It’s real . . . with sneak peeks throughout the Bible to prove it.
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Judaic (orthodox), Messianic Judaic, and Christian teachings stand in agreement:
Death isn’t the end. It's another beginning. The soul is eternal. There’s a resurrection coming at the end of days, orchestrated by the hand of G-d.
This 5-part Resurrection Jewish Style series explores G-d’s many sneak peeks—real accounts of real people who were resurrected—throughout the Bible.
Recommended reading order . . .
Emily Dickinson, 1861 poem.
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon—
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—
Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!
Death. Is it a body decomposing into nothingness, trapped in a waiting-for-Godot moment—as Dickinson depicts in her “Alabaster Chambers” poem posted above?
Or is it a future transition of the soul-body matrix into something far greater?
Wherever you stand on the Judaic-Messianic Judaism-Christian bridge, the teachings are in agreement:
Death isn’t the end. It’s another beginning. The soul is eternal. There’s a resurrection coming at the end of days—acharit ha-yamim in Hebrew, אחרית הימים—orchestrated by the hand of God.
Resurrection to everlasting life for the righteous . . . resurrection to judgment (everlasting abhorrence) for the others, per Daniel 12:2 and John 5:28-29, among other scriptures.
Consider this: God said to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. —Exodus 3:6
What was God saying?
I am the God of your father—not I was.
Your father is alive in Me.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long past from this world, and yet, their souls are alive.
I am their God.
But God doesn’t leave things suspended there, with the eternal soul separated from its earthly vessel (the body) . . . the design from the beginning was for us to enjoy an everlasting soul-body made holy unto Him.
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.
Now, since resurrection is a futuristic event, that begs the question: what is our life down here about? There’s much to that answer—some discussed in this series. But for starters, as one rabbinic source puts it . . .
This world is like a lobby before the World to Come;
prepare yourself in the lobby
so that you may enter the banquet hall.
—Rabbi Yaakov, Pirkei Avot 4:21 (Ethics of our Fathers, ethical/moral Torah teachings from the Mishnaic 2nd century CE period)
Take a walk with me to explore what God has shown: Ten sneak peeks in the Bible—real accounts of real people who were resurrected. Ten accounts—of Jews and Gentiles—given to nudge our faith toward the main event up ahead.
BUT FIRST, THE 4-1-1 BRIEF
Okay, so admittedly not everyone in Judeo-Christian circles takes resurrection at face value, what God has shown.
Exhibit A. Orthodox Judaism strongly adheres to the resurrection teaching. In fact, the resurrection of the dead has been so entrenched in Jewish/biblical doctrine that it became the thirteenth principle of faith, as defined by The Rambam—Moses ben Maimonides, a renowned, 12th-century rabbinic scholar and philosopher.
But other Jewish sects—Reform, Conservative, Reconstruction, Renewal, Humanistic—typically stray from that biblical core truth to one degree or another.
Truth be told, even back in the Second Temple period—1st century CE—the two major sects of the day didn’t agree either. The Pharisees believed “every soul is imperishable” and only the righteous souls would have a bodily resurrection, while all others would enter eternal punishment. Their Judaic counterpart—the Sadducees—pooh-poohed the soul’s eternal existence, the resurrection, angels, and spirits, per Acts 23:8.
Exhibit B. It probably goes without saying that belief in a resurrection—God’s ability to resurrect, His word saying as much, and the examples of it in scripture, particularly of the Messiah, Jesus [Yeshua, his Hebrew name]—is the bedrock of Messianic Judaism and mainstream Christianity. Fringe spin-offs of Christianity, those who like to use the Christian label but not its biblically based belief system, think otherwise.
Exhibit C. The rest of the masses who fall within the cracks of Exhibits A and B or somewhere else entirely.
Like Emily Dickinson, the not-so-believing religious poet whose inner turmoil—paradoxical soul matters, resurrection doubts, and burgeoning transcendental views indicative of the 1800s—unleashed a divergence from her staunch, Calvinistic-Protestant upbringing. Her quasi-mocking 1861 poem used at the opening of this post demonstrates that.
RESURRECTION: SNEAK PEEKS
God made resurrection pretty clear. These ten examples aren’t just hints. They’re not suggestions. They are real stories about real people who breathed their last, were mourned, and were either entombed or on their way to that tomb—then were resurrected to demonstrate God’s power, compassion, and future promise. Their historic accounts are listed below.
