Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale shadows our soul-body journey. But what’s that got to do with needing a resurrection? A few things, as it turns out.
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READING TIME: 8 MINUTES.
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Shakespeare’s plays often navigate spiritual waters. The Winter’s Tale is no exception. The tragicomedy travels the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of our wintry lives and moves to a spring-like moment.
It’s a light nod to God’s promised latter rain in the Bible. This rainy season—as Judaic scholars call it—is resurrection, where your soul-body enters an everlasting fruitfulness.
But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending. The soul and body are reunited in resurrection, then face litigation in God’s court, are judged, and subsequently step into one of two places: everlasting life (for the righteous) or everlasting contempt (for the unrighteous), per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.
Per scripture, certain things impact that judgment . . . but simply said, it centers on what the soul-body did down here in light of God’s ways—and more to the point, what it did regarding one act of God in particular.
Before we get to that, let’s look at some plausible reasons why there’s even a need for resurrection.
CUES FROM THE BARD
In Act 1, Scene 2 of The Winter’s Tale, Polixenes—King of Bohemia—describes his childhood relationship with Sicily’s King Leontes as being like twins, buddy buddies, innocents.
That is, until life happens and they’re cast out of their Garden-of-Eden-esque existence and into the Sicilian King’s irrational rampage, where he goes all Othello on his alleged “slippery wife” (Hermiones) and her alleged lover, Polixenes, the king’s friend.
The king is wrong. Like really wrong. For the sake of the plot—not unlike our own soul stories—the king and some others choose anything but the humble, righteous path.
The tale bulges with jealousies, accusations, misjudgments, malicious lies, for-the-better-good lies, over-the-top emotional reactions, bitterness, relationship splits, disloyalty, paranoia, tyranny, expulsions, broken hearts, death, and more.
Along the way, Shakespeare exposes familiar elements of the soul’s journey—its rise, decline, fall, redemptive resurrection (Queen Hermiones is brought back to life after being dead sixteen years).
He even turns the physical tables of the atmosphere to mirror the inner soul rumblings of his characters—Sicily’s Mediterranean warmth and light are shrouded in a wintry gloom.
Veiled, fractured souls.
Out of sync with God’s ways.
Self-focused. Earthly tethered.
Becoming a wintry heart of darkness.
Enter two reasons for an end-of-days resurrection . . .
(1) accountability—of what the soul-body matrix has done, said, thought along its earthly journey.
(2) divine reconstruction of the soul-body—so it no longer is earthbound/self-focused but raised, recalibrated, made new so those deemed righteous can move with the give-receive love flow of heaven.
Let me explain . . .
EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR
journeying between weight and responsibility
Okay, so you’re not exactly like Shakespeare’s Antigonus, the king’s advisor who teeters between loyalty to the crown and loyalty to truth, makes concessions to protect, and then is chased off stage by a bear and killed.
But believe it or not, bears and their presumed Shakespearean connotation have their place in your soul experience and its aftermath, your future resurrection.
The word bear appears about twelve times in the play—where a person bears the onus for their actions and their related guilt. And, yeah, the fierce “bearish” beast appears in the midst of it all.
How bear/bearing translates to the soul’s journey and end-of-days accountability goes like this—on both sides of the Judaic-Messianic bridge:
Bearing your soul—transparent before your Creator, God.
Bearing the weight of your actions—good and not so good.
Bearing the scrutiny of others and our internal self.
Bearing the hardships and testings along life’s journey.
Bearing the responsibility for what you’ve said, done, thought, written, shared, taught, imposed, desired, touched, took, gave, blessed, cursed, healed, harmed, lifted up, brought down.
Bearing the yoke of Heaven (surrendered to God, His word, His covenant—your identity is in Him).
Bearing the final outcome of it all—with your soul’s work salted by His holy fire, tested by His holiness, so the work is either reduced to ash and stubble or glorified in Him.
For God shall bring every deed (every action, work)
into litigation (for His judgment),
everything that is concealed,
whether it be good or whether it be evil.
—Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) 12:14
And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it.
The earth and sky fled from his presence,
but they found no place to hide.
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.
And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.
And the dead were judged according to what they had done . . .
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life
was thrown into the lake of fire.
—Revelation 20: 11, 12, 15
Both the soul and the body face their shared judgment: Both are accountable for the life journey. So they are reunited in a new way at the end of days—for a resurrection to righteousness or to punishment.
Their embattled soul-body relationship and fractured state lead to the second reason why we need a bodily resurrection . . .
SHORT VERSION: SOUL-BODY DILEMMA
the need for a re-alliance
Your soul—with its various nuances—is knitted (so to speak) to your body while in the womb. Together, your soul and body embark on a journey and specific life work . . . a work that ignites your soul-body refinement.
“The spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground,
and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life,
and man became a living soul.
Yes, God’s breath is in you. He breathed into you from deep within Himself. How profound and amazing is that? He’s that close to you, day by day, hour by hour, soul-breath by soul-breath.
Per the Hebrew in scripture, there are three nuances of the soul. The one translated as life force/self (nefesh) is enmeshed with the body and makes a way for the soul to join the body in a human experience while in this worldly dimension.
The job of the God-breathed soul is upward: Elevating the soul-body relationship from glory to glory, for a spiritually fruitful life. Surrendering to the will of God, accepting the yoke of heaven.
