4. Waking of the Dead

The book of Daniel contains a number of prophecies. These are descriptions of things that are to happen in the future. Daniel 11 is a detailed description of national events that can largely be identified with events that have already occurred. Chapter 12, however, shows a time that has not yet been seen.

Daniel 12:1.: "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. NKJV

By correlation with other parts of the Bible, the “Michael” referred to can identified with the Jewish Messiah who Christians believe to be Jesus. Daniel prophecies of a time when this man will stand up and cause a series of events to occur. There is firstly a time of trouble, “such as never was since there was a nation”. In recent history, there have been upheveals such as the world wars, but even these fall short of such a description.

Verse 2 then speaks of a resurrection, “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake”. Both righteous and unrighteous people are said to be raised, with a reward offered to the former, and a punishment to the latter.

In the Gospel of John in the New Testament, similar words are spoken:

John 5:28.: "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. NKJV

There is the resurrection of two classes of people. For some it is a reward, and for others it is for a punishment. It is also clear that this is to happen at a given time, in the “hour” that is coming. This has yet to be observed on the earth, so if the Bible is correct, this is to be a future event.

Life to Judah

The prophet Isaiah also speaks of a time when the dead will live again. In Isaiah 26, the prophet speaks on behalf of the Jewish people,

Isaiah 2:1.: In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. NKJV

It goes on to talk about the conflict with national adversaries, and how these adversaries would be defeated at the hands of God,

Isaiah 26:12.: LORD, You will establish peace for us, For You have also done all our works in us. 13. O LORD our God, masters besides You Have had dominion over us; But by You only we make mention of Your name. 14. They are dead, they will not live; They are deceased, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And made all their memory to perish. NKJV

Then in verse 19 he gets onto the fate of the people of God, and what their eventual fate would be.

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. 20. Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past. 21. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain. NKJV

This is a message that there would be a time of trouble, but at the end of that, there is a time of life again and of pleasure. There are many similarities between this and the message of Daniel. There is a firstly a time of trouble and difficulty, and then the resurrection and a glorious future. In addition to this, the enemies of God are punished and defeated.

Lazarus

In John 11, there is a record of a resurrection being performed by Jesus. This incident brings out a number of issues relevant to that topic.

After Lazarus had been sick, Jesus was called to heal him. When Jesus had arrived, he was already dead, and the woman Martha spoke to him,

John 11:21.: Then Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22. "But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23. Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24. Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." NKJV

This shows that Martha knew of a resurrection. Not only did she know of it, but she knew it's form. It was to be one “at the last day”, as we saw in Daniel. She didn't expect Lazarus to be raised until that time, but she was hoping of Jesus anyhow.

John 11:25.: Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" NKJV

Jesus was saying here how that resurrection was offered through him, and his resulting power and importance. Further he shows how he has power to make people never die, which goes far beyond the issue of Lazarus' untimely death.

Jesus subsequently raised Lazarus to life again, but it's clear that this resurrection was simply that, and he was raised to his original mortal state again. Jesus' words though, show that there is a hope of much more.

New Testament

Apart from the Old-Testament references to a resurrection, there are many references to this event in the New Testament. It is in the New Testament where many of the details may be found. When appearing before the governor in defense of his conduct, the apostle Paul made a claim that he believed in the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 24:15.: "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. NKJV

This agrees closely with the words written in the book of Daniel. There are also some more detailed explanations of the time. One of this is in the letter to the Thessalonians,

1 Thess 4:13.: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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

In this case, both a resurrection, and a gathering of people who are alive is spoken of. The dead and the living are joined and then remain with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15 is a chapter with a large emphasis on the resurrection. It is a part of an arguement of the apostle Paul to show that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.

1 Cor 15:16.: For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 20. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. NKJV

The important aspect from this passage is that “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable”. It shows that the promise of resurrection offers a much greater hope than what can be seen in our current lives.

It is also a hope that is intimately bound up in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is primarily saying that if there is no resurrection then Jesus is still dead, so there is no hope of salvation though him. However, it is also showing that there is a link between the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of resurrection with his followers.

As the passage continues this is developed, and a definite link is made to the kingdom idea from the earlier passages.

1 Cor 15:21.: For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. 24. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. NKJV

This refers back to the Garden of Eden, when death came into the world by the sin of Adam. By inheritance we all die, but this shows that by an inheritance through Christ, there is a hope of living again. This second life is to occur with the coming of Christ, in a kingdom he is to establish. Toward the conclusion of this chapter, a link is also made to a change in the bodies of the people raised from the dead.

1 Cor 15:51.: 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." NKJV

This shows that the resurrection is not simply back to the same type of existance as the mortal life. Instead, the raised recieve immortality, that “Death is swallowed up in victory”. So not only is there a promise of life again after death, but also an immortal life, where there isn't the fear of a second death. This is truly a great hope, and shows the depth of the significance of the Bible.

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