feast: The Second Resurrection
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 19-Oct-92; Sermon #FT92-06; 66 minutes
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon the pouring out of water as a symbol of the pouring out of God's Holy Spirit during the Second Resurrection. The vast majority of people who have lived on this earth have never heard the true Gospel of God's Kingdom. God, not willing that any should perish, has a timetable, carefully calculated to allow people to receive and respond to the truth at their maximum opportunity for salvation, each in his own order. The Judgment indicates a process, requiring considerable time, a turning point, leading to a just and equitable decision. This conversion process, requiring the use of His Spirit, symbolized by water has already begun for God's called-out ones. Without the quality of life imparted by God's Holy Spirit, eternal life is not worth living.
Brazen altar Cemeteries Confusion Conversion Crisis Development Earthquake Eternal life Exclusivist mentality Fullness of Gentiles Gate of the Lord Gentiles Hardened character Heaven and Hell doctrines Krisis Maturity Process of investigation Process of judgment Quality of life Water ceremony
For some reason, cemeterys held a fascination for my father. Quite frequently after church on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon, usually during the summer, he would take us through Allegheny Cemetery which was about two miles from the Methodist church we attended when I was a boy. It was an older style cemetery with many large, sometimes ostentatious, marble markers as well as mausoleums with all kinds of gingerbread all over them, beautiful carvings, a lot of statuary, a lot of pillars on them. They sort of reminded you of a Greek temple.
In addition to that, it was a very large cemetery; it was well taken care of, almost a forest, tall shady hardwood trees with paved lanes running through them to the various parts of the cemetery. There were quite a number of large ponds that were filled with carp and gold fish, a profusion of flowers I can remember just about everywhere, to give a joyous color to offset what could have been a very somber and depressing situation.
There were a large number of people who were important to the history of Pittsburgh that were buried there and some of these people were important even nationally as well. There are names that I know you would recognize out of history, and every once in a while we would stop and see these people’s mausoleum and then go on to another one.
Now, my father is buried there, along with his parents and most of his brothers and sisters. I do not ever recall questioning why we were spending time in a cemetery. I do remember rather liking to go there myself, because it was kind of a place of mystery, and even a touch of reverence, as well as beauty. I think I know why now—why my dad liked to go there.
My dad was over all a gentle, soft spoken, thoughtful, and kind man. I also think that he was a romantic who liked to go to the cemetery and wonder, maybe dream, or try to envision about the kind of lives those tombstones represented. I feel sure just knowing a little bit about his mind, he must have wondered whether they were able to see what he was doing at that time.
Were they in heaven? Were they looking down on him? Were they aware of him? I know that he never got the answers, if indeed that was his question.
By the time that he died, at the age of 68, his attitude toward God was ambivalent at best and bitter at worst. He told me one time that if there is a God, that he would never bow down and kneel to that God if that was the same God who allowed all the suffering that is going on here on earth.
My dad was—I would not call him the black sheep of the family—but at least a gray sheep though. He had a modicum of religion, but several of his brothers and sisters were deeply involved in Pentecostal-type churches. He knew his brothers and sisters pretty well and he knew that there was hypocrisy in the family, hypocrisy that belied what these people showed on Sunday. It was the difference between their normal behavior during the week and what they were able to show to others in church on Sunday. I know that this bothered him a great deal.
On the other hand, he never seemed to hold against me that I became a minister. He never found out that I was a minister until 1968, two years after I was ordained, because we never told him.
We never told him because of his attitude toward religion. We did not want it to become a thorn, something that would keep us separated, because we had been separated for so long because of the church anyway, and we had just been able to establish once again a fairly good relationship with him and my mother. He was never really the problem. My mother was, but he had to live with my mother!
So things had just gotten kind of smooth once again when we went off to Ambassador College and he found out that I was a minister. It was interesting because he was beginning to think that there was something different about us anyway.
He paid me a very high compliment, about a year before he died, when he heard me give a sermon in the Santa Ana congregation. This was in 1972, he was sitting out there in the congregation listening, he told me later that while I was speaking he was so wrapped up in listening to the sermon, that he entirely forgot about who it was that was speaking.
I think my dad is very similar to most who have lived, especially most of those who have lived in this western Christian culture of ours, this area of the world in which Christianity is supposed to be the major religion. He was just confused by what seemed to him to be conflicting realities. What God was doing was to him a mystery that was unfathomable. He simply could not figure it out.
