Monday, May 28, 2012

Raised to Life Again

Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35, NKJV).
There is a difference between resuscitation and resurrection. The former is temporary, the latter eternal. Both are spoken of in Scripture, and the first is a gift that points to the second as a kind of precursor to what will occur in the future.

Note in this verse that it is specifically women who received their dead raised to life again.

It brings to mind Elijah raising the son of the Zarephath widow (1 Kings 17:17-22), and Elisha doing the same with son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:32-35).  Another man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21).

Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15), and the daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55), and of course Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41) and Eutychus was raised from the dead by Paul (Acts 20:9, 10).

At least eight specific instances are recorded in Scripture, with many other instances implied. Most resuscitations were to the benefit of women, who were substantially dependent on the income and support of their sons or husbands in those days.

Yet I think another treasure is provided for us here, not just an indication of God's oft-cited concern for widows and orphans. And it is this: one of the many significant differences between men and women is a woman's humility in seeking comfort and restoration. And those who seek are guaranteed to find. Men, for a variety of reasons, are less likely to seek this kind of comfort, and there is a lesson here.

Not only are these incidents affirmations of God's rightful authority over life and death, existence and nonexistence, but these are illustrations of an important spiritual principle.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7, 8, NKJV).
How hard is it to rest and find comfort in these assurances? Certainly it flies in the face of most of life's material experience. Death is the most implacable scourges of human existence, and the fear of death is a bondage inescapable through any other means except faith in Christ.

Mercifully, we are shown repeatedly that God, through His prophets and especially through the Person of His Son, has definitive power over the most elemental aspect of our being, life itself. And while the vast majority of believers will cross the threshold of physical death, it is not the end. The question is, do we really believe that to be the case?

If we did, while we might fear dying, we should not fear the moment of death, and if it shows itself to be inevitable, we should looked towards it with hope and joy. Not that we have the right to take or own life (we are God's through the dual rights of manufacture and purchase on the Cross), nor  should we ever, outside the will of God, place our selves purposefully in death's sites.

But when that time comes, when we are faced with that ancient enemy, we are to remember what it was that was conquered on the Cross of Christ - sin and death. And we are to bring to mind that the incidents of demonstrated power over death are recorded for our learning, that we, through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Beyond that, as we had to be born to live temporally, we must be transformed to live eternally.

He is risen from the dead having conquered death by death.

If we believe He is Lord, if we believe He has done those things written beforehand, then the power that He has demonstrated would undergird every aspect of our daily lives. We would face the Goliaths of life with the same confidence displayed by David in the Valley of Elah.

When He appears, those who are in the graves will rise again, not to mere resuscitation, to die again, but to life everlasting.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26, NKJV).