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Daniel (2010)

Resurrection of the Dead

Daniel  12

Lesson audio

it is a somewhat common but incorrect assumption that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is strictly from the New Testament. As we shall see here in Daniel 12, this is incorrect. We will examine the resurrection of the dead from both the Old Testament and the New Testament in this lesson.

"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge." Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, "How long will it be before these astonishing things are fulfilled?" The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." I heard, but I did not understand. So I asked, "My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?" He replied, "Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days. "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

(Daniel 12:1-13 NIV)

Resurrection

Old Testament

As seen here, the Old Testament specifically proclaims the physical resurrection of the dead. We know something about this from the following biblical passages:

·         First, this resurrection is not one to a ghostly body, nor is this a symbol for resurrection meaning that my grandchildren or descendents will see this. It is a resurrection in the flesh. (Job 19:25 – 27)

·         As we see in Ezekiel chapter 37, this resurrection is performed by the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel is specifically told to "prophesy to the breath." The breath is the same word used for spirit — as in the Holy Spirit — in the New Testament. This makes sense, for it is parallel to the way in which creation itself was performed. You will recall the "spirit brooding upon the waters."

·         At this resurrection death itself ceases to exist. We die no more, as proclaimed in Isaiah 25:8.

New Testament

Of course, what we learned in the Old Testament is hardly sufficient for our curiosity. The New Testament does add some details:

·         We are told that those who are included in this resurrection shall be "like the Angels." (Matthew 22:23-32)

·         We are also told that this will happen at the return of Christ (see Matthew 24:30-31.)

·         One thing which is not clear in the Old Testament, but is made very clear in the New Testament, is that there is more than one resurrection of the dead. As Luke 14:13-14 tells us, the righteous will rise with Christ, which implies the unrighteous will not. Various schemes have been proposed for this; the current record holder is Hal Lindsey who says there will be six resurrections, including that of Christ.

·         The resurrection is associated with the Judgment (Revelation 20:4-6.) So

The Emerging Church

It is not surprising that the emerging church does not see the resurrection of the dead as being a literal or physical event. One would think with so many references in the Old Testament and the New Testament that this would be very difficult to maintain. It is not. This is explained by "trampoline theology." The explanation is relatively simple; all these references are considered to be mythological passages in the Bible. Their use is to serve as a trampoline, for us to spring upwards to new theological insights. As one writer put it, "we need to free Jesus from brick-ianity." The theory is that our traditional interpretations of the Bible are holding us down and bricking us in. We need to interpret these things spiritually, not literally.

Just exactly what that means varies by preacher. In our own church, our pastor delivered his sermon on the subject of heaven. One would think it would be difficult to do without mentioning the resurrection of the dead, but he did. In his view, good people go to heaven after they die — and that's the end of the story.

To see why this gives us great problems, we must first examine the central fact of Christianity: the resurrection of Christ.

The Resurrection of Christ

Paul refers to the resurrection of Christ as being of first importance. Let's see why.

Received and Passed on

it's important to understand what Paul is saying; it's that he did not invent the resurrection of Christ, nor did any of the other apostles. It is something that he got from those who were eyewitnesses and as well from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The specific points of his arguments are:

·         The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament. Those of you who have an annotated Bible will see that there are many, many verses associated with this topic.

·         Christ himself appeared to over 500 people, including the apostles on more than one occasion. This has provoked our modern thinkers to proclaim that it must be a mass hallucination; however, these facts don't accord very well with hallucination at all. This was a popular theory in the 19th century when people did not understand hallucinations. With all those witnesses, it's tough to conclude that they're all lying — especially when they can get crucified themselves for doing so.

·         The first importance of the resurrection you can also be seen by simply looking at the preaching of the New Testament church. The central fact of New Testament preaching is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no sense whatever of "trampoline theology" in the New Testament.

Arguments

Paul himself makes a number of arguments in first Corinthians chapter 15. We may review three of them:

·         Christ is a human being; he is man. If Christ did not rise, then no one can rise; it is impossible.

