Since ancient times these has been controversy aver the state of the dead. In the time of Christ one sect of the Hebrew people, the Sadducees, did not believe in the resurrection, Jesus answered them “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:31, 32.
This same false conception is being taught today by many skeptics. They say: “After death, all is finished. There is no resurrection, no punishment, no reward.” But the Lord has made His word even clearer to our generations than for the Sadducees.
Resurrections Before Christ
The Bible tells us that death had complete dominion over humanity from creation until Moses. Good and bad must die. Before Moses there had never been one resurrected. Paul says: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” Romans 5:14.
Bible evidence strengthens the statement that Moses was the first man resurrected from death. Moses died on Mount Nebo and nobody could find his grave. When the Lord came for His faithful servant the devil argued against Jesus because he believed he had dominion over Moses in the grave. Jude wrote: “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” v. 9.
Moses was resurrected and taken to heaven. When Christ was on the Mount of Transfiguration both Moses and Elijah. were seen together with Jesus by Peter, James and John: â€œAnd after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” Matthew 17:1-3.
Other resurrections are also recorded in the Old Testament: The son of the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:17-23); the son of the Shunammite woman (II Kings 4:32- 35): the man who touched Elisha’s bones (II Kings 13:21).
Two others are recorded as having been translated to heaven without seeing death, Enoch and Elijah (Hebrews 11:5; II Kings 2:11). Unlike Moses who was resurrected from the dead, these two were translated, not having seen death.
In The New Testament
Among His many miracles Jesus resurrected several from the dead: The son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11, 15); the daughter of Jarius (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55); Lazarus (John 11:43, 44), and many saints after His resurrection (Matthew 27:52, 53).
After Jesus’ascension the apostles continued performing miracles, and also resurrecting the dead: Tabitha (Acts 9:40, 41), Eutichus (Acts 20:10,12).
Will The Dead Be Resurrected In The Future?
The prophets of the Old Testament believed that a resurrection would take place in the future. We read their words: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” Job 19:25, 26.
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out thy dead.” Isaiah 26:19.
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” Hosea 13:14..
The apostles also believed in the resurrection of the dead and taught it: “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” I Corinthians 15:13-18.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” I Thessalonians 4:13,14.
“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Philippians 3:11.
The Bible teaches that there will be three different resurrections in the future: The Partial Resurrection, the First General Resurrection and the Second General Resurrection.
A “partial” resurrection takes place before Jesus comes, the “first” takes place when Jesus returns, while the “second” resurrection is fulfilled at the end of the thousand years.
The Partial Resurrection
“And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2.
On this occasion not all are resurrected, but only some of the righteous and some of the wicked. Consequently it is referred to as the Partial Resurrection. This resurrection will take place during the time of Jacob’s trouble which is also the time of the seven last plagues. It takes place before the coming of Jesus. When Jesus comes these special righteous people still living on the earth will be waiting for Him. They are called the first fruits. Therefore those who are resurrected in the Partial Resurrection will complete the number of the â€œfirst-fruitsâ€ unto God. â€œ…These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Revelation 14:4.
The wicked, resurrected for everlasting contempt, are those who condemned Jesus to death and crucified Him: “But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:61,62.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7.
The Jewish leaders who condemned Jesus to death, those who pierced Him, and the worst persecutors of God’s people throughout the ages, will be resurrected before hand to see Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. Therefore they will come out of the graves in the time of trouble, at the Partial Resurrection.
The First General Resurrection
Jesus promised to resurrect those who believe in Him and do His will; “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40.
“…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” John 11:25.
“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.
The First General Resurrection will be the resurrection of the saints or righteous. This will take place “in the last day.” This last day is the day when Jesus appears in the clouds of heaven. Paul spoke about this: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” I Thessalonians 4:16.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put an incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” I Corinthians 15:51-54.
“…This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shalt be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:5,6.
The Second General Resurrection
No wicked ones will he resurrected at the First General Resurrection because the Word of God says those raised at the first resurrection are blessed and that the second death will have no power over them. The wicked cannot be blessed, and they will not survive the second death. The Second General Resurrection will be the resurrection of all the wicked, and this will take place at the end of the one thousand years. The Bible clearly states: â€œBut the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.â€ Revelation 20:5.
When Jesus returns for the righteous, the wicked will perish at the splendor of His coming.
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:” II Thessalonians 2:8.
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when 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: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” II Thessalonians 1:7-10.
During the next one thousand years the wicked will be dead in the dust of the earth. During this thousand years they will be judged, and later resurrected to receive their punishment.
“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was with out form and void; and the heavens, and they had light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, to, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord and by his fierce anger.” Jeremiah 4:23-27.
“And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” Jeremiah 25:33.
The wicked will come out of the graves to receive their reward of eternal destruction. The prophet wrote: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15.
Dear friend: Today is the opportune time to have your name written in the book of life. Strive to have it there for ever. May God help you to be faithful and you will also be able to meet the beloved righteous who are now resting in hope.