LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION COLUMN FOR
October 26, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Listening to Dr. Michael L. Brown lecture at a conference in New York, compliments of the internet, this morning I was reimpressed with the importance the Bible places on the physical realities of life. Dr. Brown was speaking on the topic of The People, the Land and the Future of Israel. His particular assignment in the lecture series was to discuss the importance of the connection of the land of Israel to its people in history and in tradition. In making his point he brought out the point that creation implies God is very much concerned about and involved in the physical world.
We have a tendency in our religions to emphasis the spiritual, and I would be horrified if any one understood this piece as undermining the importance of the relationship we have with God and each other which is unseen but just as real as the things we can touch and see.
Dr. Brown was considering what the physical realities of life were before mankind sinned. We get only an inkling of these lost abilities of humanity in the occasional savant who can beat any computer in calculating complex mathematical problems. We confront extra sensory perception rarely when we discover a person in an extremely emotional set of circumstances knows something has happened very far away. Christians who know the Gospels are keenly aware that Jesus in his resurrection body was clearly physical and yet in a state unknown to us in our fallen condition.
The land of Israel is deeply woven into the story of redemption. In Isaiah we read of a day when Jerusalem shall be lifted up so that all the nations of the earth shall flow into it. In Revelation the Holy City comes down from heaven and is the abode of men. The Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. There is no floating around on clouds playing harps.
This emphasis is often lost because we see the physical world and its systems so damaged by the sinfulness of humanity.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the importance of the physical body as he seeks to counter the Greek emphasis on the rational and spiritual as the superior reality. He tells the Christians in Rome that they are “to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.”
When Paul speaks of immoral behavior to the Corinthians he says “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Messiah?”
Paul spends a whole chapter in the first letter to the Corinthians discussing the nature of the resurrected body. Resurrected bodies are not provided so that the redeemed can ride around on clouds.
In the present world political climate Dr. Brown was concerned that his audience understands that the land of Israel is intrinsically and indissolubly related to the chosenness of the people of Israel. God is involved in keeping his promises regarding land and people, because the land of Israel has a part in the final drama of redemption. For Christians, so do our bodies. God wants us to take care of them, physically and spiritually. “The earth is the Lords…and those who dwell in it.”
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org). END-whs