Prophecies of the Resurrection


Just as creation is the most certain truth of real science, so the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most certain fact of genuine history. And as creation by God required His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection to give purpose and meaning to history, so Christ's resurrection required the power of the Creator to make it happen.

The possibility of macro-evolution is refuted by the observed fact that it has never occurred in all recorded history, that there are no transitional structures in the fossil record of the past, and that the laws of thermodynamics preclude it from happening at all. On the other hand, the historical fact of Christ's resurrection is confirmed by "many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3), including His many appearances to the disciples after His death, the amazing changes in the disciples after they were convinced He had risen, the unanswerable evidence of His empty tomb, and the entire subsequent history of the Christian church.

Before His resurrection took place, however, there was no historical record to give such assurance, and the only hope of resurrection during the thousands of years before Christ came had to be gleaned from the prophecies in God's inspired Word. There were indeed many such prophecies, but only those who loved the Word and had a real concern for God's purpose in creation could discern them. From our perspective today, we can see them more clearly since they have already been fulfilled, providing strong evidence of the divine inspiration of the Bible. We today, therefore, have less excuse for ignoring God's Word than they did, and so must be judged more severely if we do so.

For example, consider the remarkable prophetic picture of the substitutionary death of the coming Savior in Isaiah 53. After describing His sufferings, the record says that "He was cut off out of the land of the living. . . . And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death" (Isaiah 53:8,9). But then it promises that "when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin . . . He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand" (Isaiah 53:10). This prophecy can only be understood in terms of the resurrection.

Similarly, in the graphic portrayal of Christ's unspeakable sufferings by crucifixion in Psalm 22, the Scripture prophesies that He will cry in His heart that "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. . . . thou hast brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:14,15). But that is not the end, for He later testifies that: "My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: . . . your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee" (Psalm 22:25-27). Again this clearly requires interpretation in terms of His resurrection after death.

His victorious resurrection is even intimated in the very first prophesy of the Bible, the "protevangelium" of Genesis 3:15. There God told Adam and Eve that although the old serpent, Satan, would bruise the heel of the coming seed of the woman, the divine seed would ultimately be victorious and would destroy the wicked one.

A prophecy that was used by the apostles when they first began proclaiming Christ's resurrection is found in Psalm 16 (note Acts 2:25-28; 13:35-37). The first eight verses of this fascinating psalm are best understood as coming from the lips of Christ as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest and crucifixion. But then He prays: "My flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer shine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:9-11). These verses speak poetically first of His burial, then His descent in the spirit into Hades, followed by His return into His body resting in the tomb before decay could begin, then His resurrection and ascension into heaven to be seated at the Father's right hand. This verse, incidentally, contains the first of 21 references in the Bible to His present position at the right hand of God the Father.

Then there is the prophecy of Psalm 40:1-3. "I waited patiently for the LORD: and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD."

Psalm 110:1 gives special insight concerning His ascension after the resurrection. "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Literally, this reads: "Jehovah said unto Adonai," using two names of God as the Father is apparently speaking to the Son. This particular verse is applied to Christ no less than five times in the New Testament.

A similar conversation is recorded in Psalm 2:7: "The LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee." This verse is quoted in Acts 13:33 as fulfilled in Christ's resurrection.

In what is perhaps the oldest book in the Bible, the patriarch Job asks the universal question: "If a man die, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). A little later, however, his strong faith in a future resurrection returns, and he exclaims: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And . . . in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25,26).

There is a cryptic reference to the resurrection of both the nation of Israel and also her Messiah in Hosea 6:2: "After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up." Also note Zechariah 12:10: "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son."

There are also a number of types in the Old Testament that speak of Christ's death and resurrection and were so applied by New Testament writers.

The story of Abraham and Isaac was thus referred to in Hebrews 11:17,19. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac . . . his only begotten son. . . . Accounting that God was able to raise him. . . from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." In this passage, the writer is comparing Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac to the heavenly Father offering His Son, with Isaac's return comparable in type to Christ's resurrection.

With reference to Jonah, the Lord Jesus Himself made the analogy: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

There are others, both types and specific prophecies, but the ones discussed above seem the most directly applicable. Even these are often open to other interpretations. It is obviously easier to interpret most prophecies after their fulfillment than before. Even the disciples of Christ seem to have been caught unawares by His resurrection, in spite of their obvious knowledge of the Scriptures.

Yet they could have and should have known what was coming. This fact is evident from the rebuke Christ gave to two disciples as they walked together on the road to Emmaus. "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory ? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:25-27).

Even if they were uncertain about the meaning of the Scriptures, however, they had many direct prophecies from Christ Himself. Just after Peter made his great confession of the deity of Christ (Matthew 16:16), we read that "from that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must . . . be killed, and be raised again the third day" (Matthew 16:21; see also John 2:19; Matthew 17:22,23; 20:17-19; 26:32; John 10:17,18; etc.).

But whatever reasons they may have been able to give for their own blindness, we today have no excuse at all if we reject Him and His victorious physical resurrection after His death for our sins. We have all the information they had, and far more, since we have the complete Bible, vindicated and verified by almost 2000 years of Christian history, and by all the internal and external evidences of its divine inspiration and authority.

In fact, the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are so important that they constitute the very heart of the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). As we at ICR often point out in our creation messages, true creation is the sure foundation of the gospel (Revelation 14:6,7) and the second coming of Christ to establish His eternal kingdom is the blessed hope of the gospel (Matthew 4:23). But the death and resurrection of Christ constitute the very heart of the gospel and its power to bring salvation to all who believe it.

Although creation is the foundation, it is not the entire structure, and it is sad that many who believe in creation are still unsaved, because they "obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 1:8).

If any of our readers are in this dangerous position, we would earnestly urge them to receive Christ, who "was dead" but is now "alive for evermore" (Revelation 1:18), by faith as their personal Lord and Savior.

If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:9).

If we believe that Jesus died and rose again . . . so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4: 14,17).

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).

* Dr. Henry Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.

Cite this article: Henry Morris, Ph.D. 1997. Prophecies of the Resurrection. Acts & Facts. 26 (3).