Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Tue, Mar 22, 2011
Are there only 2 resurrections or is it possible that there really are three?
We will therefore begin with the final book of the Bible—a book which is often times hard to under-stand, yet a book which explains much regarding what happens in the last days and after the Millennium—a time period of perfect peace on earth. It begins with the return of Jesus Christ and the first resurrection.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years”—Revelation 20:1-6.
Thus, as we see, the first resurrection will take place at the time that Jesus Christ returns—this will be the resurrection of the firstfruits—those whom will rule and reign with Christ over the earth for 1,000 years will be the ones who come forth in the first resurrection. Notice what we read that “…the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished…”—Revelation 20:5. Thus, it is important that we understand this very teaching.
Thus, we see that there is the first resurrection—the resurrection of the righteous and then there is the second resurrection which is the resurrection of everyone else. But, who are those that will be in the second resurrection?
Obviously, the first resurrection and the second resurrection are two separate and distinct resurrections. It appears then that from Rev. 20:5, that there are more than one resurrection.
Most will not usually argue that there are two resurrections. Some, however, will question whether verse five speaks of the second resurrection of all three or whether it is speaking of a second and final resurrection. In order for us to understand whether there will be two or three resurrections, let’s see what the Bible tells us!
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth…”—Revelation 20:7-8.
The Scriptures state that the rest of the dead are raised after the thousand years have ended. Satan then has been bound and put away for the same amount of time—1,000 years. He is then released at the same time that the rest of the dead are raised and this is done for a reason. Why? It is so that those who are raised after the 1,000 years and those that have lived during the Millennium can overcome him and become true Christians by striving to do right. The results of those who overcome before Jesus Christ returns is the gift of eternal life and those who live through and are raised after the 1,000 years will, in like manner, also be given their chance and opportunity so that they can receive eternal life.
So then, we also see that after the Millennium is finished, the second resurrection will take place. Satan then is let loose and he will then deceive the nations again. This second of the resurrections is a physical resurrection and is further described in greater detail by Ezekiel who states that “The hand of the ETERNAL was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the ETERNAL, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O CREATOR, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the ETERNAL. Thus saith the CREATOR unto these; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the ETERNAL”—Ezekiel 37:1-6.
Here then is found the description of that awesome second resurrection to flesh and blood. It is also further explained that those who are raised in it are the ones who never had truly known Christ, but that they will be taught the righteous way to live and be given a chance to know Him stating “and ye shall know that I am the ETERNAL.”
After the thousand years, Satan will be released and those who lived and died—from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ—who never truly knew Jesus, will be raised to a physical state. At this time period, they will then be instructed in the right way of living and will then be tempted again by Satan. They will then have to decide whether or not they will accept Jesus Christ or will deny Him.
Some other Scriptures that verify that this is the second resurrection are found in Luke for example. Here, Jesus speaks of a time when the different generations of the unjust will be alive at the same time. We read that “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here”—Luke 11:31-32.
Stating that queen of the south and the men of Nineveh will raise up this generation, Jesus is actually pointing to a time when all them that never knew Him at all will be resurrected. Thus, it is clear then that there is a first resurrection to a spirit and eternal life for those whom are righteous and then there will be the second resurrection to flesh and blood of them whom never knew Him. So then, how long will those in the second resurrection be given to learn the truth and to be tempted again by Satan?
We have said already that they will have at least one hundred years. God speaks of this in Isaiah when He says that He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth at the end of all things. Before this, He is going to rebuild Jerusalem and the people who live during this time will live at least one hundred years. We read that “And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed”—Isaiah 65:19-20.
Isaiah also proclaims that the elderly who dies before Christ’s return will also be given a great amount of time to learn the truth. Even the baby who only lives just a short time will live again be nourished with the Word of God for many years. They will all be resurrected where they had left off, in their former state of being with a new lease on life which is being given to them. Speaking to Israel after they had forgotten God, He said to them of a time when they would be confronted with their sins alongside the sinners of Sodom, Samaria and various generations of people. Ezekiel had written that “When I shall bring again their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring again the captives of your captivity among them, that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state”—Ezekiel 16:53-55 NKJV.
