The nature of and purpose for the resurrections spoken of in the Bible are not well understood. The timing of these prophesied resurrections (who will be raised, when, in what form, and why) has confounded believers for many centuries. In this article, we are going to examine the totality of the scriptural teaching on this subject. You may be surprised at what the Bible really says about the resurrections of the dead.
The "First Resurrection"
Several passages of Scripture reveal to us that Messiah will raise the dead saints at the sounding of the trumpet of God:
I THESSALONIANS 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (NKJV)
MATTHEW 24:30 "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory. (CJB) 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (NIV)
Both accounts state that Messiah will come on the clouds. When the trumpet sounds, there will be a resurrection of the righteous dead. As Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians, the dead saints who are raised, as well as those still living, will be CHANGED at the last trumpet from flesh to spirit:
I CORINTHIANS 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 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." 55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJV)
Paul clearly says here that the saints, both the dead and the living, will be changed from corruptible flesh to an incorruptible/immortal body at the last (i.e., 7th) trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18). This change, which is the focus of Paul's discourse throughout the entire chapter, will be necessary for us to inherit our reward in the Millennial kingdom. In his letter to the Philippian assembly, Paul also speaks of this change of our bodies in the resurrection:
PHILIPPIANS 3:21 He [the Lord, Yeshua the Messiah] will change the bodies we have in this humble state and make them like his glorious body, using the power which enables him to bring everything under his control. (CJB)
Going back to Paul's comments in I Corinthians 15, we find that the apostle spends considerable time describing the difference between our current physical bodies and the spiritual bodies we will have when we are resurrected:
I CORINTHIANS 15:35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain - perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The "first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man. (NKJV)
Paul states here that not all the spiritual bodies of those dwelling in the kingdom of God will be equal. Some will be more glorious than others. Different physical creatures have different types of flesh (e.g., man, animals, fish, birds). Likewise, those changed to spirit beings will have different levels of glory, just as the sun, the moon, the major stars, and the minor stars all produce different levels of light in the sky.
Paul's discussion of the resurrection and the change of the saints into glorious spirit beings has confused some into thinking that ALL people will be raised as spirit beings when Messiah returns. Yet we see in other prophetic Scriptures (to be examined later) that this is not the case.
Although everyone will ultimately be changed from flesh to spirit, the context of Paul's comments in I Corinthians 15 primarily deals with the resurrection of the saints. John speaks from this same frame of reference in Revelation 20 when he refers to the "first resurrection":
REVELATION 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (NIV)
This lone passage of Scripture has caused a multitude of problems in understanding the chronology of end-time biblical prophecy. It seems to say that there will be ONE resurrection at the beginning of the Millennium, which will involve ONLY the saints (who will be changed from flesh to spirit). However, this view is hard to square with the rest of the Scriptures, which show that there will be another resurrection of the dead ("the just and the unjust") back to MORTAL life during the time of Messiah's Millennial reign.
So how are we to understand John's statement here? It's clear from other prophecies that most will NOT be raised from the dead and changed to spirit at the "first resurrection." In fact, the number changed will be relatively small compared to all those who have died since creation. What happens to the rest? Earlier in I Corinthians 15, Paul gives us a chronological blueprint regarding the timing of the change from flesh to spirit:
I CORINTHIANS 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (NIV)
The Messiah is said to be the firstfruit (Gr. aparche, singular) of those who have died. Yet several people are shown in Scripture to have been raised from death before Messiah Yeshua was resurrected. These include the widow's son from Zarephath (I Kings 17:17-23); the Shunammite's son (II Kings 4:17-37); the widow's son from Nain (Luke 7:11-16); the daughter of Jairus (Matt. 9:18-25; Mark 5:22-42; Luke 8:41-55); Lazarus (John 11:1-45); and the saints raised in Jerusalem at the time Yeshua died on the cross (Matt. 27:50-53). However, even though they all were raised from death back to life BEFORE Yeshua, he is called the "firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5) and "the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (I Cor. 15:20). Why?
The reason is because Yeshua was the FIRST (and so far the only) human ever brought back to life and given an immortal SPIRIT body. This type of resurrection (from flesh to spirit) won't occur again until the "first resurrection" of the saints (Rev. 20:4-6), which Paul tells us takes place at the "last trumpet" (I Cor. 15:50-53).
I CORINTHIANS 15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ ALL will be made alive. (NIV)
Paul's statement here is not well understood, and quite astonishing if accepted at face value. In accord with what he says in verse 22, Paul told the Roman church that all of mankind has died because of Adam's introduction of sin into the world (Rom. 5:12). Paul said that this same "all" will ultimately be made alive as spirit beings because of Messiah; specifically, because of his righteous act of obedience (Rom. 5:18-19).
Next, Paul gives us the timetable for WHEN this will happen:
I CORINTHIANS 15:23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. (NIV)
In verse 23, Paul again states that Messiah was the first human raised as a spirit being. Next he says that those who are Messiah's will be raised and changed when he comes from heaven (cf. I The. 4:15-17). In the chronological sequence of resurrections to spirit, Paul states in verse 24 that the end (of the Millennial kingdom) will come before anyone else is raised and changed from flesh to spirit.
