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Daniel and Revelation
Revelation 20 ---- New Wine
In the previous two chapters, we have looked at the two major camps of eschatology: amillennialism and dispensationalism. We have also looked at historic premillennialism, which is basically the same as dispensationalism without as much emphasis on distinguishing Israel and the Church. Historic premillennialists have said the Church is a “spiritual Israel” and generally do not believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. Historic premillennialists generally believe that all of God’s people will live here on the earth during Christ’s millennial reign. Dispensationalists, on the other hand, believe the Church will remain in heaven. They say the purpose of the millennial reign is to fulfill Old Testament prophecy. But why did God prophesy the Messianic reign? Why is the Messianic reign needed? Why doesn’t God simply bring all believers to heaven and destroy all the wicked, as is the amillennial claim? Neither historic premillennialists nor dispensationalists seem to have a good answer for this question.
Revelation 20:1-8 I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time. (4) I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn't worship the beast nor his image, and didn't receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead didn't live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is he who has 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 one thousand years. (7) And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and he will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Both the dispensationalists and the historic premillennialists interpret Revelation 20 almost identically. The souls of those who were beheaded come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years. This is the “first resurrection.” It’s assumed that the souls of those beheaded represents all Christians of all ages. The second resurrection is said to be a thousand years later. At that time, everyone who has not accepted Christ as Savior will be resurrected in order to be judged. Then they are thrown into the lake of fire. There are several problems with this view.
We must remember that John wrote Revelation, and that John had already written the Gospel of John. Both dispensationalists and historic premillennialists believe that Revelation 20 adds detail to the two resurrections spoken of in John’s Gospel. John 5:28-29 speaks of two resurrections that occur in one “hour.”
John 5:28-29 ESV Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Both dispensationalists and historic premillennialists believe that Revelation 20 stretches this hour into a thousand years. Or some might say there are really two hours that are separated by a thousand years. The general principle of progressive revelation, however, states that later Scripture should be interpreted in the context of earlier Scripture. One’s natural interpretation of earlier Scripture should not change because the author and audience of the earlier Scripture did not have the later Scripture. This is especially true when the later Scripture and the earlier Scripture is by the same author.
In Revelation 20:5, the “first resurrection” would be the first of those two resurrections in John 5:28-29. To say these two resurrections are separated by a thousand years makes John’s gospel, and these words of Jesus, be in direct contradiction. The natural interpretation of Revelation 20 would allow for a third event that happens a thousand years later. But that third event is never actually called a resurrection. To be resurrected means you are brought back to life, with a new body, so that you can live again.
To come back to life for the purpose of judgment and being thrown into the lake of fire should not be called a resurrection. It would be more like Samuel being awakened from his sleep when Saul went to the medium to talk with Samuel after Samuel had died. Samuel was not resurrected. He did not get a new body. But John 5:29 says those who had done evil are to be given a resurrection of judgment.
Those who have lived a good life are given a resurrection of life. In verse 24 explicitly say they have eternal life and will not come under judgment. So by contrast, those who are given a resurrection of judgment do not have eternal life. They are still under judgment. But they get to live again. This is not a “second chance.” We all get many chances to live for Christ and inherit eternal life. This resurrection of judgment is given for those who have not explicitly and knowingly become one of Christ’s enemies.
This is what is taught in the three parables of Matthew 25. The parable of ten virgins, five wise and five foolish is about people in the Church waiting on the bridegroom to return. The parable of the servants with five, two, and one talent is also about wise and wicked people in the Church. And the parable of sheep and goats is about Christ judging the foolish people of the nations who are resurrected after Christ returns. Remember, however, that those who are given a resurrection of life, in the first resurrection, are no longer under judgment. So the sheep and the goats are those in the nations who are resurrected in the second resurrection, in that same hour, which is a resurrection of judgment. This judgment happens during the course of their resurrected life.
We must also consider the parable of the wheat and the tares. This parable is also about the wise and the wicked in the Church. Satan has sown wicked people in the Church who know about Christ’s salvation. But they do not live lives in obedience to Christ. They do not really consider Christ their Lord and Master. They do not live lives that lead to holiness. They wind up being wicked and are not resurrected, along with everyone else who becomes an enemy of Christ. Instead, they are awakened from their soul sleep at the end of the thousand years and are thrown into the lake of fire.
I think the main problem with the traditional interpretation of these four parables is that it makes salvation be all about works. The sheep perform acts to kindness to others. They are saved. The goats fail to perform acts of kindness to others. They go to hell. The servants who are given five and two talents put those talents to work. They are saved. The servant who does not put his one talent to work goes to hell.
The parable of the ten virgins also has the same problem. All ten virgins are waiting on the bridegroom. So all ten are believers. All ten are asleep when the bridegroom comes. The only difference between the wise and the foolish virgins is the amount of oil. Is this the amount of faith? If so, then how much faith do you need to be saved? Is this the amount of works? Free-Grace advocates should have problems with this parable. Either you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior or you have not. There is no amount of oil involved. The New Wine System has three groups of people in the grave and not the traditional two. And these three parables are great illustrations about the wise, the foolish, and the wicked.
The parable about wheat and the tares, and the parable about servants with five, two, and one talent, are both about people in the Church. It’s not about people who do not know Christ. The wicked servant with one talent considers his master as unloving and somewhat wicked. That would be people in the Church who don’t make use of the spiritual gifts they have been given because they have a very low opinion of Christ. They are not counted even as foolish. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the tares are in the Church. So they know Christ. But they are secretly Christ’s enemies, because the enemy (Satan) has sown them in the Church. So again, they know Christ because they are in the Church. But they do not really follow Christ. So they are not even considered to be foolish. They are wicked because they know Christ but reject Christ at their Lord and Master.
These parables, and also the Sermon on the Mount, is where we get the terms: wise, foolish, and wicked. That’s how Jesus described them. And I believe Jesus got this from Daniel 12. In Daniel 12:3, the foolish would be those who are taught righteousness by the wise during the millennium.
By definition, eschatology is the study of the end times, as well as the study of the intermediate state of the soul between death and the resurrection. Over the centuries, all the different views of eschatology can be divided into two major camps: preterism and futurism. The word ‘preterist’ means past-fulfillment. Preterists believe that most Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled. Full-preterists believe that all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled. The opposite of this is futurists. Futurists believe that a significant portion of the Bible’s prophecies are yet to be fulfilled.
Traditional preterists are generally amillennial. They believe the 1000-year reign of Christ in Revelation 20 is currently underway. Or they might believe it’s in the future, but before Christ returns. Full-preterists would say the 1000-year reign was the forty years from the crucifixion to 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.
Futurists believe the 1000-year reign is in the future after Christ returns. Christ literally reigns here on earth as the head of a one-world government. This is also known as premillennialism. Futurists also believe in a short period of time called the great tribulation, just prior to Christ’s return, during which an evil man known as the antichrist will literally reign over the entire world.
Preterists tend to spiritualize or allegorize Old Testament prophecies, and believe they were fulfilled during Christ’s first coming. Futurists believe these Old Testament prophecies will be literally fulfilled in the future.
Most preterists generally equate futurism with dispensationalism. Dispensationalists make a strong distinction between Israel and the Church. Most preterists would say that the Church is a New Testament extension of Old Testament Israel. Thus Israel is the Church. But the way they view it, is that the Church replaces Israel. New Wine Premillennialism, on the other hand, says that Gentile believers are grafted into Israel. We are Israel, but the Old Testament prophecies are to be fulfilled literally in Israel. Dispensationalists would never equate Israel with the Church.
The clear distinction between Israel and the Church allows the dispensationalists to stick with a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies, as being fulfilled literally in the future, without challenging the traditional New Testament beliefs of eschatology and the afterlife. The New Testament can say one thing about the Church, while the Old Testament says another thing about Israel. Dispensationalists say there are two purposes of God, one being heavenly and the other being earthly. The two do not have to be reconciled if Israel is not the Church. For this to work, the dispensationalist must maintain a distinction between Israel and the Church to the point of saying the Church will spend eternity in heaven and Israel will spend eternity here on the earth after Christ returns.
Not all futurists are dispensational. There is a futurist system known as historic premillennialism. The best-known proponent of this system is the late George E. Ladd. Ladd was premillennial, but he was not a dispensationalist. Ladd wrote a lot of really great things about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom, he said, is partially fulfilled in our hearts now, but will be completely fulfilled in the millennium. Most of the covenants are partially fulfilled in the Church age, but will be completely and literally fulfilled when Christ returns. Ladd’s influence probably caused many dispensationalists to come up with a new branch of dispensationalism called progressive dispensationalism. In it, the distinctions between Israel and the Church no longer exist in that all the covenants are applied in the same literal manner to both Israel and the Church. But the seven dispensations remain. So it’s still considered to be dispensational.