·         Consider Christianity as a religion belonging only to this world. If you do, you will see that its elements of self-sacrifice, the risk of persecution and the lack of fear towards death all combine to make Christianity a religion which clearly is not in accord with the idea that the only stuff that exists is in this world. Why you be so stupid as to believe something like that, when you can eat drink and be merry?

·         Also, if the apostles didn't see this, but chose instead to be faithful to this idea of the resurrection despite the persecution they faced, then these men must of been seriously mentally disturbed. Further, these men lived in the Roman Empire. The Romans were quite capable of extracting the truth via torture; yet none of those who proclaim their faith in Christ ever said it was a hoax. Many renounce their faith under torture; no one broke the conspiracy.

The Effect of Christ on the Christian

One may also see the validity of the resurrection by its effect on the life of the Christian.

·         The primary factor is the change between sin dominating the human being and the hold of sin being eliminated. No longer are we helpless before sin; we aren't entirely rid of it, but now Christ is our master. If you think this has no effect, I suggest you look into Celebrate Recovery. It's a 12 step group — and you know how well they work. For Christians, the reason for that is that sin no longer has the death grip it had.

·         Christians are forgiven; therefore they forgive — it's a package deal.

·         Most of all, consider the attitude Christians have towards death. Or at least the one they should have. The death of the Christian often prompts a joyous remembrance known as a funeral. For we hold the to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Fear of death does not belong to the Christian, though fear of dying might.

We may summarize it this way: because Christ rose, we have proof of the resurrection of the dead. God has promised that resurrection to us, and therefore our lives are completely different. To be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection of the dead seems to me to be the strangest distortion of Christianity.

Nature of the Resurrected Body

So of course we want to know: just what does this resurrected body look like? How does it perform? Am I going to like it? Here is what we know:

"Utterly Different"

Let's start with the physical characteristics of the body in question.

·         We are told that this body is imperishable. That is to say, it does not decay or grow defects — rather it starts out perfect and stays that way.

·         It is a "glorious" body. One writer held that if such a body were to walk into the room right now, you and I would be strongly tempted to fall down at its feet and worship. It is a body which shares the glory of God.

·         It is powerful. We see this in some of the bodily manifestations of Jesus Christ; walking on water, walking through locked doors, refusing to be recognized until you want to.

·         Most important of all, it is tangible. Thomas was told to stick his hands in the nail prints and his hand into the side which a spear had carved out a hollow space in the ribs. This is a body you can touch and feel.

"In the Twinkling of an Eye"

This has some interesting implications: we are told that art bodily transformation will happen in the twinkling of an eye — virtually instantaneously.

·         At the very least, we should be ready for it. There will be no time for negotiation when this transformation occurs. That's why Christ tells us to be ready.

·         This also implies a great change in physical and spiritual reality. This is not a slow metamorphosis but rather an instantaneous change. It is therefore not a natural process, but the divine one.

What Should We Do

One thing which we haven't mentioned so far is this: there is nothing you can do about it. This change to the new body is going to happen, if not to you at least to other Christians. In the last verse of First Corinthians 15, Paul gives us these instructions:

·         Stand firm. Don't let anything move you. This of course implies that something will try to move you. Over the course of Christian history the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead has been under continuous attack. The major attack is upon the resurrection of Christ, the opponents of Christianity know that the resurrection of the dead is perfectly plausible if Christ is risen from the dead. It is only recently that the resurrection of the dead aside from the resurrection of Christ has been attacked. This comes from postmodernism, which proclaims that there is no such thing as absolute truth.

·         Give yourself fully to the work. If this great and glorious new body is to be yours, how can you possibly justify being lukewarm and apathetic to the work of Christ? Great days are coming, and you will want the rewards that are coming with them.

Remember this: your labors in the Lord are not in vain, because the Lord rewards those who work for him; indeed when he speaks of it, he says that the reward will be well out of proportion to the labor in question. There is a hell to shun, a heaven to gain — and beyond that a new heaven and new earth. Included in that is a new body for you. Be ready.

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