretold as new, and found as a fully-fashioned salvation (Ephesians 2:1-12, Romans 3:23-27, Galatians 3).
Eternal life is a gift. Just as in Psalm 16, the relevant physical data are shown, resurrection ensuing instead of rotting, so here in Psalm 22, Christ is made into a vivid spectacle of atoning grief. Indeed, at Calvary in fulfilment of it, it came to be that because the flesh does not rot as in Psalm 16:9-10, so the power of movement from the tomb is not lost, but the spectacle which drove to horrified incapacity the guards (Matthew 28:4) is that resulting from a divine power. You could not blame them in this, and small wonder they were given money for silence on the topic, the so very important corpse in absentia, not requiring their death but their sustenance!
It came as God opening the way by moving the stone, releasing the Ransom into Life. He therefore could not be displayed, as a stricken corpse, for instead, eternal life with its corporeal expression was now displayed, so that indeed as forecast in Psalm 22, the message is conveyed with rejoicing to the brethren (cf. I Corinthians 15:1-4, cf. Matthew 28).
Rotting for the very vehicle of one's life! how aweful, horrid and blighting it would be! But now, NOT ROT is the claim, clamour and the call, and the exhibit and the accomplishment are found now moving about with a superior facility. Having thus set the LORD ever before Him by faith, David as prophet sees here the ground of his assurance, "I shall not be moved," Psalm 16:8. The flesh of the sin-sacrifice, the Messiah, will not rot so that his own is now safe, for it is his own Messiah, long known by faith and to come, who is the One, given and gifting His triumph (cf. Isaiah 26:19). So do the Messianic Psalms coalesce in their various aspects of the message: HE IS NOT HERE FOR HE IS RISEN, and that, believer, covers you!
As we have already seen, Psalm 22 proceeds to the inauguration of the entire supra-temporal family of God, chosen from many generations, and constituting one one, HIS.
Isaiah has a further contribution of beauty, holiness and strength.
Surveying all the believers then and before and to come, therefore, with the motivation of Colossians 1 and John 3, the accomplishments shown here prophetically in advance, and in I Cor. 15 in retrospect, we turn to Isaiah 26:19. Not only is salvation free (Isaiah 55) in view of what is shown in Isaiah 53, and eternal as in Isaiah 54, but the NEW GENERATION who will both BE HIS family and His testimony on earth (Psalm 22:31), are put in a different image in Isaiah 26:19.
Dealing with those whose bodies are in the dust, Isaiah here indicates that they will leave that estate and rise. Indeed, the LORD announces that it is as "My dead body" that they will arise. In other words, in this highly evangelical prophecy, here we see the aggregation of the resurrected congregation, as ONE BODY, leaving dust for destiny. There is simply no word for 'together' in the text as in some translations. It is not there. MY DEAD BODY THEY WILL ARISE, is what is stated.
Indeed, "the earth shall cast out her dead," Isaiah 26:19 adds. Further, as in Ch. 1 above, Isaiah 53:10 (like 44:1-4) shows them coming one by one, to faith and hence the reception of life everlasting. There is the individual entry level; here in Isaiah 26 is the incorporated level, and in both cases, the intimacy with the Lord is total, His life for ours, His way for ours, His provision gifted to us, with nothing more to do, not even to rush about (Isaiah 28:16). Here it is done, and "by faith are you saved through grace, and that (that is, the whole thing, grammatically in the Greek in Ephesians 2:8) is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." HE did it. As Psalm 22:31 puts it:
"They shall come, and shall declare His righteousness to a people that shall be born,
that He has done this."
Eternal life surrounds us in the Old Testament, and
as with other matters, it is beautiful in the bud, as fully exposed din the bloom! Now we
move to ...
Proverbs tends to essentialise matters, and Proverbs 12:28 tells us simply and surely that
"in the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death." That is, if you gain the righteousness on offer from God (as in Psalm 32 for example, through the sacrificial covenant of free grace as in Isaiah 55, and indeed the Psalm itself), then, faith being the means, NO DEATH is the result. That breaks natural results; but these, like the creation, are supernaturally implanted. MEANS should never be confused with ends, practicalities with purpose. NO DEATH is now the faith norm, as death is the sin norm (Romans 6:23). There is a provision and as God loves, delights in showing mercy as in Micah 7:18-19, He dissolving the power of sin in His own death, He accredits life from His own righteousness (Romans 5:17-18). Indeed, Micah proceeds to show this as inherent in the Old Testament, proceeds with this word from the Lord:
"He will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, sworn of old."
Abraham the friend of God was so because of the wonderful One God is, and as He covenanted, so is His mercy forever and ever, He delighting in diligently showing it to the faith which embraces His offer.
There is no illusion as in I John 1, that the man of God is perfect or sinless, nor has there been as the divinely instilled records show. It is not our perfection which counts (who comes near it!), but that of Christ. On His path provided, there is no death. It comes by a sworn testimony and will not be abolished; but death will be (as in II Timothy 1:10), eternal life being that which God has promised (as in Titus 1:1-3) not only in the Old Testament, but before the world began. Indeed, it was in His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29ff., Ephesians 1:4), and Christ Himself brought this aspect of eternity out as we have seen in Mark 12. It is HIS OWN purpose and grace, says II Tim. 1:9, and grace that has secured this salvation for its recipients; and before the God of eternity, what is its status but this: "given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but now made manifest in the appearing of the Saviour ..." !
Thus the often implicit and on numbers of different occasions explicitly shown eternal life moves through the Old Testament like coastal scenes on a tour of a vast headland, as we come to the beach itself, now directly shown, then inhabited.