John 7:37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
It was on a day much like today, about nineteen hundred and sixty years ago, that Jesus stood and preached about the meaning of this day. It is interesting to me that His subject for that day was the Holy Spirit. Why?
Quite possibly He picked up on the subject because of a ceremony that the Jews participated in during the Feast of Tabernacles. It may very well have been that He was watching this ceremony go on while the Feast of Tabernacles was in progress. He decided to make use of the analogy that was clearly available to Him.
This ceremony was not one that was commanded by God, it was one instead that the Jews had come up with. It did have a measure of true symbolism involved within it. Each day during the Feast, a priest took an urn; he went to the pool of Siloam and dipped it in. He then joined a procession of people leaving the pool of Siloam. They went back into the Temple area through the water gate, while the people recited, as they were going along, Isaiah 12:3, which speaks about dipping from the wells of salvation.
Once they were inside the city though, that urn of water was paraded all the way to the brazen altar. After they got into the city, the people who were a part of this group of people going toward the altar stopped reciting Isaiah 12:6, and began singing Psalm 113-118, and they sang it as they proceeded to the brazen altar.
As they got to the altar they were concluding Psalm 118 and then the priest poured the water on the roaring fire, and of course you would understand then what would go up would be a cloud of water vapor going up off the fire and certainly symbolizing God filling the Temple, as it were.
The water then was offered to God, as an offering back to Him, recognizing the symbolism that was there. Now this was repeated each day during the Feast, but on the last day, the Great Day of the Feast, they changed their procedure just a little bit. Instead of marching up to the altar, and pouring the water on, they marched up to the altar and they circled it seven times before they poured the water.
I wonder how many people understood the symbolism that they were witnessing there. Was it too clouded by the passage of time? Was it too clouded because they were unfamiliar with the Scriptures? Did they really understand water as being a type of God's Holy Spirit? Did they understand the vapor that went up as a symbol of God inhabiting His Temple? Did they understand the vapor of water going up as an offering to Him? Or the fact that it symbolized that somehow or another off in distant future, when this day was fulfilled, that everybody would be filled with the Spirit of God?
That is something that we do not know. We do know that at one time somebody understood, they put together this ritual and Jesus gives no indication that He found fault with it, so we would have to say, at least by implication, that He thought that it was something that acceptable to God. Whether the people understood or not, He understood, and He picked up on it.
Please turn to Psalm 118. We will read about the last 10 verses of what these people were singing at the time that this water was being poured on the brazen altar, right on top of the coals that were normally used to burn the sacrifice.
Psalm 118:19-20 Open to me the gates righteousness, I will go through them, and I will praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter.
Are you beginning to pick things up? On through the water gates, certainly something that needed purified, symbolizing here, opening the gates to righteousness and the people were walking through and they picked up Psalm 112, and began singing toward this end.
Psalm 118:20 This is the gate of the Lord, through which the righteous shall enter.
Remember the water—where is righteousness coming from? It comes from a combination of God imputing it, as well as our use of His Holy Spirit in submission to Him, in obedience to Him.
Psalm 118:21 I will praise You, for You have answered me [who is answering who here?], and have become my salvation.
God is answering the people who have cried out to Him. It indicates that they have made contact with Him and He is responding to them.
Psalm 118:22-29 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. [for these people too, as well] This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day [how about a day of salvation] which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I pray, O LORD. O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
What we see here is a prophecy of what is coming off in the future, when the whole world, symbolized by the people of Israel, go through the gates of righteousness, recognizing Christ as their Savior, rejoicing in those God sends to teach them, and praising God for His mercy for giving them salvation. God is pouring out His Holy Spirit on all of mankind.
This day has special meaning to those who understand, because it answers perplexing questions regarding the great masses of humanity having lived or died without the knowledge of God's way.
In my twenty five years as a minister in the church of God, I have yet to talk to a single person who ever understood even the elemental things of the second resurrection. Nobody except those who have had a contact with the true church of God even have the foggiest idea. Maybe you have run into some, but I would almost be willing to bet that if you have run into those people, somewhere in their past they came across Mr. Armstrong's material.
Are people lost because the name of Christ did not reach them? What about infants who die, what about the millions enslaved under the dreadful yoke of atheistic forms of government? They did not choose to be born into a godless society, it was just an accident at birth that they happened to be there. It could have been you. You would not want to be lost.
