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The Resurrection of the Righteous Dead
Is it before the Great Tribulation? Or after it?
By Gavin Finley MD - endtimepilgrim.org
HERE IS A QUESTION THAT IS RARELY ASKED.Responsible Christian believers are wise to seek to gain a clear view of the timing of end time events. A key to this, as we shall discover, is to gain an understanding of the timing of the the Resurrection. So here in this article, and I pray in our churches as well, let us dare to stand up and ask the question. Mysteriously, this is a question that we are apparently hypnotized or intimidated into not asking.
- - - - - - WHEN IS THE RESURRECTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS DEAD?
So here it is again.
When is the Resurrection of the righteous dead?
THE 70th WEEK OF DANIEL
(The Final Seven Years Of This Age) (Dan. 9:27)
* Is it here?
Or is it here?*
It is like the game "pin the tail on the donkey".
Only here we seek to "pin the Resurrection on the final seven years of this age."
Can we do it?
A STRANGE EXPERIENCE ON A CHRISTIAN CALL-IN RADIO SHOW.The author went on live coast-to coast call-in Christian radio show some years back and asked that question.
When is the Resurrection of the righteous dead?
Is it before the Great Tribulation? Or after it?
The radio program was "To every man an answer" and it purports to address every question from the Holy Scriptures. And they usually do. They do this very well as a rule. They are very scriptural and they are gracious in their answers. They ministers on the program are Biblically well founded and continue to be a great blessing to the seeking saints. So these comments should in no way be taken as negative for this program generally. This Christian radio show was, and still is, an excellent Biblical resource for evangelicals. I still listen to it and learn a lot from the questions asked and the answers given. I highly recommend the program to all Christians who want answers from the Holy Scriptures. But in this case I was blown away. The ministers on the program, saintly men of God, did not seem to want to answer this particular question about the Resurrection of the righteous dead.
It was not a difficult question for someone with access to a Bible.
The question could be re-stated more personally and melodramatically,
"When will my dear saintly great grandmother be resurrected from the grave?"
Will it be at the beginning of the final seven years of this age before the Great Tribulation?
Or will she, (along with all the righteous dead), be resurrected after the Great Tribulation?
Dear saints, this is a simple question.
And there is lots of Biblical material to give a clear, straight, and unequivocal answer.
But it was surreal. I did not push the issue. And I had a cordial conversation with one of the hosts off the air afterwards, truly a saintly man. This was a very strange and somewhat disturbing experience. These were great Bible teachers. But they just did not want to answer this crucial question.
It was then that I became a bit spooked by it all.
I realized that by merely asking this question I was stirring up a high stakes spiritual warfare in high places.
Quite clearly the issue was, and still is, under guard.
We are in an spiritual war and that war is very much an information war. This Resurrection timing information is held back. This Biblical information is being restricted by some immensely powerful angelic religious spirits.
So in our present dispensationalism I am not going to pretend that this will be easy.
This question of the timing of the Resurrection of the righteous dead can be an embarrassing question to ask.
And in the religious milieu of our day it is ecclesiastically incorrect to even ask this question.
But in spite of the dragons on the pathway we as faithful pilgrims must press on.
Our Apostle Paul has exhorted us to"Prove all things.The Bible is our guide here. We are told in several scripture passages just when the righteous will be raised up. And as we shall discover, the departed saints will up come out of their graves at the very end of this age. Dear saints, let us believe the Bible. This is no gnostic mystery with no solid answers. We have all seen the secular book and the television media waffle and intone about deep deep mysteries as they twist and convolute subjects of a holy nature.
Hold fast to that which is good." (1Thes.5:21)
The Holy Scriptures are not like that. God's Word is totally dependable, consistent, and sharper than a two edged sword. The Bible nails down the timing of the Resurrection in no uncertain terms. The Biblical facts are presented quite clearly in a number of places. So let us check out these key scripture passages. Afterwards there should be no question in our minds as to what will be happening at the end of the age. We will have a pretty good idea when this glorious Resurrection of the righteous dead will occur.
Let us start with a look at what Jesus had to say about the Resurrection.
JESUS TELLS US WHEN THE RESURRECTION WILL OCCUR.Jesus tells us clearly when this awesome Resurrection will occur. He gives us the answer four times in John 6. He spells it out for us clearly, concisely, and unmistakably.
