Only Resurrection Will Satisfy

Dear fellow travelers,

When the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 – “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.  Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” – he was referring to the story of Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land.  In verse 5, Paul wrote “with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”  Paul assures us that “these things” help keep us from temptation and strengthen our faith in these last days.

But what are these lessons?  One of them can be found in the only Psalm written by Moses – Psalm 90.  A key verse in that Psalm is verse 12, which says:

So teach us to number our days
            that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

And what is wisdom?  One way I describe it is: the ability to choose paths that lead to life, over paths that lead to death, paths that Moses unfortunately was very, very familiar with.  He may have understood the consequences of neglecting God in our daily lives better than anyone for three reasons.

First, in recording the events of Genesis, Moses knew that ever since Adam and Eve, mankind has been facing, and mourning, the consequences of sin.  The repetition of “and he died” in the genealogy of Genesis 5 and elsewhere reminded Moses of the result of missing the mark of God’s righteousness.  Centuries before Paul, Moses knew that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.[1]

Second, Moses also saw the consequences of sin very clearly in the shortening of lifespans.  In Psalm 90:10, he wrote:

The years of our life are seventy,
            or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
            they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

This same Moses wrote about early patriarchs who were said to live hundreds of years[2], but by Moses’ day 80 years was considered a long life.

And also, Moses is known as author of the book of Numbers, which as the 4th book in the Pentateuch, lines up with Psalm 90, the first Psalm in book 4 of the Psalms.  Numbers tells of the consequences of Israel’s disobedience and grumbling on their journey to the Promised Land, and why it took 40 years and the entire generation that left Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb) died.  Psalm 90 is almost a summary of what Moses learned from that experience:

So teach us to number our days
            that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What does this have to do with the resurrection?  Psalm 90 starts with these 2 verses:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place
            in all generations.
 Before the mountains were brought forth,
            or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
            from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

Moses, who led Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness for decades, and to the threshold of the Promised Land, says the only dwelling place of God’s people is not a specific place, but it is the Lord Himself.  When we are with Him, we are home.

Moses concluded Psalm 90 with verses 16 and 17:

Let your work be shown to your servants,
            and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
            and establish the work of our hands upon us;
            yes, establish the work of our hands!

While Moses’ understanding of a resurrection and an afterlife was likely very minimal and vague, he was able to conclude that the best way to spend our short lives here is to do work that matters in eternity, which God has laid out for us to do[3].  We should let Him “establish the work of our hands.”  All through the Pentateuch, Moses recorded the choices between life and death made by Israel, and one of his conclusions is: life is short; live for God!

However, a life truly dedicated to God only makes sense if there is a life to come.  Only resurrection will satisfy because Paul wrote: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”[4]  However, since there was an Easter resurrection and there is a resurrection to come, we may look forward to our Promised Land of a new heaven and a new earth.  Moses knew our only other option is a long, purposeless meandering on this earth ending in death.

Therefore, let us pray as Moses wrote in Psalm 90:14 –

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
            that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

May we – in wisdom – choose the paths that lead to life everlasting! Amen.

[1] Romans 5:12
[2] Genesis 5:27 and 9:29, for example
[3] Ephesians 2:10
[4] 1 Corinthians 15:19

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