The way much of modern Christianity feels is that those who are in pagan nations are already lost, because the door of salvation for some reason has never been open to them because they did not hear the truth. This is indeed what most Christians think.
Let us look back in the book of Ephesians. Paul is writing to a Gentile church.
Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands.
Most Christian denominations would consider all of us to be Gentiles in the flesh. We know that that is not true, but Paul was writing to those who truly were Gentiles in the flesh.
Ephesians 2:12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
The Gentiles truly are without hope. Now if we look at this in a spiritual sense it means all of those who are spiritual Gentiles, all of those who are beyond the perimeters of those who are converted and truly have the Spirit of God—they are without hope.
Is my dad correct in deciding that any God who would do that kind of a thing is not worthy of worship? That he would never bow his knee to a God who would just write people off simply because of an accident at birth, simply because they happen to be in an area where they never got the truth?
According to his understanding, that was the only conclusion that he could possibly come to. He was a Methodist, reared in the United States. As far as I know, I do not know if he ever heard Mr. Armstrong. I know for sure that even if he had ever heard Mr. Armstrong, he never heard the true gospel to the extent that would have given him an understanding of this.
Would God be fair to condemn people who are born, whether they heard or not? There are an awful lot of people who would fit into this category. Mr. Ford said that it has been calculated that about forty billion people have lived on the earth. How many of those forty billion actually knew the truth? Not very many.
People are born, they grow up with various degrees of education, they reach varying status within the culture that they are in, they have miserable marriages in many cases, they reared and lost children, they have gone to war, they died in war, they were subject to horrible diseases, they were subject to all kinds of natural phenomena, droughts, famines, freezing, rapid changes in weather, earthquakes, all kinds of natural disasters, they have grown old, they become neglected by family and by society, uncared for, the fodder for the next generation.
What a life. It is no wonder those we might call the intelligentsia, academia, in this world, are agnostic at best, because they are accustomed to thinking in parameters like this. So they conclude, because they do not have the proper evidence and God has never given it to them, that there either is not a God, or if there is a God, He has gone way off somewhere, He is dead, or He does not care. That He started His creation, wound it up, and then walked off into space somewhere, and the thing is operating on its own.
I would say, given the evidence that they do have, their conclusion is pretty logical. Even in religion, the heaven and hell doctrines, theories we will call them, they make the judgments and resurrection of God superfluous, unneeded. They diminish the creative power of God and diminish or forget about, shove off into a corner, all of the great mercy that He tells us in this Bible that He has for all people everywhere—not only those in the past, but for those who are going to come.
I Timothy 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. . .
Here is God's attitude, not at all as what intelligent men can conclude. The admonishment and instruction for you and me is that we give thanks and that there be intercessions made for all men.
I Timothy 2:2-4 . . . for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It is God's will that all men be saved. My dad apparently did not believe that. Based on the evidence that appears to be in the world at this time, I think that most of mankind really feels that way as well.
I Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
That “testified in due time” could mean that God testified of Christ being the ransom at the right time in history, at just the right moment—that we reached that point that God saw in His wisdom that it needed to be made, and it was the right time to do it. But it can also mean that each person is testified to, of this, at just the right time. Either way is an acceptable translation of the Greek there.
II Peter 3:8-9 But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
So now we hear Peter saying virtually the same thing that Paul said to Timothy. That God intends that all be saved, but we see here he adds the factor that God's purpose, the one that He is working out, involves vast periods of time, at least vast periods of time from man’s point of view. But He is still not willing that any should perish. It is God's will that is clearly seen but there is a problem. If salvation is going to come to people, they are going to have to repent.
How can a person repent if he is not convicted of the errors of his ways, or the rightness of God's way? Especially if he has never had the truth preached to him. He is in an impossible situation. Now someone unconverted and not having all of the pieces of the puzzle, they are able to read that and I have read this, it makes them come to the conclusion that God is cruel. Because it is obvious that mankind—much of mankind—has never been given the knowledge that will enable him to see the error of his ways. How can he possibly repent? So God looks like the bad guy.
This morning we went through I Corinthians 15:20-26, so I will not turn to that, but I will refer to it. I want to pick out one thing that is in there that was mentioned this morning. That is, Paul said that each is in his own order, that is, in regard to a resurrection. There is a purpose being worked out according to a plan, made by God, and that plan is proceeding toward an end, toward a goal, otherwise Paul could not honestly say that people are going to be resurrected in a certain order.
In due time, we begin to see the evidence that the opportunity for salvation will come even though God has to resurrect people to carry it out, to make that opportunity available to mankind.
