Resurrection in the Old Testament: Glimpses of Hope

Resurrection in the Old Testament: Glimpses of Hope April 2, 2024

If a man dies, shall he live again? JOB 14:14

This is the sixth revised chapter of my book Raised With Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything.  Links to the earlier chapters can be found below.

One evening, as I began writing this chapter, my mind was rather distracted by some news I had received that afternoon. A bus had hit a child on her way home from the school my children attended. Everyone assumed the worst. A rumor began to spread that she had died.

Coincidentally, that was also the first day I allowed my eldest daughter to walk home from school alone. My thoughts were filled with the one subject we prefer to ignore—death. In Western society we are relatively well insulated from our mortality, so such news is all the more shocking. No parents ever expect to bury their own child.

The Bible knows no such reticence. Indeed, a cursory look at the historical books might lead us to conclude that the Bible is a book about death. The Bible describes death without any attempts to tone it down for the purposes of decency. This is unlike many children’s Bible storybooks, which change the stories to avoid the full impact of death for young readers. For example, in the story of Noah’s Ark, there is often no mention of the huge catastrophe that occurred in the drowning of the world’s population.

God, in his wisdom, is not directing the biblical authors to talk relentlessly about death to depress us, but to emphasize the seriousness of our condition and our need for him to save us. By reminding us so forcefully of the problem of death, the Bible prepares us to fully appreciate the importance of the solution that resurrection offers. Only Jesus’ death and life-giving resurrection can give us hope. There is no mention of the word resurrection until the New Testament, although in some of the most faith-inspiring verses in the Bible, we do see that death is not the end.

I did not make much progress writing on the day this child was injured. Hearing about the potential death of someone you know has a way of dominating your thoughts, making any other task seem trivial. I suspect that the life of every parent who heard about that accident was also forcefully interrupted that night. Death reminds us of the temporary nature of our lives. The uncomfortable truth is, none of us knows exactly when we will die. As Peter put it:

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls” (1 Peter 1:24).

Later I gave up attempting to write and instead tried to sleep. I did not fare much better at that activity. The next morning, however, on taking my children to school the whole neighborhood was relieved to learn that the girl was not dead after all but rather was expected to make a full recovery. It was almost as though she had been raised from the dead. Indeed, she did recover and returned to school a few weeks later.

The net result of that event was not only to remind me of the need for caution in crossing the road, but also to make me more fully appreciate the value of life and to understand its fleeting nature. Of course encountering serious sickness and death up close and personal always has this effect.

Without a belief in the resurrection, our lives seem short in the extreme. Talking and thinking about death is good for us. This prepares our hearts to fully appreciate the resurrection. For Christians, it also helps us to be thankful for what Jesus has done and motivates us to make the most of the life on earth we still have in serving him. Jonathan Edwards famously declared that he had “resolved to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”[1]

Let’s examine what the Bible says about resurrection in the Old Testament. There is a substantial body of teaching on life after death from which a consistent doctrinal framework emerges. Jesus told two of his disciples that his own resurrection (here described as entering into his glory) was predicted in the Old Testament:

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25–27)

Paul also tells us Jesus “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4), obviously referring to the Jewish Bible, which we know as the Old Testament. As we embark on our exploration of all that the Old Testament says about resurrection in general, we will also highlight where Jesus’ own resurrection was predicted.

It is worth acknowledging at the outset that I am deliberately writing from the perspective of a New Testament Christian, looking back at these accounts with the benefit of hindsight. It is not clear how many Old Testament believers truly had a full-orbed view of the resurrection. In many of the verses we will examine, a different interpretation is possible. We will not address these debates here. Although some commentaries do discuss them, many others pay surprisingly little attention to how appropriate it is for us to read these texts as referring to resurrection. Consider this therefore to be an exploratory chapter.

RESURRECTION IN THE BOOKS OF MOSES

Adam and Eve

In the Garden of Eden, two significant trees were identified, but only one was prohibited before the Fall. Adam and Eve were able to eat freely from the tree of life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil led to death. Paul says before sin there was no death: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Medical experts are not completely sure why we all eventually die. It would seem that since cells divide and replace themselves they could, in theory, go on doing so forever. However, because of Adam’s sin we will all die. The whole creation was also put into “bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21).

