The Resurrection at the LAST DAY

Who will be in it? When will it occur?

By Herman L. Hoeh

 

The news had just reached Jesus. Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, was ill. When He heard the news, Jesus sent word to the sisters: This sickness," He assured them, "is not unto death" (John 11:4) . Two days later Jesus set out for the town of Bethany, near Jerusalem, where Lazarus and his sisters lived . But by the time He arrived He found that Lazarus "had already been in the tomb four days" (verse 17). Had Jesus misunderstood the seriousness of Lazarus' illness?

Now that Lazarus was dead, Martha had become quite concerned. "Lord," she said, "if You had been here, my brother would not have died " (verse 21). Jesus assured her , "Your brother will rise again" (verse 22).

Now notice Martha's response: " I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (verse 24). What did she mean by "the resurrection at the last day"?

Some Jews understood

Martha, of course, was Jewish and had been taught from childhood about the resurrection. She had read the resurrection chapter of the Hebrew Bible-Ezekiel 37. And she was certainly familiar with Job 14:10-12: " But man dies and is laid away; indeed he breathes his last and where is he? As water disappears from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dries up, so man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep."

That did indeed seem far distant into the future. No wonder Martha said "the resurrection at the last day."

The Pharisees would have agreed with her. They, too, believed in a resurrection at the last day. They would certainly have cited as added proof the prophecy found in Ezekiel 16:44-63. These verses speak of a distant future time of resurrection of the ancient inhabitants of Sodom, Samaria and Jerusalem.

Jesus had this prophecy in mind when He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" (Mark 6:11) . By "that city" Jesus meant one that refuses the message of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus here associated "the day of judgment" with the resurrection at the last day. But if the Jews thought they understood that yet distant future time of resurrection, they and that included Martha certainly did not understand that there would be an earlier resurrection one that would be a thousand years earlier than the one at the last day.

Job understood it!

Job, of course, was aware of a resurrection and a judgment of mankind as a whole "at the last day." But the patriarch Job also understood that there would be an earlier resurrection: "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! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes. You shall call, and I will answer You" (Job 14:13-15). Notice that Job associated this  his  resurrection with a change - "till my change comes." Paul, the apostle, referred to this same change when he wrote: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed-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" (I Corinthians 15:51-52).

Paul and Job are speaking of the same resurrection- one that to the Jews was a mystery, because they did not understand it. Martha had not understood it. Paul reveals this resurrection occurs at the sound of a trumpet- "the last trumpet." This is explained in the book of Revelation as the seventh or last trumpet (Revelation 11:15). This is the time when " the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

This last trumpet introduces the wrath of God (verse 18), described more fully in Revelation 15 and 16. Job understood that the time of his resurrection be at the occasion of God's wrath, through which he would be protected (Job 14: 13). So Job and Paul understood that there would be a first resurrection, at the sound of a trumpet- when Jesus returns to rule the nations. Or as Job worded it: "For  I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed , this I know, that in [Hebrew: "without" (Revised Standard Version and Jewish Publication Society 1917 translation)] my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:25-26) . It was this first resurrection, a mystery to the Jews, that Jesus explained to Martha when she assumed that Lazarus would rise again in "the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus said to her: " I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26). Martha, puzzled, answered, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world" (verse 27). Jesus shortly afterward raised Lazarus from the dead as proof He had the power to give life everlasting- to change from flesh to spirit (I John 3:2, John 4:24)- those who believe and do what He says.

Jesus explains the difference

The first resurrection, when Jesus returns at the sounding of the seventh or last trumpet, is a resurrection- one that occurs a thousand years before a second resurrection at the last day. This first resurrection is for those who have become "the work of Your hands," said Job of the Lord (Job 14: 15). Even

How Long Will They Again Live in the Flesh:

Why is it that the Christian world never grasped that the resurrection scene in Ezekiel 37 is to mortal life in the resurrection to judgment at the last day ? For the simple reason that they assume Jesus Christ was raised in the same body that died! Jesus was raised a spirit being, everlasting God being, with the power to appear as flesh and bone, but whose life was never again to be dependent on breathing air and on the circulation of blood . But the scene in Ezekiel 37 is one of living, breathing beings- mortals.

So now we ask, How long will they live as mortals in that resurrection while they are being judged? (Remember, the Church of God is composed of those being judged now, as 1 Peter 4: 17 tells us, and who will be eternally rewarded after they are judged.)

How long will they live while being judged?

