The Resurrection Hope Is Sure!
“I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection.”—ACTS 24:15.
1. Why can we hope in the resurrection?
JEHOVAH has given us sound reasons for hope in the resurrection. We have his word that the dead will rise, standing up again to life. And his purpose regarding those asleep in death is sure to be fulfilled. (Isaiah 55:11; Luke 18:27) In fact, God has already shown his power to raise the dead.
2. How can the resurrection hope benefit us?
2 Faith in God’s provision for raising the dead by means of his Son, Jesus Christ, can sustain us in times of stress. The sureness of the resurrection hope can also help us to maintain integrity to our heavenly Father even to the point of death. Likely, our resurrection hope will be strengthened as we consider restorations to life recorded in the Bible. All these miracles were accomplished through power from the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
They Received Their Dead by Resurrection
3. What was Elijah empowered to do when the son of a widow in Zarephath died?
3 In a thrilling review of the faith displayed by Jehovah’s pre-Christian witnesses, the apostle Paul wrote: “Women received their dead by resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35; 12:1) One of those women was a poor widow in the Phoenician town of Zarephath. Because she was hospitable to God’s prophet Elijah, her flour and oil were miraculously sustained during a famine that would have claimed her life and that of her son. When the child later died, Elijah laid him on a couch, prayed, stretched himself upon the boy three times, and pleaded: “O Jehovah my God, please, cause the soul of this child to come back within him.” God did cause the soul, or life, to come back within the boy. (1 Kings 17:8-24) Imagine that widow’s joy as her faith was rewarded by the first recorded resurrection—that of her own dear son!
4. What miracle did Elisha perform in Shunem?
4 Another woman who received her dead by resurrection lived in the town of Shunem. The wife of an aged man, she showed kindness to the prophet Elisha and his attendant. She was rewarded with a son. Several years later, however, she summoned the prophet, who found the boy dead in her home. After Elisha prayed and took certain steps, “gradually the child’s flesh grew warm.” He “began to sneeze as many as seven times, after which the boy opened his eyes.” This resurrection undoubtedly brought great joy to both the mother and her son. (2 Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6) But how much happier they will be when raised to life on earth in the “better resurrection”—one that sets before them the possibility of never having to die again! What a cause for thankfulness to the loving God of resurrection, Jehovah!—Hebrews 11:35.
5. How was Elisha involved in a miracle even after his death?
5 Even after Elisha’s death and burial, God made his bones powerful by holy spirit. We read: “As [certain Israelites] were burying a man, why, here they saw [a Moabite] marauding band. At once they threw the man into Elisha’s burial place and went off. When the [dead] man touched the bones of Elisha, he immediately came to life and stood upon his feet.” (2 Kings 13:20, 21) How surprised and happy that man must have been! Imagine the joy that will be experienced when our loved ones are raised to life in harmony with the unfailing purpose of Jehovah God!
God’s Son Raised the Dead
6. What miracle did Jesus perform near the city of Nain, and how may this incident affect us?
6 God’s Son, Jesus Christ, has given us sound reasons for believing that the dead can be resurrected, with the prospect of everlasting life. An incident that occurred near the city of Nain can help us to realize that such a miracle is possible through God-given power. On one occasion, Jesus met mourners carrying the body of a young man out of the city for burial. He was the only child of a widow. Jesus told her: “Stop weeping.” Then he touched the bier and said: “Young man, I say to you, Get up!” At that he sat up and spoke. (Luke 7:11-15) This miracle certainly bolsters our conviction that the resurrection hope is sure.
7. What took place in connection with the daughter of Jairus?
7 Consider, too, an event involving Jairus, a presiding officer of the synagogue in Capernaum. He asked Jesus to come and help his beloved 12-year-old daughter, who lay near death. Soon it was reported that the girl had died. Urging grief-stricken Jairus to exercise faith, Jesus accompanied him to his home, where a crowd was weeping. They laughed when Jesus told them: “The young child has not died, but is sleeping.” She was indeed dead, but Jesus was about to show that people can be raised to life just as they can be awakened from a deep sleep. Taking the girl by the hand, he said: “Girl, get up!” She rose instantly, and “her parents were beside themselves” with ecstasy. (Mark 5:35-43; Luke 8:49-56) Undoubtedly, family members will be “beside themselves” when their dead loved ones are raised to life on a paradise earth.
