The First Resurrection
I am amazed how many odd answers I get when inquiring of Christians,( even pastors) of the meaning of The First Resurrection. Usually, it’s a deer-in-the-headlights stare coming from the shear knowledge that they just don’t know. We see the precedent event of payment for sin in the ancient Israeli harvest season; the First Fruits going to the Temple as payment for our sin, the Harvest being retained for the owner of the crop, and finally—the Gleanings left in the field for the poor such as Ruth and Naomi. The First Resurrection follows this (Type/Anti-type) example as Christ is our First Fruits having made the payment for our sin, then the Harvest gathered from the four winds for the Master’s Barn (wheat and tare Matt.13:30), then one-thousand years later, the Gleanings are gathered for testing. “After the thousand-years are completed, the rest of the dead are raised.” Rev. 20.5
Immediately following the raising of the “rest of the dead” Satan is loosed from his thousand-year chain bondage that he might go to the four corners of the earth to deceive the people. This is done thereby to allow the raised Gleanings portion to see evil and to accept the beauty of Christ. Thus, as we know that all must accept Christ to be saved, surely all who are raised as Gleanings will be saved because we learned in Rev. 11:17 that at Christ’s Return, the power given to Satan is repossessed.
I preached a funeral a couple years ago of a 73 year old man who was profoundly retarded, both mentally and physically. He was a ward of the state. His caretakers had a silver chain and cross hanging from his neck and they spoke of him being in Heaven now. He enjoyed watching Daniel Boone and Mules basketball but his understanding of any of it just wasn’t there.
I spoke of The First Resurrection and the hope we can have because of God’s unbelievable love for us and for His plan that we each can choose the Redeemer. I said that the First Resurrection is not an event, but a process, one taking three-thousand years.
Because they don’t understand Revelation 20:5 and the second sentence of that scripture, “This is the first resurrection.” the strangest doctrines evolve. My mother didn’t fully understand the First Resurrection but what she knew was good enough for me. My parents always told us that unless a person knows Jesus as Savior, they can never see Heaven. Thinking I had her in a box. I said, “Well mom, what about the Indians, they never knew about Jesus?” She stooped down and held me by the shoulders and with the eyes of love, said, “I don’t know Tommy, but I know this: Our God is a just and fair God.
Sixty years later when God revealed Rev. 20:5 to me, I cried as I remembered what my mother said. As I viewed the 73 year old man in the casket, I can praise God, knowing that He has made a way. None of us will pass GO and collect $200 as in Monopoly, but instead be able to with a clear mind call on the One Who died for us that we may be forgiven. That should bring a tear to our eye.
To close this thought, another verse that now makes good sense is Daniel 12:2, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” We see this time of Harvest with some confusion (and many of them) until we understand The First Resurrection. I’ve heard those four words accused as a mistake, misprint, mis-translation, and so on, but I strove with the Lord until He showed me. I was writing my book and stuck on this scripture. I was in Haiti and I had to know the answer so I knelt before the Lord, “Lord, who are the unmentioned who weren’t the many?) I cried for the answer and He stuck my thumb in the back of my Bible and opened it up. Everything was a blur except verse 5 and it even seemed illuminated, “ After the thousand-years are completed, the rest of the dead are raised. This is the first resurrection.”
I have had some religious teachers say that God doesn’t teach like that but I tell you He does.