THE FIRST AND SECOND RESURRECTIONS
April 1, 1987 Issue
Most popular concept of the first and second resurrection mentioned in the highly figurative twentieth chapter of Revelations has swept the religious world. It is erroneous and dangerous in that it is anti-scriptural. It ignores the real plan of God regarding the end of time. This erroneous concept may be described in the following way:
1. The first resurrection is the resurrection of the righteous saints and their rapture with the living saints of that time.
2. The 1000 year reign on the earth with Christ sitting on his throne in Jerusalem.
3. At the end of the 1000 year reign the wicked will be resurrected and the judgment day will follow.
That this is an erroneous interpretation may be clearly seen by the following scriptures and considerations:
1. Not all resurrections in the scriptures are literal bodies coming out of literal graves. Here are some examples:
A. Ezekial 37. This chapter describes a figurative resurrection. It was written about the time Israel was in their 70 year Babylonian Captivity. Their hope of seeing, living and worshiping God again in Jerusalem was dead. The people were not dead. Their hope was. Now read verses 1-14 where the bones seen in the valley represents the people of Israel in captivity with no hope of returning to Jerusalem. Verses 11 -l4 teaches that this represents their restoration to their own land at the end of the 70 year captivity (not near the end of time) was under consideration using the figure of bodies coming from their death. In other words a figurative resurrection such as the first and second resurrection in Revelation 20.
B. Romans 6:3-4 speaks of the baptism commissioned by Jesus as being a burial and the coming forth from that baptism as a resurrection. Not a literal resurrection of a literal body coming out of the literal ground but a spiritual resurrection.
C. Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elias (Elijah) "which was for to come." Matthew 11:14. This was in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Malachi 4:5-6. John the Baptist came with the same work and disposition of Elijah in trying to restore the true law of God and cause the people to repent toward God and his commandments. Thus you have John the Baptists work being a resurrection of the same kind of work Elijah did. It was not a literal resurrection of Elijah but a figurative one just like the first resurrection (a resurrection of the disposition and work of those souls who in the past history of the church loved the word of God unto death and had not worshiped and served the things the beast and the image of the beast stood for, i.e. pagan and apostate powers coupled with religion) in Revelation 20:4. The second resurrection is another figurative resurrection that takes place at the end of what the symbol "1000 years" stands for and is a resurrection of the work and disposition of those who supported what the beast and the image of the beast stood for. This figurative resurrection gives Satan a far reaching organization (Gog and Magog is the symbol) through which he can exert his influence against the church (the camp and beloved city) much like he did in Revelation 13. This will be followed by the end of time and the judgment day.
II. Since the first resurrection has to do with the righteous only is cause enough to interpret it figuratively for Jesus said in John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54 that he would raise the righteous on "the last day." These verses would not be true if the righteous were raised and then 1000 literal years pass before "the last day." Revelation 20 contains passages that are difficult of interpretation such as the "first resurrection" passages. Therefore we must interpret them in the light of these plain and easy to understand passages in John 6. Since the "first resurrection" does not occur on "the last day" it does not refer to the literal resurrection of the righteous from their graves.
Ill. The third reason the first resurrection must be interpreted figuratively is found in Matthew 13:30, 38-43 where the tares (the children of the wicked one) are gathered first and "burned in the fire." This is the exact opposite of the literal interpretation of the "first resurrection" being a gathering and rapturing of the righteous. Remember, Jesus teaches that the wicked will be gathered first at the end. Not the saints.
IV. The fourth reason these must be interpreted as figurative resurrections (the first and second) is found in Job 14:112. "So man lieth down and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." The heavens will not be destroyed until the earth is according to 2 Peter 3:10-12. So, there will not be any literal resurrection until the last day when both the righteous and the wicked will be raised together literally according to John 5:28-29.
Other Related OPA Article Links:
1000 Year Reign
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