8. What did Jesus do at the tomb of Lazarus?
8 Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus approached his tomb and had the stone at its entrance removed. After praying publicly so that observers would know that he depended on God-given power, Jesus said in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!” And out he came! His hands and feet were still bound with burial wrappings, and his face was covered with a cloth. “Loose him and let him go,” said Jesus. Seeing this miracle, many who were there to comfort Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, put faith in Jesus. (John 11:1-45) Does not this account fill you with hope that your loved ones may be raised to life in God’s new world?
9. Why can we be sure that Jesus can now resurrect the dead?
9 When John the Baptizer was in prison, Jesus sent him this heartening message: “The blind are seeing again, . . . and the dead are being raised up.” (Matthew 11:4-6) Since Jesus when on earth resurrected the dead, he can surely do so as a mighty spirit creature empowered by God. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life,” and how comforting it is to know that in the near future “all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out”!—John 5:28, 29; 11:25.
Other Resurrections Strengthen Our Hope
10. How would you describe the first reported resurrection by an apostle?
10 When Jesus sent his apostles out as Kingdom preachers, he said: “Raise up dead persons.” (Matthew 10:5-8) To do this, of course, they had to rely on God’s power. At Joppa in 36 C.E., the godly woman Dorcas (Tabitha) fell asleep in death. Her good deeds had included the making of garments for needy widows, among whom her death caused much weeping. The disciples prepared her for burial and sent for the apostle Peter, perhaps for consolation. (Acts 9:32-38) He dismissed everyone from the upper chamber, prayed, and said: “Tabitha, rise!” She opened her eyes, sat up, took Peter’s hand, and he raised her up. This first reported resurrection by an apostle caused many to become believers. (Acts 9:39-42) It also gives us added reason for hope in the resurrection.
11. What was the last resurrection of Bible record?
11 The last resurrection of Bible record occurred in Troas. When Paul stopped there on his third missionary trip, he prolonged his discourse until midnight. Overcome by weariness and perhaps by the heat of many lamps and the crowded conditions in the meeting place, a young man named Eutychus fell asleep and tumbled from a third-story window. He “was picked up dead,” not merely unconscious. Paul threw himself upon Eutychus, embraced him, and told onlookers: “Stop raising a clamor, for his soul is in him.” Paul meant that the young man’s life had been restored. Those present “were comforted beyond measure.” (Acts 20:7-12) Today, God’s servants find great comfort in the knowledge that their former associates in God’s service will experience the fulfillment of the resurrection hope.
Resurrection—A Long-Standing Hope
12. What conviction did Paul express when before Roman Governor Felix?
12 When on trial before Roman Governor Felix, Paul testified: “I believe all the things set forth in the Law and written in the Prophets; and I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:14, 15) How do parts of God’s Word, such as “the Law,” point to the raising of the dead?
13. Why can it be said that God alluded to the resurrection when he gave the first prophecy?
13 God himself alluded to a resurrection when he gave the first prophecy in Eden. When sentencing “the original serpent,” Satan the Devil, God said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Revelation 12:9; Genesis 3:14, 15) Bruising the heel of the woman’s seed meant the killing of Jesus Christ. If that Seed was to bruise the serpent’s head thereafter, Christ would have to be raised from the dead.
14. How is it that Jehovah is “a God, not of the dead, but of the living”?
14 Jesus declared: “That the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, in the account about the thornbush, when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.’ He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.” (Luke 20:27, 37, 38; Exodus 3:6) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead, but God’s purpose to resurrect them was so sure to be fulfilled that to him they were as good as alive.
15. Why did Abraham have reason for belief in the resurrection?
15 Abraham had reason for hope in the resurrection, for when he and his wife, Sarah, were very old, and they were dead as regards ability to produce children, God miraculously restored their reproductive powers. This was like a resurrection. (Genesis 18:9-11; 21:1-3; Hebrews 11:11, 12) When their son, Isaac, was about 25 years old, God told Abraham to sacrifice him. Just as Abraham was about to strike Isaac dead, however, Jehovah’s angel stayed his hand. Abraham had “reckoned that God was able to raise [Isaac] up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.”—Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 22:1-18.
