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Don Stewart :: How Do We Understand Certain Biblical Statements That Seemingly Deny the Resurrection of the Dead?

Don Stewart
In both testaments, the Bible clearly teaches that there will come a time when all people are raised bodily from their graves. Jesus said.

Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28,29).

Contradictory Passages?

There are, however, some passages in Scripture that seem to contradict the idea that the dead will be raised. They are as follows.

Job

The following statements are found in the Book of Job.

As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he who goes down to the grave does not return (Job 7:9).

So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens be no more, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep (Job 14:12).

Isaiah wrote.

They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; You wiped out all memory of them (Isaiah 26:14).

In the Book of Amos we read.

Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria, and say, "As your god lives, O Dan," and, "As the way of Beer-sheba lives" - they shall fall, and never rise again (Amos 8:14).

How are we to understand these statements in light of the rest of Scripture which clearly teach the dead will be raised? Do these passages contradict what other parts of the Bible make clear-the dead will be bodily raised from the grave?

No Conflict

When these passages are read in context, it will be seen that they are not in conflict with the rest of Scripture. Indeed, Scripture does not contradict itself since the ultimate author behind the books is God Almighty.

Job 7:9

This passage is not denying the resurrection. In fact, the next verse reads as follows.

He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more (Job 7:10).

The person who dies will not return to his house again. Those who die cannot return to the same body that died. This is consistent with what the Scripture teaches with respect to the resurrection. Paul wrote.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).

Job 14:12

This statement does not deny the resurrection, it merely says that the resurrection will occur at the end of time. This is consistent with other parts of Scripture. Daniel wrote.

At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of tribulation, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1,2).

The resurrection will come, but not until the end of time.

Isaiah 26:14

Isaiah is not denying the biblical doctrine of resurrection of the dead. A couple of verses further down he says.

But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead (Isaiah 26:19).

Isaiah is affirming that these people will not live again on the earth until the resurrection. He is not denying the resurrection of the dead.

Amos 8:14

The passage in Amos has to do with the enemies of God who are killed. They will never rise up and hurt God's people again. There is no thought here about the resurrection of the dead.

Summary

Although there are some passages that may seem to contradict the biblical teaching of the resurrection of the dead, further study shows this is not the case. Each of these passages can be understood in harmony with the rest of the Scripture which clearly teaches that there will come a day when the dead will be raised.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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