Historic premillennialism is about as close as you can be to the middle-ground between amillennialist and dispensationalism without challenging the traditional New Testament beliefs about eschatology and the afterlife. Ladd considered the Church to be a “spiritual Israel.” Thus, he still drew some distinctions between Israel and the Church. But as Ladd started to move away from dispensationalism, letting the Church be more and more the same as Israel, he had to start allegorizing and spiritualizing the Old Testament prophecies about Israel, similar to the preterist approach.
As we will see, New Wine Premillennialism is similar to historical premillennialism in that it’s futuristic and premillennial, and it yet does not separate Israel and the Church. However, New Wine Premillennialism goes further in saying that there is no difference at all between Israel and the Church. We are grafted into Israel. New Wine Premillennialism interprets Old Testament prophecies about Israel in the same literal (historical-grammatical) way of the dispensationalists, but applies those prophecies directly to the New Testament Church. In order to do this, New Wine Premillennialism must challenge some of the traditional New Testament beliefs about eschatology and the afterlife. In other words, New Wine Premillennialism holds that there are three types of people in the grave instead of the traditional two. These are the wise, the foolish, and the wicked and they correspond to the two resurrections at the start of the millennium and the awakening from soul sleep at the end of the millennium.
When did the traditional and fundamental New Testament beliefs of eschatology and the afterlife develop? And exactly what are they? During the majority of the centuries of church history, the majority of the Church theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, were preterist and amillennial. Without the millennium, there can be only two types of people in the grave. Either you are saved, or you are not saved. There is no millennial reign for the foolish group.
Fundamentally, amillennialists believed in a future return of Christ, with an immediate and literal destruction of the heavens and the earth by fire, an immediate day of judgment, and an immediate and literal new heavens and new earth. They did not believe in an earthly literal reign of Christ. So if Christ were to return at any moment, everyone’s eternal destiny would be finalized at that point in time. They believed that those in Christ, when they die, go straight to heaven (or perhaps purgatory.) Or if you were not in Christ you are eternally punished in the fire of hell starting immediately after death. Without an earthly reign of Christ, no other alternative could be considered.
As we have already seen, preterists (both traditional and full) must use allegories or spiritualization to force Old Testament prophecies to be already fulfilled in the first coming of Christ. It’s often said that the Old Testament must be reinterpreted in light of the New Testament. (Dispensationalists do not see the New Testament teachings about the Church as applying to Israel.) But instead of reinterpreting the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, what if we were to reinterpret the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament? What if we were to temporarily suspend our knowledge of the New Testament when we read the Old Testament? After all, the New Testament did not exist when the Old Testament was written. Then, we can interpret the New Testament in the same way the Jewish audience of that day would have done.
With this in mind let’s take a fresh look at what the Old Testament teaches. Read it as if it’s talking about your own future. If you are in Christ, you are Israel. The Church is Israel. If you are in Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). If you are in Christ, this is about you as Israel. For those not in Christ, this is about you as the nations.
Any good overview of the Old Testament must start with Genesis. God created the heavens and the earth. God created Man. And then Adam fell into sin. When this happened, all was lost. Eternal life was lost. Prosperity was lost. Peace on earth was lost. But God established a plan to restore all things.
Most of the world fell into the worship of idols and many different gods. If those gods existed at all, they were really demons. There was often an understanding that there is a one true God over all the many gods. But Paganism effectively separated most people from any type of relationship with the one true God who created the heavens and the earth.
However, there were some people left who worshiped the one true God. This Bible tells us about Job, Abraham, and Melchizedek. God chose Abraham and gave him a special promise. This was known as a covenant, which is an unbreakable promise.
God choose Abram and changed his name to Abraham. In doing so, God made Abraham the father of a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:4-6). To accomplish this, God made Abraham the father of a chosen kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6), called Israel. Through this nation there would be a Messiah who would be the Savior of Israel (Isaiah 45:15-18). This Savior will also be the Prince of Peace, and the government will be on his shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). That government will have no end (Isaiah 9:7). Through this one holy nation, God’s righteousness will be made known to all the nations (Psalm 98:2-3, Isaiah 42:6-7, 61:11, 62:2).
Genesis 17:4-6 "As for me, behold,
my covenant is with you. You will be the father of a multitude of nations.
(5) Neither will your name any more be called
Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude
of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly
fruitful, and I will make nations of you. Kings will come out of you.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine; (6) and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Isaiah 45:15-18 Most certainly you are a God who hid yourself, God of Israel, the Savior.' " (16) They will be disappointed, yes, confounded, all of them. Those who are makers of idols will go into confusion together. (17) Israel will be saved by Yahweh with an everlasting salvation. You will not be disappointed nor confounded to ages everlasting. (18) For thus says Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn't create it a waste, who formed it to be inhabited: "I am Yahweh; and there is no other.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.
Psalms 98:2-3 Yahweh has made known his salvation. He has openly shown his righteousness in the sight of the nations. (3) He has remembered his loving kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Isaiah 42:6-7 "I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations; (7) to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.
A bit later, God gave the law to these chosen people through Moses. Through the law, God teaches man how to overcome the sin that caused everything to be lost. This included ten important commandments that were written in stone by God himself. God taught that sin brings death by teaching that anyone who disobeyed these Ten Commandments should be put to death.
Not only did the law contain God’s commandments regarding sin, the Law of Moses also contained rules and regulations for the government. The Law of Moses is a theocracy. Moses judged the people. Seventy elders were appointed to help (Numbers 11:16). Including Moses himself, these seventy-one people are considered to be the first Sanhedrin. As members needed replacing, new members underwent Semicha ordination. This continued unbroken through the time of Christ, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and even down until 425 AD.
Most Christians believe that when you die, those in Christ go straight to heaven (or perhaps purgatory.) Or if you were not in Christ you are eternally punished in the in the fire of hell starting immediately after death. This is taught early to children, and becomes an integral and unquestioned part of our culture. At funerals the pastor will often comfort the grieving by saying the deceased is in a better place (meaning heaven.) Ancient Jews, however, did not believe this. Ancient Jewish children were taught that when you die, you go to Sheol, which literally means the grave. Both the righteous and the unrighteous went to Sheol to rest and to await the resurrection. This is what the Old Testament teaches. When Martha was grieving over the death of her brother Lazarus, she took comfort in knowing the he will rise again on the last day (John 11:24). There was no expectation of seeing Lazarus in heaven.
The first mention of the resurrection in the Old Testament is in Isaiah 26. First, Isaiah talks about the wicked who will not be resurrected:
Isaiah 26:10-14 ESV If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly and does not see the majesty of the LORD. (11) O LORD, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it . Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for your adversaries consume them. (12) O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works. (13) O LORD our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance. (14) They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end you have visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them.
People who are shown the hand of God, but refuse to see it, will not be resurrected. They refuse to learn righteousness. Think about this from the perspective of both the righteous and the unrighteous resting in Sheol. Those to whom God reveals Himself, and yet they deliberately and knowingly choose to remain in wickedness, will not be escape from the grave.
Isaiah also said in verse 11, “Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.” The NIV translates this as, “Let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.” At some point, after God’s enemies (adversaries) are no longer in Sheol, fire will consume them. Notice that these are God’s enemies or adversaries. They are people who explicitly set themselves against the Creator of the world. They are not simply people who sin.
Then, Isaiah said in verse 13, “Other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance.” And then the next verse says they are dead and will not live again. God has “wiped out all remembrance of them.” One could argue that Isaiah is simply saying those who have ruled over Israel are no longer to be remembered. But the context here, especially in the verses that follow, is that of the resurrection. Isaiah explicitly says, “they will not live” and “they will not arise.” Also, in the context that follows, Isaiah speaks of the growth of Israel. They have possessed more land.
In this context, Isaiah seems to be saying that Israel’s growth is important because foreign rulers tend to become enemies of God. When they see the power of God, but this does not cause them to seek God’s righteousness, they become enemies of God. They reject God’s authority over them. In so doing, they lose their chance of being raised from the dead at the resurrection. This, then, is the real definition of unredeemed evil and wickedness. Those who deliberately and knowingly reject God lose their opportunity to be saved from the grave (Sheol). They will not live again.
Next, Isaiah talks about God’s chosen people, the holy nation of Israel. God has blessed them, increasing the size of their land. But God didn’t choose the holy nation only for the benefit of that one nation. God chose a holy nation to be priests and a blessing to the world (Exodus 19:5-6). But Israel has failed to bring righteousness to the world, so that the people of the world can escape the grave.
Isaiah 26:15-18 ESV But you have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation; you are glorified; you have enlarged all the borders of the land. (16) O LORD, in distress they sought you; they poured out a whispered prayer when your discipline was upon them. (17) Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O LORD; (18) we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen.
First, notice that God had expanded the borders of Israel. For a while people not in Israel ruled over Israel. “In distress, they sought you.” They “whispered prayer when your discipline was upon them.” Discipline for what? It was discipline for righteousness. But did this small discipline allow them to escape the grave?
