The scriptures speaks of figures, types, allegories. Even when we do not see them all, no one seems to have a problem understanding how this works.
Speaking of Adam, Paul wrote: “who is the figure of him that was to come”.
Speaking of Ishmael and Isaac, Paul wrote:
For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Gal 4:22-26)
When speaking of the wife submitting to her husband, Paul said:
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Eph 5: 32-33)
When speaking of salvation, Paul wrote:
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (1Ti 2:11-15)
Again, using Adam and Eve to typify Christ and the church, to differentiate between those who are children and those who are sons, between those who are spiritually mature and those who are still in need of one to teach them. But because he doesn’t spell it out for us here, as he does elsewhere, we apply Paul’s words carnally and many are willing to believe that Paul was saying that women (according to THE FLESH) are not allowed to teach in the church, at least not men.
Regardless of whether we see them or not, understand them are not, the scriptures are full of these types of types and shadows. To show us who “the dead” are, after a spiritual truth, Jesus said: “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” And Paul speaks of those who he said “are dead,” those who “were dead” and those who “have passed from death unto life”… all according to a spiritual truth! And no one seems to have a problem understand what these things mean or how they are to be applied to one’s life. But when discussing life and death, especially, they will almost always say that the spiritual application is the “figurative” application.
We all understand what it means to be “raised from the dead” FIGURATIVELY, but we claim that this raising is just that – FIGURATIVE. The resurrection of the dead, then, is not about that but about corpses (the ‘literal dead’) coming back to life; it’s about ‘literal graves being opened, like that of Lazarus’ and, more importantly, Jesus’.
We can understand the natural used to typify the spiritual, how things that are seen are used to typify things that are not seen (so that they CAN BE seen) and, yet, when it comes to LIFE AND DEATH we are stuck on THE NATURAL. It is THE NATURAL (that which IS SEEN) that is “real” and THE SPIRITUAL (that which is NOT SEEN) that is “figurative”.
Yet Paul wrote:
For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2Co 4:15-18)
In 1 Cor 15, the most often quoted passages that people use to prove that the resurrection of the dead IS PHYSICAL, Paul wrote:
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (1Co 15:19-26)
He goes on to address the question; “How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?” And he does not do so according to a carnal understanding of who the dead are and how they are raised from death, for what kind of fool would need someone to explain that to them?
In 1 Peter, Peter speaks of “receiving THE END of your faith, even the SALVATION of your souls.” When? Is it not “at the appearing of Jesus Christ” which Peter said is “ready to be revealed in the last time”?
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1Jn 2:15-18)
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:13-18)
We read all of these passages and we begin to form an opinion that all of the Apostles believe that they were living in the last days and Christ was going to return in their lifetime. And men of God have been making the same claims in probably every single generation since. And yet here we are, almost 2000 years later, still waiting.
But is this how we are supposed to understand these words?
Three times in John 6 Jesus says: “I will raise him up at the last day.”
Joh 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
And when we get to the resurrection of Lazarus in chapter 11 we come to a conversation between Jesus and Martha (Please pay attention to the details, all of them!):
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. (Joh 11:20-29)
Please take note that this passage is not about Lazarus only: “Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.”
And after… “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.”
Read the rest of the passage. Mary says the same thing to Jesus: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Jesus (who just said: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”) goes to the place where Lazarus was laid and tells them to take away the stone. And he tells them: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. (Joh 11:43-44)
He “cried with a loud voice”, like that of a TRUMPET, perhaps?
If we don’t know Jesus Christ “as” THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE, could it be because we are still “dwelling among the tombs”?
Even before Jesus went to the cross he said:
And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. (Luk 20:34-38)
Jesus said: “Now that the dead ARE raised, even Moses showed at the bush,…”. Not that the dead were raised or that the dead will be raised, but that the dead ARE RAISED (present tense).
Could it be that we really do not understand who “the dead” ARE and how and when (and BY WHOM) they ARE “raised”?
In the same account recorded in Matt 22, it is written in v29 that Jesus said: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
I wonder if the same could be said of many of us today.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Rev 22:20-21)
All Blessings in Christ,