God, by his grace, delayed the full effects of his judgment—Adam and Eve did not physically die immediately. Death is the only thing they deserved from God, and the sacrifice of animals to cover their guilt and shame demonstrates that mercy requires a death. The animals died so that Adam and Eve were spared from immediate death.

From then on, every day Adam and Eve came closer to the moment of their final breath. Their bodies became subject to sickness and decay. Biblically, death is a separation from loved ones and from God, and this is what happened to Adam and Eve. Cast out from the presence of God, mankind was now spiritually dead (see Ephesians 2:1).

These events also implied that since God can be merciful in delaying death, a way of permanent salvation would become available. The tree of life was not destroyed, and it appears in Revelation—every Christian will enjoy it forever. The tree of knowledge of good and evil does not make any return appearance.

The defeat of Satan by the “offspring” of Eve is predicted in Genesis 3:15. This word was translated “seed” in the King James, and as Paul points out it is singular and refers to Christ (Galatians 3:16). Although the Messiah will be wounded on the cross, the Devil will be killed. “Beware, Lucifer,” says God, for “Jesus Christ shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (see Genesis 3:15). In light of later prophecies predicting the death of the Messiah, this description of a minor injury implies that Jesus will be resurrected. Here the fact that God speaks to Adam and Eve about events far in the future suggests that they will somehow survive the grave. If this were not the case, why would he tell them?

Genesis is understood to be a book about beginnings. It is also, however, a book about endings. We are told repeatedly that people died. Like a relentless drum beating out a rhythm we hear again and again, “and he died.” One day it will be our turn. I wonder, when was the last time each of us seriously considered the day of our own death?

Enoch

“Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).

Unlike the other men and women in Genesis who are described as flawed and sinful, here was a man who walked with God. The writer to the Hebrews says, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God” (11:5).

Enoch’s story tells us that it is possible to permanently escape death altogether. There is another realm into which human beings can enter. While his experience was not the norm, God shows us that he is able to ensure that a person can escape death. Enoch never actually died, so he was not really resurrected, although he did require a spiritual resurrection since he was born dead toward God. He did not depart into some kind of celestial spiritual home to float around. Enoch took his body with him, renewed, free from all effects of sickness and decay and fit for an eternity in God’s presence. That transformation is analogous in some way to what will happen to all Christians. God shows here that he has a purpose for the physical body in eternity.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

We see this in Exodus 3:6. God is regularly described as being the God of people who have died. Jesus uses this phrase to make an incisive point in an argument with the Sadducees over whether there is such a thing as resurrection. He says, “That the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him” (Luke 20:37–38).

Jesus explains that God does indeed continue to be the God of people after they die. If that is so, then this means that one day they will not be dead. Jesus is not speaking about a merely spiritual resurrection here, but a physical one that is yet to come. It is unclear how many of the original readers of Genesis would have understood the glimpse of resurrection in this phrase, but it is there.

The Sacrifice of Isaac

One of the key moments in the story of salvation is when Abraham’s faith was tested to the limit. Isaac was a child born after a strong test. Paul said Abraham trusted in “the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). Thus, because of the deadness of Sarah’s womb and Abraham’s loins, the very birth of Isaac paralleled resurrection according to Paul. Few other events are as dramatically miraculous in the experience of the patriarchs. If God can create life, why should he not also be able to re-create life from death?

After Isaac’s birth, Abraham may well have felt his faith had been tested sufficiently. He would have been wrong. Later God directed him to sacrifice the very same son he had been promised would succeed him. The writer to the Hebrews explains that Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:17–19).

We see in Genesis that Abraham believed that he would be able to obey this shocking command, but that somehow his son would survive. He said that he and the boy would return (Genesis 22:5). At the last moment a substitute was found caught in the thicket, and God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son.

Christians today see this story of Abraham and Isaac as a kind of precursor to the death and resurrection of Jesus, the difference being that for Jesus there could be no last-minute reprieve as he himself was our substitute. Jesus died at the hand of his own Father but was resurrected from the dead.