Isaiah uses the metaphor of the pregnant woman in speaking about the resurrection. Israel was described as a pregnant woman. But the woman only gave birth to wind. Think about it. To only give birth to wind means exactly what that brings to mind. Under the discipline of Israel, there was “no deliverance [from] the earth.” There was no deliverance from the grave for the nations.
This metaphor of the pregnant woman is used many times in Scripture with this being the original source. It is always about the resurrection, with Israel being an important part of God’s plan for bringing about the resurrection. Israel is the woman, about to give birth.
Isaiah 66:7-9 "Before she travailed,
she brought forth; before her pain came, she delivered a son.
(8) Who has heard such a thing? who has seen such things? Shall a land
be born in one day? shall a nation be brought forth at once? for as soon as Zion
travailed, she brought forth her children. (9)
Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth?" says Yahweh:
"shall I who cause to bring forth shut the womb?" says your God.
Hosea 13:12-13 ESV The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store. (13) The pangs of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son, for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb.
Matthew 24:8 But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape.
Revelation 12:1-2 A great sign was seen in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (2) She was with child. She cried out in pain, laboring to give birth.
The pregnant woman can be found in Isaiah 66:7-9. The resurrection of Christ is in verse 7. Israel gives birth to the first son before she was in labor. Then, verses 8b through 9 speak of the rest of Israel giving birth to all the brothers of Christ. This is the resurrection of the Church, which is Israel, on the last day.
The pregnant woman is also in Hosea 13:12-13. This is about the sins of Ephraim, the northern kingdom. They knew about God. They had the teachings of Israel. But they deliberately turned to idol worship. Verse 13 (ESV) says the “pains of childbirth come for him, but he is an unwise son, for at the right time he does not present himself at the opening of the womb.” In other words, they are not to be resurrected. They knew about God’s salvation. But they deliberately and knowingly rejected it.
Temporarily skipping over to the New Testament, the pregnant woman can be found in Matthew 24:8. The signs of wars, and rumors of wars, are the beginning of the birth pains of the woman. In other words, the signs of Matthew 24 tell us what will be happening leading up to the time of the resurrection.
The pregnant woman can also be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. While the world is saying “peace and security,” the sudden destruction of Armageddon will come upon it like the birth pains of a pregnant woman. The resurrection is on the “last day,” right before Armageddon and the return of Christ.
And finally, the pregnant woman can be found in Revelation 12. The woman is Israel. This vision is very similar to Isaiah 66:7-9. The resurrection of Christ is the male child (Rev. 12:5) who is caught up to God and to his throne. Then later the woman gives birth to many of his brothers.
We have now seen all the places in Scripture that use metaphor of the pregnant woman. All are about the resurrection. So now let’s go back to our discussion of the original in Isaiah 26. What does the last part of verse 18 mean? Israel only gives birth to wind. Israel accomplishes no deliverance from the grave. So what does Isaiah mean with, “The inhabitants of the world have not fallen” (verse 18b)? This can be seen in the next few verses:
Isaiah 26:19-21 ESV Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. (20) Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. (21) For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.
Someday, there will be a resurrection. And this is not just a resurrection of those in Israel. This is not a resurrection of those in the Church. This is a resurrection for everyone in all the earth who has not deliberately and knowingly rejected God’s salvation and become an enemy of God (or Jesus Christ). But the inhabitants of the earth will be punished for their iniquity. And most people, at that time, will have taken the mark of the beast and thus become an enemy of Christ Jesus.
Think back a little earlier in the passage. The borders of Israel had grown somewhat. This brought God’s discipline upon those living within the new borders. But Israel was not able to give those people an escape from the grave. Yet, the time will come, when God’s fury will be world-wide. When the earth gives birth to all the dead, Israel’s borders will be extended to cover the entire earth. That’s what is meant by verse 18b which says, “The inhabitants of the world have not fallen.” After Armageddon, after the resurrection, Israel will rule the entire world, and God’s discipline will cover the entire world through Israel. Thus, Israel will be a blessing to all the nations.
As we will see when we get to the New Testament, the Church is grafted into Israel. The Church/Israel will rule the world with Jesus Christ after the resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. The resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous, before the Messianic reign, can also be seen in an Old Testament study of the Book of Life.
David asked God to blot the names of his enemies out of the Book of Life.
Psalms 69:27-28 Charge them with crime upon crime. Don't let them come into your righteousness. (28) Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written with the righteous.
Notice that in verse 27, David relates this action to denying them salvation. David actually uses this term, "Book of Life." If it's possible for David's enemies to be blotted from the "Book of Life", then the "Book of Life" must contain their names. David is often understood to be a type for Christ as the King of Israel. If one becomes an enemy of Christ, then he would be blotted from the Book of Life.
If the names of David's (Christ’s) enemies are in the "Book of Life", then it's impossible for this to be a book of predestination. Also, the preconceived notion that the Book of Life is a book of predestination comes from reading the New Testament without having the Old Testament drilled into you from childhood. We should not reinterpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. Instead, we should interpret the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament.
If David's enemies are in the "Book of Life", then it's also unlikely for this to be a book in which the names of the righteous are written as they become saved. David would probably not have considered his enemies to be people who love and fear the one true God. And if names are written in as people become saved, it would be unthinkable for David to ask that any of them be blotted.
Some people will argue that just because David asked God to blot names out of the Book of Life doesn’t mean that God would do so. Perhaps God did not do what David asked. Nevertheless, this verse shows David's understanding of how the "Book of Life" works. David was a Holy-Spirit inspired author. His understanding has the weight of Scripture. David would not have asked God to blot out the names of his enemies if the names of these enemies were not already in the book. Moreover, when we combine all the other accounts in which people were actually blotted out, it proves that it can be done, and has been done.
The first mention of the Book of Life in Scripture is in Exodus 32:32-33. The Lord had brought ten miraculously spectacular plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt. He had parted the Red Sea, and the armies of Pharaoh had perished in the sea behind them. He'd given the miraculous manna in the desert. Water came from the rock at the strike of Moses’ staff, for all to drink. A cloud went before them by day, and a pillar of fire by night. After all of these miracles, however, the people built a golden calf to worship. In other words, no matter what God did, no matter how much God revealed about Himself, some of these people were never going to simply trust and have faith in God. When they sinned against God in this way, God blotted their names out of the Book of Life.
Exodus 32:22-24 Aaron said, "Don't let the anger of my lord grow hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. (23) For they said to me, 'Make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what has become of him.' (24) I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them take it off:' so they gave it to me; and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf."
Exodus 32:30-33 It happened on the next day, that Moses said to the people, "You have sinned a great sin. Now I will go up to Yahweh. Perhaps I shall make atonement for your sin." (31) Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, "Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made themselves gods of gold. (32) Yet now, if you will, forgive their sin--and if not, please blot me out of your book which you have written." (33) Yahweh said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
One person I know tried to wiggle out of Exodus 32:32-33, saying that the names in this book were only the names of those under God’s covenant with Israel. Yet Scripture does not teach about such a book. In other words, the assumption has been that the Book of Life is a book of predestination. Therefore, when this verse is used to challenge that assumption, some people tend to look for other possibilities as to what this book might be other than the Book of Life. Even if this were a book of names under God’s covenant with Israel, how would being blotted out of such not be a loss of salvation?
Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19 says that the memory of Amalek was blotted out from under heaven because of actions against Israel as they were coming out of Egypt. See Exodus 17 for the account of this battle against Israel. Perhaps Amalek had seen God’s miracle of water in the desert, and had decided to fight Israel for the water. Also see 1 Samuel 15 and 1 Samuel 28:18. Saul was commanded to destroy Amalek, not for revenge, but because their names had been blotted out from under heaven. Obviously Amalek was not under the covenant of Israel. Yet, for his name to have been blotted out, it had to have been in the book in the first place.
Exodus 17:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write
this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will
utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did to you by the way as you came forth out of Egypt; (18) how he met you by the way, and struck the hindmost of you, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and he didn't fear God. (19) Therefore it shall be, when Yahweh your God has given you rest from all your enemies all around, in the land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it, that you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky; you shall not forget.
Deuteronomy 29:18-20 lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from Yahweh our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood; (19) and it happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to destroy the moist with the dry. (20) Yahweh will not pardon him, but then the anger of Yahweh and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie on him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under the sky.
Deuteronomy 9:12-16 Yahweh said to me, Arise, get down quickly from hence; for your people whom you have brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they have quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image. (13) Furthermore Yahweh spoke to me, saying, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people: (14) let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under the sky; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they. (15) So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. (16) I looked, and behold, you had sinned against Yahweh your God; you had made yourselves a molten calf: you had turned aside quickly out of the way which Yahweh had commanded you.
