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Let us study the O.T. beliefs on resurrection in chronological order: ❶ The faith on resurrection started off with Father Abraham. (Heb 11:17-19) By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.Abraham--faith's test: 1. Had the promises. 2. Offered up his only begotten son through whom the seed should come (Heb. 11:18; Gen. 21:12). 3. Had faith that if he killed his son in obedience, God would raise him from the dead to fulfill what He had promised (Heb. 11:19). 4. Received Isaac back from the dead, figuratively (Heb. 11:19). ❷ Elijah demonstrated the first resurrection of a dead body in O.T. Scripture--not to immortality but just to live again in this lifetime (1Ki. 17:17-24). Elijah knew more about the body, soul, and spirit than many today. To teach that the soul is not immortal, or that body and soul are the same and both go to the tomb at death, is to reject many scriptures. The soul is immortal and fully conscious after leaving the body; it can go out and return to the body, as clearly demonstrated here. When Elijah prayed, the soul came back and the body revived and lived again (1Ki. 17:21-22), which proves that the soul is the life of the body. The soul and spirit must be in the body in order for it to live (Jas. 2:26). At physical death the soul goes to one place and the body to another. ❸ The second resurrection of a boy from death by Elisha (2Ki. 4:32-37). Later a dead man was resurrected when his body touched the bones of Elisha in the grave (2Ki. 13:20-25). ❹ Job reasoned that a tree seems to have more hope than a man (Job 14:7-10). When a tree is cut down it will sprout again and grow into another, but when man is cut down, where is he? Job expressed the idea that man "gives up the ghost"--his body lies down and does not rise till the heavens be no more (Job 14:10-12). Job believed in a separation of the inner man from the body, in the inner man going to sheol, and in the set time of the resurrection of the dead (Job 14:13). The fact that he asked the question, "shall he live again?" gives evidence of faith in a future resurrection. So also the statement of waiting until his change would come is proof of his faith in the resurrection (Job 14:14). All of this is in perfect harmony with Biblical truths. The whole of Job 19:25-27 refers to the future resurrection and actual seeing of the Messiah with the eyes. ❺ Jonah became a true type of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Jonah 2:10; Mt. 12:40)
Your question illustrates an important point about God's method of revealing Himself and His redemptive plan to His people. That is, His revelation is progressive throughout redemptive history. Although neither God nor His plan of redemption ever changes, He reveals Himself to His creatures in ever increasing detail and clarity as history unfolds. We see this clearly as we turn the pages of Holy Scripture from Genesis toward Revelation. So, it only makes sense that believers in Old Testament times would have had a different view on some subjects than we who have the advantage of the completed Old Testament plus the teachings of Jesus (Heb 1:1-2) and the apostles (John 16:12-13). God's revelation of Himself and His plan of redemption is complete in Jesus Christ and further explained and applied by His apostles. It is also important to keep in mind another very similar and related pattern identifiable in the Bible -- that is, "first the physical, then the spiritual." This is a general principle that can be seen in many places and ways within scripture. For example, in the Old Testament there is major emphasis placed on the physical nation of Israel, their material inheritance, their behavior, the physical consequences of that behavior, animal sacrifices, etc. Of course, there were deep spiritual undertones to all the recorded activities, but it was the physical aspects that were most clearly in view until the spiritual basis for those activities was revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. "The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old Testament is in the New revealed." As to the topic of bodily resurrection, our present understanding of the subject was not made clear until after the resurrection of Jesus. With Christ having led the way as the first born among many brothers, we now know that we will follow Him in both His death and His resurrection (Romans 8:29, Romans 6:4-5). However, the Old Testament people of God may have understood life after death quite differently than us depending on the time period they lived in and other factors. Since the information on life after death issues such as the resurrection was provided progressively, there was not a single monolithic view consistent throughout the Old Testament period. Beliefs about resurrection seemed to run the gamut from annihilation to eternal spiritual existence in the manifest presence of God. There is evidence in scripture that some believers questioned whether there would even be life after death (Job 14:14). Although somewhat pessimistic in places, Job does hint at the hope of resurrection in his chapter 14 soliloquy. Death was often depicted as the final state of man (Gen 3:19, Psalm 103:14-16, Eccl 12:7, etc.). And yet Abraham was confident that God could resurrect his son Isaac from the dead (Gen 22:5, see Heb 11:19). In Exodus 3:6 and 3:15, Moses understood that, as the God of his fathers, YHWH was the God of the living not the dead (see Luke 20:37-38). The Sadducees, a group that originated during either the Old Testament or the intertestamental period, did not believe in the resurrection of the dead at all (Luke 20:27). Then there are Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah’s resurrection such as Psalm 16:8-10 and others. So, beliefs about the resurrection among Old Testament believers were many and varied not sticking to any one cohesive system of thought as to what happens after death. This should not surprise us since same thing could be said about our beliefs today. However, unlike those in Old Testament times, we do have the great benefit of the New Testament and especially the teachings of Jesus and the apostles on the subject.
If we look at the book of Job which is believed by many authorities to possibly be the oldest book of the Bible, Job 19:23-27 states: "Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! 24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." I agree with David that to a large extent God's revelation or "unveiling" was progressive, according to his will. This is clearly stated in Deuteronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." Further evidence of God's progressive unveiling is found in Mark 9:31-32 "For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him." Also concerning his resurrection we read in Luke 9:44-45 "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying." Additionally, 1 Peter 1:10-13 reads: "10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." Yes, they prophesied but did not fully understand what they wrote. Although revealed to them, the ministry was to post-resurrection believers. How much did Job know? Very little compared to what has been revealed to us. However, he fully believed in what God had revealed. 1.He believed in a living redeemer. 2.His redeemer would make a physical appearance on planet earth. 3. He believed that even after his body had decayed he would experience a personal, physical resurrection. 4. He would personally see this redeemer with his own eyes. All I can say is praise God! I look forward to meeting brother Job!
The belief in the resurrection was quite literal for those accepting the writings of the prophets. The Sadducees, for example, only accepted the writings of Moses. The clearest indication of the resurrection is found in Ezek 37 where the bones of the whole house of Israel are described as coming together, being covered in flesh, and breath being imparted to them. In Ezek 37:12 - 14 it is explicitly said "...Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, And I shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD."
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