John's parenthetical statement in Revelation 20:5 that the rest of the dead won't "live" (with the context implying "as spirit beings") until the 1,000-year reign of Messiah has ended is a confirmation of Paul's statement in verse 24. There is another supporting proclamation found earlier in Revelation that speaks of the reward of those who accept Messiah AFTER the "first resurrection":
REVELATION 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (NIV)
The implication of this heavenly statement is that those who die "in the Lord" during the Millennium will "rest" (in the "sleep" of death) until the Messianic kingdom comes to an end. This fits perfectly with Paul's statement in verse 24 that "then the end will come" and Messiah will hand over the kingdom to YHVH his Father after his 1,000-year reign and the final defeat of Satan (Rev. 20:7-10).
I CORINTHIANS 15:25 For he [Messiah] must reign until He [God the Father] has put all His enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For He "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God Himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When He has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to Him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (NIV)
The timing of this "change in leadership" from the Messiah to the Father is very important to understanding WHEN prophesied events will take place.
We have now established from Scripture that there are only TWO resurrections from flesh to spirit before Messiah turns over the kingdom of God the Father: one in this current age (the raising of Messiah as the firstfruit), and one in the age to come (the "first resurrection" of the saints at the beginning of the Millennium).
But what about the rest of the dead? When will they be resurrected? Next we will examine what the Scriptures say about the fate of the remainder of mankind, including Israel and the nations.
The Resurrection of the "Just and the Unjust"
The Bible tells us in several places that there will be a resurrection of those who have done good, as well as those who have done evil. The angel Gabriel revealed this resurrection to the prophet Daniel just before his death:
DANIEL 12:1 "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people - everyone whose name is found written in the Book - will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting ['olam, lit. "age-lasting"] life, others to shame and everlasting ['olam] contempt. (NIV)
Gabriel identifies the time of Michael's appearance as the worst period of distress on the nations since their foundation. Yeshua speaks of this same time and says it will be the worst period of anguish on mankind since the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19). In fact, this period is called "the great tribulation" in Revelation (Rev. 7:14). By its description, it is clear that the time being spoken of is the end of this current age.
Gabriel tells Daniel that God will deliver all of his people (i.e., the Israelites) whose names are found written in the Book of Life. This is a reference to the "first resurrection" and the changing of the saints from flesh to spirit at the last trumpet. But then Gabriel continues on with the statement that the remaining "multitudes" sleeping in their graves will also be awakened. This includes the unconverted of Israel as well as those from the nations. Some will be resurrected to life in the Messianic kingdom of Yeshua, while others will be held in contempt throughout that 1,000-year age. The clear implication is that these multitudes will be raised to MORTAL life sometime at the beginning of the Millennium.
The resurrection of all, both the virtuous and the wicked, is confirmed by Paul in his words of defense before Felix, the Roman governor of Judea:
ACTS 24:14 "But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust." (NIV)
Yeshua plainly told the Jews that YHVH the Father had granted him the authority to judge mankind. In order to execute this judgment, Messiah said he would call forth everyone from their graves:
JOHN 5:25 "Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in himself, 27 and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which ALL who are in the graves will hear his voice 29 and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. 30 I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me." (NKJV)
Yeshua declares that an hour is coming when he will raise ALL who are in their graves from the dead. He states that those who have done good will be resurrected to life (MORTAL existence in his Millennial kingdom), while those who have done evil will be condemned (excluded from the Millennial kingdom). Yeshua describes his judgment of the nations in Matthew 25:
MATTHEW 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal [aionion, lit. "age-lasting"] fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44 Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45 Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46 And these will go away into eternal [aionion] punishment, but the righteous into eternal [aionion] life." (ESV)
The truth is that most of the people who have lived since the beginning of creation have not known God or His ways. So how will they be judged?
Yeshua identifies himself as the Son of Man at the beginning of the "sheep and goats" prophecy (Matt. 25:31) to emphasize his kinship to all of mankind (cf. Heb. 2:11, 14, 17). The judgment criteria that King Messiah will use to determine who from the nations will live during the Millennial kingdom is the "love your neighbor as yourself" principle. Those "sheep" who have shown love to their neighbors ("the least of these") during their lives will be rewarded with life in the Messianic kingdom. However, those who lived selfish lives and cared only for themselves, abusing and taking advantage of their neighbors, will be punished by not being allowed to live during the Millennium.
Notice in Messiah's prophecy that neither group appears to fully understand why they are either being rewarded or punished. Both the sheep and the goats (most of whom appear not to really know who King Messiah is) ask "when did we see YOU" in these conditions (Matt. 25:37-39, 44)? Messiah's answer clearly shows that the "love your neighbor as yourself" standard is used for their judgment.