In view of His righteousness, faithfulness and
repeated assurance, therefore, we find with out surprise in Proverbs 12:28, that
in that pathway of righteousness, there is no
death. It is irrelevant, outmoded, abolished. Again in Proverbs 13:8 with 8:18,
you find that the ransom of a man's life consists in riches, and in 8:18 this is
shown to be "durable riches and righteousness", which as before, come from the
gift of the grace of God expressed in covenant of mercy. This is provided from
the kindness and wisdom of God, which are with Wisdom.
This is precisely what Christ is made to us as in I Corinthians 1:30. Wisdom, Proverbs 8 tells us, was with Him from the first, "rejoicing always before Him," and it is this Being, shrouded in imagery, but effectual in work, who was as in an image, as one intensively brought up before Him, an everlasting intimacy. Wisdom in Proverbs 8 speaks, turning from the account of creation to "rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth: and My delight was with the sons of men."
There is in God this delight, whether shown in Micah 7 or Psalm 40 or Proverbs 8, so that mercy is one of His vast outthrusts, like solar flares; for God is bursting with love. He does not change for petulance, or exhaustion, but hears the cry of those who find Him, follow Him, love Him, and yes even when unlovely is their course or error (as in Psalm 107), is apt at listening and profound in comfort.
"The truthful lip will be established forever," declares Proverbs 11:19, but by contrast, "a lying tongue is but for a moment." There is no lack of time, or short-circuit of it where truth is concerned, and in truth
"the way of truth moves upward for the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath,"
Proverbs 15:24. This is the way of life, the direction of it, the nature of it; and its domain is in eternity, where eternal condemnation is not available, that being another course and another type of discourse! This is the ransom of wisdom, freely supplied in the industry and glory of the works which Christ, whose it is, has created and redeemed.
"Surely there is an end,"
says Proverbs 23:18,
"and your expectation will not be cut off,"
or as the NKJV has it, "For surely there is a hereafter and your hope will not be cut off." This with Proverbs 24:14 has an interesting verbal background, indicating that which is behind, is last, comes later, and can be used of the future. The END, the FUTURE, the REMAINING PART is NOT cut off for those who have the covenanted righteousness of the Lord, to whom iniquity is not imputed as in Psalm 32. Contrasted with here, hereafter what remains, and in this setting, hereafter as in the NKJV, is a good translation.
Indeed, the context, before this verse, has been dwelling on the folly of envying sinners in their easy-seeming way; but in answer this is the assurance: there IS an end. There is a latter part to life, an expectation, a destiny to come, and those who are in the NO DEATH category of Proverbs 12:28 will inherit it. It will not be cut off; it is there. Thus, in Proverbs 3:35, it is written that "the wise will inherit glory, but shame will be th legacy of fools."
Further, in Psalm 139, having traced and traversed the truth of the wonders and marvels which God has wrought in creating man, the Psalmist is turned to the inward question of the soul, and appealing to God, speaks in this way: "Search me O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
There is such a way, where the heart can rest, where evil has been drained, guilt has been removed, where grace is an extravaganza and glory is the nature of it, a way of LIFE such as was the gift from the first, now immortalised through the presidential, unprecedented and express word and work of God, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to life.
*1 See for example Isaiah 28:7-12 for the kind of result of such errors in spirit, when it comes to the tongue!
Thus in Isaiah 29:9-14, God speaks, with contempt for obfuscatory non-faith, of a NEW THING which He will do, a marvellous work and a wonder. Indeed, the merely human wisdom will perish, just as rational, moral and spiritual life arose, by divine fiat. Their flatulence will be replaced by His ordered speech, their scholarly ignorance of divine things, by the pettifogging methods noted, by divine wisdom, their hopes and fears, arrogance or obscurantism, by HIS ACTION, He who IS God and from the creation, has made what is there, including the freedom at a point, to mess with it. As liberty is the pre-condition of love, so it is given. As love must be pure, so it has been abused, this liberty. As God is pure, so the way back to purity has been found, and the way to purge iniquity provided freely (cf. Titus 2-3). Isaiah 29 goes on speaking of this restoration, and in Isaiah 30 there is more to this point, before Isaiah 32 takes up the advent of the Messiah personally.
Prior to the revelation in Isaiah 29, in 28, God again exposes the inane, irreligious methods of playing the religious flute (Isaiah 28:9-13) in a dreary and useless mode, and focusses on the fact that in their innovations and declarations, they have simply fallen away from the reality of their God in disordered imagination, with empty idols, summoned like non-existent ghosts, Banquos of philosophy, into their misled lives. THEREFORE God indicates that He is going to annul their 'covenant with death'. How is this to be done ? It is by the establishment of the Messiah on earth (Isaiah 28:16), as a "foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation..." This is by incarnation as in Isaiah 9, Micah 5, Psalm 40, and its work is found as already noted in Isaiah 49-55.
More on this aspect of the work of the Messiah is found in Jeremiah 31:31 where a New Covenant itself is noted with its spiritual nature exposited; and in accord with this there is a NEW THING exhibited in Jeremiah 31:22, on the way to the NEW COVENANT. A woman is to encompass a man in a way not known; for the thing is unique and novel. The mighty God is so to come (Isaiah 9:6, 10:21), in the Sent One from heaven, the Word of God. As in Isaiah 9:6-7, the Son bears the name of the everlasting Father (as one in a family might take his father's name in accounts), this time that of God, the Almighty, the Eternal, so that His mode of coming is to take the divine reality as the living WORD of God, and express God on this earth (as in John 8:58).