Bible Study Series: Resurrection, Rapture & the Redeemer
Isaiah's glimpse of the resurrection and rapture!
by I Gordon
Welcome! We are continuing our series on the resurrection and last time we explored the earliest resurrection reference in the Bible. Do you remember? We looked at the insight given to Job about what comes after death and the hope he had in a redeemer and a physical resurrection. Now the Old Testament has two other prominent passages about the resurrection. Do you know where they are? That's right, in Isaiah and in Daniel. You're good... too easy for you! In this study we will look at what Isaiah saw concerning the resurrection which also contains a hint at the rapture. We shall explore:
- A key New Testament passage concerning the resurrection and rapture
- What Isaiah saw concerning the resurrection and the joy to come
- The order Isaiah gave with the resurrection, rapture and wrath of God
And that's about it. We'll focus mostly on Isaiah but I want to begin by laying a little ground work, looking briefly at a corresponding familiar passage on the rapture and resurrection from the New Testament.
When the graves are opened
1Th 4:13-18 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1Th 5:1-5, 9 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. (2) For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (3) While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (4) But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; (5) for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness... (9) For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Now I am sure you will agree that Paul's instruction here is a very well-known and important passage on the resurrection. We will go into this passage in more detail in a subsequent study but for now let's keep it as simple and basic as possible. Let's dumb it down. Thankfully, that is something that seems to come naturally to me! So what does this passage teach about the resurrection?
- Our belief in a future resurrection for those that believe in Jesus is based on the fact that Jesus 'died and rose again'. If death couldn't hold Jesus down, then it won't be able to keep it's hold on those that are His!
- The resurrection is tied in with the coming of the Lord. It doesn't happen before this event. It awaits the Lord's coming who will descend from heaven.
- The resurrection at Jesus' coming is for those that are called the 'dead in Christ'. They are also called those that 'have fallen asleep in Jesus'. That is, the resurrection is of every believer in Jesus who has died since the day of Pentecost. Now that involves my Dad and my Grandmother among many, many, many others. I'm sure you have ones you are excited to see again!
- The resurrection of the 'dead in Christ', which occurs first, is tied in with another 'rising'. They first rise from their graves and then they they will 'rise', with the believers still alive at the time, into the air. Thus the resurrection and the rapture (the catching up of all believers together to meet the Lord in the air) are inseparably linked.
- The resurrection and rapture is also linked to the 'day of the Lord' - a time that will come suddenly like labor pains upon the earth, bringing the wrath of God.
- But we, believers, are not of that day. We are not destined for God's wrath but for salvation. That day is a day of darkness and believers are of the light.
- The whole thought of the coming resurrection and rapture is meant to be one of comfort and hope for the believer.
So that, keeping it simple stupid, is what Paul wrote in this passage to those in Thessalonica. Looking at the order of how it is laid out you have:
So let's now go to Isaiah and see how this lines up with the revelation he received. The Bible only has one master author so it should be the same!
Isaiah's insight - Resurrection: Awake and shout for joy!
Isa 26:19-21 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.1
Isaiah prophesied that the dead will live, that their corpses will rise. That in itself is an amazing thought is it not? Can you imagine what it was like for those in Bethany who saw a 4-day-dead, yet somehow normal-looking Lazarus come up out of the tomb when Jesus called him forth? Yet that was just 4 days. Imagine what it was like to be in Jerusalem following the resurrection of Jesus to see a whole lot of long-dead people rise and walk around the city! Do you know what I am talking about? Do you remember that very intriguing yet incredibly brief account in the book of Mathew of what happened after the resurrection of Jesus?
Mat 27:52-53 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
Wow! We don't know any more details than what is stated there, but many believers came up out of their tomb and graves and were seen by many in the city. Imagine seeing someone that you knew and love, who was clearly dead for some time, suddenly appear at your house! I sometimes think of what it would be like to see my Dad alive again. Then I would definitely know it is go-time! Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible say this will happen again at the end of this age. God will raise the dead. As far back as Genesis the divine decree was 'For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.' (Gen 3:19). God created our physical bodies from the dust of the ground and to that dust our bodies always return. And yet, the Bible clearly speaks in several verses of a day when the corpse shall rise. Those who lie in the dust shall arise and come forth!
