“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So He is the God of the liv ing, not the dead, for they are all alive to Him.” “Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there. For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him.Luke 20:37-40
Now Jesus goes on to demonstrate how God is the God of the Living, not the dead. Notice how the text says Moses proved this, when he wrote about the burning bush. The first element to comment on is the reference to the bush. Translations handle this two different ways. The most common is to refer “to the passage about the bush” or “the story about the bush” or “when Moses wrote about the bush”. What is clearly in mind, is the passage that Moses wrote about the burning bush and what God said to him. Bear in mind, when this was written by Luke there were no chapter divisions and verse numbers in Scripture. Instead people referred to a passage by the name of what it was about.
There is another way of looking at this as has been translated in the three versions below:
- (KJV) Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
- (LITV) But that the dead are raised, even Moses pointed out at the bush, when he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
- (MSG) Even Moses exclaimed about resurrection at the burning bush, saying, ‘God: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob!’
Is this referring to the passage related to the incident at the burning bush or Moses’ experience at the burning bush? I suspect the focus is more what Moses wrote about the matter, than concerning his participation in what happened. The second scenario doesn’t make as much sense as the first. Either way, Jesus spells out clearly what the point is: Jesus stated that God said He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, long after the three patriarchs had died. The sense is that these three patriarchs are still living. As far as God was concerned, they merely asleep. They will be awakened again at the resurrection. In Exodus 3:6 God refers to Himself before Moses as, “I am the God of Abraham, [I am] the God of Isaac, and [I am] the God of Jacob”. God is not the God of dead people. Hence the inference here is that biblically, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still considered to be alive by God. “For all live to Him” has a number of ways of being translated. The dative form [auto] can variously be translated “to Him” or “in Him” or “for Him” or “in relation to Him” or “with respect to Him”. The dead maybe dead with respect to other humans who are living but they are not dead to or with respect to God.
There is another level on which this may well be working. If the focus was the moment Moses met with God at the burning bush, then this would refer to the statement God made in the name He gave to Moses, when He stated His name as being, “I AM THAT I AM”. The sense behind this name is the everlasting present consistency of God’s character, with a play on words referring to His eternal unchanging nature. He is the same: past, present and future.
|I was what I was||I am what I was||I will be what I was|
|I was what I am||I am what I am||I will be what I am|
|I was what I will be||I am what I will be||I will be what I will be|
This God, YHWH, is surely God of the living of all ages. He stands outside of death just as He stands outside of time. This One is the God of those who are living, but to Him, those who are in the grave are there but for a blink of an eye from God’s perspective.
Now note the words, “Well said, Teacher!” Note firstly, the use of “Teacher” again. The Scribes and the Chief Priests use the term “Teacher” for Jesus in chapter 10:21. The Sadducees used the term for Him in 10:28 and now the teachers of the religious Law use the same term. But if they really mean it, there would not be all this controversy. Do they really mean, “Well said” or is there another agenda working here? I suspect the teachers of the law are voicing their approval of Jesus, not because they actually agree with what He said, but rather because He put the Sadducees in their place. They are happy that Jesus has shown up their opponents, not necessarily that they are pleased with Jesus views on the larger canvas. Yes, they have said [kalos] – ‘well spoken’, ‘good’, ‘rightly put’, ‘correct’ – but I sense it was insincere. They were glad that the Sadducees were shown the error of their ways, not necessarily that they were happy Jesus had a victory. Remember, they are actually in the process of finding a way to have Jesus killed by being able to accuse Him of treason before the Roman authorities. That is still what is at the heart of this opposition. Like many interest groups or splinter groups, these Chief Priests and Scribes, Sadducees and Teachers of the Law, are all willing to come together and put their differences aside, in order to eliminate Jesus. It is interesting that one group after another approach Him with an issue seeking to trip Him up; each of them starting with the “Teacher . . .
“With His handling of these two loaded questions, the interest groups back off and don’t dare to ask any more. Their flattery has not worked. Their thoughts that this was a fool-proof way of trapping Him has come to nothing. Not only that, but their efforts have been subjected to ridicule because their ignorance of Scripture or their failure to take into account certain passages in the Torah, has left them exposed in the eyes of the people. Matthew and Mark record for us Jesus comment, “You are in error because you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matt 22:29 and Mark 12:24. The so-called-experts in the Law can’t take too many hits like that. Time to beat a hasty retreat. Or so they thought. There is more to come as Jesus takes the initiative and asks them a question.
What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.Paul Helligenberg
Apologising does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.Eveline Sandhi Lim
You’ll be surprised to know how far you can go from the point where you thought it was the end.Anon
If you worry about yesterday’s failures, then today’s successes will be few.Ian Vail