It is a theological commonplace that Christ recapitulates the life of Israel, and lives it perfectly for them and in their stead (and they then follow him as their perfect model). One such Old Testament passage in which this perhaps can be particularly espied is the remarkable opening of the sixth chapter of Hosea:
“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6.1-3)
It is not hard to envision Christ as the speaker of these words, taking Israel upon himself and entering into their misery, to such an extent as even to die for them–only to be raised up on the third day.
John Calvin notes that this passage “is usually referred to Christ,” and, by way of Christ, to the church. Though this sense “does not seem…unsuitable,” he nevertheless avers that it “seems to [him] rather too refined,” a “speculation” that is not “solid.”
I do not agree with Calvin with respect to the reference to Christ. What is interesting, however, is that he gets to much the same place, but by way of analogy rather than prophetic identification: Christ is rather a particular “proof” of a prophecy that is generally true; what is sketched here is the way in which God is accustomed to deal with his people. The parallel holds particular weight for Calvin because there is a sense in which the resurrection of Jesus is archetypal for his people: it is a “mirror of our life.” Our life is hid with Christ in God; we are “represented in Christ our head.” What is said in Hosea 6.1-3 is true of God’s ways in general. But it is true of Christ in particular, and so of us in him, the one who is our life and in whom all things hold together.
But at the same time I do not deny but that God has exhibited a remarkable and a memorable instance of what is here said in his only-begotten Son. As often then as delay begets weariness in us, and when God seems to have thrown aside every care of us, let us flee to Christ; for, as it has been said, His resurrection is a mirror of our life; for we see in that how God is wont to deal with his own people: the Father did not restore life to Christ as soon as he was taken down from the cross; he was deposited in the sepulchre, and he lay there to the third day. When God then intends that we should languish for a time, let us know that we are thus represented in Christ our head, and hence let us gather materials of confidence. We have then in Christ an illustrious proof of this prophecy.
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