Part six of this series established that Zechariah contains several elements that are undeniably resurrection motifs. The prophet said these elements would come to pass "in that day," the day of the Lord’s A.D. 70 coming in judgment against Jerusalem, verses 1-5. This means the resurrection is tied to the end of the Old Covenant World of Israel. This article will confirm that interpretation.
In verse 9 Zechariah said "And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one and His name the only one." (NKJV) This passage provides a direct link to the resurrection for it tells of the time when the Sovereignty of God would be fully established in His kingdom. To properly understand this statement we must take a quick journey through the Bible and see how God has attempted to rule man and man’s attempts to rule himself.
The Garden, Man and God’s Soverignty
In the Garden of Eden man was in perfect harmony with God. Fellowship was unbroken. God ruled man with no intermediaries. Man was submissive and obedient, reliant on God for all of his needs. The Garden was the "Holy of Holies" where God and man communed together.
Because God desired service and love to be from a free and willing choice the Lord presented man with choice "of every fruit of every tree that is in the garden you may freely eat; but of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat thereof, for in the day you eat you shall surely die." Genesis 2:15-17.
When Satan confronted Eve he told her the fruit would make them "like God," Genesis 3:5. He said in effect that they could become self-sufficient. They would not need God anymore; they could make their own decisions because they would know good and evil. They should reject the Sovereignty of God and become their own masters. The temptation was too great. They ate, and true to the warning, they died that day. Sin had brought forth death, spiritual death.
God had determined to defeat death however. He promised that the seed of woman would one day crush Satan’s head and thus destroy his work of death, Genesis 3:15. This ultimate defeat of Satan and death is the focus of Biblical eschatology.
The time when God would once again rule man in full unbroken fellowship, man freely and willingly acknowledging his Sovereignty, is the focus of the Scheme of Redemption. The problem is that man has always had a problem realizing his need for reliance on Jehovah. Man has, it seems, always desired to have other masters than Jehovah.
God and Other Kings
For space considerations we advance to the period of the judges. Gideon saves Israel from the Midianites. The people of Israel come to him and say "Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son" Judges 8:22. Israel desired a king. Gideon responded "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you" Judges 8:23.
Israel was only temporarily deterred. In 1 Samuel 8:5 the leaders of Israel approached Samuel with the request "now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." Samuel was distraught believing that such a request was a rejection of his work. Jehovah consoled him however "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them" verse 7.
Israel’s desire for a nationalistic king was a rejection of God. The monarchy of Israel was, in the eyes of God, a visible manifestation of man’s rejection of his sovereignty.
This point is a tremendous indictment of dispensational premillennialism. The establishment of the nationalistic kingdom was a violation of the will of God. The monarchy was a sign that man desired a different king than Jehovah. Would its restoration be anything else?
It will be rejoined that God promised to restore Israel by setting a descendant of David on the throne forever, 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms 89; 132. It certainly is true that God promisd to raise up the seed of David to sit on his throne. The question is, where would that descendant of David sit on the throne and what would be the nature of his reign?
"My Kingdom is Not of This World"
There can be no question that Jesus came to restore the kingdom to Israel and sit on David’s throne, Luke 1:32-35; 2:25-35, 38. The restoration of Israel is the theme of Luke’s two works. Compare Acts 1:6f; 2:20-37; 3:19ff, etc. However, when one closely examines Jesus’ ministry and teaching he will soon learn that it was not the nationalistic kingdom that he came to restore. He came to restore the Sovereignty of God.
Early in his ministry the Jews would have proclaimed Jesus as their king because of his miraculous feeding of the multitude, John 6. It was Jesus that rejected this swell of nationalism: "when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king he withdrew himself" John 6:15. If Jesus’ mission was to become king — and it was — why did he so purposefully reject the opportunity?
The Lord answers this question for us when he was before Pilate "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here. Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are you a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘you say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born and for this cause I have come into this world, that I should bear witness to the truth’" John 18:36-37. Jesus was to be king but not over national Israel; he was to be a spiritual king.
This is confirmed in Acts 2. Peter declared Jesus resurrected from the dead, Acts 2:22, and the recipient of the promise made to David that his descendant would sit on his throne, verses 30-33. God had raised Jesus from the dead and given him the throne of David as promised to David.
However, where was that throne? Peter makes his point: "David is not ascended into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, Till I make thy enemies Your footstool.’" Acts 2:34-35. The Messiah was to sit on the throne of David in heaven, not on earth.
In Zechariah 6:12-13 the prophet said the "Branch" would build the Temple of the Lord and sit on his throne as king and priest. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that if Jesus were to be on earth he could not serve as priest because of the Levitical legislation. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and only those of Levi could serve as priests, Hebrews 8:5.
If therefore the Old Covenant System is reestablished, per millennialism, Jesus cannot be a priest on his throne; but if he cannot be a priest he cannot be king. Zechariah said he would be king and priest on the throne. The only way for Jesus to be king and priest is for him to be king and priest over a kingdom that is not under the mandate of the Old Covenant World.
