The Developing Doctrine of Resurrection [Job 22-24]

Hello, Scroll Eaters! My post today doesn’t have anything to do with the reading. I’m going to take today to do an excursus on the development of the doctrine of resurrection in the Old Testament. If you’ve ever studied theology in depth, you may have learned that revelation is progressive. God reveals truth in progressive succession. In other words, God tells us A before B. For instance, God doesn’t reveal that he is the only God until Deuteronomy 6. In fact, the early Hebrews may not have been monotheists; they were likely henotheists. Henotheism is the belief that there are many gods, but that one particular god is supreme. In most polytheistic cultures, gods are seen as geographical entities. There is a god in Canaan, but he isn’t very powerful in Babylon, for example. The Egyptian gods are supreme in Egypt, but weak in Cush. Abraham was taught that his God was actually supreme over all, not geographically limited. The Hebrews in captivity knew that their God was supreme over the Egyptian gods, even though they were in Egypt! However, this did not necessarily mean they discounted the existence of those Gods. In fact, if you read closely, you’ll see that God simply says in the first of the Ten Commandments, with the bold for emphasis, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3 NASB). Notice that God doesn’t say he’s the only God. Contrast that to this statement from Habakkuk 2:18-19 NASB, “What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols. “Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a dumb stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it.” That’s definitely not henotheism. The first outright statement of monotheism is much later than Exodus.

The point of all this is to point out that revelation is progressive. You don’t build a doctrine of the Trinity until you kill the heresy of polytheism and then the heresy of henotheism. Once they understand God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4), then later you can explain to them God is Triune without confusing them back into polytheism.

The doctrine of resurrection is progressive as well. We don’t see the idea of bodily resurrection until Daniel, which is much later in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it’s a given. It’s up in the air in David’s time; David makes statements that could go either way. Job is the earliest book in the Bible, and Job is the time of Abraham, if not earlier.

In chapter 7:21 we read in Job’s prayer, “For now I will lie down in the dust; And Thou wilt seek me, but I will not be.”

In 10:21-22 we read “Before I go– and I shall not return– to the land of darkness and deep shadow; the land of utter gloom as darkness itself, of deep shadow without order, and which shines as the darkness.”

In Job 14:7-14  “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant. But man dies and lies prostrate. Man expires, and where is he? As water evaporates from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dried up, so man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, he will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep. Oh that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldst conceal me until Thy wrath returns to Thee, that Thou wouldst set a limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait, until my change comes.”

In Job 16:22, we read, “For when a few years are past, I shall go the way of no return.”

Finally, Job 19:25-27 says, “And as for me, I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another. My heart faints within me.” This one is as close as we get to a hope in an afterlife, but it’s not a full afterlife perspective; he simply wants to see God “from my flesh.”

So, the afterlife in Job is not a promise – it’s a hope or wish. Could God? Yes. Will God? No.

For Monday, read Job 25-28.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

This entry was posted in Bible, Bible Reading, Bible Reading Plan, Christian, Christianity, Ketubim, Ketuvim, Old Testament, Religion, Theology, Wisdom Literature, Writings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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