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: 5 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 the Talmud and Judaic scholars call it—is the glory rain, the promised resurrection.
So what’s with the withered leaves and wintry tales? In the Psalms, God likens us to trees. Some good, some not so good. The condition of a tree varies from season to season, choice by choice.
A good, solid tree is vibrant, flourishes, bears fruit, stretches its roots and branches. Other trees may appear lively for a season but are slowing decaying from the inside out.
Blessed is the man . . .
whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on His law day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of our God they will flourish.
—Psalm 92:13-14 (12-13)
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
—Psalm 52:10 (8)
In winter, all the trees are dormant, still, laid bare. Not that much different than the time of our individual wintry tale when we are laid still . . . waiting for that latter rain resurrection.
But we don’t all have the same resurrection ending.
The body and the soul 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.
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 the 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 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 is knitted (so to speak) to your body while in the womb.
“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. 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 words used interchangeably for soul that shed light on its nuances: breath of life (neshama), spirit/wind (ruach), and life force/self (nefesh).
That last one is enmeshed with the body, making a way for the soul to join the body in a human experience while in this worldly dimension.
But the purpose of the God-breathed soul is upward: Elevating the soul-body relationship, surrendering to the will of God, accepting the yoke of heaven. Meanwhile the body is drawn downward, tethered to the things of this world because it came from the earth, drawn to earthly things.
Think dust to dust.
So the push-pull is on. And if the soul/spirit follows the body’s earth-minded drives vs. the call upward, the soul-body union 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.
HAVE YOU READ THESE POSTS IN THE SERIES?
Resurrection series first created between March 30, 2016 – July 3, 2016
Photo Credit: Resurrection/Tomb photo by jchizhe, purchased on iStock.com (Stock photo ID:1243063771)
Photo Credit: Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: It’s Your Breath by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash.com