Only one passage in the prophets reveals the answer - Isaiah 65:17-25, especially verse 20. We would expect that period to be like the 1,000 years because it is under the government of God, administered by Christ. But this millennial-like prophecy is an immediate prelude to the creation of " new heavens and a new earth" (verse 17).

So we read in verse 20: "There shall be no more thence [from that time on] an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed" (Authorized Version) . The Authorized or King James Version is clearer and more faithful to the original Hebrew than most modern translations because the King James Version is not an attempt to interpret the text.

Several important thoughts are wrapped up in this concise prophecy. Though many infants will begin life anew at that time, there will be no more infants born from that time on. There will be family, marriage and love, but no more human reproduction . The aged will begin life anew at that time, but they, too, will fulfill their new span of life.

How long will it be? One hundred years, two jubilee (50-year) periods. That is a good length of time for anyone to learn and live God's ways. Immortality for the righteous!

At the conclusion will be two classes- "the child" and "the sinner." The last part of verse 20 says "the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." They shall be burned up as this old earth melts with "fervent heat" (II Peter 3: 10). They shall be ashes under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3).But who are those spoken of in the expression "the child shall die an hundred years old"? "The child" is in contrast to "the sinner."

One is reminded of Luke 18: 17: "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." The prophecy in Isaiah refers to those who become "as a little child"- childlike in humility, openness and sincerity. "The child" is one who is righteous. How, then, does one understand the expression that "the child shall die " ? Because the righteous will not continue to live in the flesh . They shall be given immortality by becoming spirit beings, the eternal sons of God, just as the righteous who are alive when Christ returns at His Second Coming: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Corinthians 15:51-52). Notice: the living righteous, when Christ returns, will not sleep in death, yet they shall die! It is " appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Changed in a moment The change from mortal to immortal is a death of the cells of the natural body, but it will happen "in a moment," as Paul said, so one will not even be aware of a loss of consciousness!

Isaiah 65:20 is describing this kind of momentary death, when one is changed to immortality; not the lake of fire, which is the second death , which the sinner who is accursed suffers. So the great purpose of the second resurrection will be finished in 100 years!

though the few who are now called to be the work of God's hands die, they " shall live," said Jesus (John 11 :25) , and "shall never die" (verse 26) . That is, they shall never die the second death.

But the resurrection of the human race at the last day is a different or second resurrection , one in which multitudes of people rise to live again in the flesh (Ezekiel 37) and "return to their former state" (Ezekiel 16:55). It is for them a time of judgment or trial in which they learn about God's plan for mankind.

The book of life is opened to them (Revelation 20:12). They will look back on a thousand years of God's rule and compare it, historically, with the first 6,000 years of human rule under the sway of Satan. They will have to choose, as the few whom God calls today have to choose between God's way or Satan's.

It will be their time of judgment, as today is the time of judgment for God's Church (I Peter 4: 17). Eternal life will be made available as God's free gift for all who repent and overcome their sinful natures. But for those few who refuse God's ways, their end is described in Hebrews 6:8.

Last Great Day

The Jews in Jesus' day were familiar with the resurrection at the last day. They had at least a partial understanding of the Kingdom of God and the general or second resurrection because they kept the annual festivals of God, which explain God's plan of salvation. That is why they expected the Messiah to come to restore the Kingdom. But they failed, as a whole, to see the first resurrection revealed in the Festival of Trumpets that opened the late summer and early autumn festival season.

After the first resurrection comes the putting away of Satan, pictured by the Day of Atonement, so he cannot deceive the nations for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3, Leviticus 16).

Then comes the second spiritual harvest, pictured by the Festival of Tabernacles. This second spiritual harvest occurs after the first resurrection and includes those who live into the Millennium and their descendants born during the thousand years of Christ's rule.

But this second spiritual harvest would not be completed unless all who have lived and died throughout the past 6,000 years of human history are included.

And that brings us to the second resurrection and the last festival of God in the seventh month. The seven days of the Festival of Tabernacles make up the sixth festival of the year. But this festival is immediately followed by another one-day festival called simply the Eighth Day by the Jews, but called the Last Great Day by Christians.

This Last Great Day derived its name among early Christians from the fact that it commemorated the conclusion of the plan of salvation.

Just as the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is pictured by the seven-day Festival of Tabernacles and is followed by a general resurrection, so the Festival of Tabernacles was followed by one last day- the eighth , which is a distinct one-day festival wrapping up God's great plan.

Only those who keep this day fully understand its meaning!