“In The Last Day, That Great Day …”
“For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-27). What did Job know that few today know?
We’re all familiar with places like I Thessalonians 4:15-17 where it does describe a resurrection, but it is obviously of a spiritual nature, yet Job says his resurrection will be in the flesh.
The Bible mentions many who were brought back to a normal physical life, however they have all since died and are again in their grave just like David (Acts 2:29-34). So, we must conclude that the God who created life is able to bring back to a physical life those who have died and returned to dust.
A future physical resurrection
Is it conceivable that there could be another resurrection that is different than the one commonly spoken of? If so, would it have something to do with how all Israel is to be saved (Rom. 11:26)? Wouldn’t all Israel have to include those long dead? Could Isaiah 60 or Ezekiel 37 give us a clue?
Ezekiel 37 describes in minute detail a future physical resurrection of an exceeding great army of people, restored to a physical life and given their first chance for salvation. They thought (poetically speaking) it was all over for them, that they had lost their opportunity for eternal life (Ezek. 37:11).
But if this doesn’t fit into your predetermined template of religion then you must come up with an explanation of your own. Many theologians tell us that this is simply a spiritual awakening to the truth of Christ by Israel in the last days. But if so, how is all Israel to be saved? Certainly there is an awakening as verse 13 describes; however, it is also, quite pointedly, describing a physical resurrection.
The resurrection to judgment
Jesus gave us additional information on the resurrection to judgment in Matthew 11 when He said: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades (grave), for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom, which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for you.”
Does the word judgment always mean sentencing, or can it also mean a period of time for testing? Does “Day” always mean 24 hours or can it also refer to a specified period of time? Typically, when we think of judgment we think of a sentence given by a judge. But doesn’t sentencing come after the judgment is made?
Hard to explain statements
In John 6:44 and 65 (AMP) we read: “No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.” Isn’t this saying that the Father chooses who is given the opportunity for salvation? Yet in II Peter 3:9 (KJV) we read: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But in Acts 4:12 we read: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” How can those not called, or purposely blinded repent if they’ve never known or even heard of Christ?
Let’s consider something else Jesus said: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst let him come unto me, and drink.’ ” (John 7:37-38).
No other name – no one comes unless drawn by the Father – those purposely blinded, then Jesus invites all to come to him (with no prerequisites) and He will give them living water (everlasting life).
Hardly The answer lies in the time frame. John 6 was during the spring harvest period (firstfruits Ex. 34:22) while John 7 was during the final fall (fruit) harvest. The key lies in the first words of John 7:37, “in the last day, that great day of the feast ….” Jesus was referring to the seventh annual Feast Day as commanded in Leviticus 23:36 and 39, the eighth day following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, known as the Last Great Day.
The Feasts of the Lord outlines God’s seven thousand year plan for the salvation of mankind (Lev. 23). But, because of the hatred of the Jews in early Christian history (coming to head with Constantine around 325 A.D.), anything that appeared Jewish was forbidden. Many New Testament Christians perilously observed God’s Holy Times hundreds of years after the apostles were long gone; even though outlawed by Constantine and later by the Catholic Church.
A plan for all mankind:
Christ is verifying that there is coming a time on the last great day (a period of time following the millennium, Rev. 20:5), that all people will be invited to come to Christ, and know the name by which they may be saved. A time when those not previously called or were purposely blinded will now know Jesus and will be given their first opportunity for salvation.
Revelation 20:4-6 tells us of the first resurrection describing their rewards and that they have already proven themselves as God’s elect. These are the First Fruits of the (spring) harvest of the earth (Ja. 1:18; Rev. 14:4). (The rest of the dead did come to life, but a thousand years later).
The rest of the dead
This is the vast majority of mankind, those in the many places on earth throughout history, any and all who have never heard the gospel. Those Christ mentioned in Matthew 11 and Mark 4:11-12, Bethsaida, Tyre, Sidon, Capernaum, and Sodom, all meet along with the dry bones of Ezekiel 37 and a great number of others. Those whom the Father saw fit not to call in this present life (for their own good), will all rise together during that last great day.
Those who never had a fair opportunity will now be offered what they never had before, their first invitation for salvation. This is by no means a second chance. They never had an opportunity to really know God. This is the great fall harvest, or fruit harvest, the in-gathering of the earth (Ex. 34:22). Isaiah 65:17-25 sheds more light on this mystery and suggests that at that time a life span may be as much as one hundred years.
Who are these people? God knows. It is not for us to know who are called and who are not and we should never assume to know. Our job is to speak the good news to all, keeping in mind that He loved us while we were yet sinners.
The age of accountability
Some teach that should one die before the age of accountability (whatever that is) he/she goes straight to heaven, or some similar place. But the Bible doesn’t say that. If so, it poses the ridiculous question, why not kill all the babies before accountability so that there would be no chance of them going to the lake of fire? Sadly, there have been some mothers who in desperation have done that.
What the Bible does say
The Bible does say that:
* There will be a second resurrection.
* There have been and will be physical as well as spiritual resurrections.
* Our Lord is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to
repentance (II Peter 3:9).
* God is merciful, fair and just. Can you picture Him sending anyone to the lake of fire that has not had
a fair chance to know Him and accept the salvation He offers (Ps. 103:8; Zeph. 3:5)?
* There will be a time when every man will know the Lord (Isa. 9:11; Jer. 24:7-31:34; Isa. 52:6; Acts
* There is a time coming when the entire world will keep the Sabbaths and holy days of the Lord (Zech.
14:16; Isa. 66:23).
* There is a day of salvation for all mankind, but each in his own order, starting with Christ, the first
fruit, afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming (I Cor. 15:23).
* This is the day of salvation for those now called, but all will have their day (John 6:44; II Cor. 6:2).
Job knew something that modern Christianity does not know, because they have refused to recognize God’s appointed times (Lev. 23) which are shadows of things to come (Col. 2:17 KJV). Notice that the first three Holy Days have occurred right on schedule (First and Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost). Doesn’t Logic dictate that the last four will occur at their future appointed time?
God has not forgotten his people.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; O Zion your walls are continually before Me” (Isa. 49:15-16).
The Millennial Kingdom — and beyond
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. And the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” — “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.” — “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
Additional related scriptures: (Isa. 30:19-22; 65:17-25; 66:22-24, II Peter 3:13, Rev. 21:1). (These are physical beings that are living on the recreated earth during the one thousand years and the last great day when Satan is bound. This is their first (and only) opportunity to know Christ).
And so, all Israel shall be saved!
Del Leger, Pastor, Christian Church of God, Grand Junction, Co. http://www.ccofgod.org.
Study guides on related topics:
THE FEASTS OF THE LORD — THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN — IF A MAN DIE – GOD’S INTRIGUING CYCLE OF SEVENS