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The Blue Letter Bible

Clarence Larkin :: Chapter 16. The Resurrections

The Scriptures speak of three kinds of resurrection.

I. National.

This refers to Israel. In Hosea 6:1,2 we read-

"Come and let us return unto the Lord for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
After Two Days
will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight."

There are several things in this passage worth noting. First we see from the context that the words of the prophet are addressed exclusively to the Jewish people and to the whole "Twelve Tribes" represented by Ephraim and Judah. Hosea 6:4. And it is the "Whole House of Israel" that says "Come, and let us return unto the Lord." It is the cry of repentance of a "nation" that has been torn and smitten by the Lord, and not the cry of persons "dead in their graves." The "healing" does not refer to a resurrection from "the dead," and the "binding" means that the whole Twelve Tribes, now scattered, will be "rebound into one nation" again in their own land.

The expression "Will 'revive' us," does not mean a resurrection from physical death, for the word "revive" simply means what we mean when we speak of a "Revival of Religion," which is a "spiritual" and not a physical resurrection.

The remarkable statement in the passage is the "time" of the Revival. It says "after TWO Days." It is clear that those "two days" are not literal days of 24 hours, for more than 2 such days have gone by and Israel has not yet been revived. They were spoken by the prophet about B.C. 780, or 2700 years ago, and therefore must be interpreted on the scale that one day is with the Lord as a Thousand Years. 2 Pet. 3:8.

Israel is now well along in the third Thousand Years of her rejection; and it is to be some time in this third Thousand Years, corresponding to the "Third Day" of Hosea, that Israel is to be revived and restored to her own land. For a full account of this "National Resurrection of Israel" see the Chapter on "The Jews."

II. Spiritual.

Writing to the Ephesians, Paul said "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.... and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2:1-6.

"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Eph. 5:14.

Writing to the Romans Paul says "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6:11.

The Resurrection referred to in these passages is "Spiritual" and is a "present" Resurrection, and is going on continually. Every time a soul is "born again" there is a passing from "death" unto "life," a "Spiritual resurrection." John 5:24.

III. Material.

This is of the dead body. The spirit of man does not die. it goes back to God who gave it. See the Chapter on "The Spirit World." All that goes into the grave is the body, and all that can come out of the grave is the body.

Jesus clearly and distinctly taught a resurrection "from the grave."

"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 5:28,29.

Here Jesus teaches the resurrection of both the "Righteous" and the "Wicked." The Apostle Paul taught the same thing.

"And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the Dead, both of the just (justified), and of the Unjust (unjustified)." Acts 24:15.
"For as in Adam all die (physically), even so in Christ shall all be made alive (physically)." 1 Cor.15:22.

That the Apostle means "physical" death, and "physical" resurrection here, is clear, for it is the body, and not the spirit that he is discoursing about, and so the Universalist has no "proof text" here for the doctrine of "Universal Salvation."

These passages clearly teach that there is to be a resurrection of "all the dead," and if we did not look any further, we would be led to believe that the Righteous and the Wicked are not only to rise, but that they are to rise at the "same time." But when we turn to the Book of Revelation we find that the Righteous are to rise "before" the Wicked, and not simply precede them, but that there is a space of a 1000 years between the two Resurrections. Rev. 20:4,5.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them."

This refers to the saints of the First Resurrection, who, represented by the "Four and Twenty Elders" of Rev. 4:4, are seen seated on thrones surrounding the Throne of God.

"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped The Beast, neither His Image, neither had received His Mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they LIVED and Reigned With Christ a THOUSAND YEARS."

These are the "Tribulation Saints." John first saw them in their "martyred" condition (as souls), then he saw them rise from the dead (they lived again), and they, with the First Resurrection Saints, reigned with Christ a Thousand Years.

"But the rest of the dead (the wicked), lived not again until the 'Thousand Years' were finished."

The rest of the verse "This is the 'First Resurrection,' " refers not to the "rest of the dead," but to those in verse 4, who lived and reigned with Christ for a 1000 years, for

"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection, on such the Second Death (the doom of the Wicked, Rev. 20:14,15), hath no power, but they shall be Priests of God and of Christ, and shall Reign With Him a THOUSAND YEARS." Rev. 20:6.