Most churches in this world exclude most of the world from salvation because they are not part of their group. We cannot afford to take this tack. We can look upon them as being not a part of what we are—they are not converted—but on the other hand, if we have that kind of an attitude, that exclusionary attitude that the world has, very likely it is going to affect our actions and interaction with them. It will make us look as though we are proud and self-righteous. And, I might add, exclusivist.
John 5:25-29 [Jesus is the one who is speaking] Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. [So far the term dead could refer to anybody who hears His voice.] For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Now that very clearly shows that there are going to be at least two resurrections, but it also says that all who hear His voice are going to come forth. There is, in this section, an important key to understanding something here in regard to the resurrection.
It is the word judgment. It appears first in verse 22 (which we did not read), where it says, the Father judges no one but has committed all judgments to the Son. In verse 27, it appears again, giving Him authority to execute judgment also, and in verse 29, the word condemnation is the same word as the other words. They are the Greek word krisis, although, phonetically it is pronounced creases. It denotes the process of investigation, the act of distinguishing and separating.
Its primary emphasis is on the process that leads to a decision. It is also used of a decision, or a judgment, and that is also a proper translation, depending upon the context, but it is its secondary application. What I have said so far in reference to this word is that the primary application of the word krisis is that it denotes the process of investigation, the act of distinguishing and separating.
Its secondary application would be the decision that is made at the end of the process, of investigation. Please turn to Hebrews, where this word is used, and its application here is quite interesting.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once but after this the judgment.
The normal thing for us to do is to read that word judgment and immediately leap to the conclusion that he is talking about a decision. He may or he may not. Let us feed into that the other, the primary meaning of the word. So we have here the word judgment, krisis. Another translation or interpretation of this word comes out of Bullinger’s Companion Bible, and he said that word means a separating, which fits right into the process. You go through the process of evaluating and investigating, then you separate. It is especially applied in judicial proceedings.
If you have been looking at that word, you probably recognized an English word that is very similar to it—in Greek krisis, in English crisis. What does our English word crisis mean? It means a turning point in the progress of an affair or a series of events. The crisis is not the end, but a critical juncture and the affair continues on.
Judgment in Hebrews 9:27 in this sense is not a sentence but a time of decision for a person to be judged. It is a turning point in a person’s life. You can begin to see that this is fitting very well into the second resurrection. The person has gone into his grave; he has died, and then comes the crisis. What is coming? It is a turning point in his life that has occurred; it is a point in the progress of an investigation. Who is doing the investigating? God is the one who is doing the investigating.
The person has lived his life up to that point, he has died. God is going to resurrect and now the investigation is going to continue but it is going to continue under somewhat different circumstances than it did at the beginning, because when the person went into his grave he was unconverted. He was born, he lived, he died without knowledge of the truth. Now God is beginning to indicate, when we begin to pull in information from other parts of the Bible, that when he is resurrected, a crisis, a turning point, will take place.
God will begin to give this person information by which they can begin to do what Psalm 118 says. To go through the gates of righteousness, understanding that Christ is his Savior, praising God for His mercy, receiving God's Holy Spirit, using that Holy Spirit, and coming to the kind of deep conversion that you and I are moving toward in our life right now.
So, judgments begin to take on the form of a time period during which a process is evolving, the decision or the sentence comes at the end of the judgment. Now it begins to appear very clear that people go into their grave with only part of the process, and there is yet much more to come. Let us look at the pattern.
I Peter 4:17 For the time has come [remember about being testified to in due time] for judgment [the process] to begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first. . .
That adds something very interesting. The process of judgment that is going to lead to the glorification of the sons of God, has begun with the church of God, in this era. I do not mean the Philadelphia era, or the Laodicean era, I mean the era that began with Jesus Christ and the founding of the church of God, on that Pentecost so many years ago in 31 AD.
I Peter 4:17 . . . what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
The answer to that question is not near as harsh as some people might think. On the surface it gives the implication that these people who do not obey the gospel of God might indeed be lost forever, but thanks be to God, because He shows that is not true. They may simply go into their grave without the knowledge of the truth but there is still that opportunity for them to come up in that second resurrection.
The church consists of those who are called out, called of God, granted repentance, baptized, received the Holy Spirit, grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ till we all come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. We are put through trials, we overcome, we produce the fruit of God's Spirit, we come to the place where the mind of Jesus Christ is in us, and we grow in love.
