1.The Special Group Resurrected with Christ
Referring to Matt. 27: 50-53, Ellen G. White, says (emphasis mine):
“When Jesus, as He hung upon the cross, cried out, ‘It is finished,’ the rocks rent, the earth shook, and some of the graves were shaken open; for when Jesus arose from the dead, and conquered death and the grave; when He walked forth from His prison house a triumphant conqueror; while the earth was reeling and shaking, and the excellent glory of heaven clustered around the sacred spot, obedient to His call, many of the righteous dead came forth as witnesses that He had risen. These favored resurrected saints came forth glorified. They were a few chosen and holy ones who had lived in every age from creation, even down to the days of Christ [4,00 years]. And while the chief priests were seeking to cover up the resurrection of Christ, God chose to bring up a company from their graves to testify that Jesus had risen, and to declare His glory.
Those who were resurrected were of different stature and form. I was informed [by her angel] that the inhabitants of the earth had been degenerating, losing their strength and comeliness. Satan has the power of disease and death, and in every age the curse has been more visible, and the power of Satan more plainly seen. I was informed that those who lived in the days of Noah and Abraham were more like angels in form, in comeliness and strength. But every generation has been growing weaker, and more subject to disease, and their lives of shorter duration. Satan has been learning how to annoy men, and to enfeeble the race.
These holy ones who came forth after the resurrection of Jesus appeared unto many, telling them that the sacrifice for man was completed, that Jesus, whom the Jews crucified, had risen from the dead, and added, ‘We be risen with Him.’ They bore testimony that it was by His mighty power that they had been called forth from their graves. Notwithstanding the lying reports circulated, the matter could not be concealed by Satan, his angels, or the chief priests; for this holy company, brought forth from their graves, spread the wonderful, joyful news; also Jesus showed Himself unto His sorrowing, heart-broken disciples, dispelling their fears, and causing them gladness and joy.”- Spiritual Gifts, Vol. I-II, published by James White, 1858, pp. 69, 70 (emphasis mine):
Once more E. G. White wrote:
“When the voice of the mighty angel [Gabriel] was heard at Christ’s tomb, saying, Thy Father calls Thee, the Savior came forth from the grave by the life that was in Himself. Now was proved the truth of His words, ‘I lay down My life, that I might take it again. . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.’ Now was fulfilled the prophecy He had spoken to the priests and rulers, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ John 10:17, 18; 2:19. . . . .
“Christ arose from the dead as the first fruits of those that slept. He was the antitype of the wave sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave sheaf was to be presented before the Lord. For more than a thousand years this symbolic ceremony had been performed. From the harvest fields the first heads of ripened grain were gathered, and when the people went up to Jerusalem to the Passover, the sheaf of first fruits was waved as a thank offering before the Lord.
Not until was this presented could the sickle be put to the grain, and it be gathered into sheaves. The sheaf dedicated to God represented the harvest. So Christ the first fruits represented the great spiritual harvest to be gathered for the kingdom of God. His resurrection is the typed and pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.’ 1 Thess. 4:14.
“As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they came forth with Him. They were those who had been co-laborers with God, and who at the cost of their lives had borne testimony to the truth. Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had raised them from the dead.
“ During His ministry, Jesus had raised the dead to life. He had raised the son of widow of Nain, and the ruler’s daughter, and Lazarus. But these were not clothed with immortality. After they were raised they were still subject to death. But those who came forth from the grave at Christ’s resurrection were raised to everlasting life. They ascended with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave. These, said Christ, are no longer captives of Satan; I have redeemed them. I have brought them from the grave as the first fruits of My power, to be with Me where I am, nevermore to see death or experience sorrow.
“These went into the city [Jerusalem], and appeared unto many, declaring, Christ has risen from the dead, and we be risen with Him. Thus was immortalized the sacred truth of the resurrection. The risen saints bore witness to the truth of these words, ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise.’ Their resurrection was an illustration of the fulfillment of the prophecy, ‘Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.’ Isa. 26:19.”- Desire of Ages, pp. 785-6.
These passages from the Bible and Testimonies gives us some space to guardedly speculate on who could possibly be “these few chosen and holy ones who had lived in every age from Creation down to the time of Christ” (a period of 4,000 years), who were “of a different stature and form,” i.e., “more like angels,” and were “co-laborers with God, and who, “at the cost of their lives had borne testimony to the truth,” could have included the following recognizable personalities, else their witness would have little weight:
- Abel, whose name means “breathe” and “transitoriness,’ certainly most fitting, both from stature and character, and the very first martyr of the righteous line of men.
- Seth, the third son of Adam, whose name means “appointed,” or “substituted,” who replaced the murdered Abel, and the progenitor of the godly line of men. He died at the age of 912 years. Gen. 5: 8.
- Job, whose name means “Where is my father?” whom the Bible calls “perfect and upright man.” Job 1: 1, 8.
- Abraham, the former meaning, “the father is exalted,” later “the father of a multitude,” and in inspiration is called “the father of the faithful.” (mentioned, although not specified).