Psalms 9:5-6 ESV You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. (6) The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
Some may argue that the actual book was not explicitly mentioned in Exodus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 25:18 19 where the memory of Amalek was blotted out from under heaven. But with similar language, Deuteronomy 29:18 20 says that if the people of Israel, who know about God, turn to gods of the nations, then their names are to be blotted from under heaven. The same language presenting Amalek being blotted out is used to portray the people of Israel being blotted out as well. Both are blotted out from under heaven. From Exodus 32:32-33, we know that people of Israel were also blotted from the book.
Furthermore, Deuteronomy 9:12-16 also speaks about God blotting many names from under heaven because of the calf they had made. In other words, Exodus 32:32-33 and Deuteronomy 9:12-16 are both about the same sin, and both speak of their names being blotted out. In one case, their names are blotted from the book. In the other case, their names are blotted from under heaven. This equates the terminology and shows that Amalek was blotted from the same book.
The memory of Amalek was blotted out from under heaven. Go back and look at Isaiah 26:10-14, quoted above. This was the first of original passage in Isaiah that talks about the resurrection. These were the verses that talked about those who would not be resurrected. Verse 14 (ESV) said, "They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end you have visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them ." So it’s clear that when the memory of Amalek was blotted out from under heaven it means he will not be resurrected.
The reason these people were blotted out is that they had no fear of God even with the knowledge of the miracles. An intentional and knowledgeable turning away from God is a sin that is unpardonable.
Psalm 9:5-6 speaks of the names of the wicked being blotted out forever and ever. A book is not specifically mentioned, but the language remains consistent. Their names had to be written in a book in order for them to be blotted out.
Daniel 12:1-3 teaches that even the resurrected unjust are in the Book of Life, at that time. They are "delivered" or "escape" from the grave simply because their names are in the Book of Life.
Daniel 12:1b-3 At that time your people shall be delivered [escape], everyone who shall be found written in the book . (2) Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (3) Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
The Hebrew word used for “delivered” is better translated as “escape.” Some will argue that Daniel 12:1 says those who are “delivered” or “escape” are being delivered from the great tribulation. Pre-tribulation rapture advocates like to interpret it this way. However, Scripture teaches that the saints are defeated during the great tribulation (Dan. 7:25). These saints are also in the Book of Life.
Therefore, Daniel 12:1 cannot be saying that those in the Book of Life are all delivered from the tribulation. Those in the Book of Life are “delivered” or “escape” from the grave. According to the verse, some who escape the grave are raised to everlasting life. Others who escape the grave are raised to shame and contempt. But not all who are in the grave escape. According to the verse, “many” awake, but not all. What then, is the criterion given for being raised? Apparently, it’s not an issue of being just or unjust. Those who are in the Book of Life are the ones who escape from the grave. Those who are not enemies of God will escape the grave.
Here again is the verse in Daniel:
Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Here is Young’s Literal Translation of this verse:
Daniel 12:2 YLT And the multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during, and some to reproaches--to abhorrence age-during.
Notice that many, but not all, sleep in the dust of the earth. Remember that some will not be resurrected because they deliberately and knowingly reject God. They become enemies of God. Their names are blotted from the Book of Life. Also, notice that both the righteous and the unrighteous are asleep in the dust of the earth. This is the same as Sheol. They are still asleep in Sheol at the time of the resurrection. They are not in heaven or hell.
Those not awaking to everlasting life are people described as resurrected to “reproaches” and resurrected to everlasting “abhorrence.” The Hebrew word translated “abhorrence” is a much stronger word than the Hebrew word translated “reproaches.” Abhorrence is found only in one other verse of the Old Testament.
The eternal state of those resurrected to shame and everlasting contempt has not yet been determined. As we will see, some of them will be resurrected to reproaches, but will then advance in wisdom and will later inherit everlasting life. Others in this group will be resurrected to reproaches, and will fall into everlasting abhorrence. In other words, some in this group will wind up being eternally saved, and others will wind up forfeiting their salvation by being blotted from the Book of Life, because they will become enemies of Christ after the resurrection.
To understand better, we need to take a look at the Hebrew word used here for “abhorrence.” This Hebrew word is used only one other time in the Old Testament. Isaiah 66:24 uses this word to describe the people who are killed at the battle of Armageddon. This verse also says their “worm never dies.” Isaiah is a book of poetry. Things in Isaiah are said in a poetic way. To say the "worm never dies" is simply saying they are not resurrected. They stay in the grave. There is no literal worm. So to say it does not die is to say that the state of death remains.
The Hebrew word translated “reproaches” is not nearly as strong as the one for “abhorrence.” It means “shame” or “disgrace.” It’s used 73 times in the Old Testament. The word is often used in reference to the people of Israel. It’s not considered an irreversible condition. Those resurrected without everlasting life would be in “shame” or in “disgrace.” This resurrected unjust group is described with both the words “reproaches” and “abhorrence.” Over time, the resurrection of “reproaches” can turn into everlasting life. So the “reproaches” is not everlasting. But if the resurrection of “reproaches” becomes “abhorrence,” then it’s eternal. That’s why the word for everlasting, in the text, is only applied to “abhorrence” and not to “reproaches.”
Two types of people in the unjust group are given because the fate of the unjust group is not yet determined. During the Messianic reign, each individual in this unjust group will eventually become either righteous like those in the just group, or they will fall further into “abhorrence” and be eventually condemned, like those in the wicked group. They will become enemies of their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. After the Messianic reign, at the final judgment, those who wind up being eternally in a state of “abhorrence” will be blotted from the Book of Life. They will die a second death. Their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched.
Now, let’s look at the next verse.
Daniel 12:3 NIV Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Daniel 12:3 (NIV) tells us the “wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens,” and that they are like the stars. The verse also says they will lead many to righteousness. What does it mean to shine like the “brightness of the heavens?” At the same time, what does it mean to be like the stars?
Stars can be symbolic of angels (Isaiah 14:12-14). The wise will shine like the angels, and will lead many to righteousness. So the wise of Israel will lead the resurrected nations to righteousness. Some, however, will continue in their sin and will eventually be blotted from the Book of Life.
Isaiah 14:12-14 How you have fallen
from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground,
who laid the nations low! (13) You said
in your heart, "I will ascend into heaven! I will exalt my throne above the
stars of God! I will sit on the mountain of assembly, in the far north!
(14) I will ascend above the heights of the
clouds! I will make myself like the Most High!"
Daniel 8:9-10 Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the glorious land. (10) It grew great, even to the army of the sky; and some of the army and of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled on them.
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
Read Young’s Literal Translation of the verse:
Daniel 12:3 YLT And those teaching do shine as the brightness of the expanse, and those justifying the multitude as stars to the age and for ever.
Notice that he translates the wise as “those teaching.” The Hebrew word means those who are intelligent, and the word is associated with teachers. Also notice that they teach “age-during,” and “forever.” The context here is right after the resurrection. So they teach into the age to come, and then forever. Let’s look at the ESV translation.
Daniel 12:3 ESV And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Some (preterists) say that the wise are not teachers because they will have nobody to teach. The Hebrew word does not require that they be teachers. They can simply be wise, who would be able to teach. But the text itself says the wise "turn many to righteousness." This is teaching. Those resurrected to “shame” and “contempt” will need to be taught. The wise will “turn many [but not all] to righteousness,” after the resurrection, during the Messianic reign when Israel rules the world.
The promise to Abraham was not only to be the father of a chosen holy nation, he was also promised the land of Palestine (Genesis 12:7, 15:7, 15:18-21, 17:8). The most important part of this land is Jerusalem. One very important aspect of the Law of Moses is that if the people obey the law they will stay in the land. But if they disobeyed the law, they will be scattered to other lands. But later, when repentance comes, they are gathered back to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 29:1 – 30:10). This is really a part of God’s covenant with Moses. But it is often referred to as the Palestinian Covenant. The Jews were scattered the first time with the northern kingdom being conquered by Assyria, and a bit later the southern kingdom was conquered by Babylon. The southern kingdom stayed in Babylon for seventy years. Then they were allowed to come back to Jerusalem.
This concept of being scattered for disobedience and being gathered when there is obedience is very fundamental to Old Testament teaching. It’s not about some long-dead group of people in some ancient time. It’s about you. For the ancient Jews, it was literal. Their nation was subject to being scattered and gathered. For us today, it’s about our relationship with God. We are gathered to be closer to Christ when we are obedient. So think about the importance of this aspect of God’s law personally. Then think about how important this aspect of God’s law would have been to the Jews of ancient times. They could lose everything they have, including their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, if their nation were to be attacked because of their own disobedience.
In 600 BC it really happened. A young Daniel was taken from his home in Israel and his home was destroyed. His loved ones were killed. Jeremiah had been warning that it would happen, but most of the people had ignored his warnings. Now it was too late. Jerusalem became desolate. And Jeremiah said their captivity, and the desolation of Jerusalem, would last seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10, Daniel 9:2).
