Types and Prophecies of the Resurrection

by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


It is hard to exaggerate the Importance of the resurrection hope in the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus gave evidence that God had accepted His sacrifice for the sinner. And the many unspeakably wonderful things which He accomplished for us on the Cross will be manifested only when He comes again, and when our bodies are raised from the dead, or translated and transformed into His likeness. We believe, now, that He has given us eternal life. We believe that He has forgiven our sins and cleansed us from them. We believe that He has provided complete emancipation from the power and deliverance from the presence of sin. We believe that our poor weak bodies have been redeemed from the curse which passed upon them in the sin of the first man. But we do not see the manifestation of all these marvelous blessings. We are groaning within ourselves while we struggle on in this life, and 1 waiting for the time when we shall be openly manifested as the sons of God. The resurrection will reveal what Jesus really did for us in His death. Then it will be evident to men, to angels, and to demons that He has given us a full salvation from all the blighting effects of sin, and from the wrath of God. The importance of the resurrection hope is clearly stated in First Corinthians 15:16-19:

"If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

"And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are vet in your sin?

"Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."

Since the resurrection is so vitally a part of the believer's faith, and since the whole Bible is the Word of God, we may reasonably expect to find some clear teaching concerning this hope in the Old Testament as well as in the New. We are not disappointed when we turn there, looking for resurrection teaching. In fact one who his made even a superficial investigation, and who attempts ti tell of his findings is embarrassed by a superabundance of material. The resurrection is taught in the Old Testament. It is taught clearly and it is taught repeatedly.

The method of this teaching is twofold, owing to the character of the Old Testament. Practically all of the Old Testament teaching is in the form of rich types, to be found in the history of God's people, and in the ordinances of their worship, or else it is prophecy, pointing forward to the coming of Christ, and to the work which He was to do. The resurrection is a very essential part of that work, both in His own Person and in the bodies of His followers. So the Old Testament types and prophecies set forth nearly every important truth which is furnished, concerning the resurrection, in the New Testament.

I. Old Testament Types of the Resurrection

Every incident recorded in the Old Testament, either in the history of God's chosen people, or in His dealing with individuals, was given to teach typically some spiritual truth. This is indicated in First Corinthians I0:ii which follows a reference to several specific Old Testament incidents, and which doubtless applies to all such incidents:

"These things by way of type were happening unto them and were written with a new to our admonition." (Rotherham.)

Let us consider just a few of these incidents in which the resurrection is pictured.

One of the earliest of the resurrection types is presented in the story of the flood, and in the experience of Noah and his family. (Gen. 6:1 to 8:22.) This story is familiar to all, but perhaps its typical significance is not so familiar. The whole world was subject to God's wrath because of sin. God found one man who believed in Him and warned him of the impending judgment. Noah heeded this warning and built the ark as God had directed him. When the flood swept over the earth he, with his family, entered into the ark. The rains poured upon them, and the ark was buffeted by the storm, but when it was all over Noah and his family were safe. They had gone down into the place of death, and came out in a picture of resurrection life.

But some may object that this story pictures more than merely the resurrection. This is true and must be admitted, but every spiritual truth which is included in the typical significance of the flood only serves to intensify the picture of the resurrection, because all are so vitally related. Here we find the believer's identification with Christ is set forth, for the ark is a picture of His substitutionary work on the Cross. Let us not forge that our hope of resurrection depends upon the very fact that we are identified with Him. In His death we died, and in His life we, too, shall live. We also find here a picture of the believer's salvation, from the wrath of God. Let us remember that our salvation from that wrath will not be fully manifested until we receive our resurrection bodies. Now we are saved, but we are saved in hope. Now we have the guarantee of our salvation, and may enjoy the assurance of it even though we do not enter fully into its experience. In the resurrection we shall see what we now believe, that God has forever and fully delivered us from judgment.