That the Dead are to rise in different bands or cohorts, with an "interval of time" between, is beautifully brought out in 1 Cor. 15:22-24.

"For as in Adam all die (physically), even so in Christ shall all be made alive (physically). But every man in his own order."

The word translated "order" is a military expression, and means a band, cohort, brigade or division of an army. Paul then gives the order

  1. "Christ the First Fruits."
  2. "Afterward they that Are Christ's At His Coming."
  3. "Then cometh The End."

Now we know that between "Christ the First Fruits," and they that "are Christ's at His Coming," there has already been nearly 1900 years, and as we have seen there will be 1000 years between the resurrection of those that "are Christ's at His Coming" and the "Wicked dead," we see that there is not to be a simultaneous resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked.

See the small square diagram on The Resurrections.

But some one may say what authority have we for thus dividing up Scripture and locating "intervals of time?" We have the authority of Christ Himself. In Luke 4:16-20 we read that He went into the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day, and they handed Him the Book of Isaiah from which to read, and that He turned to Isa. 61:1,2, and read-

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord,"

and there He stopped at a "comma," as we see by referring to Isa. 61:2, and left unsaid the words, "and the 'Day of Vengeance' of our God."

Why did Christ stop at that comma? Because the time had not come to declare the "Day of Vengeance." That "comma" has been nearly 19 centuries long and will continue until the "Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking 'vengeance' on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thess. 1:7,8.

But it has been objected that the passage in Rev. 20:4,5, is the "only" place in the Bible where a "length of time" is given between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked, and that it is not fair to base such an important fact upon a single statement found in such a symbolic Book. While the Book of Revelation contains many symbols they are explained in the Book, and we must not forget that it is not a mysterious book, for it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to the reader. Rev. 1:1-3. The Book is to be taken literally.

Suppose that Rev. 20:4-6 is the "only" place in the Bible where a "length of time" is given between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked, that is no reason for questioning its truthfulness. The most marvelous fact in the life of our Lord - "The Virgin Birth," until it was fulfilled at His birth, rested for centuries on a "single" prophecy in the Old Testament. "Behold a 'virgin' shall conceive and bear a son." Isa. 7:14.

But we do not have to depend on Rev. 20:4-6 to prove that there is to be an "out" Resurrection "from among the dead." There are a number of passages referring to the resurrection of the dead that are unexplainable only on the supposition that there is a "time space" between the resurrection of the Righteous and the Wicked.

In the reply that Jesus made to the Sadducees, in answer to their question as to whose wife the woman would be in the next world, who had had seven husbands in this, He said-

"They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world (Age), and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more (Second Death); for they are equal unto the angels; and are the 'Children of God' being the children of THE (out) Resurrection." Luke 20:35,36.

This is a very important statement. The use of the Greek word "Aion," translated "world," but which means "Age," shows that Jesus is speaking of a "class of dead" who are to be raised "before" the next or "Millennial Age," and that those thus raised can "die no more," there is no "Second Death" for them. Why? Because they are "equal unto the angels" and are the "Children of God," having been "born again," and are the "Children of THE Resurrection, the "Out FROM AMONG The Dead or FIRST RESURRECTION," for only the "Children" of the "First Resurrection" shall live again "before" the Millennium."

In Luke 14:14 Jesus speaks of a "special" resurrection, that He calls the Resurrection of the "JUST." This is an "Out Resurrection" from "among the dead," and is only for the "Justified," and must refer to the "First" Resurrection.

The writer to the Hebrews (Heb. 11:35) speaks of a "better" Resurrection, and it is a significant fact that the Apostles preached through Jesus the Resurrection "from the dead." Not the Resurrection "of" the dead, that they always believed, but the Resurrection "from among" the dead, that was a "New Doctrine."

There is no question but what Paul believed in the resurrection "of" the dead, and that he expected to rise "some time," but in his letter to the Philippians (3:11) he expresses the hope that he might "attain unto 'the' resurrection of the dead." Paul must therefore have had in mind some "special" Resurrection. What Paul meant is clear when we turn to 1 Thess. 4:15-17, where he speaks of the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" and "translation of the living saints," at the Second Coming of the Lord, and as Christ is to come back to usher in the Millennium, then that event must "precede" the Millennium, and be an "Out Resurrection from among the dead," for the "rest of the dead" live not again until the 1000 years "are finished."