After the seventy years was completed (Daniel 9:2), Daniel prayed for the forgiveness of Israel’s sins (verses 3-10). In his prayer, Daniel explicitly remembers what the Law of Moses says about the curses for disobedience (verses 11-14). Daniel speaks of the great calamity that has been brought on his people and the city of Jerusalem (verse 12).
Daniel 9:2-14 in the first year of his
reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years about which the
word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah the prophet, for the accomplishing of the
desolations of Jerusalem, even seventy years.
(3) I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and petitions,
with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. (4)
I prayed to Yahweh my God, and made confession, and said, Oh, Lord, the great and
dreadful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and
keep his commandments, (5) we have sinned,
and have dealt perversely, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even turning
aside from your precepts and from your ordinances;
(6) neither have we listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke
in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of
the land. (7) Lord, righteousness belongs
to you, but to us confusion of face, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, who are near, and
who are far off, through all the countries where you have driven them,
because of their trespass that they have trespassed against you.
(8) Lord, to us belongs confusion of face,
to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against
you. (9) To the Lord our God belong mercies
and forgiveness; for we have rebelled against him;
(10) neither have we obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God, to walk in
his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.
(11) Yes, all Israel have transgressed your law, even turning aside,
that they should not obey your voice: therefore has the curse been poured out
on us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of
God; for we have sinned against him. (12)
He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges who
judged us, by bringing on us a great evil; for under the whole sky has not been done
as has been done on Jerusalem. (13)
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come on us: yet have we
not entreated the favor of Yahweh our God, that we should turn from our iniquities,
and have discernment in your truth. (14)
Therefore has Yahweh watched over the evil, and brought it on us; for Yahweh our
God is righteous in all his works which he does, and we have not obeyed his voice.
Daniel 9:17-18 Now therefore, our God, listen to the prayer of your servant, and to his petitions, and cause your face to shine on your sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. (18) My God, turn your ear, and hear; open your eyes, and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name: for we do not present our petitions before you for our righteousness, but for your great mercies' sake.
Daniel 9:24-26 NIV "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin , to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (25) "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler , comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. (26) After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.
Jeremiah often used the word “desolation” in describing what would happen to Jerusalem, and then later what would happen to Jerusalem’s enemies. In Daniel’s prayer, he uses this same word in reference to the Jerusalem (verses 2, 18). Daniel is praying for the desolations of Jerusalem to come to an end.
God answered Daniel’s prayer with a vision. This vision is a prophecy of time which is allocated for Daniel’s people, and the people of Jerusalem, to completely stop sinning (Daniel 9:24). During this allotment of time, Jerusalem would not be desolate. At the end of this allotment of time, the Messiah would come.
Daniel 9:24 NIV "Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression , to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy .
This is big. This is huge. This is at the very core of the Law of Moses. This is at the very core of all that’s been written. Adam sinned and Mankind fell into slavery to sin. All was lost to sin. However, God made a promise to Abraham. Abraham’s children would be a holy nation. But Israel, God’s chosen holy nation, must stop sinning. And then the Messiah will come so that God’s chosen holy nation can bring righteousness to the rest of the nations through the earthly reign of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Israel’s failure to stop sinning brings desolation to Jerusalem. Israel’s obedience to God brings an end to the desolation of Jerusalem, so that the Messiah can come, and so that God’s people can rule the world. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world. Through this rule the Messiah brings about the restoration of all things. But before he can return the Messiah must first have a holy nation to rule with him. And that holy nation must put an end to their own sins before they can help bring righteousness to the nations.
At this point we can stop trying to reinterpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. We can interpret the New Testament in the context of the Old Testament. Preterists will say that the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 were fulfilled in Christ’s first coming. They will reinterpret the purpose of the seventy weeks. The verse says that “your people” and “your holy city” must put an end to sin and bring in everlasting righteousness. Preterists reinterpret this verse to say that Christ put an end to sin and brought in everlasting righteousness at the cross. Jesus Christ is not “your people” and “your holy city.” Sure, Jesus Christ died for our sins. It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that our sins which we have already committed, and sins that we may commit in the future, are forgiven. But that’s not what this verse says. It says we must overcome our sinful habits and stop sinning.
To interpret this verse in any way other than as a requirement for Israel to completely stop sinning is to completely ignore Daniel’s prayer. Daniel knew that his people and his holy city had sinned. Daniel knew they had been scattered to Babylon because of sin. Daniel knew Jerusalem was desolate because of sin. Yes, Israel’s sins were forgiven at the cross. But Israel, which is the Church, must stop sinning before the Messiah can return.
Daniel 9:24 says “your people” and “your holy city” must anoint the most holy. The noun which is most holy is left out. It’s assumed. A noun can be a person, place, or thing. So the verse does not say whether it’s the most holy person or the most holy place. Grammatically it could even be a holy thing. Some translations, such as the ESV and the NASB, say they must anoint a most holy place. Perhaps these translators have preterist beliefs, and they did not see a way for the Messiah to have been anointed as Messiah at the cross. Remember that Messiah means “anointed one.” In any case, most of the other translations simply leave the noun out just like it’s done in the Hebrew. This allows the reader to decide whether it’s a person, place, or thing that’s being anointed as most holy.
One could argue that a holy place is being anointed because of context. The overall context of the passage is about the desolation of Jerusalem. In that context, “your people” and “your holy city” could be anointing the holy place where the temple is built. However, verse 25 tells us that after an allotment of time, the anointed will come. A place does not “come.” This would imply that it’s a person that is to be anointed. An anointed person is also mentioned in verse 26 as someone who is “cut-off” and shall have nothing. Of course it’s possible that a most holy place is being anointed in verse 24 and yet it’s an anointed person in verses 25 and 26.
We must decide whether “your people” and “your holy city” must anoint a person or a place (verse 24). I believe the answer is that both are true. The place that’s being anointed is the temple mount, for the building of the temple. Remember that Daniel is praying for the desolation of Jerusalem to come to an end. The person that’s being anointed is the Messiah. It’s very difficult to read the vision without seeing the Messiah in verses 25 and 26. Therefore, “your people” and “your holy city” must anoint the most holy place, and the Messiah, in conjunction with ceasing to sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness.
As we have seen, “your people” and “your holy city” must anoint the most holy place as well as the most holy person. To anoint a person means to make him king. The word Messiah means the anointed one. The word “Christ” means Messiah. To believe that Jesus is the Christ means that Jesus is the king of Israel. Does this mean that all of those who are in Jesus must anoint the Messiah? That goes without saying. If you are in Christ, it means that you believe Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the most holy person that has ever lived, or will ever live. That’s what we believe. But what does it mean for “your holy city” to anoint Jesus as the most holy person? And what does it mean for “your holy city” to anoint the most holy place?
“Your holy city” is the city of Jerusalem. Daniel prayed for the desolation of Jerusalem to come to an end. In order for Jerusalem to anoint Jesus as the Messiah, the people who have the authority to do so must anoint Jesus as the Messiah. The people who are in charge of the most holy place are those who have been given this authority from the time of Moses. They are the Sanhedrin.
There have been a several attempts to re-establish the Sanhedrin over the centuries, including four attempts during the twentieth century. There is a current group that performed a ceremony in October of 2004 who believe they have re-established the Sanhedrin. However, they are not recognized by the Israeli government, nor by the majority of the Jews. ( http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/index.php/Historical_Overview)
But in the future, the temple will be rebuilt. When that starts to become a reality, the need for a Sanhedrin will become apparent to all the Jewish community who will be in favor of building the temple. So that Sanhedrin will have to anoint the most holy place in order for the temple to be built. And before the end comes, the Sanhedrin will eventually anoint Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Jesus said the same thing. He told the “scribes and Pharisees who sit on the seat of Moses” (Matthew 23:2) that they must say “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” before they will see him again. The people of Jerusalem had already said this when he rode in on a donkey (Matthew 21:9). They were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah by quoting Psalm 118:26. But I think Jesus knew that “your people” and “your holy city” includes the religious leaders of Jerusalem. They must anoint the most holy person before he can set up his kingdom.
Matthew 23:36-39 Most certainly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation. (37) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent to her! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! (38) Behold, your house is left to you desolate . (39) For I tell you, you will not see me from now on, until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!' "
This is the famous chapter of seven woes, where Jesus calls them a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33) as John the Baptist had done earlier (Matthew 3:7). The prophecy of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, anointing Jesus Christ, can be found in Revelation 11:7-13.
But why is this important? Why is it necessary for the Jewish leadership to recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah? Isn’t it good enough for the Church to recognize Jesus as the Messiah? I believe that God wants to maintain a legal continuity between the Law of Moses and the Messiah when he reigns over the entire world. If the Church is really a continuation of Old Testament Israel and not some kind of replacement for Israel, then something like this has to happen.