- Noah, whose name means primarily “rest,’ but also “to comfort,” the prototype of those giving earth’s last, merciful warning messages for the final wicked generation doing after the manner of the antediluvians. “As it was in the days of Noah so shall it be in the days in the coming of the Son of man.”
- Elisha, who name means “God is my salvation,” received the mantle of doubled-blessings. “The life narrative of the prophet Elisha seems, almost, to be one of uninterrupted succession of miracles, some consisting essentially of supernatural information, and others of supernatural control over men and the forces of nature. In an era of apostasy and Baal worship (sun worship), these miracles provided a continuing witness to the Lord as the true God and to Elisha as His messenger. Elisha is distinguished in the annals of sacred history as the greatest miracle-working prophet of all time, next to Jesus Christ.” SDA Dictionary, Commentary Reference Series, Vol. 8.
- Joshua, whose name means, “Yahweh is deliverance” or “Yahweh is salvation,” transliterated into Aramaic as Yeshua, and thence into Greek as Iesious (Jesus), is definitely a type of Christ, not only in name but as one who led the remnant of Israel over Jordan to inherit the earthly Promised land. Christ, through the Holy Spirit since Pentecost has been leading spiritual Israel, the Christian church, towards the heavenly Promised land, heaven and the earth restored.
- Isaiah, Greek Esias, whose name means “Yahweh saves,” the greatest of the Hebrew prophets, carrying the other distinction as the gospel prophet.
- Daniel, whose name means “God is my judge,” was eminent Jewish statesman and prophet at the court of Nebuchadnezzar during the Babylonian captivity, and author of the book that bears his name. Daniel was of the royal family (Dan. 1:3), and thus of the tribe of Judah, the tribe from which Christ descended.
You may ask, Why not include Adam? There are moving passages in the inspired writings that show the great drama when the two Adams meet, and the former casts his crown at Jesus’ feet but our Savior raises him up and embraces him! Since he and Eve were the first sinners, don’t you think they will be raised first during the general resurrection in order to fully witness the “unnumbered multitudes” of all generations since their time who died in faith in Christ, resurrecting at the voice of Jesus calling them forth from their dusty graves, caves, dens, scaffolds, dungeons, etc., from all over the world? There are no passages, however, describing when Eve, really the first human sinner, meets Christ face-to-face once more.
Now, to the phrase, “even down to the days of Christ,” meaning, four thousand years later— who could these holy person/s be who must have died before Christ expired at 3 PM Friday of 31 A.D—so that they could be resurrected with Him? It must be noted that their graves were rent open by the earthquake when Christ expired Friday, 3 PM, thus exposing their dead bodies, or whatever remained of it—to be resurrected only when Christ rose on early Sunday morning. Was John the Baptist included among them? He certainly was most qualified to go into Jerusalem and witness to the resurrection of Christ even as he was the one who heralded Him as the Messiah and baptized Him. The SDA Dictionary, Commentary Series, Vol. 8 says (emphasis mine):
“Some months, perhaps a year or more, after the baptism of Jesus, John was imprisoned by Herod Antipas, whom he had fearfully reproved for abandoning his wife in order to marry his niece Herodias, who was already the wife of his half-brother, Herod Philip (Matt 14: 3, 4; Luke 3: 19, 20).
“Sometime after His incarceration, John sent 2 of his disciples to Jesus to inquire whether or not He was the Messiah. Jesus told the disciples of John of the things they had seen and heard: how the sick were healed and the dead were raised to life, and the gospel was preached to the poor (Matt. 11: 2-6; Luke 7: 18-23). . . .
“Perhaps some 6 months after this event, John was beheaded. His death was brought about by the scheming Herodias, who hated John for his reproval of Herod’s actions concerning her.”
Jesus was baptized by John in 27 A.D. “A year or more after” John was imprisoned”: that would be about 28 A.D. Then “6 months after this event” John was decapitated, which should be about 28 or 29 A.D. Jesus died on a Friday, 31 A.D. Therefore, John must have died before Jesus did.
Ten is God’s number of completion as in, the Ten Commandments, the ten spies, ten virgins, the ten horns, crowns, etc. Seven is the number for perfection, three for unity and four for universality. Twelve is the number of God’s purpose, as in 12 tribes, 12 disciples, etc. Were they only ten? Or twelve? Or more? If twelve, who do you think the other two were? Were there also women?
These ten holy men of the Bible, to my mind, are the ten possible witnesses to Christ’s resurrection who resurrected with Him. I could be wrong. Who else do you think would meet the qualifications given above and would be recognizable to the Jewish nation, particularly their religious leaders and Old Testament scholars and scribes—at least by their names for they would have to introduce themselves—so that the truth of the resurrection of Christ would be forever be established beyond any doubt—both by their living testimony and their credibility; and that, having corporately rejected and crucified the Savior Himself with all these overwhelming evidences up to His resurrection—could no longer be the chosen people of God, this blessing having transferred to “a nation producing fruits,” i.e., —all those “who receive Him”? (to be continued)