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.
HAVE YOU READ THE PRIOR POSTS IN THIS SERIES? IF NOT, START HERE: WHAT GOD REVEALED
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, Judaic scholars, and even some Christian Bible teachers call it—is the glory rain, the promised resurrection.
So what’s with the withered leaves and wintry tales? In the Psalms—such as Psalm 1, Psalm 52 and the one below—God likens us to trees. Some good, some not so good. The condition of a tree varies from season to season, choice by choice. Like our souls.
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.
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)
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.
More to the point, what it did regarding one eternity-driven move of God in particular: His redemption plan centered on Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah.
On our way to that vital eternity-tipping choice, let’s begin by reviewing 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 every soul-body has done, said, thought along its earthly journey.
(2) divine reconstruction of every soul-body God sovereignly raises in His righteousness—so it no longer is earthbound/self-focused but able to 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:
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 Messiah—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.
Both the soul and the body must face their shared judgment.
For God shall bring every deed (every action, work)
into litigation (for His judgment),
everything that is concealed,
whether it be good or evil.
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.
—Revelation 20: 11, 12
THE STICKY WICKET
transformed from a fractured soul to a future glory in Him
At times, the journey down here can cause the push-pull of the soul-body union—with the God-breathed soul called upward vs. the earth-tethered body drawn to things below—to become . . .
flooded with spiritual darkness, doctrines of demons
a one-way receptor—receiving for self, no capacity for authentic giving
compelled by the things of this world
defiant, resisting the yoke of heaven.
dissonant, clashing with God
In other words . . . a
Ravaged. War-scarred. Vessel.
REALITY CHECK: No one is exempt. All have fallen short of God’s glory, His righteousness.
For a resurrection to righteousness,
your soul-body will need a reconstruction worthy of God’s presence.
Raised. Recalibrated. Renewed.
Made Holy with His righteousness—not yours.
SO HOW CAN YOU GET THERE FROM HERE?
GOD MADE IT POSSIBLE.
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 your soul’s winter tale.
The veil that covered your wintry soul can be gone.
All things made new.
READ GOD’S ABC STEPS FOR SALVATION AND A RESURRECTION TO RIGHTEOUSNESS IN HIM: ABCs of SALVATION.
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
Resurrection/Tomb photo by jchizhe, purchased on iStock.com (Stock photo ID:1243063771)
Shakespeare by Jessica Pamp on Unsplash.com
Bear Running by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.com