There is the pattern. Is God somehow going to allow others into His Kingdom without going through the same process of growth in maturity? Not on your life. Would you as a parent want children born of your flesh, never to be developed, never have the opportunity to be educated, never have the opportunity to really come to maturity, never have the opportunity to express their creativity, never have the opportunity to make you proud and bring glory and honor to them, never have the opportunity to produce children of their own, and to watch those children grow up?
You know very well what you expect, what you hope, what you dream, what you envision for your children. You want them to succeed to the place where they are greater than you, where they achieve more than you, more valuable to society than you. We got those feelings from God, we got those ideas and concepts from God. He wants us to develop and He wants all of His children to develop. He is not willing that any should perish, that all would be born into His family. Please turn to Romans 5.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
For this to be accomplished, what Paul just wrote of here in Romans 5, requires time, having experience with God, having the character of God produced within us. God is a creator. He is reproducing Himself in us. He is judging, He is evaluating what is best for our development; He is putting us through the steps that are necessary to produce that. Whatever the next step in the process is, He will prepare us for that until we are able to be in His Kingdom.
Remember we are talking here about the pattern. We have seen that He is going to resurrect others, that there is a crisis, a turning point, coming in their lives. He is not going to deny them the opportunity to go through the same processes we are going through right now.
II Corinthians 5:1-10, where Paul says that we walk by faith and not by sight—that we walk according to a different drum beat, that we are looking forward to the time when we will be in the Kingdom of God—and our vision of being in the Kingdom of God shapes what we do in our life. Again remember we are the pattern of what is coming, and those who are coming up in the resurrection are going to go through patterns that are very similar to what we are going through. People are going to come to repentance, people are going to receive His Spirit, people are going to be put through trials and tests, tribulations, experiencing life with God, coming to repentance in many, many areas in their lives.
In II Corinthians 3, there is behind what Paul wrote here an understanding that most of us have, and that is that we are all cut off from the Tree of Life by the sins of our parents. Of course we have all sinned and we have brought the death penalty upon ourselves a well. The result of that is that we did not have the one tool, that missing dimension that would make a relationship with God possible. Unfortunately, this dimension is still missing in the lives of the overwhelming majority in mankind.
II Corinthians 3:14-17 But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. [How can they know unless they can hear]. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Tie this in with John 7:37, we will see more of this as we move along, and why this symbolism of that ritual was correct. The only reason we are here and able to understand, and able to apply the things that we understand is because God by a miracle took the veil away and gave His Spirit so that the process could continue. We can all understand as a result of things like this why Mr. Armstrong said many of the things that he did. Such as, that only the called can understand—you may as well talk to a cow as to talk to these people about the spiritual truths of God. They just do not get it.
We are speaking in different parameters, we see things from a different perspective. Your perspective of things earthly and things heavenly has changed. We walk to the beat of a different drummer, we have a different vision of life. We see ourselves differently from what we did before. We see others differently from what we did before.
This thing begins to dominate our lives. It is almost as if it is forcing us to go in the direction that we go, but in reality we are yielding to the force of truth, of logic, of encouragement, of excitement and enthusiasm, that the Spirit is awaking in us. That, of course, they do not have. So their eyes are veiled. They cannot walk the same path that you and I walk, they do not have the same vision, and it is all because of the Spirit of God, because it was by God's Spirit that He stirred up your mind and your spirit and began to reveal Himself to you.
Everything from the time of the beginning of the awakening of your consciousness to a right perception of God has depended upon God's use of His Spirit, thus the water in relationship to the Last Great Day.
The water symbolizes the Spirit of God, because it is the meat, it is the missing dimension, it is the tool that man needs to enable to take himself, to set his will by faith, and to go in the direction that we are now going in. We understand of course that this period of time occurs at the end of God's harvest season.
In Revelation 20:11, we find that the dead rise. So they are alive but they must be given the same vision that you and I now possess. They are judged, according this verse. The word there is krino, a different word from krisis, and it means to try, to test, to decide, to conclude. It can also mean punish, a sentence, it covers the whole gamut, and is therefore somewhat different than the word, krisis. Because this word now includes everything from calling to sentence.
What we see there in Revelation 20:11-12 is that these people are being judged even as we now are. We understand now because of what we are going through that it is part of the same pattern, that judgment is going to take place over a period of time, and their growth is going to be part of process, and all the while that they are going through this process they are being judged, evaluated in order to stir them into the right direction and to produce the most and the best.
