Sleep and death, waking and resurrection

I have enjoyed reading the wedding exhortations that Doug Wilson after officiating a ceremony. The newest one had a really great image:

One aspect of this [lifelong reflection on the gospel] is the beautiful image of sleep, a wonderful image of the gospel. The first time sleep is mentioned in the Bible, it was in order for God to bring a wife to Adam. God placed Adam into a deep sleep (Gen. 2:21) in order to fashion a wife for him out of one of his ribs. The first time a man went to sleep, he woke up to the day when he would meet his wife. If you recall, a similar thing happened to Boaz. He went to sleep at the harvest and woke early in the morning to encounter his future wife, Ruth. Sleep is related to the gospel the same way that women are. The Church is the bride of Christ, remember.

Throughout Scripture, sleeping is a type and image of death (e.g. 1 Cor. 11:3015:51), and it follows from this that waking up in the morning is an image of the resurrection. God knows that we are slow to grasp this lesson of death and resurrection, this daily reminder of His ultimate intention for us, and so He goes over the lesson again and again. If God gives Zach and Holly a fifty year anniversary, He will have allowed them to go through this pattern of death and resurrection over 18,000 times. God wants us to get this.

In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul says he longs to stay in this life because to live is Christ, but he then adds that to die is gain. Staying awake is good, going to sleep is really good, and waking up is just the best. Christians who have the confidence that God’s forgiveness is resting upon them can know and experience a right attitude toward death because although death is an enemy, it is a conquered enemy. Jesus rose, remember.

Every day is a miniature life. Every day follows a pattern, and has a story arc, and if you live faithfully in the course of each day, you will be learning the very best way to go to sleep. For someone who works as he ought to, going to sleep is one of the most glorious experiences God gives to us. This should teach us about the death of God’s saints, and why God considers a faithful death precious. But this only works if the day is fruitful, and not squandered or frittered away in laziness and sin. And waking in the morning with the hope of a full day before us is even better than going to sleep was. But of course, this daily training program is only possible through Jesus Christ. He helps us form each daily letter on the page so that by the end of our lives, we will have written the larger story He has for us.


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