Jesus spoke often of the Resurrection. While many today fail to recognize that the only hope of life after death is the Resurrection, they do know that it somehow plays a part in salvation. The ancients, however, understood this part. Notice what Job said: “And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,” (Job 19:26). (Note: All Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Version.) Both the King James Version and the New King James Version translate this verse improperly. The marginal rendering of Job 19:26 in the King James Version shows that the phrase “in my flesh” should be translated “out of my flesh.” What Job said was that “out of my flesh shall I see God.” Job knew that when resurrected, he would not be flesh and blood! He knew this was a resurrection to immortal life. The Apostle John records: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2).

What does it mean, “we shall see Him as He is”? What does God look like? Here is a description:

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last (Rev. 1:12-17).

The fact is: No one in the flesh can look on God and live (Ex. 33:20). To see Him as He is means we will be given the glory of God at the Resurrection. Jesus spoke of this glorious Resurrection when He said: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father . . . ” (Matt. 13:43).

Numerous Scriptures reveal the same thing. Notice, for example, what David wrote in Psalm 17:15: “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” Here is another: “You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24). The Psalmist knew he would be resurrected in a glorified form. The prophet Daniel wrote of immortality: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2). The resurrection to immortal life was emphasized by Jesus when He said: “But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:35-36).

This resurrection is the “resurrection of the just.” Notice how Jesus described it: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14). To be in this resurrection, faith in God and Christ are required. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). Elsewhere, Jesus said: “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” (John 5:28-29).

The resurrection of the just will take place at the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus described this dramatic event: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt. 24:30-31). Jesus said this event would be accompanied by the sound of a trumpet. The Apostle Paul described this same event: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). This, then, is the resurrection to eternal life.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul explains:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (vv. 50-53).

From the Scriptures quoted above, it is clear there is more than one resurrection. The resurrection just described in the above text is the first of these resurrections. Jesus spoke of the first resurrection when He said: “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 . . . ” (John 5:28-29).

This resurrection is spoken of as a “judgment” in Revelation, chapter 20. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). In the above passage the word “souls” is from the Greek word psuche, which refers to the physical life. It has no connotation of immortality. The pagan concept of the immortality of the soul is not Scriptural and crept into the Church after the first century AD. In Revelation 20, what is the judgment given to these martyrs? They are to be resurrected to immortality and then live and reign with Christ!

But here is what needs to be understood: Revelation 20 speaks of two more resurrections. One is found in Revelation 20:5. There we read: “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” The latter part of this verse which states, ” . . . This is the first resurrection,” is a parenthetical expression and refers back to those who were resurrected in verse four. Verse 6 tells us: “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” The fact is: Christ will return and rule this world for 1,000 years. This time period is called the Millennium. The second resurrection will not occur until this 1,000-year period has ended. It is described in Revelation 20:11-12.

All human beings are destined to die the first death, which is a part of the human experience (Heb. 9:27). Consider this: The Bible tells us the only name under heaven whereby man can be saved is the name of Jesus Christ. Yet, even in the modern world, millions have not heard of the name of Christ. They have not received saving knowledge. Also, millions of people died in the past without ever hearing Christ’s name, or receiving saving knowledge. Are all these people lost? God is fair. What is the truth about this? The fact is: Each man and woman will be given an opportunity to receive salvation, but each in his or her proper time (1 Tim. 2:6). The expression “due time” should be translated “its own due season.” There are seasons set aside for salvation. During this present age, God is not trying to save the world. This is a day of salvation. It is not the day of salvation. When God sets His hand to save the world, it will be saved! Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 6:2, quoted from Isaiah 49:8, is mistranslated in the King James Version and the New King James Version. The “the” in 2 Corinthians 6:2 in both versions should be translated “a” and “an.” And in the New King James Version, even the word “the” is mistranslated in Isaiah 49:8. For those now called to a knowledge of the truth, the time period in which we are living is a day of salvation. But it is not the only day of salvation. The day of salvation for the entire world is yet ahead.

This is why understanding the second resurrection is so important. Revelation 20:11-12 reveals that all who died in times past without saving knowledge will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium. And, as the Bible indicates, will be given a 100-year period to receive Christ, and qualify for salvation (Isa. 65:20).

Revelation 20:11-12 reads:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away . . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Does the Bible elsewhere indicate there will be a second resurrection – that is, a resurrection to mortal life, and not the immortality granted to the saints at the first resurrection? Indeed it does. Notice Ezekiel, chapter 37. This chapter is very significant, and very moving.

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! (vv. 1-4).

In this vision, the prophet sees the bones of many dead bodies, and wonders if they can live.

Here is the Lord’s answer:

Thus says the Lord GOD to these 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. Also 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 (Ezek. 37:5-10).

Clearly, this is not a resurrection to immortality. It is a resurrection to physical life. God tells the prophet:

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. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it, says the LORD (Ezek. 37:12-14).

The only event to which this vision could possibly apply is Revelation 20:12. This is the second resurrection-the time when millions of people will be given their first opportunity for salvation.

But what will happen to all those who have rejected Christ? These are the ones who want no part of God and His way. Jesus referred to these when He said: “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:33). What many have not realized is that when both John the Baptist and Christ spoke of “hellfire,” a third resurrection is involved. This is made plain in Revelation 20:13-15. “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:13-15). The Bible speaks of this resurrection as “the resurrection of the unjust” (Acts 24:15). The unrighteous dead, resurrected from hades-the grave-will face the final judgment, a judgment that will include all the wicked. “And these [wicked] will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2).

Revelation 20:13-15 refers to the third and final resurrection-the resurrection in which the wicked will be judged by being cast into the Lake of Fire. John the Baptist foretold this event: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:11-12). Jesus emphasized this time when He said: “The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age” (Matt. 13:38-40).

This warning of God’s judgment is found in both the Old and New Testaments. Notice Malachi: “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, Says the LORD of hosts, That will leave them neither root nor branch. . . . You shall trample the wicked, For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet On the day that I do this, Says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 4:1, 3). And Peter wrote: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10).

God is fair, but God is just. He is a God of love, but also a God of justice. All men will be given their opportunity for salvation, but in their own due season. This present time period is the time of the harvest of the first fruits only. This is not the time God is trying to save the world. When He sets His hand to do so, it will be done. Those called during this dispensation and regarded as righteous in the sight of God, will be resurrected to immortality at the time of Christ’s return. All those who died in the past without saving knowledge will be resurrected after the Millennium, and at that time they will be given their first opportunity for salvation. The Bible does not teach “a second chance.” Each man and woman will be given one chance and one chance only. Those who refuse to repent and accept God’s way will be reserved for the third resurrection and the final Lake of Fire. Understanding these resurrections and their purpose should make us realize how fair and just God really is!