Now someone might ask 'What if my great uncle's cousin's son's friend fell off a boat and was then fully eaten by a shark? And then the shark was caught by a fishing boat in it's net and sent to a dozen different fish and chip shops where it was consumed by 100 different people who were visiting from many different countries. Where is my great uncle's cousin's son's friend now then aye? How is he going to raise from his grave or be put back together? Hmmm? Well? The fact is that a single DNA molecule contains all the genetic instructions required for how you were formed. And God not only knows how many hairs are on your head (or, as the case may be, have fallen out of your head!) but He knows the exact DNA sequence that made those hairs... and every part of you.
I heard one Pastor say that after speaking about the resurrection a boy came up to him and said 'The Bible says that the Lord keeps our tears in a bottle doesn't it? (Psalm 56:8). So if God has our tears then he has a copy of our DNA!' Top marks for thinking outside the box! : )
So what is the first thing that Isaiah says happens at the resurrection? He says that believers will 'shout for joy'. Again, can you imagine it? Can you imagine the accumulative joy of that day when the resurrection and rapture occurs? In no particular order it will be:
- Joy from being with the Lord at last!
- Joy from the fullness of God's Spirit!
- Joy from having an incorruptible, sinless, perfect body!
- Joy from seeing all the loved ones that have gone before you!
- Joy from having, for the first time in all of history, the entire body of Christ together! All in union and all worshiping their Savior together! The total ecclesia, 'the called out ones' all together, one is Spirit, purpose and desire.
While we are on the topic, do you know what the last mention of 'joy' in the Bible is?
Jud 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy...
I can't even begin to understand, let alone express, what that type of joy would be like. But I sure do look forward to it! It will be joy coming from the saved and the Savior. Back in Isaiah it also says of that day that 'your dew will be as the dew of the dawn'. Dew is often used as a picture of new life, blessing and the Spirit (Psa 133:3; Hos 14:5) and that day of resurrection and rapture will be new life and blessing like we have never experienced before!
Just thinking of the joy of being with the Lord, my Mum had an amazing experience recently. As I have mentioned in a previous message she was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor which required an operation to remove it. Now obviously anytime they are going to open up your skull and operate on your brain it is serious and the risks of the operation were fully laid out to us by the medical specialist. Despite this, Mum had peace. You see the night before we took her over to the hospital for the operation she had an experience of the Lord2. I guess you would call it a vision because she saw an outline of Him standing amongst creation with a path that led to Him and beyond. And she knew that the path beyond led into the life to come. She told me that she was filled with joy and peace, with a large part of her desiring to go on. But she said to the Lord that if He still had things for her to learn then she wanted to learn them. She also said that her life was in His hands and will. And I can tell you that she went through the whole operation and hospital experience with peace and joy. It was amazing to watch! She even got to share several times with a nurse about why she had no fear and was in peace and spoke openly and clearly about who the Lord was and what He had shown her! : )
If you are a believer and are saved by grace, through faith, then think about what is to come. Think about this verse again, the last mention of joy in the Bible:
Jud 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy -- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Isaiah's insight - Rapture: We have a place of safety prepared!
So what follows the resurrection according to our passage in Isaiah?
Isa 26:20 Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course.
After the resurrection we see a call to God's people to come into their rooms (or chambers) and close the door behind them so that they will be safe from the indignation and wrath of God. This is the same promise that we have seen in 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 above. It is also a wonderful promise that Jesus gave. You may remember that on the night before the cross, Jesus gave an incredible promise and hope to His disciples. Earlier in the week Jesus had spoken about the signs of the end and the tribulation that was going to come upon the world. This is recorded in the very famous chapter in Mathew 24 and has a very Jewish feel to it speaking to those in Judah and giving instruction to pray that it doesn't happen on a Sabbath. And yet, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus, having sent Judas away, gave His true disciples a new hope. One that they had not heard of or understood before. It was the hope of the rapture!
Joh 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jesus had told them that He had to go back to His Father, 'but do not let your hearts be troubled'. There was 'good news' in this going away! The good news in His departure was that He was going to prepare a place in Heaven for them. And not only that but He would return, specifically for His followers, so that where He was, they could be also. Now some people twist things around and make it sound like we, the Church, should be preparing a place on Earth for Jesus so He came come back here. Some even say that He can't come back until the Church has got things in order down here and this world is ready for His return. What nonsense! We do not prepare a place for Him (other that a right place in our hearts for Him to dwell!) He is preparing a place for us in Heaven and He will come and take us to be with Him there. This is a direct fulfillment of the Jewish wedding3 model where the groom would go to His Father's house to build new rooms for his bride. And He would return at an unknown day and hour to take her to be with himself when all was ready at his Father's house.