Also, God has not abandoned the Jewish community. In Romans 9-11, Paul agonizes over the fact that his people had rejected the Messiah. How could such a thing happen from the perspective of Old Testament Scripture? During this three-chapter discussion, Paul reconciles this through election. This is not election of salvation. It’s election of who are to be a part of the holy chosen nation that will reign with the Messiah. Who is chosen to be a part of Israel? At the end of Paul’s discussion of the topic, he concludes that Israel is experiencing a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And Paul concludes by saying that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-26). In other words, Paul recognizes the legal need through the Law of Moses for Israel to recognize the Messiah. He just concludes that it will happen in the future by a future Jewish leadership.
Romans 11:25-27 For I don't desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, so that you won't be wise in your own conceits, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, (26) and so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, "There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. (27) This is my covenant to them, when I will take away their sins."
Jesus will not return until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” In other words, they must recognize Jesus as the Messiah before he will return. Jesus could not have been talking to the Jewish people of Jerusalem in general. Just earlier that week, the people of Jerusalem said these exact same words as he rode in on a donkey (Matthew 21:9). Therefore, Jesus was still talking to those who sat on the seat of Moses (Matthew 23:2). Jesus was talking to the Sanhedrin. They must acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah before Jesus will return.
The Jewish people of Jerusalem actually did acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. But it didn’t take long for most of them to swing back after the crucifixion. Without the leadership acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, the people are not going to remain confident in their earlier proclamation. It would be like the conservative evangelical church members of today, as a whole, saying that all their pastors are fundamentally wrong in everything that’s being taught. People want at least some of those who are in authority to lead to be in agreement if there is to be any new thinking in religion and theology.
Jesus knew the leaders of that generation appeared to be righteous on the outside, but inside they were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25-26). And most of the people who grew up in that culture would wind up being the same if they were given the opportunity to be the leaders. Jesus often spoke of them as an evil and adulterous generation (Matthew 11:16, 12:39, 42, 45 16:4, 17:17, and 23:36). If Jesus were to have allowed himself to be anointed king of the world, he would have just been putting that authority into the hands of greedy, adulterous, and self-indulgent people. So he had to return to the Father and promise to come again at a time when those on the seat of Moses would repent of their sins. Daniel’s prayer had not yet been answered. “Your people” and “your holy city” were not yet ready to anoint the Messiah in conjunction with ceasing to sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness.
Did Daniel’s prophecy fail? Did the Law of Moses fail to bring in the Messiah as ruler of the world? There is still time for the prophecy of Daniel 9 to be fulfilled. Daniel’s seventy weeks can be allocated in two different ways. The seventy weeks are stated as being seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. These two allocations of time could have been contiguous. Or, the seven weeks can be a separate allocation of time, not contiguous with the sixty-two weeks. This allowed for the Sanhedrin of Jesus’ generation to have had the free-will choice to be evil and to reject the Messiah. When Israel was not ready to anoint the Messiah, God simply delayed the seven weeks until a time when the gospel of the kingdom had spread throughout the world. The Father delayed until a time when there would be people from every nation who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, a future Sanhedrin could be raised up to anoint the most holy place for rebuilding the temple.
The leadership at the time of Christ had hearts so hardened that they were unwilling to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah even when presented with all the signs and proofs of the miracles. A lot of this hardness of heart comes from being given the power to rule for many generations. The power to rule corrupts the heart. But the Sanhedrin of the future will not have had that power for very long. Their hearts will be open enough to recognize Jesus as the Messiah through the testimony of the two witnesses (Revelation 11: 7-13). They will be open to repent when God once again reveals His Son Jesus again through the work of miracles.
However, the leadership at the time of Christ did not repent. They had the free-will opportunity to repent but didn’t. I believe Jesus was very hopeful that they would repent. This was the generation he had grown up in. Jesus was very much a part of that culture. He loved the temple worship and the Jewish customs. He even spoke of returning during that generation (Matthew 10:23, 16:28, and 24:34). Full preterists consider these to be prophecies that had to have been fulfilled in 70 AD. But Jesus didn’t return in 70 AD. All prophecies of God for blessings or curses are dependent upon repentance. This is fundamental to the Law of Moses. These prophecies of Christ’s return in that generation were conditional upon the repentance of the Sanhedrin. And Jesus said these things out of his great hope that he would be able to return in his own generation. Not even the Son, however, knew the day or time when the second coming would happen (Matthew 24:36).
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute
you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not
have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come.
Matthew 16:28 Most certainly I tell you, there are some standing here who will in no way taste of death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom."
Matthew 24:34 ESV Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Matthew 24:36 But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Jesus spoke prophecies of his return in that generation. He also spoke prophecies of the desolation of Jerusalem in that generation. Both were conditional upon the repentance of the Sanhedrin. As it turned out, they did not repent. So God had to bring about the curses of the Law of Moses that were understood so well by the Jewish people. When Jesus was so emotionally speaking the seven woes to those who sat on the seat of Moses, he said, “See, your house is left you desolate” (Matthew 23:38, quoted above). In Luke 21, Jesus also foretells about the desolation of Jerusalem. Remember that this word “desolation,” as applied to Jerusalem, goes back to Jeremiah’s prophecy of Jerusalem’s desolation and Daniel’s prayer that the desolation would end. It connects back to the seventy weeks that Israel has been given for the desolation of Jerusalem to come to an end.
Luke 21:5-7 As some were talking about the temple and how it was decorated with beautiful stones and gifts, he said, (6) "As for these things which you see, the days will come, in which there will not be left here one stone on another that will not be thrown down." (7) They asked him, "Teacher, so when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are about to happen?"
Skipping down a few verses, we read about the desolation of Jerusalem that was fulfilled in 70 AD.
Luke 21:20-22 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand . (21) Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. (22) For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Full preterists will use this verse to say that 70 AD fulfilled every prophecy in the Bible including the return of Christ. But that’s not what Jesus meant by this being a fulfillment of all that is written. This verse can only be understood when it’s interpreted in the context of the Old Testament. All the Law of Moses and the prophets can be summarized by God’s plan to rid this world of sin and death through the reign of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The reign of Christ must be through the Church, which is Israel. The Bride must make herself ready for Christ to return by overcoming sin before Christ returns. This is necessary to fulfill all that is written. When Israel sins the people of Jerusalem are taken as prisoners to the nations. When Israel repents, they are gathered and Jerusalem is rebuilt, all for the purpose of bringing righteousness to all the nations. This summarizes the Law of Moses and the prophets. Therefore, when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, it was God’s vengeance in fulfillment all that is written. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said basically the same thing:
Matthew 5:17-20 ESV "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven , but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven .
Jesus is not talking about salvation. To enter the kingdom is what God expects of Israel, which is the Church. The Bride will reign with Christ over the nations during the Messianic reign. To enter the kingdom means that you will enter the Paradise of God and will literally reign with Christ. The Messianic reign is needed to accomplish the Law of Moses and all that is written. After the Messianic reign, after righteousness has been taught to the nations, the heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire and there will be a new heavens and a new earth. These words of Christ can only be truly understood in the context of the Old Testament.
Luke 21:23-24 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse infants in those days! For there will be great distress in the land, and wrath to this people. (24) They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled .
Daniel prayed for the desolation of Jerusalem to come to an end. And for sixty-two weeks of years, the desolation of Jerusalem was over. But Jerusalem became desolate again because of sin. Jerusalem became desolate again in fulfillment of the Law of Moses. The people of Jerusalem fell by the sword and were lead captive to the nations. The Jews have maintained their culture scattered throughout the nations for almost two thousand years. During this time, Jerusalem was trampled underfoot by the Gentiles.
But this came to an end in 1967. Today, Jerusalem is not being trampled upon by Gentiles. The Jews have not yet accepted Jesus as their Messiah. But give it time. Now that Jerusalem is no longer being trampled upon by the Gentiles, the seven weeks of Daniel are underway. God is implementing his plan to fulfill all that has been written. The Sanhedrin will be re-established. They will anoint the most holy place. And before Christ sets up his kingdom, they will anoint the most holy person, Jesus Christ, as the Messiah.
Thus, Christ will return to a Sanhedrin that acknowledges him as the Messiah. And Christ will return to an Israel (a Bride) with people who love him from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Israel, which is the Church, will reign with Christ for a thousand years. Every nation, tribe, people, and language of this world will be reigned over by their own people, who are themselves part of the Bride of Christ, the holy nation of Israel. He must reign until the last enemy is destroyed. The last enemy is death (1 Corinthians 15:26). After the last enemy is destroyed there will no longer be death. After Christ’s reign all things will be restored.
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. This does not mean that John the Baptist was actually Elijah. But his ministry was in the same spirit. Let’s first look at this Old Testament prophecy so that we can interpret the New Testament in context of the Old Testament.
Malachi 4:4-6 ESV Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. (5) "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. (6) And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction ."