It is difficult to overemphasize the implications of these facts for the millennial view. Any view that teaches the restoration of the monarchy of Israel is, implicity, demanding a restoration of what God considered a rejection of his Sovereignty. The kingdom of God is spiritual.
While the monarchy of Israel was a visible symbol of man’s rejection of Jehovah’s Sovereignty, the Lord’s Messiah would come and restore God’s Sovereignty in the time of the resurrection.
The Restoration of God’s Sovereignty and Resurrection
In Ezekiel 37 the Lord foretold the time when Israel would be restored. God said he would "open your graves and cause you to come out of your graves" Ezekiel 37:12. Israel’s restoration would be Israel’s resurrection.
This resurrection would not be a raising from physical death and graves. It was to be a restoration to God in a New Covenant of peace, verses 21-26.
The resurrection would be accomplished by
the outpouring of the Spirit, vs. 14. The outpouring of the Spirit is associated with the last days of Israel’s Old Covenant Age, Joel 2-3. A New Covenant would be established and God’s New Tabernacle would also be among men, vs. 26-27. It would be at this time of resurrection that God promised "David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd" verse 24. It is also at this time that "one king shall be over them all" verse 22.
In the days of the outpouring of the Spirit, the New Covenant, the New Tabernacle, and the resurrection, God’s sovereignty would be fully established over his New People. God would be "one" over all the people.
Zechariah and Ezekiel both predicted the time when God’s sovereignty would be fully established and the Lord would rule in Zion, Ezekiel 37:22-24/ Zechariah 14:9-11. Both predicted the resurrection, Ezekiel 37:12-14/ Zechariah 14:8,11. Both predictions are set within the context of Israel’s last days, Ezekiel 37:14 with Joel 2-3/ Zechariah 14:1-5.
Zechariah 14, 1 Corinthians 15, and Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15 is the hub for any discussion of resurrection. What is sadly overlooked is its absolute reliance on the Old Testament. Amillennialists especially have the Old Testament in its entirety abrogated at the Cross. If this was true however, how could Paul, in his hope of the resurrection be anticipating the fulfillment of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14?
Equally — if not more so — overlooked is that Zechariah 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 are parallel. To establish this we must demonstrate that Corinthians does speak of 1.) the end of the Old Covenant Age, and; 2.) the full establishment of the Sovereignty of God.
1 Corinthians and the End of the Old Covenant Age
Paul said the resurrection would be when Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 would be finally fulfilled and when "the sting of death," which is "sin," and "the strength of sin," which is "the law," would be abolished, verse 56.
If the resurrection is a yet future "end of time" event, what law is currently the strength of sin? Is it the gospel? It must be if the Old Law is abrogated and the resurrection still anticipates deliverance from some law that is the strength of sin. Does anyone really want to argue that the gospel is the strength of sin however?
The term "the Law" is used 117 times in the New Testament. Only 17 times does it not refer to the Mosaic Institutes. In the exceptions the context specifically identifies what law is under consideration. No other law is identified in Corinthians.
When Paul uses the term "the Law" without a qualifier, e.g. "the Law of Christ," the reference is invariably to the Old Covenant. In 1 Corinthians 15:56 there is no such qualifier. This means that "the Law" that was the strength of sin was the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
Paul identified the Old Covenant as the Law that gave sin its strength. He said "by the Law is the knowledge of sin" Romans 3:20. He said "I was alive without the law once but the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" Romans 7:9. The Law made sin "exceedingly sinful" Romans 7:13. It was the Old Law that Paul called the "ministration of death," 2 Corinthians 3:6f, because it magnified the knowledge of sin, and the resulting death, yet gave no deliverance from it, Galatians 3:20-21.
The Old Covenant Law was the only Law that was the strength of sin. Paul was still anticipating the abolishment of the "strength of sin." Because the strength of sin was the Old Covenant Law, it therefore follows that Paul was still anticipating the passing of the Old Covenant Law.
The coming of the Lord, verse 23, time of "the end," verse 24, the resurrection, verses 54-56, would occur at the time of the passing of the Law that was the strength of sin. The Law that was the strength of sin was the Old Covenant of Israel. Therefore the time of the end, the coming of the Lord, and the resurrection would occur at the end of the Old Covenant World of Israel. This is "Covenant Eschatology."
This firmly establishes the link between 1 Corinthians 15 and Zechariah 14 because Zechariah associated the coming of the Lord and the resurrection with the time of the Lord’s coming against Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:1-8.
The full end of the Old Covenant System would be the time of full salvation, Hebrews 9:6-10. This time of salvation is linked inextricably to the judgment on Israel, Luke 21:25-32. The final link between Zechariah 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 is the full establishment of the Sovereignty of Jehovah.
