It’s understandable that Christians spend more time reading the New Testament than the Old. After all, we are those who live under the blessings of the New Covenant, the details of which are revealed in the New Testament books (Jer. 31:33-34; Heb. 8:6-13).
Take “resurrection,” for instance—it is definitely not a concealed concept in the New Testament. This word occurs in English 43 times in the New Testament, 11 times in the book of Acts alone. Resurrection to eternal life, the gift of God to all who believe in Christ, is a bedrock doctrine in the New Testament. It is the hope of all who believe, and offers a focal point and sense of closure to a life on earth that all recognize falls far short of God’s perfect design. Yet, for all of its importance in the New Testament, the concept of a resurrection was barely hinted at in the Old.
The Old Testament’s “big picture” concepts of the spiritual life are helpful as a backdrop to the details of the New Testament. The Spirit of God is at work in the Old, but at home in the believer’s heart in the New. Sacrifice is introduced in the Old, but made infinitely personal in the New. And salvation meant deliverance from all of one’s enemies in the Old, but deliverance from the enemy of souls in the New. When Daniel the prophet was given a sweeping, panoramic view of events covering the end of the Old Testament and the end of history, his vision concluded with this fact: “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Just as Adam and Eve stood before God at the beginning of history, so all of their billions of descendants will one day awake from their “sleep” and stand before him as well. This is the sobering conclusion toward which the world is moving.
It is God’s consistent testimony in Scripture, even in the budding stages of Old Testament theology, that all people will die and then be resurrected to stand before God. Those who die in faith will be raised in faith, and will know no fear on that day.
God’s Promise to You: “Going to sleep in Christ means waking and living forever with him.”
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