The context of the prophecy is for Israel to be obedient to the Law of Moses. This goes back to the same basic truth about the Law of Moses. When there is obedience to the Law, Israel is blessed. When Israel is disobedient, the land can be stricken with utter destruction. In other words, Jerusalem can become desolate.
The ministry of Elijah is to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This is a strong allusion to one of the Ten Commandments. The fifth commandment is to, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). But notice that in Malachi’s prophecy, it’s a deeper meaning for the commandment. It’s not just honor. It’s love.
When Jesus was asked which is the most important commandment, he answered “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). He was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. Then he gave us the second most important commandment. We are to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). He was quoting Leviticus 19:18. Then he said, “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:39).
No doubt the Pharisees who asked this question expected Jesus to answer with one of the Ten Commandments. They were trying to trap him. But Jesus made use of other text from the Law of Moses which effectively summarizes the Ten Commandments and brings them to the deeper level of love. The first four commandments are all about loving God. The last five commandments are all about loving your neighbor.
Romans 13:9-10 For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (10) Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Let’s go back and look at the fifth commandment again: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12). Do you see how this ties back to the basic principle of blessing and curses in the Law of Moses? All the Law can be summarized as love. With that love, Israel stays in the land. Without that love, Israel is scattered to the nations and Jerusalem becomes desolate. Parents naturally love their children. And children naturally love their parents. This commandment connects the first four commands to the last five. This commandment connects the love of God to the love of our neighbors. This commandment, therefore, is representative of all the Law of Moses.
As we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, we overcome sin. As we love our neighbors as ourselves we overcome sin. As this love reaches maturity, all sin is completely overcome. Love becomes the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. If someone refuses to obey Christ’s commandments, eventually we become enemies of Christ, and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, he blots his enemies from the Book of Life.
The ministry of John the Baptist was to bring love and repentance to Israel so that Israel would be ready for the coming of the Messiah. John said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1). In the context of the Old Testament, the kingdom of heaven is the Messianic reign. It’s when Israel will rule the world. But the people of Israel must first completely, one hundred percent, overcome all sinful habits before the kingdom can come. The Bride must be completely ready before Christ can have the wedding banquet (Revelation 19:7) and then set up his kingdom with the Bride of Christ reigning over the world. The ministry of Elijah, therefore, is to bring complete holiness to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
Matthew 3:1-6 ESV In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, (2) "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (3) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" (4) Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. (5) Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, (6) and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Let’s take a look at the verse in Isaiah that John was quoting:
Isaiah 40:1-5 ESV Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. (2) Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. (3) A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (4) Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. (5) And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
Why does this verse say Jerusalem has received “double for all her sins?” Could it be that the people of Israel were to be scattered to the nations twice? Could it be that Jerusalem became desolate twice? Could it be that Daniel’s seventy weeks are divided into two allocations of time, seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, for the restoration of Jerusalem?
The ministry of John the Baptist was that of Elijah. The ministry of Elijah was that of bringing Israel back to God in the face of rulers and the religious leaders who wanted Israel to worship pagan gods. Likewise, John the Baptist preached in opposition to the religious leaders and in opposition to Herod. The ministry of John the Baptist was to bring holiness to Israel so that Israel would be ready for the kingdom of heaven to come. But the Sanhedrin was not willing. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the Sanhedrin were more concerned with losing their own power and influence over the people. Jerusalem would become desolate again. Another time of the Gentiles, which is another time of desolation, was required during which the kingdom of heaven would grow in the hearts of those who love Jesus.
This verse says, “The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Also, “every mountain and hill be made low.” Is this figurative or literal? It could be figurative because Isaiah is a book of poetry. In Revelation, we find allusions to this prophecy:
Revelation 6:12-14 I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood. (13) The stars of the sky fell to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind. (14) The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Revelation 16:19-21 The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. (21) Great hailstones, about the weight of a talent, came down out of the sky on people. People blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for this plague is exceedingly severe.
The mountains being made low is not literal. In the Old Testament, mountains can be symbolic for kingdoms. In Revelation, this is a strong allusion back to Isaiah. In Isaiah, it’s about a time when the Messiah will reign over all the earth. So all the individual mountains are made low under the Kingdom of Israel.
The purpose of John the Baptist’s ministry was that of Elijah, in reference to the prophecy of Malachi 4:4-6. But that prophecy included a curse for what would happen if Israel was not made ready for the Messiah. The religious leaders of Sanhedrin were not made ready for the coming of the Messiah. The religious leaders were opposed to John. That prophecy said the land would be utterly destroyed. Jerusalem was therefore made desolate.
Did the prophecy fail? Did the prophecy of the coming of Elijah fail to make Israel ready for the coming of the Messiah? Paul said Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25-26). But Christ is coming again. Therefore, Elijah will come to bring holiness to Israel before Christ comes. Here is an earlier verse in Malachi about the messenger that will come before Christ returns. We can see that this time Israel will be made ready. The Bride will be completely without sinful habits when Christ returns.
Malachi 3:1-4 ESV Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
The “sons of Levi” are the religious leaders. This prophecy is saying that the offerings of Jerusalem will be pleasing to God. But Jerusalem was destroyed and became desolate after Christ’s first coming. The only possible conclusion is that the ministry of John the Baptist failed. Sure, John the Baptist preached in the spirit of Elijah. But there must be another coming of someone who will preach in the spirit of Elijah for which this prophecy will not fail.
Speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus said that Elijah had already come, and they did not recognize him. The leaders did not recognize John as fulfilling the prophecy of Elijah. John was not able to bring repentance to the religious leaders. But Jesus also said Elijah comes and will restore all things (future tense.)
Matthew 17:10-13 ESV And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was already dead when Jesus said this. John the Baptist did not restore all things. Jerusalem became desolate. But a future Elijah will come and will restore all things.
What does it mean to restore all things? Without question, from the context of Law of Moses and the desolation of Jerusalem for disobedience, to restore all things would be to bring about the restoration of Jerusalem the way God would have it. That has to mean that the religious leaders in Jerusalem will recognize Jesus as the Messiah. But more than that, the restoration of all things goes back to the fall of Adam. Everything was lost when Adam fell into sin. The restoration of all things must be Israel overcoming sin, just as it says in Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks. When Israel overcomes all sinful habits, then Christ can reign over the world with Israel (the Church) reigning with him. Then righteousness can be brought to the nations. This is the restoration of all things.
From early childhood, we have been taught that if you live a good life you will go to heaven when you die. If you live a bad life you will go to hell when you die. If this is the foundation of your religious teaching, then naturally the following verse seems to be saying that some will be resurrected to live in heaven and others will be resurrected to be condemned.
John 5:28-29 ESV Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
You read this New Testament verse in the context of what you were taught from childhood. Then you progress back to the Old Testament, which speaks a lot about the Law of Moses as doing good and evil. So you interpret the Old Testament based on what you have already learned from the New Testament.
But for the Jews who first read this, and for John who wrote these words of Jesus, and for the Jewish people who heard these words, that background teaching was not there. They had been taught from their youth that everyone goes to Sheol when they die to await the resurrection. After the resurrection the Messiah would rule (judge) the world. So to be resurrected was only considered a great gift from God. To be resurrected was the hope of overcoming the grave. Those without hope would not be resurrected. Under that background, these words say and mean something entirely different than what we learn from our youth.
It’s not surprising that most people read John 5:28-29 as it’s traditionally read, from the traditional two-state view. Tradition is a strong background when it comes to interpretation. And that traditional view only sees things in terms of going straight to heaven or hell when you die. This prevents people from perceiving that there could be three types of people in the grave instead of the traditional two. But the Jews would not have had this limitation because they didn’t believe everyone goes straight to heaven or hell when they die. They believed both the righteous and the unrighteous went to Sheol (Hades) to await the resurrection. But the evil people who are enemies of God would not be resurrected.
Let’s look at the context of John 5:28-29 a bit. Verse 22 says the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son. And this is done so that everyone will honor the Son. Think of this from the perspective of the Jews at that time. They believed in a future Messianic age when the Messiah would reign and judge. This is an age, not a moment in time. For someone to be raised to be judged at that moment would be thought of as an act of God, not an act of the reigning king. When you see that all the judgment being done in this passage is by a ruling king, the resurrection of judgment cannot be a resurrection for immediate condemnation.
John 5:19-29 Jesus therefore answered them, "Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. (20) For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. (22) For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn't honor the Son doesn't honor the Father who sent him. (24) "Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life , and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (25) Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. (27) He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man. (28) Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, (29) and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
It’s true that in some contexts, judgment means condemnation at that point in time. But in this context, there are many uses of the word judgment. No translation uses “condemnation” for all the words “judgments” in the passage. So the translator switches back and forth, using the two different words for the one Greek word, as he tries to fit what he reads into a system where everyone goes straight to heaven or hell when they die. In any given context, the translation should be consistent with the use of the same word occurring multiple times in that context. The Jews didn’t have this restriction of two types of people in the grave. So they would not naturally interpret it the same way as traditional Greek thinking.
