Most Christians have a very fuzzy understanding of the resurrections of man. Many believers imagine that there will be only one resurrection of the dead. The types and shadows of the Old Testament that Yahweh ordained to show forth truth pertaining to the resurrections are largely neglected by the church today. It is the rare minister who spends time instructing the body about these things, demonstrating to them what the shadows of an earlier epoch are pointing to.
Yahweh has revealed in the Old Testament, through types and shadows, that there will be three resurrections, three ingatherings of men from the earth. As different groups are brought to maturity, they will be gathered to God, each in his own order. The three resurrections are not only revealed through types in the Old Testament, they are shown forth in plain speech in the New Testament. The following Scripture reveals that there will be more than one resurrection.
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power…
There will be a total of three resurrections. Yahweh does all things with great order and design. The number three is a very significant in the Scriptures. E.W. Bullinger, in his book Number in Scripture, shares the following about the importance of the number three.
In this number we have quite a new set of phenomena. We come to the first geometrical figure. Two straight lines cannot possibly enclose any space, or form a plane figure; neither can two plane surfaces form a solid. Three lines are necessary to form a plane figure; and three dimensions of length, breadth, and height, are necessary to form a solid. Hence three is the symbol of the cube – the simplest form of solid figure. As two is the symbol of the square, or plane contents (x2), so three is the symbol of the cube, or solid contents (x3).
Three, therefore, stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire. All things that are specially complete are stamped with this number three.
God’s attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
There are three great divisions completing time – past, present, and future.
Three persons, in grammar, express and include all the relationships of mankind.
Thought, word, and deed, complete the sum of human capability…
Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter – mineral, vegetable, and animal.
When we turn to the Scriptures, this completion becomes Divine, and marks Divine completeness or perfection. Three is the first of four perfect numbers.
*Three denotes divine perfection;
*Seven denotes spiritual perfection;
*Ten denotes ordinal perfection; and
*Twelve denotes governmental perfection.
Hence the number three points us to what is real, essential, perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine.
If there were only one resurrection, it would lack the marks of being “perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine.” To bring the creation to a perfect and complete state Yahweh has determined that there must be three resurrections. We need go no further than the first chapter of the Bible to see resurrection depicted, and to find it related to the number three. As Yahweh moved to re-create the earth, the narrative of Genesis tells us that on the third day God caused the earth to arise out from under the waters. Prior to this the waters covered all things.
Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
On the third day we see the first pattern for resurrection. The land arising out of the water stands as a symbol of man arising out of death. Man’s flesh was formed of the dust of the earth, and throughout Scriptures we see man passing through, or arising from waters, serving as a sign of death and resurrection. Baptism serves as a figure of the same.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Yahshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…
Baptism serves as a parable of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and of those who become one with Christ. As we are put beneath the waters, we symbolically die to our old Adamic life that is enslaved to sin. As we are brought up out of the water, we are resurrected to newness of life in Christ. This resurrection was foreshadowed as early as the first chapter of Genesis as the earth from which man’s flesh would be formed arose from its watery tomb. This happened on the third day, even as Christ rose from the grave on the third day. The number three is inseparably linked to resurrection.
(The three resurrections of man will be addressed more specifically later. At this time I will take a more general view of resurrection while bringing out certain truths.)
As we look at the types and shadows of the Old Testament we can determine when the first resurrection must occur. The types of the Old Testament also affirm the truth that all men will eventually be saved. A common type that Yahweh has given to us to show forth resurrection is the harvesting of a crop. Christ employed a harvest allegory in one of His parables to reveal the resurrection at the end of the age.
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Yahshua presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn…'” Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the Sun the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
In the book of Revelation, John also is shown images of angels reaping the earth, symbolizing the gathering to God of mankind.