The God Who Makes Alive

God says, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). “Make alive” may refer to birth or recovery from an almost fatal sickness or accident. However, since God is the creator of all life, surely this could infer that he gives life back to the dead. Later repetitions of this phrase more strongly suggest resurrection.

Moses

Moses died, but his body was never found. He was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:5–6) but appeared alongside Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration in bodily form (Mark 9:4). It seems likely that, like Enoch and Elijah, at some point his body was transported to heaven. Moses did experience physical death, unlike Enoch and Elijah. If indeed his body was at some point resurrected and taken up into heaven, then this would be the first physical resurrection of the Bible. We should be a little careful, however, as this is a mystery, and it is just possible that Moses’ appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration was only a manifestation of his spirit. The Bible does not tell us precisely what happened.

We can, however, firmly conclude that throughout the books of Moses, the hope of resurrection, although not named, is implied, and we are led to understand that a resurrection does include the physical body.

RESURRECTION IN THE BOOKS OF HISTORY

Hannah

When Hannah thanked God for the gift of her son Samuel, she said, “The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6).

The two parts of this verse make up a parallel statement in which both halves are intended to say the same thing. The same Lord who kills and brings down to Sheol (the grave) is the one who raises up and brings to life. Long before the complete message of salvation was proclaimed, God inspired this statement, declaring that he is able to resurrect. The Hebrew word translated here “brings to life” is the same word used when the resurrections associated with Elijah and Elisha are described. This strengthens the argument that Hannah here refers to bodily resurrection.

King David

David expressed a hope in life after death. Following his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband to cover up her resultant pregnancy, he was found out. Although forgiven, one of the consequences of his sin was that his baby, the product of adultery, became sick and was at the point of death. David was in a terrible emotional state and was praying and fasting. When the baby died, his servants were afraid to tell him, for fear he would harm himself. When David realized this, he got up from his mourning, worshipped, and ate, saying, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).

David’s unusual response to the death of his son revealed a clear hope for the salvation, resurrection, and reunion of himself and his baby. If David had only meant that, like his child, he too would die, he would not have experienced comfort. David had a hope that went beyond the grave because he knew he had received forgiveness from God for sins that should have led to execution according to the Mosaic Law. These words of David have given hope to bereaved parents for thousands of years.

Elijah and Elisha

A few generations later, when Elijah and then Elisha prayed for resurrections (1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4:32–37), we again see that death need not be the end of human existence. Elijah also escaped physical death in a similar manner to Enoch before him. He ascended to heaven with his body intact. Again we see that the biblical hope is not just some kind of spiritual existence but rather an eternal life complete with a physical body (2 Kings 2).

In the aftermath of the news of these resurrections, a leper was sent to the ruler of Israel to request a cure. The king exclaimed, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?” (2 Kings 5:7).

During their lives, Elijah and Elisha only performed one resurrection each. These resurrections or, as some call them, resuscitations (since those involved did not experience an eternal transformation of their bodies but died again later) foreshadow the hope that is to come. In addition, even death itself did not remove the Spirit’s anointing on Elisha’s physical body, with a dramatic result:

As a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:20–21)

Sleeping with the Fathers

Throughout the historical books the death of kings is described by using sleep as a metaphor. Sleep is a temporary state. This surely leaves open the possibility of a future awakening.

RESURRECTION IN THE PSALMS

The psalmists had a well-developed doctrine of the afterlife. They frequently refer to “Sheol.” Sheol is a form of separation from God and the land of the living. It is a form of sleep. In Sheol people do not worship God. Sheol is not hell, but it is not heaven either. At times a descent into Sheol is described as though it is a permanent and final resting place—for example, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” (Psalm 6:5).

Sometimes, however, psalmists paint a clear hope that some may escape Sheol:

The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. (Psalm 9:17–18)

O Lord, you have brought my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:3)

Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death. (Psalm 68:20)

Some of these verses may refer to a delivery from almost dying. But if God can deliver from the point of death, he can also deliver even after death. It is just such a permanent rescue from death that David envisages in a crucial psalm that includes the following remarkable paragraph:

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:10–11)

This verse refers to the writer himself not dying, and hence his body not decomposing in a tomb. However, David did die. His body did see corruption. Both Peter (Acts 2:31) and Paul (Acts 13:35–37) apply these words as a prophecy concerning Jesus, whose body would never decompose.

