“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.“Daniel 12:2-3
One of the most convincing proofs of the supernatural origin of the Bible is discovered in the mystery of how all 66 books of the Bible — written by 40 different human authors in at least 3 languages, on three different continents, and spanning nearly 2000 years — create an multidimensional, integrated message system from God that coalesces into one divinely inspired Book. The Bible is the true account of all things past, present, future. That is why by definition it is inerrant, infallible, and authoritative.
Few of the Biblical writers ever knew one another, much less lived contemporaneously with one another, and yet when you put all the pieces of Scripture together you begin to see no mere human invention. You see the living Word of God! Ponder for a moment the ways God has validated His message to the world …
- Unsearchable complexity
- Powerful simplicity
- Internal consistency
- External corroboration
- Historical integrity
- Living testimony
- Prophetic accuracy
- Clear design
You realize that the Word of God is unparalleled and unprecedented and unequalled among the works of men. It is the true lens through which we view reality. More amazing still — from beginning to end — the testimony of the Holy Spirit points to one Person — the Creator of the Universe — and reveals the One True God in the Lord of Jesus Christ.
Daniel 12 provides an opportunity to take a Biblical subject like the resurrection of the dead and demonstrate how the testimony of Jesus, the prophets, and the Apostles not only are in perfect agreement but also form a comprehensive and coherent picture of this future supernatural event.
Notice how I said future?
That is called an element of timing, which is significant when studying Biblical prophecy because either something has already happened and been fulfilled in history or it is still yet future. And to make matters even more fascinating, sometimes it’s both!
So how can I say definitively that the resurrection of the dead is a prophetic event that has not yet occurred?
And what else can we learn about the resurrection from the testimony of Jesus and the Biblical prophets? [For some deeper background material on the topic of the Resurrection feel free to check out this post]
The End of the Days
Notice how Daniel correlates bodily resurrection to everlasting life and contrasts it with everlasting death. God provides white robes of righteousness as coverings of glory and praise for His people, while those who have rejected The LORD and His Anointed will be ashamed and lay naked before the LORD and His divine judgment.
Before we turn our attention to the words of Jesus — our Authority on the resurrection — I would like to point out that the Lord Jesus told personally told Daniel when the resurrection would occur [Daniel 10:1-9 & 12:1-13]. First of all, the resurrection of the dead clearly follows this time of great tribulation — called Jacob’s Trouble. Despite the many tragedies that have beset God’s people historically — from the Babylonians, to the Romans, to the Mohammedans, and on to the holocaust of Nazi Germany — none of them will equal this time of distress. It is unprecedented and will be accompanied by signs and wonders on earth and in the heavens that cannot be mistaken.
The LORD’s very last recorded word to Daniel was in regard to his future hope of resurrection when he will one day again stand upon the earth to receive his inheritance. The LORD told Daniel this would happen at the “end of the days.“
“But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”Daniel 12:13
And of course we would expect Jesus to confirm this, since He was the one that informed Daniel to begin with.
So what do we find?
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day … No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”Jesus Christ — John 6:38-40, 44
For emphasis the Lord Jesus mentions the timing of the resurrection of the dead three times in 6 verses. The resurrection occurs “ON THE LAST DAY!”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”[John 11:23-27]
The Return of Jesus and the Resurrection of the Dead
Now that it has been established that the resurrection of the righteous will occur on the last day at the end of the age, let’s find out what else coincides with the resurrection of the dead. Few people realize that Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares is a direct expansion upon Daniel’s prophecy about the resurrection of the dead. Consider the parallels.
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”Matthew 13:36-43
Notice both Daniel and Jesus link together the resurrection the dead and the day of recompense, as the wicked will receive their punishment and the righteous their reward, which is nothing short of the Kingdom! Jesus reminds us that this is the end of the age.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”[John 5:25-29]
Interestingly enough, Jesus also uses descriptive terms in his parable like “harvesting” and “gathering” at the hands of the angels, who are called “reapers,” which should invoke all kinds of images from the Scriptures. For sake of time I will share three.
“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.“Mark 13:26-27
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction“2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.15And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.17Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.Revelation 14:14-20
The Biblical record is exhaustive.
The resurrection of the dead takes place on the last day — at the end of the age — when the Son of Man comes on the clouds in all His glory to harvest the earth by His holy angels. The resurrection of the dead is inextricably connected to the triumphal return of Jesus Christ to the earth to judge the living and the dead, reward His saints, and establish His Kingdom.
And if you can affirm everything I have said up unto this point, then you must affirm that the Rapture of the church must also take place at the end of the age on the last day when Jesus returns from heaven in power and glory!
How can I be so sure?
Because in the same way that the harvest of the earth and the judgment of the wicked and the rewarding of the saints are inextricably linked to the resurrection of the dead, there is another event that coincides with the resurrection of the dead — namely the rapture — which you will see is simply another name for the “gathering” of God’s people at the end of the age.
I leave you with two crucial passages to ponder.
“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”1 Corinthians 15:50-53
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.”1 Thessalonians 4:13-18