Paul's letter to the Romans confirms this judgment criterion:
ROMANS 2:12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the Law. 15 They show that the work of the Law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that Day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (ESV)
The fact is that most people will never have heard about the true God or been taught His Law when Messiah comes to judge the nations. Yet God's perfect justice demands that those who have kept the righteous requirements of the Law (i.e., "love your neighbor as yourself" - Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jam. 2:8) be rewarded. Their reward will be MORTAL life during the golden age of the Messiah's rule (Matt. 25:46).
Unfortunately, Messiah told us that most of humanity will not qualify for life in the Messianic kingdom (Matt. 7:13-14). The fate of those judged unworthy to live during the Millennium is to be killed and cast into the fires of Gehenna, as revealed in numerous other Scriptures (Matt. 5:29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mark 9:43-48):
LUKE 12:4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell [geennan]. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (ESV)
Scripture tells us the place where the dead bodies of rebels will be cast during the Messianic kingdom is the Valley of Hinnom (Heb. gey hinnom, Gr. geenna), located on the south side of Jerusalem. The fate for law-breaking during the 1,000-year reign of Messiah (i.e., execution and being cast into the Valley of Hinnom) is specifically mentioned in the final verse of the prophetic book of Isaiah:
ISAIAH 66:23 From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD. 24 "And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (ESV)
Yeshua specifically quoted this prophecy in his exhortation to avoid sin found in Mark 9:
MARK 9:43 "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell [geennan], into the fire that shall never be quenched - 44 where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell [geennan], into the fire that shall never be quenched - 46 where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell [geennan] fire - 48 "where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'" (NKJV)
From Yeshua's words recorded here in Mark 9 and Luke 12:4-5, we can infer that he will be responsible for having those judged unworthy to live in the Millennium executed and cast into Gehenna ("hell").
Prophecy indicates that the resurrection back to physical life will involve all the nations of the world, including God's people Israel. Let's look at the words of chastisement from Messiah to that generation of Jews who saw him perform miracles, and yet did not repent of their sins:
MATTHEW 11:20 Then he began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for you." (NASU)
The "Day of Judgment" is another name for the 1,000-year "Day of the LORD" (cf. II Pet. 3:8). It is so named because of the judgment Messiah will exercise during this Millennial "Day." Below of several additional Gospel accounts of Messiah's words regarding his judgment upon all the people who have lived and died during the first age of God's plan (i.e., from creation to the time of his return):
LUKE 10:10 "But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that Day for Sodom than for that town. 13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects Him who sent me." (ESV)
MATTHEW 10:11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!" (NKJV)
MARK 6:10 Also he said to them, "In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!" 12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. (NKJV)
The implication from these passages is that the punishment for Sodom and Gomorrah, two of the wickedest cities spoken of in the Bible, will be more tolerable to them (i.e., easier for them to accept) than it will be for those Jews who heard the Messiah preach in person and still refused to repent.
Messiah mentions some other people from history who would rise up at the resurrection of the just and unjust with the Jews of his generation:
MATTHEW 12:41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here." (ESV)
LUKE 11:30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the Judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the Judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here." (ESV)
It seems from these statements that Israel will be judged like the other nations who are brought up in the resurrection. However, other statements and prophecies indicate that only those Jews who specifically rejected his teaching (including most of the Jewish religious leadership of his day) will be excluded from the Messianic kingdom. The "dry bones" prophecy in Ezekiel 37 seems to show that most of Israel will be resurrected and brought back into the land during the Millennium:
EZEKIEL 37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me, and He led me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. 2 He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! 3 He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? "Lord GOD," I answered, "You alone know that." 4 Then He said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. 6 I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD. 7 I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. 8 I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. 9 Then He said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. 10 I prophesied as He told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. 11 Then He said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off." 12 Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O My people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O My people! 14 I will put My Spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD. (NAB)
This prophecy clearly shows a PHYSICAL resurrection to mortal life for the "whole house of Israel" (i.e., all 12 tribes). After they have been raised from the dead, these resurrected Israelites will be given the Holy Spirit and brought back into the Holy Land promised to Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18; 17:8).
The prophet Hosea speaks of this resurrection and the subsequent restoration of God's blessing to Israel:
HOSEA 6:1 "Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him." (NASU)
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. (NKJV)
The prophet Isaiah mentions the resurrection and removal of the reproach of God's people also:
ISAIAH 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. (KJV)
In his letter to the Romans, Paul also speaks about the salvation of ALL ISRAEL:
ROMANS 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins." 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (NKJV)
As Paul tells us, Messiah will ultimately save ALL of God's chosen people Israel. YHVH has committed ALL (all of Israel, and indeed, all of the world) to disobedience, that He might have mercy on ALL.
The Millennial resurrections and judgments are just the start of God's plan to eventually become "all in all." During the Millennium, YHVH the Father will bring about the salvation of all Israel. Israel will become the example that it was originally intended to be for the nations of the world. Messiah Yeshua will rule over Israel and the world, and everyone will know YHVH, from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34). What a wonderful age that will be!
Bryan T. Huie
October 22, 2012