Blog 73: 2.10.14 - 2.10.20
2.10.14 to 2.10.20
Somehow the myth persists that the Old Testament has no clear doctrine of the afterlife. Apparently, the scholars who believe this have never read Calvin, because the Institutes make a clear and compelling case that the people of God have always believed in a life to come. This is part of Calvin's wider argument for the unity of the old and new covenants.
Having established that to their dying breath, the patriarchs were still waiting for the salvation of their God, Calvin turns to the prophets. When David declared that his hope was in God (Ps. 39:7), or that "the mercy of the Lord is everlasting" (Ps. 103:17), or that "the righteousness of the godly endures forever" (Ps. 11:9), he was expressing his confidence in an eternal salvation. Similarly, David's frequent appeals for God to judge evildoers looked beyond his present troubles to a Day of Judgment when God would set everything right forever.
Job had the same hope. He believed that his living Redeemer would raise him up on the Last Day, when his own body would live again and his own eyes would see his Savior and his God (Job 19:25-27).
Calvin believed that the biblical witness to eternal life shone brighter throughout the Old Testament, becoming more radiant in the prophets who predicted the coming of a Savior, until finally culminating in Christ himself--"the Sun of Righteousness."
Thus there is progress in the revelation of redemption. Yet through it all, the entire Old Testament consistently points people to the blessedness of eternal life. Even where it promises temporal benefits, these blessings are intended "to lift up the minds of the people above the earth . . . to ponder the happiness of the spiritual life to come."