The wonderful truth is that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the corruption seen by David’s body will one day be reversed, and, like us, he will enjoy pleasures at the right hand of God for all eternity. When the first billion years of eternity have passed, David will still sing these words, secure in the knowledge that God will continue to sustain his life forevermore.

David declared elsewhere that he would “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). He must have known that he would die, and yet he was confident that he would be with God forever.

Another of the messianic psalms (Psalm 22) contains a similar sentiment. The early part of this psalm prophesies Jesus’ painful death by putting a detailed description of the crucifixion into his mouth. Having spoken about the death of Jesus, the psalm goes on to suggest that the suffering of Christ will not be permanent: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!” (vv. 19–21). David also foreshadows New Testament language about a ransom being paid to save us:

Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit. . . . Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations. . . . Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. (Psalm 49:7–15)

David also says elsewhere that it is the Lord himself “who redeems your life from the pit” (Psalm 103:4). This reminds us of Anselm’s words: “This debt was so great that, although no one ought to have paid it except man, no one could except God.”[2]

David was certain that he would experience salvation from Sheol. The Savior to come had to be God himself. When Christ was born, he was given the name Jesus, which means “God saves,” and the angel said this was because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This is a clear declaration that the man Jesus is also God and that this uniquely qualified him for the task that was set before him.

So God would die to pay a ransom and rescue David from the powers of Sheol after his death. The one paying the ransom is also the one who would receive David, and thus Jesus must be resurrected. Jesus paid the ransom and then was raised from the dead to enable resurrection from death for David and for all believers.

In Psalm 21 “the king” is described, and it is said of him, “He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever” (v. 4) The context suggests this is again speaking of the future Messiah. We now know that because we share in his life, those words can also be said of us.

Another psalmist, Asaph, also spoke of future glory into which he would be received:

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:23–26)

Another psalm declares that we will escape the fate of the rest of mankind and experience eternal life: “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 115:17–18).

In another great psalm of hope, we read a promise of protection for our lives:

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121:7–8)

This psalm uses such physical words as “going out” and “coming in” and “forevermore,” and this represents a promise of eternal life. Thus, given that we do die, the verse hints at a future resurrection.

RESURRECTION IN THE WISDOM LITERATURE

Job

Amidst the death of his family, the loss of his goods, and his own terrible sickness, we are given a close-up view of the distress of Job. God accepts this man even though he struggles with pain and expresses his questions to the Almighty. Job’s hope in God, although tested to the extreme, never leaves him.

In Job 14, we find a passage that begins by speaking of the hopelessness of death. It seems to argue that there is nothing after death for mankind. Suddenly, toward the end, Job hints that there is life beyond the grave, that on a certain day men will be raised from death:

Till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? (vv. 12–14)

The answer to this question is, “Yes, when the heavens and earth are renewed!”

There is an even clearer demonstration of hope for a future resurrection later on in the book of Job. It is precisely because this whole book is so full of death, destruction, and misery that the following words are so dramatic. Job introduces the subject with great emphasis: “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!” (Job 19:23–24). Hopefully, that got your attention! He goes on to say:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. (vv. 25–27)

The New Testament agrees with Job’s remarkable description, and so we today can also rejoice that standing on the earth someday, in our same body, we will worship our Savior.

The Book of Proverbs

In Proverbs we see a number of promises that are not literally fulfilled in this world. Here is an example: “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death” (12:28).

On first glance, this proverb seems to be simply not true! Ultimately, though, death for Christians is not permanent, and our lives will be transformed into eternal life. Death has no significance in the context of eternity for the Christian.

The Book of Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes speaks repeatedly of the meaninglessness of life and the inevitability of death. It does, however, say that at death the body and spirit are separated, as we now know, to be reunited at a future date:

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before . . . the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (12:1, 7).

Though this is not a prediction of true bodily resurrection, this verse states that man’s spirit survives in some way.

