Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love Endures forever…
…to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
his love endures forever
Psalm 136 vs.1 & 10 (NIV)
3. The Anagogical Sense
This is the last post in a series which has explored the meaning of psalm 136 in terms of the four senses of scripture. The focus has been on the slaying of the first born. The anagogical sense of Scripture instructs us in regard to last things, that is, what we can hope for and anticipated in regard to eternity and heaven.
The anagogical hope of this verse is the day when we know longer prefer our own first fruits , but love and possess the first-born of the new creation, Jesus Christ. This is the day when we can truly say ‘thy will, not mine be done.’
In the previous post, the problem of our first fruits (our personal projects) was discussed. God works to convince us that we are captive to our desires, our interpretations, our works of law (self-justification). He discovers to us that we can be, of ourselves, the source of nothing enduring or worthy, nothing which is ultimately restful and pleasing. We find ourselves particularly condemned in our “religious aspirations.”*
This revelation is for the sake of forming something new and different within us. We endure this in the hope of a day that we might “all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
On that day, we shall find that God, having cleansed us of dead works, has brought forth a similitude of himself in our hearts and deeds. And on that day we shall not celebrate ourselves, but we shall overflow in gratitude.
This completion of our faith has reference both to what we taste of in this life, but also to that time when faith shall become sight in eternity. Thus in the psalms, Israel praises the slaying of the first born:
a. for a dark and costly redemption from Egypt in which Israel was spared from death (Literal)
b. for the hidden promise and sacrifice of Christ who becomes our ransom, by whom death is ultimately conquered (Figurative)
c. That he purifies us by putting to death our first fruits, the project of the self, our self-will, our plans, our religious aspirations, etc., (the moral).
d. and for the hope of the joy of bringing forth fruit worthy of our Father when his son has been made full in us and we know him even as we are known (eschatological).
* This term is borrowed from Gerhard Forde’s excellent On Being a Theologian of the Cross.