The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Resurrection of 'The Last Day'

'I am the resurrection and the life.'

Previously, we studied what Jesus meant by the phrase, 'I will raise him up on the last day'. We saw that Jesus' use of the phrase 'the last day' was no different than all the other uses of this phrase throughout the breadth of the prophetic Scriptures. The resurrection, as we have seen, is one of the most studied, most sought-after, and also, one of the most controversial subjects in Scripture: it is expected by the majority of Christians today to happen in our future, and thus, to individual, biological bodies, and though many, or most of these will readily admit that somewhat of a spiritual resurrection occurred, or occurs, when we receive Christ and are made alive and a new creature in Him, even those who claim to believe that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD70 was *a* ( but not THE ) coming of Christ, and that *a* resurrection of of some sort happened then ( the jury is still out on exactly what and how ), they will vociferously insist that there will *yet* be a resurrection of biological bodies, both of the just and the unjust!

Many other writers, better equipped, maybe, than I, have taken in hand to try to show the nature of this resurrection, how and when it happened, and some have even ventured back into the Hebrew Scriptures to prove that it was not a resurrection of individual, biological bodies that was promised in the Law & the Prophets. The Pharisees of Jesus' day looked at in this way, in the sense of individual bodies, but when they asked Jesus a hypothetical question concerning the resurrection, in Mark 12:18-23, Jesus told them, 'you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God'. He might well have said that they had mistaken the nature of God, for though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were alive, according to Jesus, they were undoubtedly, especially not at this point, in their physical bodies! These bodies had perished long before this, even millenia before, and had long since become worm-food and blended with the earth, or the land! 

The Lazarus Connection

Something that we must understand when approaching the subject of the resurrection is that, besides not being about individual, biological bodies being raised from the dead, but about the 'anastasis', or resurrection of the corporate, or covenant body of Israel, Jesus was, or is, as God, Himself THE Resurrection! In many of my previous articles, I have greatly emphasized this point, but as simple and over-emphasized as it may seem to be; it is very profound, and yes, it IS simple; simply profound! If only more people would see its simple profundity, much, if not all of the controversy regarding the resurrection would disappear! Oh, if only people would see the simple truth that Jesus embodies the resurrection, and that if one is 'in' Him, they 'also were raised with [ Him ] through faith in the working of God': as part of the Body of Christ, we are 'sons of the resurrection'!

I'm sure I'm not the first to note a connection between Jesus' parabolic story of 'the rich man and Lazarus' in Luke 16 and the death and subsequently typical, bodily resurrection of Jesus' friend, the brother of Mary and Martha, in John 11, but as many as have perused both of these accounts, no one, to my knowledge has put two and two together, and realized why this parabolic story, which tradition has testified as being the clearest picture and proof of the doctrine of 'Hell' in Scripture, is in the Gospel of Luke alone, and why the relation of the death and 'resurrection' of Lazarus is only recorded in the Gospel of John.

I believe that these two accounts are one and the same, but that Luke, in his Gospel, simply chose, for reasons that may surface later, or be further revealed, to relate this event in the form of a parable, an object lesson, if you will. We are told, first of all, in the Gospel according to Luke, that 'there was a certain beggar named Lazarus', who 'died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom'. A quick note here; 'The rich man also died and was buried', and though we have no record of his being transported anywhere, he was 'in torments in Hades'. Now isn't THAT interesting; he was simply buried, and the it is recorded that he was then in the torments of Hades, or 'Hell'?!

In John's Gospel, we read that 'a certain [ man ] was sick'. This cannot be a coincidence! The further fact that, when asked why He had waited for those several days before coming to Lazarus' aid, Jesus responded, 'that you may believe'. Jesus whole point in raising Lazarus from physical death was 'that they may believe' ( note the switch from 'you' to 'they' ). Jesus true intention is revealed here; it was not His main purpose to 'wake him ( Lazarus ) up', but rather, to rescue, to come to the aid of Israel, she who had died through her iniquitous idolatry!

'Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together.' ( Luke 17:37

Jesus utters the same words in Matthew's Gospel in relation to the coming of the Son of God and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. As can be seen throughout the prophetic Scriptures, it was not individual bodies 'in' Israel that had died and needed 'anastasis' ( 'warm up the paddles' ); it was the body ( corporate ) of Israel that had separated itself ( Isaiah 59:, et al. ) from God, and had, in that sense, ''fallen from grace',which needed to be lifted out of her slumber.

'Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light' ( Ephesians 5:14 )

Not to belabor the point, but it was not only certain individuals within the body of Israel who had fallen asleep, though many had doubtless perished biologically, nor was it the biological bodies of the Israelites, many of whom Jesus had spoken in much the same way to, who had physically died. Jesus used both the occurrence of the death of Lazarus, and His parabolic reference to that same death to make His point that, as He had physically raised Lazarus from the dead, so He would, as prophesied in places like Ezekiel 37, raise the body of Israel, not from their physical 'slumber', though this happened to an extent, as witnessed in Matthew 27:52, but in restoration to the blessings of the Covenant, so that they could enjoy God's Presence forever!

One more connection to note between Jesus' parabolic story in Luke 16 and the death of Lazarus in John 11 is found in the last part of his parable. 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' Jesus said this in reply to the rich man's plea for Him to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, and though many of the Jews present at the resurrection of Lazarus 'had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him', these words were spoken primarily of His own 'anastasis', and were the final condemnation for the old covenant body of Israel, those according to the flesh!

May this short, by no means in-depth study of 'the resurrection of the last day' clear up some questions in the mind of my readers, as it has in mine, and if it raises more questions, then I have done my job!

In the love of God and the service of His Kingdom,
Charles Haddon Shank

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