Truth, Understanding, Insight

Resurrection from the dead.

, hej


1) Lazarus and Resurrection

At funerals they quote Jesus, saying, 'I am the resurrection and the life'. This comes from an incident where Jesus raises a man named Lazarus to life after he was dead 4 days. Jesus speaks to Martha who is Lazarus' sister before this,

Jesus said unto her, “Your brother shall rise again”.

Martha said to him, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”: (John 11:23-25)

Jesus stands at Lazarus' grave, prays to God and says, “Lazarus come forth”. Lazarus lives again. This is so remarkable an event that the leaders in Judea want to kill Lazarus to remove the evidence of Jesus' ability. Everyone knew Lazarus was very dead and yet he walks again. This is like the resurrection, except that Lazarus still eventually died. Jesus says in the resurrection people do not die anymore.

They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.(Luke 20:35-36) (cp Matthew 22:30)

Both Jesus and Martha believed at some point in time in the future that the dead would be raised to live forever. Jesus says,

“Truly, truly, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live...

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation”. (John 5:25-29)

They both have this idea because it is a significant Old Testament doctrine.

2) Resurrection in the Old Testament

The doctrine of resurrection according to the writer to the Hebrews goes back to Abraham (who lived about 2000 BCE)

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a symbol. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

The ancient Hebrews believed there was no life in the grave,

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that has no strength: Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom you (God) remember no more: and they are cut off from your hand. (Psalm 88:4-5)
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)

However at some point in the future the dead soul would be redeemed

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah. (Psalm 49:15)

Job, in very ancient writing (possibly before 2000 BCE) expresses this idea of waiting in death until an appointed time,

O that you would hide me in the grave, that you would keep me secret, until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You shall call, and I will answer you: you will have a desire to the work of your hands. (Job 14:13-15).

Hannah the mother of Samuel (living before 1000 BCE) speaks of her God having power to raise people,

The LORD kills, and makes alive: he brings down to the grave, and brings up. (1Samuel 2:6)

Daniel the prophet (living in Babylon about 600-540 BCE) speaks of a specific time when 'One like God', as 'Michael' means, would come to power. At that time the earth would be facing an awful situation, and the 'One like God' would deliver Daniel's people, and many that are dead would at that time live forever.

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time:
and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:1-2)

This is similar to what Jesus says to his disciples (John 5:25-29). Jesus endorses Daniel's beleif.

Ezekiel (living about 590-560 BCE) speaks of Israel nationally in terms of a resurrection and describes the process.

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD; “Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it.” (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

This shows that the ancient Israelites believed that the body was dead, without life, spirit and thought in the grave, and that Yahweh had the power to make them come bodily out of the grave and live, by giving them again spirit to live.

3) Promises to the Fathers of Israel require a Bodily Resurrection

The belief system where death is like an unknowing sleep, and where in the future people should again live on earth for-ever, is central to the belief of the Hebrews. It is part of the promises to the Fathers.

Abraham is promised by God he would inherit the land he walked in after he is dead,

“Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto you”. (Genesis 13:17)
And he said unto him, “I am the LORD that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it”.
And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I shall inherit it?” ...
And he said unto Abram, “Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them 400 years; ..and afterwards shall they come out with great substance. And you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come here again”: (Genesis 15:7-16).

Abraham's God told him he would die and be buried. His descendants would inherit the land in the fourth generation. At some later time Abraham would again walk the earth to receive the land he was promised. There is a chapter that explains this in detail in An Enduring Earth

Following this King David of Israel (approx 1000 BCE) is also given a promise that involves him in the future standing in his kingdom, in front of his throne which would be established for-ever.

“Your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you: your throne shall be established for ever”. (2Samuel 7:16)

Note it does not say David would sit on this throne, only that it would be established for-ever in front of his eyes. His son, or descendant was to sit on the throne. This means David was to live again to see his descendant sit on his own throne.

Lastly Daniel the prophet is given a promise he will stand and actually see the amazing events he prophesied to occur long after he is dead.

But go your way till the end be: for thou shall rest, and stand in your lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)

This indicates Daniel must at some point be raised from death to live on earth to see the coming of Michael the 'One like God'.

4) The Apostles Beliefs Regarding Resurrection

The Apostles, including Peter, had this belief common to the ancient Hebrews, that in death all people are unknowing and without presence, except for the disintegrating flesh and bones. They say that King David is very dead and buried. They point to the evidence of King David's tomb where, in the dry climate, the then 1000 year old bones would still have existed. Peter says,

“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth this, which you now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit you on my right hand, (Act 2:29-34).

Peter said that David, the king, the beloved of God who was given great promises and who was called a 'prophet', did not go to heaven in any way shape or form and that he had perished. However Peter said David had prophesied of Jesus, saying that Jesus would be resurrected and would go to Heaven. Jesus was resurrected as a physical body people could touch ( John 20:27) and visibly ascended in a physical form (Acts 1).

Paul, who is a Jew, says it is the traditional belief of his people, and even of the Pharisees who were wanting to harm him, that there will one day in the future be a resurrection of the dead (this must include King David).

And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. (Act 24:15)

Paul also says that the followers of Jesus should be raised in exactly the same way as Jesus was,

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (Romans 6:5)
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. ... But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. .. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming. (1Corinthians 15:16-23)

Paul adds some detail for us, giving us the phrase 'the last trump'

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1Corinthians 15:52)

And again Paul writes:

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (1Thessalonians 4:16)

To be part of this resurrection at Jesus' coming confers a great honour.

Blessed and holy is he that has a part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

5) The Resurrection in Context

The ancient belief of the Hebrews separated them from the people around them. They did not build magnificent tombs. They believed they could take nothing with them in death (Ecclesiastes 5:15). Their concept of the soul was that it could die, or perish (Ezekiel 18:4).

Jesus, being a Jew, shared this belief saying that both the soul and the body are destroyed in hell.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Many cultures, however, say that the soul lives after death. This is like lie of the serpent in Eden.

Adam and Eve are told if they eat of a specific tree “dying they shall die”.

And the serpent said unto the woman, “You shall not surely die”: (Genesis 3:4)

The Hebrew scriptures say with finality

And all the days that Adam lived were 930 years: and he died. (Genesis 5:5).

That is, in other words, his soul died.

There is no part alive in death, only the memory of them before God. The Prophet Malachi at the very end of the Old Testament puts it like this:

Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
And they shall be mine, said the LORD of hosts, in that day
when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him.
Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not. (Malachi 3:16-18 )

The ancient Hebrew understanding that in death there is no consciousness is now supported by modern science. Consciousness has been linked to physical parts of the brain. Studies of the changes found in brain damaged people show that 'who we are', in other words 'our soul', is made by electrical impulses to and from physical places in brain tissue. Damage to the tissue of certain places in the brain changes our personality and character, can cause loss of the 'sense' of limbs and loss of many sensations. The electrical impulses require the brain tissue, destroying either causes the end of all conciousness of self and the end of our sense of identity, character and personality.

6) The Resurrection in Summary

The scriptures are quite clear and consistent. In passages written in a span of over 2000 years there is a consistent message that all people have souls that die, or perish. In that state they are unconscious and the physical body turns to dust. Nowhere does it say the soul or consiouness exists after death. Even King David, the beloved of God and prophet, did not go to Heaven. In the future on a specific day, a day when the 'One like God', or 'the Lord' will come, the dust is raised by the work of God's spirit to live again, with the same physical form and character to be judged. Some will be given the ability to live forever.