In my last entry, “Tell Me What You’re Living For,” we explored some initial reasons for hope and belief in a bodily resurrection (Greek: “anastasis”). But are there more than just a few vague passages (that may have been added by wishful thinkers)? Are there some principles to help us on our way?
Let us contemplate the Divine fingerprints interwoven into the fabric of The Story for shedding light in regard to resurrection, namely through that of certain witnesses and pictures.* You may not understand everything I have written here, but this is a great place to begin our study.
Harvests: Throughout Scripture and Jewish celebratory traditions (called “Feasts”), there is a hugely repetitious agricultural theme culminating in three harvested crops—barley, wheat, and grapes. The barley was the first crop harvested in early spring, celebrated at the Feast of Firstfruits. The wheat harvest began at Pentecost (Feast of Shavuot) and was harvested late spring throughout summer. The grape harvest came at the end of summer/early fall just in time for the last and seventh Feast of Ingathering (or Tabernacles). In fact, all of the crops gathered for the entire harvest season were celebrated together at this week-long fall Feast event, commemorated each year (Oct. 1-7 this year, as in this week)!
Do you really think God was all that excited about dirt, seeds, and food groups (despite being called “feasts,” haha) when He inspired the writings? No. Incorporating Jewish tradition, I believe the three crops represent three types of PEOPLE during different periods of resurrection in His plan of ages, when all people are “harvested” into renewal and imperishability. For some, namely hypocrites of the teachings, this will include a time of correction and restoration. When contemplating immortality, most Christians don’t even realize that the Bible indicates different resurrections occurring at different time periods in the Story, but it does (Heb. 11:35, Rev. 20:6)!
What is particularly inspiring and noteworthy is the notion God conveys with crops that, just as a farmer has no intent of losing any part of his precious, well-tended crop, so God has no intent of losing any part of His either. In fact, the grapes—those depicted as being harvested in the winepress—are considered the most desirable and celebrated part of the crop! Perhaps primarily for the contrast of tough, fleshy grapes being transformed into sweet, soothing wine (see chapters 15-17 in Raising Hell for more development of the Harvests and how they pertain to God’s plan for the ages)!
Spring. Another great evidence of resurrection is seen in the seasons, primarily spring. Each year, there is the order of death preceding life (if you go by the Jewish calendar, where also evening precedes morning, and chaos precedes order). What is interesting is that the source of the plant life does not die, only the outward representation or extremities/extension of life. The leaf, the flower, the stalk dies. The root, the seed, or the trunk/branch—that which contains the essence of life, remains vital, although dormant during the winter season of life. I find this a beautiful representation of our relationship to our Source. He is the good Seed. He is the fertile Soil. He is the Living Water. He is the Vine. He is the Tree of Life. He is the Sun. He is the Gardener/Farmer. He is the reaper. He is all things that give to and facilitate life, shining upon his crops to bring about a most valued and fruitful return of all good produce in due season.
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for ALL, the witness [to be viewed] in its own seasons” (1 Tim. 2:3-6).
As we grow into our understanding and acceptance of who we are and why we are here—to love as image bearers of the Most High—we become the leaves on the Tree of Life, springing forth to bring healing to the nations (Rev. 22) without fail (Ps. 1:3).
People. There are pictures of the different orders of resurrection given throughout Scripture—most of the pictures deal with the “first resurrection” of those who overcome (Rev. 2:25-29). Joseph, left for dead by his brothers, later rose to second in command over all of Egypt. Remember that Joseph was unrecognized by his brothers who expected a harsh sentence for their earlier treatment of him—perhaps even a death sentence—yet they received mercy and provision, deliverance from death by famine, all before they recognized his identity. Joseph depicts Jesus, wearing the robe dipped in blood, but he also represents overcomers who wear a “robe of many colors,” perhaps representing the nations.
Events. The entire journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land is a story about those who have been called out of “Egypt” ahead of the rest—from innate bondage to the written law (rules) and resulting death, to the deliverance and freedom found in the Passover Lamb, to the defeat of unbelief, to the unrelenting desire for other gods, to the invitation of making our home (tabernacling) with God in the Promised Land (PL) as a result of exemplary obedient faith. Resurrection can be seen in the crossing of the Jordan River, which I believe represents death. We see evidence of the first resurrection with the faithful Joshua and Caleb gaining entrance into the PL first. These two young men represent all those who overcome, a type of people who carry the dominion and fruitfulness mandates established in Genesis, and whom Jesus called the “kings and priests.” These are the ones, I believe, who will establish a new and just order upon the earth (Ps. 122:5, 1 Pet. 2:5, Rev. 1:6, 5:10, 20:4-6) in the coming days at some future point.
Prophecy. Acts 3:19-21 speaks of a “restoration of ALL things,” spoken about through the prophets. It would be difficult to restore all things if most things were stuck in an eternal abyss somewhere in a corner of creation. What a failure! But Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:55, speaking of those participating in the first resurrection: “we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” This last trumpet is the 7th trumpet of symbolic Revelation—the sound of a new order being announced in the heavenlies! Also, I love the word in that verse that translators rendered “moment.” It is the Greek word, atomos, the word from which we get “atom,” and actually means the least divisible particle (don’t ask me how they got “moment” out of that??). What Paul was saying is that we will be completely transformed (eventually all of us in our own seasons) down to our atoms, perhaps even electrons and quarks!
And so, as they say, it’s all good in the end. So if it’s not ALL good, it’s not the end.
* The witness means that every matter of truth is affirmed at least 2-3 times by different means, as set forth in Scriptures (i.e. 2 Cor. 13:1). Generally, a legitimate witness is thought to be established by The Law (Moses/the written instruction), the Prophets, and Jesus (the living Word).
“But now apart from the Law the justice of God has been manifested [in Jesus], being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the justice of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all and upon all those who believe. Tor there is no distinction, for all have sinned…” (Rom. 3:21-23).
But there certainly other witnesses—science and nature, personal revelation, other writers of Scripture, etc. A second Divine fingerprint that was perhaps “tamper-resistant” can still be discovered in “pictures.” The OT is full of stunning pictures that never would have made sense to those writing at the time, those with no Jewish understanding, or to those who did not understand God’s unilateral promise to Abraham of Universal Salvation (Gen. 12:3, Acts 3:25), or to Jews who rejected the notion of a later-born preeminent Son (as depicted through many later born anointed sons—Abel, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and David) who held the first place of resurrection, honor, and authority in the family even though he came later chronologically. Essentially, I think that means most people throughout history (there were random exceptions), including erring translators, glossed over the pictures out of ignorance, perhaps until the Internet came along and began helping people put many different perspectives together. Some of these pictures are featured in this blog.