In again bringing their captives, God is going to release them from the captivity of the grave and be returning them to their former state as flesh and blood beings. Speaking of Jesus’ own resurrection, it was said that “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive”—Ephesians 4:8. This therefore means that when Jesus was resurrected, He was the first to be released from the captivity of death and the grave. He was therefore the leader and the first to blaze the trail of being resurrected. This shows to us then that Ezekiel writes of a time when people will be resurrected back to where they had left off, at the same age as their death and very most likely, in the same location of their prior existence in life.
Then they will awake and realize their past mistakes alongside the vast generations of the unjust, returned to their former state, but now living in a completely different world than before. There will have been a time of great peace, prosperity and real justice and progress under the Government of God for a thousand years—a literal time of real paradise with God’s ways of life being taught. The Holy Spirit will be available to all people who will repent and accept Jesus Christ and all will come to know the righteous way of living and that Jesus is truly Lord.
But then after the thousand years have finished and the rest of mankind are resurrected to flesh and blood, there will then be a period of time of Satan’s being allowed to deceive the nations again for a period of time. This will take some time for Satan to again start all over again in making things miserable. Revelation further gives us information and shows to us that many will be persuaded to rebel against God: “And (Satan) shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”—Revelation 20:8-10.
After that time, there will then be a final and third resurrection. We read that “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works”—Revelation 20:11-13.
So then, those who knew Jesus Christ and never accepted Him in the first six thousand years of earth’s history will now be raised. Those who died or lived through the Millennium are then also raised or changed, and those who have died or lived after being resurrected following the Millennium will then be raised. This is a separate and distinct resurrection from the first two—thus it is plain to see that there are indications of this.
During this last resurrection, all those that are raised will “stand before God” to be judged according to the works which they have done. Considering that the Lord has told Moses that “there shall no man see me, and live”—Exodus 33:20 and the “dead small and great” will now “stand before God,” this then cannot be a resurrection of flesh and blood. It has to be a resurrection into spirit, a state of being which is able to stand before God and live. Since this is then the case, the resurrection of the unjust and to “flesh and blood” (Ezekiel 37, Luke 11) into their “former state” (Ezekiel 16) must then be a separate resurrection. It is then clear that the resurrection which is spoken of in Ezekiel 37 and 16 is not the first and thus becomes clear that it is not the last either, so then it is the second resurrection.
Another thing that we need to consider is that since we know that the first resurrection is that of God’s chosen ones, them that are called to rule with Christ in the Millennium—and the last resurrection is the rest of mankind; if there were in fact only two resurrections, does it then seem acceptable that our awesome God would then raise billions of people who never had a chance to know Him and His truth, and would judge them “according to their works” when they were not at all deceived by Satan, but never given a chance at all to make a choice based upon knowledge concerning the Eternal be fair? This would be out of character with God who wants to give all people a chance.
So then, the third and final resurrection will then be a great multitude that is so large that they cannot be at all numbered. While being judged, many at this point will be given the gift of eternal life and those who made wrong decisions and are not found in the book of life will then die a second death. We read that “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”—Revelation 20:14-15.
Further, we find that Scripture reveals that those who are not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire. But, contrary also to what some believe, this scripture also requires that some of those in this final resurrection will be given eternal life. It is not just a resurrection of condemnation, but also a formal judgment in which rewards will be given, just like those of the first resurrection—there are those who are rewarded for their works (Matthew 16:27). This is spoken also of by Paul: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”—2 Corinthians 5:10.
Thus, we have found that there is evidence which proves that there are three resurrections: 1) the resurrection of the firstborn or righteous who are resurrected at the return of Jesus Christ. 2) After the thousand years, there will be the resurrection of all the unjust who have not known Jesus Christ to flesh and blood. 3) The third resurrection is both the just and the unjust for the purpose of being judged and the giving of eternal life to the just and death to the unjust.
In speaking to His disciples, Jesus said of the final resurrection that “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”—Matthew 25:32-34.
This is a resurrection therefore of both the just and the unjust. We read that “…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust”—Acts 24:15. So then, we find clear evidence of three resurrections. But the question is, which one will you be in?
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