Saturday, September 22, 2012

1st Clement 24 to 27 - Hope of a resurrection

Clement reminds us and encourages us to continue to hope for our resurrection from the dead
"Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead. (1 Clement 24)
As proof of the resurrection, Clement sites evidences from the world around us.
"Let us contemplate, beloved, the resurrection which is at all times taking place. Day and night declare to us a resurrection. The night sinks to sleep, and the day arises; the day [again] departs, and the night comes on." (1 Clement 24)
He also speaks of the cycle of sowing and reaping. Reminding us that cycles of death and resurrection are everywhere, even in nature. As part of his evidence from nature he includes the curious belief regarding the Phoenix.
"Let us consider that wonderful sign [of the resurrection] which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent, and bearing these it passes from the land of Arabia into Egypt, to the city called Heliopolis. And, in open day, flying in the sight of all men, it places them on the altar of the sun, and having done this, hastens back to its former abode. The priests then inspect the registers of the dates, and find that it has returned exactly as the five hundredth year was completed." (1 Clement 25)
What is most curious about this belief is not that most people today believe it to be false but that it was believed by all of the intellectual people of Clement's day and would continue to be believed for hundreds of years after his death. Sort of their own "Swallows of San Juan Capistrano".

Finally, Clement beings forth as evidence God's own promise of a resurrection.
"Do we then deem it any great and wonderful thing for the Maker of all things to raise up again those that have piously served Him in the assurance of a good faith, when even by a bird He shows us the mightiness of His power to fulfil His promise?" (1 Clement 26)
If we can see resurrection all around us in God's creation, how much more should we be confident that God would resurrect His own children? If God is able to resurrect a morning or a harvest, how much more shall he resurrect those who have piously served Him? Of how much greater confidence should we have in our future resurrection then we should have in the resurrection of the next morn?

Given all this, how much the more should we be bound to Him in love.
"Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments. He who has commanded us not to lie, shall much more Himself not lie; for nothing is impossible with God, except to lie. Let His faith therefore be stirred up again within us, and let us consider that all things are nigh unto Him. By the word of His might He established all things, and by His word He can overthrow them." (1 Clement 27)
God is all powerful. He can do anything He wants. God can do anything, except lie. "It is impossible for God to lie." (Hebrews 6:18) Sometimes the promises of God may seem slow in their coming, but to God, all things are nigh unto Him. The slowness of God's promises are not their denial, they are just a delay. All things promised by God will come to pass. With this knowledge we can dispatch double mindedness from our minds and return to a simple mind of trusting in God; of knowing that God will always do what He has said and promised. In this truth, let us remain faithful to Him and our life bound with His, no matter how long the promises of God take.

David Robison

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