After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were banished from the garden. Their banishment included the curse that their lives would end, and they would return to the dust of the earth. The beautiful garden was off limits, which also meant they had lost access to the Tree of Life.
What a sad day for mankind; it seemed as if all hope was lost.
But as time passed, God began to reveal His immutable redemptive plan for mankind which He had devised from the foundation of the world.
Recall that God had revealed part of His majesty to Abraham as He tested his faith by instructing him to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham didn’t hesitate or question God’s instructions. He was totally confident that both he and his son would return thereafter.
Approximately 600 years later when God began to reveal His law to Moses and the Israelites, He detailed seven feasts, or celebrations. The third such feast was called the “Feast of Firstfruits.”
“When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest…and you shall offer on that day…a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD.” Leviticus 23:10, 12
The offering of the firstfruits represented a promise of the whole harvest to God at the time of the entire harvest. ‘Firstfruits’ does in fact mean ‘first’ and ‘beginning.’
Paul, in his first letter to the Church at Corinth, confirmed the resurrection of Christ. He also confirmed that universal death came upon all men because of Adam.
“For in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
1 Corinthians 15:22
Death is a universal fact, but when Paul stated ‘in Christ all shall be made alive, ‘all’ refers to those who were in Christ. However, we’ll see shortly that resurrection is universal; except the destination of the resurrected is not universal.
The doctrine of resurrection was confirmed by others in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.
David believed in the resurrection, as did Daniel. Daniel also realized there were two destinations for the resurrected.
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2
In the present context, the Hebrew word for ‘many’ means ‘all.’
Jesus confirmed the significant truth that universal resurrection is a fact.
“…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.”
‘Done good’ means having committed to the gospel message, while ‘those who have done evil’ refers to those who rejected the gospel message.
As Paul was defending the gospel message in Rome he stated:
“I have hope in God…that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Acts 24:15
Many others in the Old Testament spoke of the resurrection of the dead which was confirmed by New Testament writers.
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!” Hosea 13:14
Hosea was speaking of God’s grace towards repentant Israel in the latter days.
Both Peter and Paul quoted the above verses.
Therefore, the resurrection of God’s people is glorious, but the resurrection of the rejecters is eternal suffering. They are both beyond comprehension by the finite mind.
John describes the eternal future of those resurrected who have rejected Christ and His grace.
“…he…shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God…he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone …and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever…”
Such words as these should cause Christians to humble themselves and fervently reach out to all with the message of Christ’s redemptive grace.
Resurrection destination is the most important decision in life.