As I have delved into my Bible like never before, this year has been a year of intense learning and yes, shocking discoveries! I am going to do a series on those new-to-me discoveries. Each of them opens a Pandora’s box of questions, but perhaps on the ones you’ve not heard before, it will get you thinking and studying deeper on your own. There is much in the Bible that many of us have not been exposed to or taught in church, and once you dig deeper, it begins to open up a bigger story.
#1: Did you know there are actually TWO different resurrections of believers 1,000 years apart? Check out some verses:
For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection… Hebrews 11:32-25 (selected)
We see here in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith” that those who hoped for a “better resurrection” actively participated in great acts of faith, sacrifice, and obedience. But when is the “better resurrection?” And what is it?
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4-6 (selected)
One might think this is talking about ALL believers, but later verses in the same chapter reveal that there are believers AND unbelievers in the 2nd resurrection after the 1,000 years, whereas the first resurrection—the better resurrection—ONLY contains believers. What is the difference? Like Hebrews 11 and this passage teach, it is the overcomers—those who live by extreme faith, sacrifice and obedience, who will take part in the first resurrection and reign with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. This is the reward for obedience and the PRIZE that Paul spoke of frequently, speaking as if he might be disqualified if he were to faint or give up. It was not salvation of which he spoke, but the BETTER RESURRECTION of getting an extra 1,000 years ruling and reigning with Christ when He sets up His Kingdom on earth. So then, this better resurrection is the reward and Prize for obedient, sacrificial Christians from Adam to the return of Christ.
Many today have lost this important understanding of the two resurrections by losing our Hebrew perspective on Scriptures, and especially the teaching of the Millennial Kingdom. I have scarcely been taught about this 1,000-year Kingdom, and if it did come up, it was often explained to me as a “symbolic Kingdom.” After my careful studies, I believe that this is NOT the case. It is a literal Kingdom and the Bible speaks of it cover to cover. It is also pictured in many passages as well as in the Hebrew picture language and even the seven days of creation (that correspond to the seven millennia). It is very important for believers in understanding the REASON for sanctification, or becoming like Christ and growing into obedience. It is not works-based salvation (that is a gift), but rewards for obedience. Check out 2 more passages about the 2nd resurrection:
“Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29). Notice that this is one big resurrection with believers and unbelievers together. This is the 2nd resurrection. Those who did good deeds (remember that faith without works is dead) are believers, but they are still not considered overcomers. There are many wonderful Christians who do good deeds by faith but who do not truly overcome through sacrificial living and great acts of faith. They will eventually get their reward of everlasting life, but they will miss 1,000 years serving as the kings, priests, and bride of Jesus at the great Wedding Feast, Sabbath Millennium Rest, and Jubilee (the 1,000-year reign is referred to as all three). All believers have an equal opportunity to live this kind of life by responding to the work of the Spirit’s leading, but it is a lifelong journey of walking in and responding to the call of the Spirit, which is why Paul did not consider himself to have arrived until his death. One side note: contrary to much modern teaching, later we will look at the fact that I believe some Christians will have to go through a retributive Judgment for certain bad behaviors in this life…stay tuned!
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. …And IF anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev. 20:12-15 (selected) Think about this. If this general resurrection did not have both believers AND unbelievers, why would the books have to be opened, especially the “book of life”? Plus it says “IF” their names were not written in the book…
So there you have it. You have learned a very condensed lesson about what I have learned about the 2 resurrections and the purpose of each. Are you pumped up for lesson 2?