The resurrection of believers is one of the hallmarks of the second coming. As long as death and burials are in our midst, and there are graves, many cannot visualize where we are in God’s time. Jesus Christ is expected to emerge from the clouds as graves open up – and the dead in Christ emerge from them physically. Thereafter, physical death is expected come to an end as all believers will be transfigured into beings who can fly and join Christ and the risen dead in the clouds.
Let us therefore seek the reality from the scriptures – where there are several, references on the subject but a good place to start is the book of Revelations. From Revelations 20:4, we read that John saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and received its mark on their forehead or hands, they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. For anyone trying to visualize this, the key word is souls. A soul is a spirit body and is not physically visible. There is no other record of resurrection in Revelations.
In modern times the eyes of the spirit are unknown to many and consequently what is not seen in flesh eyes is normally perceived not to have taken place. It is no surprise that the writings in 2 Peter Chapter 3:3-9, it was correctly predicted the emergence of such a trend in the last days (See also Matt 24:36-41). The book warns that scoffers will emerge in the last days who will question the end times based on their carnal experiences. “He promised to come, where is he? … Ever since creation people have died as they always have …” Meaning they will be waiting in vain for their own expectations. As written, they will be watching those alive at the time being buried as usual. Nothing will change. The one thing they are promised in the flesh is clearly as fire. After the fire consumes them (scoffers), there will be a new dispensation for believers most clearly illustrated in Isaiah 66:22-23 and Isaiah 65:17-25.
On the other hand, the saints or righteous believers who will be on earth during the Armageddon will survive into the next dispensation. They will face challenges from the unbelievers in world who will mobilize and match across the face of the earth to surround the camp of God’s people. However, John of Patmos tells us fire will come from heaven and they will be destroyed (Revelations 20:9-7). In this case “them” refers to the unbelievers. The fire will not destroy the saints because God has prepared a way for their survival as it was during the days of Noah. They need not be a majority but God will keep his word (Isaiah 13:12). Such was the teaching of the messenger (Malachi 4:5) when he asked believers to take care of the Ark of the covenant (or the house of covenant) as it is the vehicle through which believers in the last days will survive the fire. Failure to which, Africa would plunge into darkness as a punishment.
Having talked at length about those who will enter the new earth, let us review the fate of the majority being the righteous dead – for it is certain that only a few believers will be alive at the time of the Armageddon. John tells us that he saw their souls resurrect and ascend (Revelations 20:4). Let us remember once more that these souls will resurrect as spirit beings. Jesus in his wisdom tells us that they will be like angels in heaven and will not marry (Matthew 22:30). Angels in heaven are spirit beings (Hebrew 1:14). This is the reason why they are normally seen in visions and dreams – not the eyes of the flesh. When the righteous dead are raised their destiny is a place called Paradise – just like the thief who Jesus took with him on the very day of his crucifixion: Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Since we are living in the end times, when the final prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled, and God sent his messenger to convey his message as predicted (Isaiah 19:20, Malachi4:5); then the prophecy of God coming in the clouds to forcefully take the vineyard to another people has fulfilled (Matt 21:41, Revelations 19:16, Isaiah19:1). Consequently, the souls of those who died believing in Christ have already been liberated. Meaning that any other believer who departs in the flesh will also join them (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The question one might ask is what criteria will be used to separate those worthy of eternal life and the final judgment has not taken place?
Final judgment aside, God in his wisdom already knows who is worthy – especially at the time of one’s departure. There are no prosecutors looking for evidence. A good example is the story of Lazarus and the rich man who went to different places (Luke 16:19-31).Since the rich man went to a place of torment he asked to be allowed to visit his brothers to warn them. To which he was reminded that his brothers already had Moses and the prophets and that even if he returned he would not be believed. Some will argue that this is a parable – well and good. However, parables are not based on fiction but day to day realities. Similarly, if you offend the state, as a matter of fact you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law – whether or not you are caught with a smoking gun. However, your innocence in the eyes of the law, will not lead to confinement in a hotel of your choice, but a police cell. So fear God and give him glory for the time to judge has come (Rev 14:6-7).
Thank you for reading. The next post will be up in less than a fortnight. It will be study of verses that mention Ethiopia or Cush or Sudan in the Bible. Efforts will be made to upload songs on the Audio page within a month.
Photo Credits: National Geographic