Resurrection and the Sovereignty of God
Paul said Jesus would deliver, [not abdicate nor surrender], the kingdom to the Father; the Son would be subject to the Father "that God may be all in all" 1 Corinthians 15:28. At the resurrection Jehovah’s Sovereignty would be fully reestablished because what was lost in Adam would be fully restored "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" 1 Corinthians 15:22. Christ, his atoning work perfected, would bring man back into the presence of His Father, Hebrews 9:28; 10:19-25.
God being "all in all" is the identical thought as "there shall be one king over the earth." This establishes the direct link between Zechariah 14 and 1 Corinthians 15. Notice further parallels.
|Zechariah 14||1 Corinthians 15|
|The coming of the Lord, [1, 5]||The coming of the Lord, |
|Subjugation of God’s enemies, [2-4]||Subjugation of God’s enemies, [24-26]|
|Time of the resurrection, [8, River of Life; 11, "no more curse"]||Time of the resurrection, [51-56]. Cf. Revelation 22:3-"no more curse."|
|End of the Old Covenant Age, fall of Jerusalem, [1-2]||End of the Old Covenant Age, end of "the Law" that was the strength of sin [54-56]|
|Restoration of the Sovereignty of God, "there shall be one king over all the earth" ||Restoration of the Sovereignty of God, "then shall God be all in all" |
These points of comparison are not simply coincidental, nor "sound alikes." They are substantive and direct. With the connection between Zechariah 14 and 1 Corinthians 15 established we offer the following argument:
Major Premise: The resurrection would occur at the time when Jehovah’s Sovereignty would be established, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
Minor Premise: But the establishment of Jehovah’s Sovereignty would occur at the time of the Lord’s coming at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Zechariah 14:1-9.
Conclusion: Therefore the resurrection would occur at the time of the Lord’s coming at the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.
The Resurrection Was Imminent
My argument finds support in the fact of the first century imminence of these end of the age concepts. Paul told the Corinthians "we shall not all sleep," 1 Corinthians 15:51. The resurrection was to be in that generation.
In Romans 16:20 the apostle said: "The God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly." The crushing of Satan would be the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis of ultimate victory; the defeat of death. Paul said it was at hand in the first century.
When writing to Timothy Paul urged him to be faithful until the appearing of the Lord. At his epiphany Christ would show "who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords" 1 Timothy 6:15. The parousia of
Jesus would manifest the only true God–there would be one king over the earth.
In the Apocalypse the Lord appears in glory with a name on his thigh "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" Revelation 19:16. This would be at his coming against the harlot city Babylon, the city guilty of killing the Old Covenant prophets 16:6. This can only be Old Covenant Jerusalem.
When that judgment fell Jehovah would be on the throne with the Son, Revelation 22:3. The one true God would rule over the New Creation, and John said those things "must shortly come to pass" 22:10, 12, 20.
The imminence of the resurrection in the first century cannot be ignored or denied.
There are a limited number of ways to counter our argument. It must be shown that 1 Corinthians 15:28 does not concern the establishment of God’s Sovereignty. Yet if the defeat of "the last enemy" and establishment of the "allness" of God does not demonstrate God’s Sovereignty, what would?
It must be proven that Zechariah 14:9 does not speak of the Sovereignty of Jehovah established in his kingdom. Yet the concept of the establishment of "one king" over the earth patently cannot be distorted into any other idea.
Finally, it must be shown that Zechariah 14 does not concern the A.D. 70 coming of the Lord. Yet no other event after Zechariah’s time fits the prophecy. Our earlier articles have shown that Zechariah 14 did indeed foretell the A.D. 70 parousia.
This being true, since Zechariah 14:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:28 are clearly parallel, it cannot be denied that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 was to occur at the end of the Old Covenant Age in A.D. 70. The fact that Corinthians places resurrection life at the passing of the Old Law fully substantiates this posit.
Summary and Conclusion
I have shown that the Scheme of Redemption involved the restoration of the Sovereignty of God that was rejected by man in the Garden. We have seen that man’s desire to be ruled over by kings in a theocracy was a visible symbol of his rejection of God’s sovereignty, but that God promised to one day restore his rule in David’s descendant on the throne in heaven.
We have seen that Zechariah 14:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:28 are parallel texts. Since Zechariah clearly must be placed within the context of the end of the World of Israel this means that the resurrection, being the focus of Corinthians, must be placed within this context as well.
If resurrection life has not come the river of life has not been opened, there is still a curse, the prophecy of Zechariah has not been fulfilled. If Zechariah 14 has not been fulfilled, the judgment of Jerusalem foretold there is yet future. If that judgment has not occurred the Gentiles are yet outside the kingdom of God. One cannot say that the judgment of Israel foretold by Zechariah has been fulfilled but the soteriological elements stand in the future. Those elements were to come "in that day" the day of the Lord’s coming against Jerusalem.
If the judgment on Jerusalem foretold by Zechariah has occurred then resurrection life–even that foretold in 1 Corinthians 15 — has become a reality. God is "all in all" and dwells with man in His New Creation.