In the first article in this series, we discovered that the soul of man is indeed mortal. We learned that souls can and do die. Now, in this article, we shall examine the scriptures pertaining to the resurrection in the Old Testament, clearly revealing the destiny and real hope of all mankind.
NOTICE now how many Old Testament prophets spoke of man's resurrection back to life. David wrote of the resurrection: "My flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol, the grave]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One [Christ] to see corruption" (Ps. 16:9, 10). The Apostle Peter, commenting on this very scripture, said: "Let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried.... He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (Acts 2:29, 31). Christ's "soul was not left in hell [Greek, hades — the grave]," and His body did not decompose. It was buried in a rock-hewn tomb at a cool time of the year; and it was resurrected before decomposition set in, before it began to decay or putrefy.
Christ's Resurrection — A Type
Christ's resurrection was, in fact, a type of the resurrection which God promises to all those who faithfully obey Him. The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [enliven] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11).
Resurrection Taught in Old Testament
We have already examined the scripture in Psalm 16:9, 10, which clearly shows that David believed in a coming resurrection for the Messiah and also for himself. David said: "My flesh also shall rest [in the grave] in hope [of the coming resurrection]. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell...." But long before the time of David, God's servant Job clearly revealed his faith in a coming resurrection. He asked: "If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands" (Job 14:14, 15). Yes, Job knew the time was coming when his Creator would call him from the grave and clothe him with eternal life. "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh [Hebrew, without or apart from my flesh ] shall I see God" (Job 19:25, 26). He knew he would some day be resurrected to see his Redeemer. The Prophet Isaiah also believed in the resurrection: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead " (Isa. 26:19). Ezekiel also prophesied of a coming resurrection when the "whole house of Israel" will be restored to life. His vision of a "valley which was full of bones" is well known: "O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezek. 37:4-6). Furthermore, God says through Ezekiel: "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" (verse 12). The Prophet Daniel also foretold a coming resurrection when "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). An angel appeared unto Daniel and told him: "But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest [in the grave], and stand [stand up in a resurrection] in thy lot at the end of the days" (verse l3). The word "resurrect" literally means "to stand again from below" — re (again); sur (below); rect (to stand). God's servant Hosea also believed in the resurrection: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction..." (Hosea l3:l4). The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives a long list of faithful servants of God who, during Old Testament times, obeyed God and often would not accept deliverance from a horrible death "that they might [through their martyrdom] obtain a better resurrection" (Heb. 11:35). Abraham had such faith that he accounted "that God was able to raise him [his son, Isaac] up, even from the dead" (verse 19). Abraham knew that God had promised the Holy Land to him and his children as an everlasting possession. The only way Abraham could receive the fulfillment of this promise was by a resurrection from the dead. "For he looked for a city [in which he and other faithful ones would dwell — after their resurrection] which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (verse 10). Abraham knew he would be raised from his grave and would someday dwell with God and with other glorified humans in New Jerusalem, in the new earth, where there would be no more sin, sorrow or death to mar eternal happiness. Many have failed to realize that even Moses prophesied of the saints being glorified in a resurrection at the second coming of Christ when they will be united with Him. "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; everyone shall [in the future] receive of thy words" (Deut. 33:2, 3). There were not "ten thousands of saints" with Moses at the time when God gave Israel the Ten Commandments at Sinai. Only Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter the Promised Land. Moses, Aaron and Miriam were also saints, but the
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [enliven] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" Rom. 8:11
vast majority of the Israelites were carnal, faithless, stiff-necked and totally rebellious. They were anything but saints. The afore-quoted prophecy refers to the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ, when many thousands of saints will be resurrected from their graves (Israelites and Gentiles) and will be joined unto Christ, as His Bride. Then Christ will give them His law to teach all nations in the wonderful, utopian World Tomorrow, in the Kingdom of God (see I Thes. 4:13-18).
Man's Only Hope
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, commenting on Daniel 12:2, says: "It should be noted that it is not the immortality of the soul that is spoken of but the resurrection of the dead, who have remained dead ('sleep in the dust') until the end-time (when 'your people shall be delivered'). This remains the hope and expectation normative in Judaism and Christianity ("Eschatology," 14th edition, 1973, VIII, p. 696). You will search the Bible in vain to find any other teaching. The Bible teaches the resurrection — not the immortal soul. If you are interested in a further study of this intriguing subject, read our free booklet — Do You Have an Immortal Soul?
But will there be only one general resurrection, or does God's divine plan include several resurrections? Many are shocked to be told that the Bible actually teaches there will be three resurrections — not just one. What are the three different resurrections, and when will they occur? Who will take part in them? And with what body are the dead to be raised? Will those resurrected have bodies identical to their physical bodies in this life? Will they have flesh-and-blood bodies, or glorified, divine bodies, not subject to death? What will we be like in the resurrection? In the next article we shall examine the scriptures pertaining to these and other questions; and we shall see the Bible proof that there are indeed to be three distinct resurrections, not just one or two. Don't miss reading the next installment in this five-part series.
AFTER DEATH... THEN WHAT? Just what is death? Why does God allow Christians to die? Does death ever come as a punishment? For the answers read the remarkable free booklet After Death — Then What?