But the resurrection of the Righteous and Wicked is not only to be different as to "time" but as to "character." They that have done "good" (the Righteous) shall rise unto the "resurrection of Life," while they that have done "evil" (the Wicked) shall rise unto the "resurrection of Damnation." John 5:28,29. And we read in Rev. 20:12-15, that those who are raised at the Second Resurrection or the "Resurrection of Damnation" must appear at the judgment of the "Great White Throne," and that their names shall "not" be found written in the "Book of Life," and they shall be cast into the "Lake of Fire" which is the "Second Death."

The "Manner" of the Resurrection.

Some claim that the departure of the soul and spirit from the body is what is meant by the resurrection. But that cannot be so, for as we have seen, the dead are to arise from their "graves," and only that can come out of the grave that went into it, and that is the "body."

Then there is the "Germ Theory," that in every human body there is a "living germ" that is "'indestructible," and though the body turn to dust that "living germ" will exist in the grave until at the Resurrection a new body shall spring from it. This theory explains how the body may be eaten by animals, destroyed by quick lime, blown to atoms, or mutilated by the loss of limbs, etc., and still the "life germ" exist from which shall come the resurrection body.

The advocates of this theory claim that Paul teaches it in 1 Cor. 15:35-38, where he compares the resurrection of the body with the plant that comes up from the seed. We know that the seed is different from the plant that bore it, just as the acorn is different from the oak tree, but the plant that springs from the seed will be like the plant that bore it, so the body that comes from the indestructible "life germ" should be alike in kind to the body that produced the "germ."

But while the resurrection body shall be alike in kind, it will be different in character and possess different qualities. This Paul declares when he says that "All 'flesh' is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of 'men,' another flesh of 'beast," another of 'fishes,' and another of 'birds.' That is, the flesh of God's creatures is adapted to their "environment." "Fish flesh" cannot fly in the air, nor "Bird flesh" swim in the sea. So there are bodies "terrestial" and bodies "celestial." The human body as it is now constituted could not exist in Heaven. There must be a change, and this change is brought about by the resurrection. This change Paul portrays. He says-

"So also is the Resurrection of the Dead. It is sown in corruption: it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in Glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in Power; it is sown a Natural body; it is raised a Spiritual body."

This does not mean that it will have no "substance." We cannot conceive of a "body" that is to have the faculties of the "Spirit Body" not having "form" and "substance."

Christ's resurrection body is a "sample" of what ours is to be. While it is true that His body did not see "corruption" and He rose in the "same body" that was laid in the grave; while it was the same in "identity," it was different in "character."

While the "nail prints" and "spear wound" were visible it could pass through closed doors, and appear and disappear at will. It had "flesh" and "bones," (Luke 24:39-43), but not "blood," for "flesh and blood" cannot enter the Kingdom of God, (1 Cor. 15:50), for "blood" is that which causes "corruption." To preserve a body it must be drained of blood, or the blood chemically preserved by an embalming fluid. As the sacrifice was to be bled, so Jesus left His blood on the earth.

As our resurrection bodies will have visible "form" and "shape" it stands to reason that they will have a framework of "flesh" and "bones," but it will be "flesh" and "bones" adapted to its new environment. We must not forget that Enoch and Elijah went up in their "bodies." Presumably their bodies were "glorified" in the transit, but they were not "disembodied," and if they have use for a "body" in Heaven, why not we? Is it reasonable to suppose that only those two saints shall be in Heaven in their bodies? Why did Michael the Archangel contend with the Devil over the "body" of Moses, if Moses had no further need of it? Did not he and Elijah have use for their bodies when they appeared on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Jesus? And if they were "the" two men that stood by in "white apparel" when Jesus ascended (Acts 1:9-11), and are to be the "Two Witnesses" of Rev. 11:3-6, we see, that as they are the "type" of the Resurrected and Translated Saints, that the Saints at the Rapture will have "bodies" like Moses and Elijah now have.

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