The Christian Death is Only a Change

Pentecost 25 Thursday

Exodus 3:6

“And he said furthermore: I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses covered his face; for he was afraid to look at God.”

God here boasts that this is his name forever by which he should be called; and if you do not want to have this God, you miss the true God. The Lord Christ adduces this text against the Sadducees, Matthew 22:32, and nicely interprets this text concerning the resurrection of the dead. For the Sadducees, while they believed that there was a god, did not believe there was another life after this life, and also no angel or spirit; and they understood the law of Moses only in an external
manner, as the Jews also did not consider it any differently. Yet the Lord Christ says to the Sadducees, Matthew 22:29: “You err and do not understand Scripture or the power of God. You do not know what the resurrection of the dead is.” Yet here is stated that God says: “I am a God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Christ concludes from this that there is another life after this life. And he proves that the resurrection of the dead is comprehended in this text by asserting that God is a God of the living and not the dead. For that which is nothing, that which is scattered like dust has no God. If there is to be a God, he must be somebody’s God from whom flows utter goodness to those in whom he is…Thus, the article of the resurrection of the dead is also indicated here; for God says, “I am a God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Thus, if he is a God of Abraham, then Abraham must live. If he is a God of Isaac, Isaac must live…These are strong, splendid words, that Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob are to live and rise again, not only their bodies but as a complete person in body and soul. Yet how can this be possible? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob have died, are decomposed and decayed; they appear to be nothing. Christ answers and says that his Word is true, and that the text of Holy Scripture does not lie–that, therefore, the dead must live. For although they have died, they still live; they live even in death. For they all are alive before our Lord God; but for us men they have only been removed from our sight. Yet they still live, and it is still ahead of us that they are to be brought forth and shown to us again on the Last Day. Yet they live in God; and that which lives before him is a prepared life; within a moment, they too will live again. This is why St. Paul says from the prophet Isaiah, 1 Corinthians 15:55; Isaiah 25:8: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” The patriarchs died so that their mortal body would only be changed. There is only a change. In death, God now works on the mortal body that it might become once again as bright and beautiful as the sun in the sky. There is no death before our Lord God, and before our physical eyes death is only to be a sign along the way. For our dying is just like our being born: What were you and I a hundred years ago? Still, God later created and made us. In the same way, he can produce again the body, flesh and blood, of those who died a hundred years ago. For everything lives before him: those who are not yet born and those who have been. Thus, he concludes that there is a resurrection of the dead. For Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have not died, but live. But were they not buried? Yes, they are gone; but it is only to be a change when the deceased are removed from our sight. God now changes them, for they are to live before him.

St. Louis ed., 3:728-732.

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