Death and Life and Times of Joy and Trial

1 Samuel 2:6

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

Hebrews 13:20–21

May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good.

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I receive these daily Bible verses from a Moravian Daily Texts email subscription. The Moravians are the older cousins of Lutherans with their roots reaching back to 100 years before Martin Luther to Jan Huss, aCzech reformer who was martyred for his faith. The Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum (Unity of Brethren), as it has been officially known since 1457, arose as followers of Hus gathered in the village of Kunvald, about 100 miles east of Prague, in eastern Bohemia, and organized the church. This was 60 years before Martin Luther began his reformation and 100 years before the establishment of the Anglican Church. This Christian group publishes these daily texts – both the two-verse variety which i use for these devotions as well as a more lengthy reading for those who wish to delve more deeply into Scripture.

Today’s texts pair two verses from disparate parts of the Bible; one from the Old Testament, the other from the New Testament. As is often the case, these verses align in such a manner that I gain new insights or “aha” moments fairly quickly. This is certainly true today. As Hannnah prays (1 Samuel 2), she acknowledges the ultimate reign of God. She has seen the power and grace of God at work in the birth of her son. She has taken him to serve in the Lord’s temple under the care of Eli the priest. Her prayer will be echoed by Mary as she meets Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus.

In Jesus’ resurrection we see how God actually does bring to life – not only giving a child to Hannah who had been barren, and to Mary who was a virgin, but to Jesus who was killed. Consider Isaiah 53:10

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

The fullness of God’s reign over life and death is seen in these three verses; and Jesus’ full participation in that reign becomes clear. God put Jesus to death, but raised him back to life. This was not, however, some careless act on God’s part. It was part of God’s will and redemptive plan.

We believe that Jesus’ death was not an accident, and that his resurrection was a vindication of his life and faith. Would it not be true that God’s plans are being worked out in our lives as well? If that is so, we can be confident of God’s good and perfect will to establish us in the same hope and glory that was displayed in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Perhaps that will put into perspective all that happens in our lives and the world around us – both in times of joy as well as times of trial.

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