Ezekiel 37:1-10 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley, and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? So I answered, O Lord God, You know. Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to theses bones, "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you: and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I was commanded and as I prophesied, there was a noise and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over, but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
What we see here is the resurrection of the Israelitish people to physical life. Did you notice (we did not cover it in great detail), that God pictured these people as slain. It does not mean that they all died in warfare, but as far as God was concerned, they were the hapless victims of Satan the Devil and his imposition of blindness, of slavery, and warfare.
Ezekiel 37:12-13 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel, then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.”
Even the Israelitish people, though they had God's Word, though they had God's Temple, and though they had God's prophets, are still pictured as being born, living and dying, slain, killed by Satan the Devil without ever knowing God.
Ezekiel 37:14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live.
I do not think that He means just have physical life, but to come into the kind of life that is quality of life. That is possible by having the Spirit of God impregnating our mind and growing toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, as we saw in another part of the Feast of Tabernacles.
We saw in John 17:3 that eternal life is not just length of days, because it is entirely possible for a person to be given eternal life and be absolutely miserable for all eternity. God does not want to condemn anybody to that, because that is the situation that the demons and Satan are in. They have life with endless length of days, and they are absolutely miserable, which means that eternal life is not just length of days, it is quality of life. It is life lived as God lives it. That is the only circumstance under which life is worth living eternally. It is the only kind or quality of life that is worth living even today until we die.
God is going to open up to these people, by giving them His Spirit, so that they can live in their own land. Then they can know the Lord, and know that He spoke it, and know that He performed it.
We find in Matthew 11 and 12 scriptures that have to do with the Gentile peoples being resurrected, rising in judgment at exactly the same time as the Israelitish people. We will look at that very briefly in Matthew 11.
Matthew 11:20-24 Then He began to upbraid the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon [Gentile cities], they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment [krisis] than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom [Gentile city], it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment [krisis], than for you.
That is plain. The Gentiles too are going to come up in a resurrection at the exactly the same time as the Israelites of old. Ezekiel 37 is a type for the whole world, and Jesus makes very clear in Matthew 11 and 12 that we understood that all Gentiles are going to come up at the same time.
I do not know about you but it is going to take organization to help those people along. Not only is it going to take organization, it is going to take people of understanding hearts, because those people are going to come out of the grave healed in body but not healed in mind.
Their spirit is going to be far more wounded than your spirit ever was. Their character is going to be so twisted, so tormented, so set, so hardened by many years of living completely, totally apart from God, that for some of them, it is going to be very, very difficult to make the adjustments, and to begin fighting the things that you and I are now fighting, and will still be a part of their minds when they come up.
I Corinthians 6:1-2 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
This is what we are learning to become. To judge things, evaluate things, reach decisions according to the same patterns—according to the same process, at the same speed, with the same quality of mercy, with the same quality of understanding, with the same vision, with the same hope, same kindness, same generosity, same patience—as God does.
We have a long way to go, and we are to learn these things primarily with one another. So our sights should be set on that time, that God's Word shows very clearly, that He is going to pour His Spirit out on all of mankind—the Gentile world, the Israelite world—and He is going to offer to them the same salvation that we have been offered right now. They are going to go through the same process that we are going through.
Romans 11:25-27 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.
Tie this to Psalm 112-118, especially Psalm 118, then you begin to understand why they produced this ritual, and why they recognize and acknowledge that the water, which is a symbol of God's Holy Spirit, was the means by which the conversion of all of the world is going to take place. It is a little thing for God to resurrect people. It is much more difficult to convert them.
They can be resurrected in a blink of an eye, and a snap of a finger, but conversion takes years and years and years. God has decided, in His mercy, that He needs a lot of help. Sure He can do it Himself, but He wants to share the responsibility of participating in the conversion of billions of sons to glory in His Kingdom, using you and me.
Romans 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
He is not willing that any should perish. So it is coming. It is a magnificent and magnanimous conclusion to God's harvest of human beings into His family. It is something that we can look forward to with great anticipation, and I know that we all look forward to that time when we will meet loved ones, when we will meet these great personalities of past history, and I know that you want to meet people and kind of see what made them tick. It is going to be an awesome thing to shake hands with those people in the past that we have read of. Even to look at them and see how they look. It is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Let us thank God now that we have what we have in the way of vision of what is coming, and we know that He is going to add billions more to His great and wonderful family.