HE TELLS US FOUR TIMES!
So any ignorance on our part is not due to a lack of information.
The Holy Scriptures give us plenty of data.
The real issue is simply this,
Do we want to hear the answer?
If we do not want to hear the answer then we are in a state of denial.
The next step downwards is when we do not want to hear the question.
And that will be very sad.
So let us open our eyes and our hearts and take a close look at what our Savior said.
And remember, He told us four times!John 6:39 "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."Is our Lord Jesus trying to get a message to us here? If He saw fit to tell us four times in the one message that He will raise His people up at the "last day" then is it clear when that day might be? He said the 'last day'. So a plain reading of these four verses in John chapter 6 indicates a Resurrection of those who belong to Jesus coming at the very end of this age.
John 6:40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.""
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
The last day is the last day. So we must conclude that the Resurrection of the righteous dead will occur at the end of the 70th Week, the end of those final seven years of this age, and after the Great Tribulation.
MARTHA KNEW WHEN THE RESURRECTION WILL OCCUR.Here is some further evidence for a late Resurrection. Remember after the death of Lazarus Martha left her kitchen to come out and get in Jesus' face over the death of her brother. During that discussion Martha made a remarkable statement. Unlike many Christians today Martha knew when the Resurrection will occur. She made a strong confession of her faith in the sure hope of the resurrection as all saints do. But more than this she knew the timing of the Resurrection!
SHE TOLD JESUS THAT HER BROTHER LAZARUS WILL BE RAISED
"IN THE RESURRECTION AT THE 'LAST DAY'."
The Old Testament saints, unlike we evangelicals today, had a very good handle on the Resurrection of the righteous dead. And from the writings of Enoch, Job, Daniel etc. they knew that this glorious Resurrection would occur at the wrap-up conclusion of the age. Here is Martha's word on the matter and her magnificent confession of faith as penned by the Apostle John. As we can see here in this scripture passage below, Martha knew very well when this end-time resurrection of the righteous dead would occur.John 11:24 Martha said to Him,
"I know that he will rise again
in the resurrection at the last day."
REVELATION 20Here in Revelation 20 John sees the tribulation martyrs. We know these people had died for the witness in the latter half of the 70th Week, the final 3.5 years of this age. They had not worshiped the Beast or his image and they had not being being marked by his 666 number. And yet here they are, given special mention in the First Resurrection.
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God,
who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands.
And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
This is the first resurrection.
6. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.
Over such the second death has no power,
but they shall be priests of God and of Christ,
and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
So if the First Resurrection includes the tribulation martyrs can there have been an earlier Resurrection? Does the Bible mention any such animal? Is there any way in or under under God's heaven that there could be another Resurrected crowd coming up from the ground or sea into the glory to receive their new Resurrected bodies at the beginning of the final seven years? Could their be another Resurrection before this First Resurrection at an earlier time and before the Great Tribulation?
I submit that the answer to that question is a resounding 'No!'.
So what is going on here?
And why should a Bible study, of all things, have to stir us up like this?
The answer is simple.
Our God is an awesome God.
1 THESSALONIANS 4
15. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.
4:17 Then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
So let us be biblically correct here. If we have our timing for the Resurrection nailed down at the last day then we also have the timing of the Rapture nailed down at the last day too. Remember, in our scripture passage above, both are linked together as the combined Resurrection-Rapture.
Matthew 24:29-31In this same passage Jesus also tells us about the SIGN (singular) of His coming. It is the SIGN of the Son of Man in the heavens. He also tells us about the timing of that SIGN. Jesus states plainly and categorically that it will be "after the tribulation of those days" and that in this post-tribulational time frame the cosmic disturbances will be seen in the heavens. It will be "after the tribulation" that the cosmic signs of a darkened sun and a bloody moon and meteor showers will be seen to herald His coming. At that time the SIGN of the Son of Man will be seen in the heavens. And our Messiah will be coming to gather His Elect, yes His single, undivided, remnant Elect will be drawn out as an end time remnant ekklesia from out of Israel and the nations.
"IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TRIBULATION....THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED"29. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
"COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN...."30. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man
coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
"WITH THE GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET...."31a. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet,
"THEY WILL GATHER HIS ELECT....."31b.and they will gather together His elect from the four winds,
from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:29-31Then after the coming of these cosmic signs we have the gathering of the Elect at the last trumpet.