Both those in the resurrection of everlasting life, and those in the resurrection of judgment are resurrected because they hear Christ’s voice. And do not Christ’s sheep hear his voice? And are there not lost sheep? Even the lost sheep would hear Christ’s voice and be resurrected.
But some will argue that verses like John 10:26 say unbelievers are not of his sheep. Let’s look at that verse.
John 10:24-28 The Jews therefore came around him and said to him, "How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." (25) Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you don't believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, these testify about me. (26) But you don't believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Jesus said, “you do not believe because you are not of my sheep, as I told you.” Who is the “you” in this context? The context is verse 24 when Jesus gathered and ask him, “How long will you hold us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” In verse 25 he replies, “I told you and you don't believe me. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify about me.” The miracles were proofs that what Christ said was from the Father. When they rejected even the miracles, it was the same as those in the desert who saw the miracles and yet built the golden calf. They were blotted from the Lamb’s book of life (Exodus 32:32). They were no longer Christ’s sheep.
But those who have never seen the miracles, have never been given proof, have not yet heard God’s voice, have not been blotted.
Hebrews 3:7-11 ESV Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, (8) do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, (9) where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. (10) Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' (11) As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'
Another example people give for unbelievers not hearing Christ’s voice is John 8:43. Verses 42-43 says that “If God were your Father, you would love me … Because you can't hear my word.” Again, this is in the context of those who refuse to hear Jesus. It's in that context of him actually being there and doing the miracles. This causes some to refuse to hear Christ, and thus be blotted out.
We cannot take this out of the context of those people in that generation. Other generations have not seen the miracles. So the things Jesus said to them, who saw the miracles, should not be automatically applied to people who have never even heard about Christ!
The very fact that people can be blotted from the Book of Life proves there are three types of people: Those who love Christ, those who don’t know Christ, and those who have been blotted out. It is only when you see this basic fact of Jewish context that you can understand verses like John 5:28-29.
Not everyone who saw a miracle and didn’t accept Christ was blotted. It would depend on how much they hardened their hearts in light of the miracles. More precisely, it’s “when you hear God’s voice”, as it says in Hebrews 3:7-11, quoted above. If God used the miracles to personally show someone who Jesus is, and they hardened their hearts to it, they may have been blotted. But God does not do this lightly. The people who wandered in the wilderness saw God’s miracles for forty years. It was only after this that God said, “They shall not enter my rest.”
When God determines that a heart is so hard that no matter what they see or hear will they will not unharden their hearts, they are blotted. This is the unpardonable sin of Matthew 12:31. They brought a man with a withered hand to Jesus to test him. They didn’t believe it was possible to heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus did so in their synagogue. This was absolute proof that they were wrong. But what did they do? The attributed the miracle to Satan. Their hearts were hardened beyond what even the Holy Spirit could do through the miracles. To attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. The sin is not pardonable because their hearts are too hard when God speaks in this way. Some of them were probably blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
People say for the unrighteous to be resurrected is a second chance. It’s not just a second chance. It’s a continual opportunity to mature in Christ that is not stopped by something as un-consequential to God as death. The idea that death would prevent someone from having the opportunity to mature in Christ, is putting God into Man’s box.
Let’s go back and look at John 5:28-29 in a broader context:
John 5:24-29 "Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (25) Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. (27) He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man. (28) Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, (29) and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
Consider again the fact that both the just and the unjust, in this passage, hear Christ’s voice and come out of the tombs. Now look back at verse 24. Jesus is also talking about hearing. In this case, it’s more than hearing Christ’s voice. It’s hearing Christ’s word and believing the Father about Christ. Those who completely reject Christ are said to not hear him. We can go back to John 10:26 and John 8:43. Those who deliberately reject Christ no longer hear his voice. So they would not be resurrected. Those who hear Christ and believe in him who sent Christ will be resurrected to eternal life, so they are no longer under judgment. It’s like the wife of a king. She is not considered one of his subjects for which he judges disputes.
Verse 25 says the hour is coming when the dead will hear Christ, and those who hear will live. Does not this mean that some will not hear? If they don’t hear, they won’t be resurrected. But those who do hear Christ’s voice will be resurrected. Yet some will not have eternal life. They will just have a resurrection of judgment.
One other quick point about John 5:28-29. If there are two types of people in the grave, then the criteria for which type you are is solely determined by belief in Christ. But consider the three types of people that Scripture calls the wise, the foolish, and the wicked. The wicked group is determined by being blotted from the Lamb’s Book of Life because God spoke to you but you hardened your heart. In other words, explicit and intentional unbelief in Christ would make you wicked.
What would be the determination of whether you are in the wise or foolish group? It would not simply be belief. People can believe but still they have not yet matured in Christ. So the distinction between the wise and the foolish is that of maturity and the overcoming of sin. The wide gate that leads to destruction is that of the foolish group. (The wise build their house on the Rock.) And the entire Sermon on the Mount context is obedience to the Law, even deep in the heart, which is righteousness. Many Christians who believe in Christ and love Christ are still in the foolish group because they still have sinful habits. Only a few find the narrow gate, which is that of overcoming all our sinful habits.
Now what does John 5:28-29 say the criteria between those resurrected to life and those resurrected to judgment? Those who do good are raised to life and those who do bad are raised to judgment. Is this salvation by works? This goes contrary to the Protestant teaching that it’s totally based on belief in Christ. But it precisely fits the system of three types of people.
Salvation is a free gift. There is nothing that you can do to earn salvation. Everyone can be resurrected, but they can forfeit their salvation by hardening their hearts when God speaks to them. No amount of work can be done to earn your salvation. But for the wise to inherit the kingdom requires lots of work.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, (10) nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God.
The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom. But they will be resurrected. They will live in the nations. But those in Christ will reign with Christ as kings and priests. They will inherit the kingdom. Again, think of it like a Jew. Israel is the chosen nation. Israel is a holy nation. To be a part of it, you must be holy. The people of Israel will inherit the kingdom when the Messiah comes. But the Gentiles of the nations can still be saved.
Now think like you are Jewish. You are a part of the true Israel, even if you are Gentile. Remember that the true Israel is the true Church. Gentile believers are grafted into Israel. Those who completely overcome sin through a personal relationship with the Messiah are a part of the true Israel who will rule the nations as priests and kings, leading the nations to righteousness and salvation. Those who do not completely overcome sin, even if they know and love Jesus, are still resurrected with the nations, in the resurrection of judgment. That’s because they still do bad. They have not yet matured in Christ. But they will have the opportunity, along with the nations, to mature in Christ during the millennium.
If you want to be a part of the Bride of Christ, to get into the wedding banquet, to reign with the Messiah, you must overcome all your sinful habits. This is done by faith. The Holy Spirit will do the greater work as you give your life totally over to Christ’s will and become completely obedient to Christ’s commands. This is accomplished through love. Love is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. Love the LORD your God with all your heart. Love your parents and your children. Love your neighbors as yourself. Through love, you can overcome all sinful habits.
With three types of people in the grave, instead of the traditional two, Revelation 20 is interpreted even more literally. Those who have been beheaded because they refused to take the mark of the beast, or worship the image, come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection of the two as described by John in his gospel (John 5:28-29). We know from John 5:24 that all who hear and believe will be raised at the first resurrection. But does that mean the rest of the dead are not resurrected until a thousand years later?
John is not explicitly addressing those who die in Christ before the great tribulation. John is explicitly and literally addressing those who are beheaded because of their testimony for Christ during the great tribulation. The “rest of the dead” should be interpreted in the context of Revelation 20, especially when we understand there are three types of people in the grave. Also, the first and second resurrection of John 5:28-29 happen both in the same “hour.” It’s not reasonable for those who originally heard John’s Revelation to have understood “the rest of the dead” to fundamentally change the “hour” of the two resurrections of which John had already taught.
It’s more reasonable and more literal to stick with the context of those who were martyred during the great tribulation. In that context, the “rest of the dead” would be those who had taken the mark of the beast, but had died as a result of Armageddon and God’s wrath. They would “come to life” at the end of the thousand years for judgment and to be thrown in to the lake of fire. Remember that the Jews believed in soul sleep. So they must awakened in order to be tormented as Revelation teaches. This would not be a resurrection for living again with a new body. This would be a third event at the end of the thousand years that would not be considered a resurrection.
Thus, there are three types of people in the grave. The wise are resurrected in the first resurrection. The foolish are resurrected in the second resurrection. They have bodies, but have not been given everlasting life. They can still die a second death. Then there are the wicked, who are enemies of God (or Christ). They come to life for judgment at the great white throne judgment at the end of the thousand years.
Acts 24:14-16 ESV But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets , (15) having a hope in God , which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. (16) So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.