Saturday, April 19, 2014

Because the King is asleep

Saturday is the Sabbath of the Lord's Rest, when His body sleeps in the tomb and His Spirit-filled soul descends to Hades (or She‘ol, in Hebrew) to destroy its power over mankind, and lead the captives held there to safety and salvation. It is the work that Christ does on the seventh day that is the most paradoxically powerful act of sleeping that ever was, as the Psalm declares, ‘He provides for His beloved as they sleep.’

Yes, and what a sleep! Both His, in the new tomb, and ours, when we sleep in Him, which is the only way we or anyone can truly awake.

Brethren, let us give glory to the Victor over death whose work is hidden from the world that He has saved, yet He saves them all the same.

Something strange is happening.
There is a great silence on earth today,
a great silence and stillness.
The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

The earth trembled and is still
because God has fallen asleep in the flesh,
and He has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began.
God has died in the flesh and she’ol trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parents,
as for a lost sheep.
Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
He has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve,
He who is both God and the son of Eve.

The Lord approached them bearing the cross,
the weapon that had won Him the victory.
At the sight of Him Adam, the first man He had created,
struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone,
‘My Lord be with you all.’
Christ answered him, ‘And with your spirit.’

He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying,
‘Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.
For I am your God,
who for your sake have become your son.
Out of love for you and for your descendants
I now by My own authority command—
all who are held in bondage to come forth,
all who are in darkness to be enlightened,
all who are sleeping to arise.

‘I order you, O sleeper, to awake.
I did not create you to be held a prisoner in she‘ol.
Arise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.
Arise, work of My hands.
Arise, O My likeness,
you who were created in My image.
Rise, let us leave this place,
for you are in Me and I am in you.
Together we form only one person
and we cannot be separated.

‘For your sake I, your God, became your son;
For your sake I, the Lord, took the form of a slave;
For your sake I, whose home is above the heavens,
descended to the earth and beneath the earth.
For your sake, for the sake of man,
I became like a man without help,
free among the dead.

‘For the sake of you, who left a garden,
I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden,
and I was crucified in a garden.

‘See on My face the spittle I received
in order to restore to you the life
I once breathed into you.
See there the marks of the blows I received
in order to refashion your warped nature
in My image.
See on My back the marks of the scourging I endured
to remove the burden of sin
that weighs upon your back.
See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree,
for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand
to a tree.

‘I slept on the cross
and a sword pierced My side for you
who slept in paradise
and brought forth Eve from your side.

‘My side has healed the pain in yours;
My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in she‘ol.
The sword that pierced Me
has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

‘Arise, let us leave this place.

‘The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise.
I will not restore you to that paradise,
but I will enthrone you in heaven.
I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life,
but see,
I who am life itself am now one with you.
I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded,
but now I make them worship you as God.

‘You hid yourselves, as if naked, from God:
but behold—
hidden within you is the naked God.

‘The throne formed by cherubim awaits you,
its bearers swift and eager.
The bridal chamber is adorned,
the banquet is ready,
the eternal dwelling places are prepared,
the treasure houses of all good things lie open.
The kingdom of heaven
has been prepared for you
from all eternity.’