John 5:24-29| Two Resurrections? Old Covenant Israel and the Resurrection
In our on-going examination of John 5:24-29 and whether Jesus foretold two resurrections, one spiritual the other physical, we have demonstrated that the prophetic source of his teaching includes Ezekiel 37. As we shall see, Daniel 12 likewise lies behind his discourse. But, just as a key reminder here, let me observe that whatever else John 5:24-29 may be, it is the expression of the hope of Israel, found in Torah.
The foundational and key assumption of all futurist eschatologies is that he resurrection of John 5:28-29 occurs at the “end of human history,” “the end of time,” the “end of the Christian age,” or whatever other term may be used.
No futurist eschatology correctly posits resurrection within this proper framework! And this is fatal. Even the Dispensational world, that sees Old Covenant Israel as crucial to the story of eschatology, nonetheless sees the resurrection as occurring at the end of the current Christian age, which is, in their paradigm, a mere interruption of God’s dealings with Israel.
It is a theological tragedy of inestimable proportion that Israel’s role in the eschatological narrative is either ignored or denied, as in the Postmillennial and Amillennial world. See my book We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings , for a fuller discussion of this crucial issue
Israel and Resurrection: An Unbreakable Bond
Paul tells us that Jesus became the “servant to the circumcision, to confirm the promises made to the Fathers” (Romans 15:8– the Old Covenant Fathers, DKP). Jesus said his mission was to fulfill the law and the prophets. Now, to be sure, part of that mission was to establish the New Covenant, but, even that promise was a promise made to Old Covenant Israel (Jeremiah 31).
Paul likewise tells us that the resurrection was the promise to, and the hope of, the twelve tribes (Acts 26:6f).
So, to miss the role of Old Covenant Israel in eschatology is to miss the story of eschatology. Note what Jesus had to say about God’s promises to Israel found in Torah:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17-18).
This just another way of saying that Israel could never lose her place in YHVH’s schema until He fulfilled all of His promises to her in Torah! After all, Paul would later write that God’s promises to Israel were “irrevocable” (Romans 11:28). And lying at the root, the core of those promises was the promise of the resurrection.
So, consider this:
The resurrection promise of John 5:24-29 was an Old Covenant promise, made to Old Covenant Israel.
Not one jot or one tittle of the Old Covenant could pass, and Israel could not cease from being God’s covenant people, until all of God’s Old Covenant promises, made to Old Covenant Israel, were fulfilled.
Therefore, if the resurrection promise of John 5:28-29 has not been fulfilled, then not one jot or one tittle of the Old Covenant has passed away, and Old Covenant Israel remains as God’s covenant people.
The confusion that reigns in the futurist world is exemplified in my debate with Postmillennialist / Dominionist Joel McDurmon, July 2012. In written correspondence, I asked McDurmon when all of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel were (or will be) fulfilled, and his covenant relationship with her terminated. Amazingly, McDurmon said that will be at the physical resurrection!
The problem for McDurmon, and all futurists, is that while they may say things like this, they then turn around and deny that Israel today is God’s Covenant people. Then, they affirm that lots and lots (in fact, the majority) of the jots and tittles of Torah have in fact been nullified and passed away– which of course is in direct contradiction to Jesus’ words. Be sure to get a copy of the book of that debate .. it is more than revealing.
John 5| Israel, Resurrection and The Law of Moses
So, no matter what else one may think, Jesus’ prediction of the resurrection in John 5:24-29 must be viewed in the light of, and interpreted within the framework of, the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.
If you say that God is through with Israel, yet the resurrection of John 5 is still future, you are wrong.
If you say that the resurrection promise is a promise to the church, divorced from Old Covenant Israel, you are wrong.
If you say the resurrection is yet future, but that Torah has been removed, you are wrong.
Israel, Torah, Resurrection are inseparable.
In our next installment we will take a look at the other key Old Covenant text that serves as the source of John 5:28-29.