It is written:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)
The Bible here teaches us about the resurrection of the dead which will occur at the time of the Second Coming of Christ.
We will study in three articles some of the evidence for the resurrection of the dead under three headings: the Old Testament, the Intertestamental Period, and the New Testament.
Throughout the Old Testament, there are many passages of Scripture which look forward to the resurrection of the dead at the end of the world.
The first passage which we will consider comes from what many believe is the oldest Book of the Bible, the Book of Job. Regarding its’ antiquity, Morris has written:
“As noted above, its setting, structure, theme, and internal references correspond more to the early chapters of Genesis than to any other section of Scripture. This correlates beautifully with the fact that ancient Jewish tradition has always attributed it to Moses, not to some unknown dramatist of the Solomonic or exile periods. Furthermore, modern archaeological research supports the probability that Job’s author lived no later than the time of Moses, and probably much earlier. The name Job has been found in a number of tablets dated 2,000 B.C. (the time of Abraham) or earlier. These include Akkadian documents from Tel-el-Amarna, Mari, and Alalakh, and the Execration Texts from Egypt. The name “Bildad” has also been noted in a cuneiform text from this period. Finally, a number of Sumerian documents incorporate the literary motif of the righteous sufferer. None of these archaeological references should be taken as referring to the actual Biblical record, of course. Nevertheless, they do confirm the high probability that the biblical account was written sometime in the same general period. Writers of many centuries later could hardly have been aware of these archaeological data. The tradition of Mosaic authorship of Job should, therefore, be taken quite seriously, but in the same sense that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are ascribed to Moses. The events in both these records took place long before Moses’ time, so he would necessarily have to draw on earlier records. In the case of Genesis 1-11, the evidence is quite strong that tablets written by the ancient patriarchs were handed down from Adam to Noah to Shem and so on, finally to be compiled and edited by Moses.2 In somewhat the same fashion, Moses must have obtained the tablets recounting Job’s experiences, recognizing them as a supremely important revelation of God’s dealings with all men, even with those outside his covenant relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then, in the way he incorporated Genesis along with his personal writings in the other four books of the Pentateuch, he prepared the Book of Job for later generations of Israelites, who soon recognized it as inspired Scripture. As to when Moses did this, it is probable that he acquired the documents during his forty-year exile in Midian (Acts 7:23, 30), which is near Edom and Uz. It is possible that Moses met some of Job’s children or grandchildren during this time and persuaded them to part with the Joban tablets. From them, Moses could have learned more about God and perhaps more insight on the persecutions he and the people of Israel were experiencing. He also could have used them to instruct the Israelites later. He probably would not have had access at this time to the Genesis documents, which had been handed down through Jacob and were presumably in safekeeping in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were dwelling. Later he would see these and learn how beautifully they complemented the Book of Job…The firm Jewish tradition associating Moses with the Book of Job did not spring out of thin air.”” (Henry Morris, The Remarkable Record Of Job: The Ancient Wisdom, Scientific Accuracy, & Life-Changing Message Of An Amazing Book, 180-206 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)
The great Patriarch Job looked forward to his own resurrection when he declared:
Job 19:25-27-For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job declared that the day would come when he would see his “Redeemer” in his own body. It would take place “at last,” which is an interesting term. It likely carried with it the idea of “the end,” or “the last day.” Certainly, Job sees that this event would occur after his skin had been destroyed. This hints at the time when the Redeemer would stand on the Earth, at the end of time.
In fact, this entire passage hearkens back to an earlier speech of Job, in which he looks forward to his resurrection from the dead, at a time when his sin will have been completely dealt with.
Job 14:13-17- “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me! 14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, Till my change comes. 15 You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands. 16 For now You number my steps, But do not watch over my sin. 17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, And You cover my iniquity.