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
What is there on the earth that God desires to reap? Yahweh is not raising barley, or wheat, or grapes. He is raising up sons who will share His image and likeness. Christ compared men to wheat in the parable above. In another place, Christ compared men to fish that are drawn up in a net out of the sea. Yahweh harvests both that which is on the land and in the sea. (One sense in which this is to be understood is that God will save both the living – those on the land; and the dead – those in the sea. Compare to Revelation 20:13) These illustrations are employed by Christ as symbols of both salvation and resurrection.
There is a very significant event in the Old Testament that combines the image of passing through water, and the imagery of harvest, into the same account. The event also marks an extremely important moment in the history of God’s chosen people. We can accurately infer that it was intended as a parallel to equally important events in the kingdom of God.
After Israel spent forty years in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses, Yahweh raised up a new leader. Moses died and was buried without ever having set foot in the land of promise. Joshua was Yahweh’s chosen leader to guide the people of Israel across the Jordan and into the land of their inheritance. The choice of Joshua was one of great design. This man bore the same name as the Messiah who would one day come and lead God’s people into their spiritual inheritance in God.
Joshua’s first act as leader of God’s people was to prepare them to cross over into their inheritance. This action parallels the work of Christ Who has come to prepare men to enter into their inheritance in the kingdom of God. In order for men and women to be readied to receive a spiritual inheritance they must be consecrated unto God. They must be separated from the world and its defilements. They must be set apart as holy unto Yahweh. This work of consecration by the Savior of mankind is foreshadowed through Joshua as he prepared the people of God to enter into their inheritance in the land of Canaan.
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you.”
I trust you are familiar, at least in a general sense, with the story of the crossing of the Jordan. Israel approached the Jordan, and it was at flood stage, an annual occurrence. The Jordan stood as a great obstacle in their way. It had to be crossed in order to arrive at the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to them. Similarly, God has set an inheritance before the disciples of Christ.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints…
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.
The natural inheritance of Israel was awesome. The land they were to inherit was exceedingly fruitful. A single cluster of grapes had to be borne on the shoulders of two men. The land was full of orchards and cultivated fields. There were houses to be possessed that the Israelites would not have to construct themselves. There was fantastic wealth to found among the treasures of the people they would drive out.
“Then it shall come about when Yahweh your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget Yahweh who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
These things serve as parallels to that inheritance Christ has prepared for the saints. It too is extraordinary. We are to possess dwelling places we did not build ourselves. These dwelling places will be the glorified bodies of the saints that Christ has gone to prepare for us.
II Corinthians 5:1-4
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, age-abiding in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.
It is glorified bodies that Christ was referring to when He told His disciples that He was going ahead of them to prepare a place for them. One thing stands in the way of our receiving these new and glorious habitations, even as the Jordan River stood in the way of Israel. We cannot receive our new bodies until after we have put off the old. Death is the obstacle in our way.
As the Israelites passed through the waters of the Jordan, surrounded on either side, they were symbolically passing through death in order to attain to their inheritance that Joshua (a figure of Yahshua the Messiah) was to give to them. There are many evidences provided in the details of this account that demonstrate that it was intended to serve as a parable of those things the saints must experience to enter into their inheritance in Christ.
The Israelites had been camped before the Jordan River in their tents for three days (three is related to resurrection).
Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.”
Joshua led the Israelites to the Jordan, and Christ leads us to the disciple’s cross. For three days the Israelites camped there, then Joshua told them to prepare themselves “for tomorrow Yahweh will do wonders among you.” Can you think of anything more wondrous than to pass through death into life, and to receive the glorious inheritance prepared for the saints?
In the passage above we read of Joshua instructing the Israelites to focus on the Ark of the Covenant. In a previous chapter I mentioned that the Ark is a symbol of mankind. To be more specific, the Ark is a symbol of perfected man. The Ark was made of wood, but it was completely overlaid with gold, both within and without. This speaks of purity. The Ark contained the tablets of the Law, and this symbolized having the Law (rule) of God engraved upon the heart of man. Christ was the first man to fulfill the types and shadows of the Ark. He was both the Son of Man and the Son of God. He was entirely holy. He ever lived to do the Father’s will.