But that presents challenges. Big ones. The body—from dust to dust—is tethered to the things of this world. It came from the earth and is drawn to earthly things. (You can learn more later about the nuances of the soul in The Combat Zone series.)
The push-pull is on. And if the soul follows the body’s earth-minded drives vs. the call upward, the soul-body matrix can become . . .
Flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons.
Strictly a receptor—receiving for self, with no capacity for authentic giving.
Compelled by the things of this world.
Defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.
Dissonant, clashing with God Himself.
In other words, a ravaged, war-scarred vessel whose soul-body partnership is in disrepair.
For a resurrection to righteousness,
it will need a reconstruction worthy of God’s presence.
Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.
The corruptible body must return to the dust
and be raised in a glorified body—not constructed from the dust,
not tethered to this earthly realm and ways.
It must work in tandem with a soul that has been tested and tried,
and is in alignment with God.
Now about your having a resurrection to righteousness vs. a resurrection to contempt . . .
HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS CAN BE YOURS
not deserved, yet given—a love not of this world
The Lord can come to you like the rain—a glory rain, the true latter rain (resurrection to righteousness) after the barrenness, brokenness, and blackened leaves of the soul’s winter tale.
A rain that heralds in the spring, hope, vegetation, new beginnings for you and all those who have lived and died in Him.
After two days, he will revive us;
on the third day, he will raise us up;
and we will live in his presence.
And let us know, let us strive to know the LORD:
like the dawn whose going forth is sure,
and He will come to us like the rain,
like the latter rain which satisfies the earth.
But in the winter tale of your soul, there can be lot of swerving here and there. And it can get complicated by a treacherous spiritual battle going on within you and around you.
Then there’s trying to do good. Human good. Well meaning but falling way short of God’s holiness and His righteousness.
He actually says our deeds—which we’re judged on and linked to our thoughts and words—are stained before Him. They’re like soiled rags from menstrual flux, per the Hebrew.
And we all have become like one unclean,
and our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment
[soiled menstrual rag],
and we all have withered like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
—Isaiah 64:5 (6)
So if your soul can become spiritually barren, holding on to the decayed, withered leaves of your wintry tale . . .
And if your best deeds, thoughts, words are like filthy menstrual rags compared to God’s holy standard . . .
Then how can you or anyone stand before God’s judgment seat—and receive a resurrection to righteousness?
GOD MADE IT POSSIBLE
his truth, his life, his way
The veil that covered your wintry, fractured soul can be gone. Death, gone. His breath can bring your soul-body to life—again.
On this mountain he [the Lord God of Hosts] will destroy
the veil which covers the face of all peoples,
the veil enshrouding all the nations.
He will swallow up death forever.
Adonai Elohim will wipe away
the tears from every face . . .
—Isaiah 25:6-8 excerpts
Despite the fractured stated of humanity, God made a way for your receiving a resurrection to righteousness—and avoiding a resurrection of punishment.
But it’s your choice.
If you receive His way, your deeds are still judged—but through the blood sacrifice of the Messiah, His Son, Jesus (Yeshua, his Hebrew name).
He took on those filthy-ragged deeds/sins (mentioned in Isaiah 64) at the cross so his act of love could wipe your slate clean. When you receive Jesus as Messiah, God’s holy righteousness is imparted to you.
Accepting what God has done through the Messiah doesn’t mean you get to live your life willy nilly . . . it means putting on that precious gift and the responsibilities that go with it.
Not the manmade yoke of religiosity and compounded burdens—but the gentle yoke of the Messiah.
The yoke of heaven that is easy, light, profound. Loving God, walking upright in His ways, letting Him become your identity.
Yet through it all, mindful that you’re made of dust and fractured. But standing on His wholeness. Steeped in His strength and faithfulness. Submerged in a holy, grace-empowered process in Him.
Jesus is the only way to God for Jews and Gentiles. He is the Living Torah, the fulfillment of the Law, the Redeemer, the Holy Lamb of God who died for your sins, mine, and the world’s.
When you have a bodily resurrection in the Messiah,
winter and the soul-body war are over.
The body and soul become like a wheel within a wheel.
The receiver-driven body is dead, corrupted, disintegrated.
The resurrected body is glorified, incorruptible.
A giver and a receiver. Harmonious with God.
Donning the yoke of heaven.
The body is reunited with its now-refined soul,
made holy in and with Him.
All things are made new.
Existing as one in holy tandem,
giving and receiving in a sanctified way.
Without self-gratification or self-adoration.
Raised in His image.
Mirroring His circular, love-funneled nature.
A soul-body matrix, tested, tried, submerged, empowered
by and through His Truth, Life, Way, Word.
In Him . . .
The latter rain is the greatest glory.
The latter rain is His gift to you, a glorified bodily resurrection.
HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?
The Resurrection Thunderbolt From Heaven
Resurrection series created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016
CREDIT: Tree Archway in Snow, Edinburgh (Source: pinkpigart.co.uk)
CREDIT: Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com
CREDIT: Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com
CREDIT: It’s Your Breath by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash.com
CREDIT: Hand Catching Rain by Geetanjal Khanna on Unsplash.com
CREDIT: White Crown by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash.com
In the shadow of the ladder, Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag
http://www.aish.com/sp/pg/Path-of-the-Soul-1-Discovering-Mussar.html (Maimonides character traits)