The text here teaches us about Job’s hope in resurrection, in the face of death itself. Notice that Job connects his question of living again with the “change” that he knows will come (Job 14:14). The word “change” is also translated as “renewal” in some versions. It’s connection with resurrection-and with forgiveness of sins-is very revealing:
“This is a wonderful passage. It is very personal. This is one on one, the believer speaking to the God he loves. “I know I am heading for Sheol, the place of the dead,” says Job. “And we all know that Sheol is the place of no return [7:9]. But what I wish is that you would ‘hide me’ there, ‘conceal me until your wrath be past’ [v. 13], and that the day would come, your ‘set time,’ when you would ‘remember me’ and summon me back into life [v. 13]. This would be completely against what we know to be the case: ‘If a man dies, shall he live again?’ [v. 14a]. Not in the normal run of affairs, he won’t. But I would be willing to ‘wait, till my renewal should come’ [v. 14b].” Renewal is a lovely word for resurrection, a word that combines newness (re new al) with continuity ( re newal). The most wonderful thing about this “renewal” (v. 14) is the personal relationship: “You would call, and I would answer you” (v. 15a). And the one who calls Job back from the dead would be the one who “would long for the work of your hands” (v. 15b). There is an anticipation here of the love of the resurrecting God. Furthermore, this God would now watch over Job for good rather than keeping watch over his sin (v. 16), for his sin would be dealt with once and for all: “my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity” (v. 17). These are beautiful and final pictures. All Job’s transgressions are finally tied up in a garbage bag and thrown away, never to be reopened. Although Job would not have known about this, the idea of iniquity being “covered over” (v. 17b) reminds us of the propitiation foreshadowed for Israel in the mercy seat over the Ark of the Covenant. Job knows that if his sin is dealt with, then—and only then—can he hope to come back from Sheol into relationship with the God he loves. It is a wonderful glimpse of the gospel.” (Christopher Ash, Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word), 171 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway)
In these two passages (Job 14:13-17; 19:25-27), we have clear references to the resurrection of the dead in the oldest Book of the Bible.
Moving on, we also see references to the resurrection of the dead in the Book of Isaiah.
Isaiah 25:8-He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.
This passage in Isaiah is found embedded in what is often known as the “little apocalypse of Isaiah.” Chapters 24-27 of this Book describe events that will take place at the end of the world. Two authors have pointed out:
“As for the context, this is part of what scholars call the Apocalypse of Isaiah, which refers to Isaiah 24–27. And it has that name because it speaks of cosmic events, of end-time upheaval, of the final coming of God’s Kingdom and the destruction of His enemies. Here is just a sampling of some of the verses. The text speaks of the future destruction of the earth: See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—it will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. Isaiah 24: 1–3 NIV Then God will come with power! The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again. In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above . . . they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory. Isaiah 24: 19–23 NIV At that time, God will abolish death from His people: On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Isaiah 25: 6–9 NIV And at that time, He will crush the serpent’s head (cf. Romans 16: 20): “In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword—his fierce, great and powerful sword—Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea” (Isaiah 27: 1 NIV). And when the judgment is over, the Lord will gather His people Israel together: In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem. Isaiah 27: 12–13 NIV Clearly, this is speaking in terms of the end of the age, the final conflict and the last great war.” (Michael L. Brown & Craig S. Keener, Not Afraid of the Antichrist: Why We Don’t Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, 94-95 (Kindle Edition); Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chosen)
The language of the passage describes clearly an end of the world judgment of God. This is made clear especially by the way that the passage uses language which was used earlier in Genesis to describe the Global Flood of Noah.
“The final punishment of the earth (not the attack on Jerusalem) will involve a major disruption of the normal patterns of nature. Enormous floods will occur once again as the “windows of heaven” (cf. Gen 7:11; 8:2) are opened. Extremely strong earthquakes will shake the land plates from their moorings.49 It will seem like the earth is collapsing, falling apart, and splitting in two (cf. Rev 6:12-15). There will be no stable, safe place to hide, for the earth will convulse like an unstable drunk that cannot walk, or like a small hut struck by a major windstorm. The sinful rebellion of the people on the earth will be so great that nothing can preserve them. The earth will collapse; this old world will never rise again.50 The prophet is saying that the world as it is known today will come to a final end…“Verse 21 indicates that God is the one who will assert his authority over the “hosts, armies, powers” () of heaven and the kings on earth (consistent with chaps. 13-23). The heavenly hosts could refer to the stars and planets (40:26; 45:12; Ps 33:6), but it seems more likely that this is a reference to enemy angelic beings (2 Kgs 22:19; Job 1:6; Dan 4:32; 8:10; 10:13), not inanimate objects.51 The parallelism between the two halves of this verse invites the comparison between the defeat of the powerful evil rulers on earth (21b) and the powerful rulers in heaven (21a). Once these are defeated God alone will rule the world.” (Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1-39: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary Book 15), 423-424 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)
The Apostle Paul, quoting this passage, ties it in directly with the resurrection of the dead that will take place at the Second Coming of Christ:
1 Corinthians 15:54-So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.”
In the next chapter of Isaiah, we read another remarkable prophecy of the resurrection of the dead:
Isaiah 26:19-Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.
