Exodus 33:12-23 Moses found grace in God’s sight and told God that he would like to know him personally, and that if God will go with him he will leave that place, but if God won’t be with him, he will stay where God is. God assured Moses that He was with him, and knew him by his name. Also God, let Moses see his backside, when he went to get the ten commandments the second time, after the Golden Calf incident. The second set was obviously the one which was put into the ark of the covenant.
Read Exodus 32 This is the story of the Golden Calf. Notice that God allowed everyone a chance to repent and come back to him, and if they did then he forgave them, but those who didn’t accept his grace were put to death. This is symbolic of Christianity’s grace, in which you live your life, and if you accept God’s grace, and recognize your sin, and ask for forgiveness, God is faithful to forgive you, and accept you back to Him. However, if you don’t repent and accept God’s grace, then when your life is over it is too late, and you will die the eternal death, instead of living in Heaven in the presence of God. That is why we have this phrase: “Where there is life…there is hope.” Hope for redemption…hope for a return to the side of God. There is all manner of hope when we are alive.
Truly death is a hopeless state of being, unless you are dead in Christ. Mark 12:26-27 tells us that God is a God of the living and not the God of the dead. Jesus says this in answer to the Pharisees’ question about the the woman who was married to one brother after another, so when they would be resurrected whose wife would she be? Jesus starts the statement about God being a God of the living and not the dead with the statement that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush and said “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Then Jesus makes the statement that “God is the God of the living and not the God of the dead.” Reading that line in the Bible, there is a detail that I always missed… The statement made by God to Moses is in the present tense…not the past tense. How does this fit with what Jesus is saying? Jesus is saying that these people who in Moses’ time had been dead from the earth for more than 400 years were still alive in God and with God. God was telling Moses the same thing, that although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were no longer alive on this earth, they were yet alive with Him. We know this is what God meant because of Jesus statements in Mark 12:26-27…Logically speaking…God cannot be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the present tense if they are already dead…because He is not a God of the dead!
There is no other way to take this statement when they are combined like this because otherwise they would be in conflict. Usually, when we read that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob..we don’t really hear the tense. We think of this as God stating that he is an eternal and generational God. We think that he is simple identifying himself to Moses in terms of: “I am the God of your ancestors…”
While it is true that God is the God of Moses’ ancestors, that is not what God was trying to convey to Moses. As Jesus tells us, this is one of those “ears to hear, eyes to see, and heart to understand” moments. A moment when you go…”ah ha! So that’s what he means!” or in Sherlock Holmes version, “By jove, Watson! I think I’ve got it!”
So this is what it means when we are promised “eternal life in Christ Jesus” John 3:16. Right about now, you are probably thinking, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead before Jesus was born, so how does that work for them? Well, they lived under the old covenant, which was a covenant of the law…they followed what God had told them to do faithfully, and were obedient to him…they were saved and considered righteous by their faith. (Genesis 15:6) As the Apostle Paul said, they lived and died and never saw the promise fulfilled, but their faith was credited to them as righteousness…(Hebrews 11) Jesus said that the disciples were those who had seen and believed, but so much more honored is the person who has believed, but has not seen. (John 20:29)
We can rejoice in the fact that God is the God of the living…so much so that in the fact of our death we need have no fear as long as we are in Christ during our life…we will continue to be in Christ in our death. My favorite verse in the Bible is this: 1Philippians 1:21 For me to live is Christ and to die is gain! Paul goes on to explain that while living this life we can serve Christ, and when we are dead to this life we will be living with Christ so that as Christians we have nothing to lose either way. This is the grace and promise of God.