As the Israelites prepared to cross the Jordan they were told to observe the Ark. It would be carried on the shoulders of the priests into the waters of the Jordan before them. In the same way, Christ is our forerunner. He has tasted of death for each one of us, and He is the first to enter into His inheritance. When we see Christ crucified, then we know that the time is near at hand for each of us to depart from our dwelling places and to follow after Him. We too must experience the death of the cross, or we cannot enter into our inheritance.
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
A marvelous testimony is brought forth in this account of the crossing of the Jordan. The details of this event are pregnant with hidden meaning.
And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of Yahweh your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Why did the Father command that a distance be kept between the Ark and the next group of people to cross the Jordan? And why did the Father specifically determine that the distance be “about 2,000 cubits”? This is all by marvelous design. Christ must cross ahead of His brothers. Each cubit represents a year. It would be “about 2,000” years from the time that Christ tasted death and entered into glory until the next group to follow after Him would be resurrected into glory. Yahweh could have been very precise, but He has intentionally hidden the hour and the day from mankind. Therefore, He will tell us only that it will be about 2,000 years from Christ entering into His inheritance until a firstfruits group of overcoming Christians enters into their inheritance.
There is far more in the description of this crossing for us yet to glean. Consider the following details.
So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant before the people, and when those who carried the Ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off.
I mentioned already that the Israelites had to leave their tents in order to cross the Jordan. This is a strange detail to include in the Scriptures. It should go without saying that the Israelites only journeyed by exiting their tents. A man cannot travel while still staying in his tent. Such a detail appears to be superfluous if one views this account merely on a physical level as history.
This reveals an error of much of the church today. Many read the Old Testament as history, but do not study it to discern the hidden mysteries of this present age and the ages to come. The mention of the Israelites setting out from their tents is not a meaningless detail when one views this event as prophecy. These things were written for our benefit, and our instruction.
I Corinthians 10:11
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The events that happened to Israel in the wilderness serve as “types of us.”
I Corinthians 10:6
And those things became types of us…
(Young’s Literal Translation)
Yahweh is revealing that we must set out from our tents, we must lay aside these earthly bodies, in order to enter into our inheritance. We cannot ascend to glory apart from tasting of death first. We cannot receive new habitations, or dwelling places, aside from first putting off the old.
These things are not to be understood on a natural plane alone. There is spiritual truth in them. We must die to our natural Adamic life if we are to enter into our inheritance in Christ. No man can cross into his inheritance apart from first becoming a partaker in Christ’s cross.
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Paul spoke of the old Adamic life as something that must be put off.
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Yahshua: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Even as the Israelites had to “set out from their tents” in order to become possessors of new and glorious dwellings, so too must we put off the old man and put on Christ. This is how we consecrate ourselves prior to crossing into our inheritance. Our old nature must be crucified that Christ might be revealed in us.
Another detail of the crossing was that it occurred at harvest time. “For the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest…” Harvests, as we have seen, are symbolic of God reaping the earth to gather men unto Himself. Yahweh, with great intent, determined that Israel must cross the Jordan at harvest time for their crossing was to serve as a symbol of resurrection.
In the account of the crossing, our Father has also given us another salient detail. If we see this account merely as history, the detail would mean very little. However, knowing that Yahweh is revealing mysteries through what is recorded for us, we are able to marvel at what is disclosed. We read:
The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan…
The waters of death were rolled back all the way to Adam. This detail is a further testimony that Yahweh has provided salvation for all mankind. Adam’s name means “man” and he is the first of our race. In Adam was contained the seed of every man who would ever be born (with the exception of Christ who was born of heavenly seed). Yahweh gives us this detail, indeed He caused the waters to flow back to the precise location of this city, to prophesy of His intent to provide life to every man born of Adam.
I Timothy 4:10
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
How wonderful is the plan of God! His work will not be complete until He reconciles all men to Himself through Christ. Consecrate yourselves! There is an inheritance to be entered into. We must follow Christ through death as we embrace the cross. Then we can emerge into resurrection life.
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