RESURRECTION IN THE PROPHETS

The Book of Isaiah

Isaiah contains several references to what happens to us after death. The first tells us of the inevitability and the equalizing nature of death:

Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come. . . . Your pomp is brought down . . . maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, and worms are your covers. (Isaiah 14:9–11)

This is not the end, however:

And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:7–9)

Jesus’ death later occurred on a mountain, and by his resurrection he swallowed up death forever. Death is the single greatest dilemma or veil clouding people. Isaiah prophesied that death will one day be taken away and its effects reversed, and all tears will be wiped from people’s eyes. God’s “salvation” here is the reversal of all the effects of death.

In another passage Isaiah makes a glorious promise. There is a clear expectation of a return from the very dust that our bodies will one day become. Once a feast for worms, we will be resurrected to life:

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

Take a look at your hand. One day that hand will no longer be able to move, and it will, with the rest of your body, be buried. But your hand will be renewed and perfected and will form part of your renewed body. Dust to dust is not the end of the story!

Isaiah 53 made a very tangible prediction of the judicial suffering of Jesus many years before it occurred. What we can easily miss is the clear statement in the middle of this famous chapter that, for Jesus, death would not be the end:

When his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (vv. 10–11)

The Book of Jonah

Jesus referred to the story of Jonah as a type foreshadowing his own death and resurrection:

For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40)

Jonah can therefore be seen as a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that would later occur. Just like Jonah, it was critical that Jesus himself rise or else he couldn’t have saved anyone.

Like many such prototypes that foreshadow Jesus in the Old Testament, there are ways in which the two stories are similar and ways in which they are different. Like Jonah, Jesus was sent to a sinful world. Unlike Jonah, Jesus obeyed willingly, immediately putting the needs of a lost world before his own. Like Jonah, Jesus found himself in a world that was in a desperate situation and experiencing the wrath of God against sin. Unlike Jonah, he did not add to the troubles of this world by fleeing the presence of God, but rather he manifested that presence. Like Jonah, Jesus willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice to save others. Unlike Jonah, it was Jesus himself who prayed that his executioners be forgiven. Like Jonah, Jesus did not remain in the depths but was raised from the dead and was given a new task to accomplish. The Savior had himself escaped from the hold of death. Unlike Jonah, Jesus rejoiced unreservedly when his message led to the repentance of many.

The Book of Daniel

Daniel contains the clearest description of a bodily resurrection in the Old Testament. The prophet also adds that there will be a bodily resurrection for unbelievers:

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)

The Book of Hosea

In Hosea we see a passage that seems to prefigure what would happen to Jesus, which itself reflects what will happen to us:

Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:1–2)

The book of Hosea contains another hint of a future rescue from Sheol in the following words:

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? (13:14)

The Book of Ezekiel

We see an astonishing picture in Ezekiel, when the prophet is told to prophesy to an entire dead army so that they might be physically resurrected. God gathered dry bones together with a great rattling sound as though they were a jigsaw puzzle, then clothed them with flesh, and finally breathed new life into the corpses. This whole event may have been a vision. But besides metaphorically referring to the return from exile, it gives a very clear picture of what will happen in the end-time resurrection. At the end of the passage, there is an explicit promise that the people of God will indeed experience a bodily resurrection:

Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. . . . And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:12–14)

CONCLUSION

It has become fashionable in some circles to conclude that the Old Testament saints did not believe in a resurrection. I trust that this overview has shown that this is not the case. The writer to the Hebrews was very clear what the great heroes of our faith were trusting God for. He says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). While many of them received things from God in this world, they were, however, all hoping for a future reward:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland . . . they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13–15)

Thus we can conclude that in the Old Testament people did believe in God raising the dead.

 

REFERENCES ARE FOUND AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE

 


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Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

The Resurrection Appearances

Chapter Three:

Chapter Four:

Resurrection Neglected: Without it Good Friday is not Good

Chapter Five:

The Importance of Resurrection in the Bible

 

REFERENCES

[1]Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings, WJE Online, Vol. 16, 753;

 

[2]2Anselm, Cur Deus Homo—Why God Was Made Man (Oxford: John Henry and James Proctor, 1865), 104–105.

 

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