Posted by: biblestudyseattle | July 17, 2020

Rethinking the Resurrection

It is assumed by most Christians (and Jews and Muslims) that we live our life, die, then are resurrected.  This has to be partially true, but is this an oversimplification?  The Jews expected one visit of the Messiah.  We got two.  Actually they still see only one.  The second coming (or the first from some people’s perspective) will be composed of multiple ‘visits’ or manifestations.  Of course Moses came down the mountain with the Law twice.  Then there is the Christian interpretation of this verse:  “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,”  Hebrews 9:27

But what about Lazarus?  “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”  The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  John 11:43-44

Was Lazarus judged when Jesus raised him from the dead?  What happened after he died again?  And another case: “He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.  But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up.”  Matthew 9:24-25  Or what about this case: “Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.  So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God?  You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”  He said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed.  He called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?”  Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.”  The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.  Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.”  Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”  1 Kings 17:17-24

What about these two?  Were they judged after they were brought back from the dead?  And what about Jesus’ comments:  “But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  Matthew 22:29-30

Did this girl never marry?  Was she like an angel in heaven?  Lazarus too?  There has to be something more to the picture.  Perhaps Ezekiel gives us a hint.

“Your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to their former state, and you with your daughters will also return to your former state.”  Ezekiel 16:55

Sodom was long destroyed by the time Ezekiel wrote this, so they must be returning to life.  But their former life?  Notice there’s nothing about a new creation here.  This is talking about judgment leading to repentance: “Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.  Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both your older and your younger; and I will give them to you as daughters, but not because of your covenant.  Thus I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, so that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation, when I have forgiven you for all that you have done,” the Lord God declares.”  Ezekiel 16:60-63

The final trial for eternal [new] life must happen at the end of Christ’s millennial reign: “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.  And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.”  Revelation 20:7-9

The restanding that we will experience prior to this must be considered a continuation of the first life, although Christians will be in a heavenly/earthly hybrid condition, much as Jesus was during the 40 days he ministered to the disciples after he was raised, but before he returned to the Father.  This interpretation could be wrong, but the problems with the popular, oversimplified view of the resurrection would remain.  If Paul was resurrected straight to immortality, how would this verse be fulfilled: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 5:10   Paul might first need to repent before Stephen.

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