“If Chapter 13 is the great ‘love chapter’ of the New Testament, [Chapter 15] is its great ‘resurrection chapter.’”[i] The physical resurrection of Yeshua from the dead, is the most important historical fact that our faith is founded on. With it, we have hope for the future, without it, we are, of all people, the most pitiful.[Read 1 Cor. 15:3-8] [ii]
General Biblical Understanding of the Resurrection
The belief in a general resurrection of all people at the end of time was held by the Pharisees and by a significant majority during Yeshua’s time. This is seen by the declaration of Martha just before Yeshua raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. John recalls Martha saying, “I know, he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” This understanding of a general resurrection comes from three primary passages, Job 19, Isa. 26 and Dan. 12.
In Job, probably the oldest book of the Bible, we see a reference to physical resurrection. Here Job is crying out a declaration about God, his redeemer. Job declares that after his body has been destroyed, he will see Adonai in his flesh and with his own eyes. This resurrection seems to refer to all the righteous of the earth, since it was written long before Moses.
Isaiah 26:14, 19
Isaiah is prophesying of the judgement at the end of the age. Isaiah himself had just said in verse 14 that the dead to not live, and the dead souls do not rise, however, Adonai contradicts the prophet and declares that, “Your dead will live!” This promise of resurrection is specifically concerning the righteous within Israel. However, we see through the book of revelation that there is a resurrection of the righteous and a resurrection of the unrighteous.
There are many references of eternal punishment, and this is one of the clearest. Daniel sees the day of the Resurrection of all people, where the multitudes who have died will rise again, “some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt.” I realise that the discussion of Hell is not a popular one, however, Yeshua referred to the place where, “the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” This is a reference to (Isa. 66:22-24) and the eternity of separation from God (see Mark 9:48), For other passages see the footnotes.[iii]
Specifics of Messiah Rising from the Dead
Last time we discussed how the Tenach prophesied that Messiah must suffer and die. We continue that line of thought by showing that the Scriptures also speak of a Messiah who will rise from the dead, and that on the third day.
We already covered the first part of this chapter, and we mentioned that Adonai considered the death of this suffering servant as a guilt offering, an asham, referring to (Lev. 5). But that is only the first half of the verse. Adonai says that “If He makes his soul a guilt offering [then] he will see his offspring [and] he will prolong his days.” Here is a simple question, “How do you see your offspring” or “prolong your days”, after your life has been violently cut off? Resurrection! The passage continues to talk of the rewards and place that the Righteous One, Adonai’s Servant, will receive. This passage is confirmed by Rav. Sha’ul in his letter to the Philippians. [Read Phil. 2:9-11]
2 Kings 20:8 & Hosea 6:1-2
Both of these passages give the specific length of time as being 3 days. The sign to King Hezekiah is intriguing for a couple of reasons. Although the 3 days here refers to the time it would take for Hezekiah to be healed, if Adonai had not healed him, then Joseph, the step-father of Yeshua would not have been born. The Kingly line through Solomon was preserved because of Adonai’s intervention but the cost of this intervention, was that Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son was the most wicked of all the kings of Judah.
The passage in Hosea specifically mentions being raised up on the 3rd day. This is tucked within language of being smitten and torn by Adonai because of sin, language that is very similar to Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. The promise of Adonai coming is affirmed and compared to the coming of the latter rain.
Yeshua stated that, “just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” (Matt. 12:40) From this example of Jonah’s life and the passage in Hosea, it was expected that the Messiah would rise from the dead. This is why the Lubavitch followers of Rabbi Schneerson expected and prayed that he would rise from the dead and reveal that he was indeed the Messiah.[iv]
The expectation of the Messiah rising from the dead on the third day, was held prior to Yeshua being born. A recent archaeological find called “Gabriel’s Revelation” shows this expectation.[v] This is a stone tablet that is written on with ink, and is dated to the first century B.C.E. This tablet draws on many of the passages that we have spoken of and demonstrates that the concept of a suffering Messiah who dies and rises on the third day is a completely Jewish understanding of the prophesies in the Tenach.[vi]
Eye Witness Testimony
Going back to 1 Corinthians, Sha’ul spends verses 5-8 discussing multiple, different eye-witnesses who could corroborate the story of the resurrection of Yeshua. These testimonies are obviously very important to Sha’ul. When he mentions that “most of them are still alive” he is telling is audience, “If you don’t believe my testimony, go ask any of them. Remembering that the letter to the congregation in Corinth was written only 20 years after Yeshua’s resurrection, there would have been plenty of people still around who could share what they had seen.
Sha’ul also mentions that Yeshua appeared to over 500 people at one time. This completely demolishes the “Hallucination Theory.” The Hallucination Theory claims that the Talmidim only thought they saw Yeshua. … There is no such thing as a group hallucination, this would have been a greater miracle then the resurrection itself.
John puts it this way in his first letter (1 John 1:1-2a), “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of life …[we] declare to you.”
A Final Thought
I want to finish this discussion with 5 historical facts, that virtually all scholars and historians, even skeptical, non-Christians ones, claim to be fact.[vii]
- Yeshua died by crucifixion.
- Yeshua’s tomb was empty after His burial.
- Yeshua’s disciples sincerely believed He rose from the dead and appeared to them.
- Sha’ul, the persecutor of Believers, accepted Yeshua as Messiah and began preaching about the resurrected Yeshua.
- Jacob, the skeptic, accepted Yeshua as Messiah and began preaching about the risen Yeshua.
The only question left is, “What is the best explanation for all these facts?” The physical resurrection of Yeshua from the dead explains all the facts. Because Messiah Yeshua has been raised from the dead, we know that our faith is not in vain, and that there is the reward of eternal life for all who trust in Yeshua!
[i] Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, pg. 484.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[iii] Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, pg. 28. In his discussion on Gey-Hinnom, Stern mentions the following passages that relate to eternal punishment: Deut. 32:22, 2 Sam 22:6, Ps. 9:17, 18:5, 116:3, Job 26:6 & Rev. 20:15.