Another type of the resurrection lies in the experience of the children of Israel in crossing the Red Sea. (Exodus 14.) They had for many years suffered bondage and persecution in Egypt. Their children had been cruelly murdered and every possible means had been taken to prevent them from multiplying and increasing in power. Suddenly a prophet appeared in their midst who insisted that Pharaoh should let the people of God go free. So effectively did Moses plead, and so powerfully did God support his pleas with the plagues which He sent, that finally Pharaoh was forced to consent. The children of Israel hastened from Egypt, and came to the Red Sea. Pharaoh repented of letting them go, and followed them with an army, doubtless intending to slaughter them. While Israel faced an almost certain death God opened a way of deliverance for them, and they passed to safety through the midst of the waters of the sea, which were miraculously parted before them. Pharaoh and his hosts attempting to follow were overwhelmed and drowned. This story shows us a nation which went down into the place of death, and came out in a type of the resurrection.

Conisder how rich in truth this picture is. Israel typified the individual believer in the experiences through which she passed. Like her, the believer was at one time in bondage to the hosts of evil. But as God graciously delivered His people, so Jesus has saved the believer's soul out of the hand of his evil taskmaster, the devil. During his earthly life he is menaced aga'n and again by Satan's instruments, the world, the flesh, and the demons who threaten, if possible, to overwhelm him. But though God permits the believer to go down into the valley of the shadow of death, He will one day bring him again in resurrection life, safe forever from his former enemies.

Perhaps the same objection may be brought against this type which is brought against the other, namely, that it includes more than the resurrection. And the answer must be the same. The Red Sea was the place of judgment upon God's enemies. But He delivered His people from that judgment. There they went through the place of death under the leadership of Moses, and by him were led out into the place of life. So in the resurrection the believer shall be delivered from the judgment which must overtake the wicked, because in Christ Jesus (Who is the antitype of Moses) he is accounted dead unto sin but alive unto God. In this picture as in the other, the related truths which are presented simply serve to make the resurrection truth more radiantly clear.

Still another type of the resurrection is furnished in the experience of Jonah. (See the Book of Jonah.) He went down into the place of death, when he descended into the belly of the great sea-monster. Jesus definitely indicated that this was a picture of His death when He said:

"As Jonah was three days and three ni;7hts in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of Man he three days find three rights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew i2:+o.)

When Jonah came forth again he pictured the resurrection of Jesus Who was raised from the dead after the third day. The result of Jonah's experience was that the city of Nineveh, whose inhabitants were traditionally the enemies of Jonah's people, the Jews, were saved from the wrath of God. In fulfillment of this type Jesus' death and resurrection brought salvation to the souls of guilty sinners who were naturally the enemies of God and children of His wrath. Because the believer is identified with Jesus in His death and resurrection, Jonah also presents a picture of the believer's resurrection.

This necessarily brief and imperfect consideration of the stories of the flood, of the crossing of the Red Sea and of Jonah affords only a very meagre idea of the great wealth of resurrection teaching to be found in Old Testament types. Much more related truth may be found in these stories by careful and prayerful study, and many more incidents will be found to contain as clear pictures as are presented" here.

II. Old Testament Prophecies of the Resurrection

But the Old Testament teaching concerning the resurrection is not confined to the types. The prophets record this hope in clear and unmistakable language. While the teaching of the types is in picture form and consequently may seem indistinct to some, the resurrection prophecies are very definite and are easy to understand.

Job voiced this hope when he said:

"Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job 19:26.)

Here he admitted the possibility, yea the likelihood that he would see death. He faced frankly the corruption and decay to which the body might be subjected. But he gave a ringing testimony to his hope in the resurrection. It is especially noteworthy that he taught that the resurrection is a bodily resurrection. He recognized that his body might decay, but he looked for its restoration when the resurrection day should dawn. David was strong in faith in the resurrection. He prophesied both the resurrection of Christ, and the resurrection of the believer. In Psalm 16:9-10, he wrote:

"My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."

Here he spoke of his own resurrection hope, and related it to the body, saying "My flesh shall rest in hope" and "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell." "Hell" here must be understood to mean "Hades," the temporary detention place of departed souls. Prior to Jesus' resurrection both the righteous and the unrighteous were kept in Hades, but between them was a great gulf, and the righteous were comforted, while the wicked were tormented. (See Luke 16:19-31.) Jesus" Himself was in Hades during the time intervening between His crucifixion and resurrection. But since Jesus' resurrection the righteous dead are with Him. Having spoken of his own hope in the resurrection David was transported by the Spirit and prophesied the resurrection of Jesus: "Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." In this he suggested the brevity of Jesus' entombment, for he taught that the Holy One was to be resurrected before His flesh could corrupt. This prophesy was definitely applied to the resurrection of Jesus by Peter on the day of Pentecost. (See Acts 2:25-31.)