16. Abraham now sleeps in death, awaiting what?
16 Abraham hoped in a resurrection under the rule of the Messiah, the promised Seed. From his prehuman vantage point, God’s Son noted Abraham’s faith. As the man Jesus Christ, he therefore told the Jews: “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day.” (John 8:56-58; Proverbs 8:30, 31) Abraham now sleeps in death, awaiting a resurrection to life on earth under God’s Messianic Kingdom.—Hebrews 11:8-10, 13.
Testimony From the Law and the Psalms
17. How did “things set forth in the Law” point to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
17 Paul’s resurrection hope was in harmony with “things set forth in the Law.” God told the Israelites: “You must . . . bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. And [on Nisan 16] he must wave the sheaf to and fro before Jehovah to gain approval for you.” (Leviticus 23:9-14) Perhaps with this law in mind, Paul wrote: “Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.” As “the firstfruits,” Jesus was resurrected on Nisan 16, 33 C.E. Later, during his presence, there would be a resurrection of ‘afterfruits’—his spirit-anointed followers.—1 Corinthians 15:20-23; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27.
18. How did Peter show that Jesus’ resurrection was foretold in the Psalms?
18 The Psalms also furnish support of the resurrection. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter quoted from Psalm 16:8-11, saying: “David says respecting [Christ], ‘I had Jehovah constantly before my eyes; because he is at my right hand that I may never be shaken. On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. Moreover, even my flesh will reside in hope; because you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.’” Peter added: “[David] saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God resurrected.”—Acts 2:25-32.
19, 20. When did Peter quote from Psalm 118:22, and how was this associated with Jesus’ death and resurrection?
19 Some days later, Peter stood before the Sanhedrin and again quoted from the Psalms. Asked how he cured a lame beggar, the apostle said: “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you impaled but whom God raised up from the dead, by this one does this man stand here sound in front of you. This [Jesus] is ‘the stone that was treated by you builders as of no account that has become the head of the corner.’ Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”—Acts 4:10-12.
20 Peter here quoted from Psalm 118:22, applying what it said to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Goaded on by their religious leaders, the Jews rejected Jesus. (John 19:14-18; Acts 3:14, 15) ‘The builders’ rejecting the stone’ resulted in Christ’s death, but ‘the stone’s becoming the head of the corner’ signified his being raised to spirit glory in heaven. As the psalmist foretold, ‘this came to be from Jehovah himself.’ (Psalm 118:23) Making “the stone” the Head of the corner involved exalting him as King-Designate.—Ephesians 1:19, 20.
Sustained by the Resurrection Hope
21, 22. What hope did Job express, as recorded at Job 14:13-15, and how can this comfort bereaved ones today?
21 Though we personally have never seen anyone raised from the dead, we have noted certain Scriptural accounts that assure us of the resurrection. We can, therefore, entertain the hope expressed by the upright man Job. When he was suffering, he pleaded: “O that in Sheol you [Jehovah] would conceal me, . . . that you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? . . . You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.” (Job 14:13-15) God ‘will yearn for the work of his hands,’ keenly desiring to resurrect Job. What hope that gives us!
22 A God-fearing family member may become seriously ill, as Job was, and may even succumb to the enemy death. The bereaved may shed tears of grief, even as Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus. (John 11:35) But how comforting it is to know that God will call and those in his memory will answer! It will be as though they had returned from a journey—not ill or impaired, but in sound health.
23. How have some expressed their confidence in the resurrection hope?
23 The death of a faithful elderly Christian moved fellow believers to write: “Please accept our deepest sympathy on the loss of your mother. It will be only a short time till we welcome her back—beautiful and vital!” Parents who lost their son said: “How we look forward to the day when Jason does wake up! He will look around him and see the Paradise he so longed for. . . . What an incentive for those of us who loved him to be there too.” Yes, and how thankful we can be that the resurrection hope is sure!
What Is Your Answer?
• How can faith in God’s provision for raising the dead benefit us?
• What incidents recorded in the Scriptures give us reason for hope in the resurrection?
• Why can it be said that the resurrection is a long-standing hope?
• What sustaining hope can we entertain regarding the dead?
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With power from Jehovah, Elijah restored life to a widow’s young son
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When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter to life, her parents were beside themselves with ecstasy
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On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the apostle Peter boldly testified that Jesus had been raised from the dead