This is what the resurrection and rapture is all about. And this is the new hope Jesus gave His followers on the night of His betrayal and arrest.
The one who I've searched for, for so long has come. With open arms...
Today is the day of glory, today is the day I'm home
Oh day, what a day, oh day, I'm yours, oh day of resurrection
You come and find me, find me and I, oh I come alive, oh I come alive
What can I do but offer my life and I come alive, oh I come alive, again
Today is the day I rise like the dawn
Up out of death, To a Son, to a Son
Oh day, what a day, oh day, I'm yours, oh day of resurrection
And as Isaiah saw, this hope is one which spares God's people of His wrath in the last days. It is a pre-tribulation rapture hope. Remember what Isaiah said? 'Come, my people, enter into your rooms And close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while Until indignation runs its course.' That word 'indignation' is a common one used to describe the tribulation period (for example Dan 8:19, Dan 11:36, Nah 1:6, Hab 3:12, Zep 3:8) But Jesus has prepared our rooms in His Father's house and we will be taken and safely kept there (as Jesus promised to the Church in 1 Thes 1:10, 5:9, Rev 3:10) while the 'indignation runs its course' on Earth. God closed the door on the Ark to keep those who had rejected Him out, and to keep Noah and family safe from the destruction of the flood safe. And so the door to escape the coming tribulation and be safe in the prepared rooms in Heaven will be closed at the rapture. You do not want to miss that day! You do not want those that you know to miss that day.
Isaiah's insight - Wrath: After the Resurrection and Rapture!
Isa 26:21 For behold, the LORD is about to come out from His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; And the earth will reveal her bloodshed And will no longer cover her slain.
Isaiah's chapter ends with the thought of the coming wrath. You will note that in contrast to the previous verse which was one of comfort and safety for 'my people' this is one of wrath for 'the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity'. Unfortunately, the world is ripe for judgement. Fallen mankind despises God and loves to exalt itself. Take for example the following quote I read this week:
"In the Bible, God is the Creator. His chief power is to create; it creates animals and plants and humans according to his wishes. Now we are gaining this power to create life, just like God. And in a way, we even go beyond the biblical God."
Yuval Noah Harari, Jewish advisor to Klaus Schwab at the World Economic Forum
These people exalt themselves and will find out what the wrath of God is like if they don't repent. The 'indignation' is coming and will run its course as the previous verse mentioned but will culminate in what this verse tells us - 'The LORD will come out of His place' to punish those who have rejected Him. Isaiah spoke about this day elsewhere when he wrote:
Isa 34:1-4 Draw near, O nations, to hear; and listen, O peoples! Let the earth and all it contains hear, and the world and all that springs from it. For the LORD'S indignation is against all the nations, And His wrath against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to slaughter. So their slain will be thrown out, And their corpses will give off their stench, And the mountains will be drenched with their blood. And all the host of heaven will wear away, And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll; All their hosts will also wither away As a leaf withers from the vine, Or as one withers from the fig tree.
While it is outside the scope of this study to go into the events of that day or that which follows, those interested should also note what follows these verses in Isaiah 26. After the wrath against the inhabitants of the earth, the next chapter begins with:
- Judgement upon the Serpent (Isa 27:1)
- God taking care of His Vineyard again (Isa 27:2-6)4
Again, it is outside the scope of this study but we know that when the Lord returns Satan, that old Serpent, shall be judged and locked up (Rev 20:2) and Israel shall blossom and bloom in the Kingdom age under the care of her Messiah!
To conclude we see that the hope of the resurrection was present in the Old Testament. Job spoke about it as we saw last time. Isaiah spoke about it and it is interesting to see that the reference to the resurrection in both Isaiah and 1 Thessalonians have the same order:
- First comes the resurrection of the dead in Christ.
- Followed closely by the rapture and God's people protected in their heavenly homes
- Then the wrath of God upon the Earth.
But never forget the promise Jesus made on that night before He died - 'In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.'
Believer's have that hope of what is to come. They have they hope for those that knew the Lord and have already passed.
Psa 16:10-11 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
But also remember, as we have seen, what that day means for unbelievers. At the rapture those that are His are taken into their heavenly chambers and the door is closed. Those that are not the Lord's at that time will enter into that time of wrath and great tribulation upon this earth. Now is the time to warn people of what is to come and bring as many as possible with us!