Of course, these resurrected people went on to live again . . . but eventually had to die again and await the resurrection.
That is, all except one.
And now, ten real-life resurrection accounts.
1 Kings 17:10-24. Meager, drought-riddled times. The place was Tzarfat [Zarephath]—a Phoenician city between Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon. Read how G-d intervened for this widow.
JEWISH SHUNAMMITE’S SON
2 Kings 4:20-37. Opening scene: The village of Shunem, north of Jezreel in the Tribe of Issachar’s land. Elisha, anointed by G-d, honors this woman, saves her son.
ELISHA’S TOMB—JEWISH MAN RESURRECTED
2 Kings 13:20-21. The prophet Elisha fell sick and died, his body placed in a burial cave. Time passed. Then one day, some men came to bury another man. Amazing G-d power happens next.
JEWISH LAZARUS—FOUR DAYS ENTOMBED
John 11: 1-44. Lazarus of Bethany and his two sisters—Miriam and Martha—were Jewish followers of Jesus [Yeshua] and close friends of the famed rabbi. One day, Lazarus falls sick. His sisters send a message to Jesus to please come, knowing of his healing miracles. The rest of the story is jaw-dropping.
JEWISH SYNAGOGUE LEADER’S DAUGHTER
Mark 5:21-24, 35-43. Jesus [Yeshua] had been ministering to a crowd of people near the Sea of Galilee—casting out demons, healing the sick, etc. A Jewish synagogue official named Ya’ir fell at the feet of Jesus, pleading desperately. “My little daughter is at the point of death. Please! Come and lay your hands on her so she will get well and live!” Despite naysayers, Jesus moves . . .
JEWISH WIDOW OF NA’IM’S SON
Luke 7:11-16. Jesus, his twelve disciples, and a large crowd went to a lower-Galilee town called Na’im, just south of Mount Tabor within the boundaries of the Tribe of Issachar. As he approached the town gate, a dead Jewish man was being carried out for burial. Jesus took pity on the man’s widowed mother . . .
John 19, 20, 21. Egged on by Jewish authorities and decreed by Rome’s Pontius Pilate, Jesus was crucified at a place called Gulgotha, outside of Jerusalem, died (proven), then was prepped for burial and entombed. The event of all resurrection events was about to happen.
Matthew 27:50-53. Right after Jesus breathed his last on the crucifixion stake, the earth shook, rocks split, and tombs were opened. What about the bodies in them? Read this.
Acts 9:36-41. The Messianic Jewish community was being built up in Judah, the Galilee, and Samaria. Their numbers, multiplying. A beloved woman named Tabitha—Dorcas in Greek—died. She was esteemed for her tireless charitable work making clothes for the poor, widows, and others. Then G-d stepped in.
Acts 20:7-12. Pharisee Saul Paulus had a Damascene encounter with the ascended Jesus—and thereafter became a believer in Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah. Saul traveled extensively to spread the truth of the Messiah—often amid great persecution. Then one day as he was teaching . . .
READ MORE IN THE RESURRECTION SERIES
RESURRECTION: SCRIPTURE VERSES
The soul is immortal—Judaically and biblically speaking.
The bodily resurrection of the dead is the hope for the righteous in the coming Messianic Age. The Word of G-d says it best. Here are some examples.
Your dead will live, my corpses will rise;
awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust;
for your dew is like the morning dew,
and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.
Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence.
Yeshua [Jesus] answered them, “And as for whether the dead are resurrected, haven’t you read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob?’ He is God not of the dead, but of the living!”
—Yeshua speaking to the Sadducees, Gospel of Matthew 22: 31-32
Do not be surprised at this because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment.
—Gospel of John 5:28-29
I continue to believe everything that accords within the Torah and everything written in the Prophets. And I continue to have hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. Indeed, it is because of this that I make a point of always having a clear conscience in the sight of both God and man.
—Former Pharisee Saul Paulus (later called the Apostle Paul), presenting his defense before Caesarea’s Governor Felix, as well as the cohen hagadol (Jewish high priest) and Jewish elders, Acts 24:15
McFarland, Philip (2004), Hawthorne in Concord, New York: Grove Press, p. 149, ISBN 0-8021-1776-7.
Royot, Daniel (2002), “Poe’s humor”, in Hayes, Kevin J, The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 61–2, ISBN 0-521-79727-6.