The Resurrection in the Old Testament
(The sermon with this post can be heard here)
In the book of 2 Samuel 12, Nathan is sent to David by God to condemn him for his sin with Bathsheba. It is probably one of the most famous scandals in the Old Testament. In this chapter, David is told that he will be punished for the sin and one of the consequences was that the child which was the result of his affair would die.
The story shows us a few things about David that are worth noting.
First, David did admit that he had sinned. He did not do as we sometimes/often do-deny the sin. In this David shows his humility before God. David shows his heart and desire to be right with God.
Second, David pleads with God for the life of the child. David had an advantage that we do not have. (If you want to call it an advantage….) He knew that the child would die based on what God told him. Still, he fasts and prays and humbles himself for the 7 days in which the child was sick. Although God had said the child would die, David knew that God has relented from punishments in the past. (cf 2 1 Sam 21:14-15) So he sought the Lord’s favor.
Third, When the child had died, David accepted the situation and went on about his life. It is important to note however that David did this with two thoughts in mind: First, the past can not be changed. Two, there is a future for David with the child after death.
He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2Sa 12:22-23)
The concept of the resurrection is not so clearly laid out in the Old Testament as in the New Testament but it is clear that people living with the law of Moses believed in it.
Not only David here speaking of going to his son but in the Psalms, the sons of Korah speak of being bought back (redeemed) from the grave.
Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah. (Psa 49:14-15)
Also, we see of others who believed this.
Martha told Jesus about her dead brother Lazarus: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (Joh 11:24) and while we read of this account in a New Testament Gospel, Martha grew up in an Old Testament world. Yet, she believed.
Also, Paul standing before the counsel in offering his defense cried out “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” (Acts 23:6) It is true that Paul, as a Christian, believed in the resurrection and had even written about it by this time in First Thessalonians and First Corinthians. However, such a statement would mean nothing if the Pharisees did not hold a belief in the resurrection…a belief they would get from the Old Testament writings.
It is true that we have a better understanding and belief in it. After all, Jesus has already conquered death. They saw it dimly, we see it more clearly; They waited for the hope of Christ, we live believing He has already come…and will come again. Death is never a happy event for those left behind yet I am pretty sure it is a happy time for those that pass on. Still, we do not grieve as those who have no hope, we know that Jesus will return with those who have passed on before and take us with him to dwell with Him forever more. ( I thes 4:13-18)
Comfort one another with these words.