In another prophecy David cried:

"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeliness." (Psalm 17:15.)

In this verse we are told that the resurrection is to he sinless, and that the believer is then to share the likeness of the Lord.

Isaiah also caught a glimpse of the coming resurrection glory, when in the power of the Spirit he prophesied, saying:

"Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." (Isaiah 26:19.)

This verse teaches the literal resurrection of the bodies which sleep in the dust of the earth. Here their resurrection is associated with the resurrection of the Speaker, who from the context is none other than the Lord, speaking through Isaiah. And the succeeding verses associate the time of their resurrection with that of the judgment of the wicked.

Ezekiel had a vision which was national as well as individual, for in prophesying the resurrection of Israel's dead he spoke also of the manifestation of Israel's kingdom glory.

"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

"And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,

"And shall put my spirit in you and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I, the Lord, have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord." (Ezekiel 37:12-14.)

Notice that Ezekiel's prophecy includes the literal resurrection of those who sleep in the graves, and their restoration to the land of Israel. This teaching is clearly developed in the rest of the chapter, for in it the re-uniting of the divided kingdom, the gathering of living members of the family of Israel, and the reigning of David over the restored kingdom, are prophesied.

But one of the clearest of the Old Testament prophecies of the resurrection is that found in Daniel 12:1-2:

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, that great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

This prophecy indicates that there are to be different resurrections. " Many of them that sleep in the dust" are to awake, which signifies that there are some who do not awake at that time. This distinction and its nature is very evident in the Rotherham version which reads:

"Many of. the sleepers in the dusty ground shall awake, — these shall be to age abiding life, but those to reproach and age-abiding abhorrence."

"These" indicates that the first resurrection is to be of the righteous, — the saved dead, while "those" indicates that the wicked dead are the ones who do not rise until later. Such is the case. There are to be different resurrections. The first is the resurrection of life, and the subsequent one is the resurrection of condemnation. ( See Revelation 20.) In addition to this valuable teaching, these verses indicate that the resurrection of the righteous dead is to follow the time of earth's climacteric trouble, and that it is to accompany the deliverance of Israel.

Consideration of the truths taught in the Old Testament Types and Prophecies which we have noted will convince the student that they are exactly the same as those taught in the New Testament. The New Testament teaching on this subject may be summarized as follows:

  1. Jesus' body was literally raised from the dead before it had time to corrupt. (Acts 2:23-32.)

  2. Believers are identified with Him in the death of the Cross, and they are to share with Him in the power of His resurrection. (Romans 6:3-8; 8:11.)

  3. The bodies of believers are to be raised from the dead, and are to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. (I Cor. 15:52-54; Phil. 3:20-21.)

  4. The resurrection of Jewish believers is to occur following the time of earth's greatest tribulation which will end at the Second coming of Christ. (Revelation 19:11 to 20:4 inclusive.)

  5. This resurrection is to be accompanied by the deliverance of Israel, and her restoration to her own land. (Matthew 24:29-31 with the above.)

  6. This resurrection is to be followed b)' the Kingdom, during which resurrected believers will reign with Christ. (Revelation 20:4.)

  7. Unbelievers are not to share in this resurrection, but will be raised subsequently for the purpose of judgment. ( Revelation 20:5, 11-15.)

Bearing in mind the teaching which we have seen in the; types and prophecies which we have considered, one will at once recognize that the New Testament teaching and the Old Testament teaching concerning the resurrection are identical. Thank God for such perfect agreement in His Word! Thank God for such glorious and wonderful hope !

NOTE—It should be observed that all of the Old Testament teaching concerning the resurrection is Jewish. The rapture of the Church, which precedes the great tribulation, is not to be found in the Bible outside the writings of the Apostle Paul, to whom alone was committed the revelation of all Church truth. (Ephesians 3:1-9.)