Another powerful prophecy of the resurrection of the dead in the Old Testament is found in the Book of Hosea:
Hosea 13:14- “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.”
God here promises to deliver His people from the grave, defeating the powers of death and Hades. Paul quotes this passage in 1 Corinthians, and applies it to the resurrection of the dead at the time of the Second Coming of Christ:
1 Corinthians 15:55-“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?”
In addition to these explicit passages of Scripture, one of the seven yearly feasts of Israel (i.e., the Feast of Trumpets) actually looked forward prophetically to the resurrection of the dead.
“According to the Talmud, Rosh haShanah 16b, the resurrection of the dead will occur on Yom haDin, the Day of Judgment, also called Rosh haShanah. From very ancient times, the resurrection of the dead has been associated with Rosh haShanah. Archaeologists are discovering Jewish tombstones with shofarim etched upon them, indicating their belief in a resurrection of the dead with the blowing of the shofar. And in the poetic conception of our later teachers, it was the sound of the Shofar haGadol that will on the Last Day rend open the graves, and cause the dead to rise. The commentary in the Hertz Siddur says; Thus, the Messianic Hope, Resurrection, and Immortality of the Soul are intertwined with the message of the Shofar. By the time of Yeshua, the subject of resurrection had become one of the most controversial topics, as evidenced in the gospels and the book of Acts. The Pharisees vehemently believed in the resurrection, while the Sadducees did not. The general public followed the teaching of the Pharisees in expectation of a resurrection of the righteous at the beginning of the Last Day (Messianic Kingdom). Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Yeshua said to her, I am the Resurrection, and the Life: He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, L‑rd: I believe that Thou art the Messiah, the Son of G‑d, which should come into the world. Yochanan 11.24-27 Earlier, in chapter 6 of this book, it was stated that Se’adiah Gaon, a 9th-century Jewish scholar, wrote ten reasons for the shofar to be blown on Rosh haShanah. The tenth reason has to do with the resurrection of the dead. The tenth reason is to remind us of the revival of the dead, that we may believe in it, as it is said (Isaiah 18.3): “All ye inhabitants of the world, and ye dwellers in the earth, when an ensign [banner-symbolic of the Messiah] is lifted up on the mountains, see ye; and when the horn is blown, hear ye.” According to Theodore Gaster and other Jewish scholars, the day of Rosh haShanah involves the sounding of the Last Trump. Today one removed from an understanding of such Jewish concepts as the Last Trump tends to give his and everybody else’s guess as to what these terms might mean. In order to understand the passages in the gospels, epistles, and Revelation, we must place these books back into their original Jewish context, defining each term, phrase, and idiom the way the original writer in his Jewish mode of thinking expressed it.” (Joseph Good, Rosh HaShanah And The Messianic Kingdom To Come: An Interpretation Of The Feast Of Trumpets Based Upon Ancient Sources, 119-120 (Kindle Edition); Nederland, Texas; Hatikva Ministries)
Putting all of these things together, we may conclude the following about the Old Testament’s teaching regarding personal bodily resurrection.
First, the Old Testament clearly taught that there is an intermediate realm where the soul of man abides after death.
Second, we see clearly that this realm of the dead was seen as temporary, until the time of the resurrection.
Third, the Old Testament is clear that there will be a time when the dead are resurrected. This will be a literal bodily resurrection, in which the spirits in the Hadean realm are reunited with their bodies.
Fourth, the time of this resurrection will be at the end of the world.
Fifth, this time of resurrection is tied together with the promised Messiah (i.e., Redeemer) and the forgiveness of sins.
Sixth, this resurrection of the dead would be comprised of both the righteous and the unrighteous, after a time of great persecution against God’s people, culminating especially with the leadership of a very wicked king (e.g., our studies of Daniel 11:36-12:13).
In our next study, we will delve into the writings of the Jewish people during the Intertestamental Period regarding the bodily resurrection of the dead.