PMT 2014-060b by Don Strickland
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
This past weekend, my wife’s last two aunts passed away. As sad as that loss is for the other family members, I find the loss sadder for another reason. My wife’s parents are the last survivors of their familial generation. Once they pass away, all the memories, conversations, perspective, and wisdom of that family’s generation will itself become a memory. Of course, my wife and her cousins each in their own way will carry on the heritage that was bred into them, but the priceless treasure of a living history will be gone from the earth.
When God said the above words to Moses, He was identifying Himself with a chosen family heritage. All three of the men mentioned were distant, but revered, memories of the Jewish nation. The God of those men was Moses’ God. He was Israel’s God. He was the acknowledged God of that extended family – not only in the past, but in the present.
Fast forward to the First Century Palestine, Jewish religious leaders, the Sadducees, question Jesus about relationships in eternity. What is particularly hypocritical about this questioning is that the Sadducees did not believe in the afterlife. Thus, their very question was a disingenuous trap. How did Jesus answer their question? For the theological basis of His answer, He quoted Exodus 3.6 – the verse above. Let’s read His answer.
“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. “Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” (Luke 20.37-38)
When God spoke to Moses, each of those three patriarchs mentioned had been dead for several hundred years. But unless you were reading the words in Exodus carefully, you may have missed the fact that God spoke to Moses in the present tense. Thus God was affirming that He was still those men’s God. In other words, those men were still living. The dead are raised, as Jesus pointed out to the unbelieving Sadducees. God is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. He is the God of all those who live to Him – His people, His family.
While we lose the benefit of a relationship on earth in the death of a saint, all is not lost for eternity.
They are among the living. In fact, they have never been more alive because all of their sin and infirmities have been washed away and healed. With the death of the earthly container called the physical body, the purpose behind their lives and conversations is revealed in heaven. Their perspectives and wisdom are made pure. Their lives continue as a living history and testimony of God’s glory, wisdom and tender care. And through the Spirit we can not only praise God for their continuing legacy to us, but also benefit from that legacy as we seek to do God’s will by imitating all that was good and wise in their lives here on earth.