Resurrection Day has approached softly this year, for me - quietly and inconspicuously, like a wisp of pinkening cloud heralds the steady arrival of sunrise. It has been easy to miss entirely while walking in the midst of the valley of the shadow, and feeling mired down in condemnation with the sinful nation of Israel for the past few weeks of Bible180.
But as always happens with those slow, steady sunrises - the ones which don't show up in the glorious array of three-colored cloudbanks but which nevertheless press upward resolutely into a star-studded sky, every moment spreading light with a broader brushstroke across the darkness - the unstoppable brightening in the east has become impossible to ignore. The Day is coming, and all the earth seems urgently hushed in wait.
Because in truth, it's not just another year's Easter Sunday that we're waiting for.
"Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like rain, like the spring rain watering the earth."
These words, written by the prophet Hosea, are tucked in between God's harsh warning of judgment and His heartbroken response to betrayal. The tribe of Judah is about to hit rock-bottom, besieged by Babylon and finally led away into exile for seven decades as discipline for breaking their covenant with God. The darkness and the evil are thick, almost palpable.
But hush - wait - the Day is coming.
Not just Resurrection Day - but the Day of Resurrection. The Day of Restoration. The Day of Return. The Day of the Lord.
As the exiled Israelites waited for God's restoration promise to be fulfilled - for famine and weariness and spiritual drought to give way to the sweet rains of spring - so likewise, we who still live in a dead and foreign land wait for Him to make all things new.
Yes, the day that Christ arose 2,000 years ago changed everything - He made made my soul new. But my world is still dark and my heart is still heavy and my body is still broken. I do not quite belong here - something is terribly wrong, still waiting to be made right. There is war on all sides; there is wickedness and idolatry and mockery of my God. At times it seems impossible to do anything but pray.
But hush! - wait! - do you see it now?
There is a wisp of pinkening cloud above the eastern horizon.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn.
And here, while we anticipate His imminent appearance with baited breath and imagine this dead domain being flooded with life and light, there's still one thing left for us to do. We are called to persevere in just one ultimate task until the Firstfruits of the Resurrection finishes His work, and it is this: Return to the LORD - to His sheltering wings and gracious heart - and press on to know Him more.
The darkness will soon be chased away by His Light. The Lamb will come as the Conqueror to win the war; the Lion will come as the Healer to set all of Creation back into its intended order; and the Slain will come as the King, into whose royal family we are adopted as sons and daughters.
The Day is coming, as certainly as the sun rises in the east.
With that hope, we are empowered to endure all things - Easter Sunday and beyond. So let us press on to know the Lord.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. . . . And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Romans 8:18-19, 23-25