Fri, 23 November 2018
(Rv.11:4-12; Ps.144:1,2,9-10; Lk.20:27-40)
“After three and a half days,
the breath of life which comes from God
returned to them.”
And these his two witnesses “went up in a cloud as their enemies looked on” “in sheer terror.” For it seemed they had “conquer[ed] and kill[ed]” the Lord’s prophets. Their corpses had lain “in the streets of the great city, which has the symbolic name ‘Sodom’ or ‘Egypt,’ where also their Lord was crucified.” Fire had “come out of the mouths of these witnesses to devour their enemies,” but now it seemed the truth had been overcome and sin and death had won the day. And so “the earth’s inhabitants gloat[ed] over them and in their merriment exchange[d] gifts.” But their death, as with the death of the Lord, was not to last, was only to show the absolute power of the God of life.
And fire comes from Jesus’ mouth today to silence the evil conjurings of the enemies of life. His word is truth and cannot be answered, cannot be gainsaid by even the most unbelieving mind. And what He tells all today is that “the dead rise again,” that death has no dominion in the kingdom of the living God. The Lord is “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” and these fathers of the faith along with the prophets and saints of any and all time “are alive for Him,” for He is but Life: in His reign all His children “become like angels and are no longer liable to death. Sons of the resurrection, they are sons of God.” This truth cannot be denied, will not be conquered.
“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.” It is He who is “my shield, in whom I trust, who subdues peoples under me.” As He was with His only Son, giving Him victory in every battle and final victory over death; as He was with His witnesses who devoured their enemies’ lies and rose from the dust after three and a half days; so He is with all who put their trust in Him, enabling them to conquer all doubt and fear, all surrounding sin and death. For Jesus crucified sits now at the right hand of God, and His witnesses with Him; and all who take their refuge in His power, though they die, cannot but rise to life. Yes, they will hear “a voice from heaven say to them, ‘Come up here!’” and will again have the breath of life. Alleluia!
(Note on “three and a half days”: more than its obvious similarity to the three days the Lord spent “in the heart of the earth” (Mt.12:40) may be an allusion to His approximately thirty-five years spent on this earth (which is half the span of a human life – “seventy is the sum of our years” (Ps.90:10)), itself a kind of death for Him.)
O LORD, let us be set free from death;
raised from the grave,
may we praise your NAME forever
with your angels and your saints.
YHWH, what need we fear if you are with us, you who hold even death in your hand? If we serve as your witnesses, we will be united to you who are life; and even though we die, in the sight of our enemies, in the sight of the devil and death itself, we shall be raised up to Heaven on a cloud. You are our refuge!
With you as our stronghold, LORD, with you as our God, we shall indeed gain victory over all the forces of evil – nothing shall keep us from you who desire our presence in your kingdom.
Make us as your Son who has died and been raised; make us sons of the resurrection, like angels, no longer subject to death. This is our hope, O LORD; this is our desire… Let us not wait long for Jesus’ return.
Then we shall be one in your presence, your holy children, O Most High God. Then we shall celebrate forever your glory in Heaven, all our enemies cast far away.