29. "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30. Then the SIGN of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.This Post-Tribulation gathering of the Elect Jesus spoke of is the total package. No divided shipments into the glory here. There is just one glory train, not two. And the yet to be saved Jewish nation, our brothers and sisters, may be coming a bit late. But they are not 'left behind'. God's Elect are drawn from Israel and the nations, and from both sides of Calvary. They are a single undivisible company. Oh yes, we have our divisions now between Israel and the Church. They go all the way back to the Breach of Jeroboam. But this division will not last forever. The Jewish nation will be saved. (Zech.12:7-13:1) The lost ten tribes of Israel will be found. And the fullness of the Gentiles brought in from the ends of the earth. And so all Israel will be saved and restored. (Romans 11).
YHVH-God has never instituted any Church-Israel apartheid of the Elect. Nor will He ever ordain such a thing. It may be man's policy. But it is not God's policy. He allowed it. But the present broken state of His Elect is not His ultimate final plan. He will gather His Elect as a "royal priesthood and holy nation". (1Pet.2:9) We see no evidence of that whatsoever in the Holy Scriptures for two second comings for two elects.
So the gathering of the Elect Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse must be the very same Resurrection-Rapture event our Apostle Paul spoke about in 1Thes. 4:15-18. There cannot be two Elects or two Resurrection-Raptures. And the mention of the clouds of heaven, the harvest angels, the mention of the trumpet should clinch it for us. This is surely the final all encompassing post-trib wrap-up of holy history for this age.
The darkened sun and bloody moon are the cosmic signs time linked to the sixth seal. They occur late in the 70th week, towards the very end. Almost certainly a nuke will have gone off. This is the late Armageddon scenario. Joel describes the awful scene in poetic language. "Blood, fire, and pillars, (or columns) of smoke" will go up as a mushroom cloud to fill the atmosphere with smoke. The sun will be darkened and there will be a bloody moon.
These are the cosmic signs mentioned by the prophet Joel. (Joel 2:31-32) They are also mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse These are the cosmic disturbances that are associated with the Battle of Armageddon. This epic battle will be fought at the very end of the final 7 years of this age. These 6th seal cosmic signs indicate that 5th seal witness of the saints will have finished by that time. Christ is pleading with the nations. At the time of the heavenly disturbances and the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens the Second Coming of Christ will be truly imminent.
Ezekiel 34This will be an awesome scene. The righteous dead are resurrected. And then the living saints are gathered. Something will have happened to the atmosphere around the earth. And the world is about to be judged. Yet here at the climax of holy history there is a magnificent rescue of God's covenant people. The prophet Micah speaks of the Bozrah Deliverance.
12 'As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.' - Ezek. 34:12
So at the climax of the age we see a single triumphant party. They are gathering together around the returning Christ. All of His Elect Congregation spanning 4,000 years plus are gathered together as one. They are one united 'called out' company, the 'ekklesia'/congregation of God. They are the remnant Church and remnant Israel coming into confluence together as a 'royal priesthood and a holy nation'. (1Pet.2:9) The returning Christ will be gathering all who are in Christ and all who belong to the God of Israel. At the "great sound of the trumpet" all the saints will be gathered as a single Elect. They are gathered from among the living and the dead. They come from all races, the global Congregation of Israel, drawn out from among the royal Jewish house of Judah, from lost Israel and from the Gentiles. YHVH-God draws His covenant Congregation from both sides of Calvary, and from around the world.
The Elect are drawn from across the borders of time and even from different theological categories and Hellenized religious dispensational boxes. Jesus Himself said that He would return to gather His Elect from "the four winds of heaven", from across space and time. He gathers His Chosen from across the racial borders of Israel that were blown away at Pentecost. And He delivers them from out from the clutches of the heathen gentile nations. He gathers His people from beyond the gates of Sheol in the great First Resurrection. And He brings them home across the very borders of life and death. It will be party time and He will gather His own and bring them to the Marriage Supper and the mansions He has prepared.
What a God we serve!
And what a magnificent harvest this will be!
Grace and shalom to all the saints.
Some more devotional articles on apocalyptic Biblical themes for the enquiring Christian.