Some Bible Scholars argue that the resurrection of the dead is not a primary biblical theme and is absent in the Old Testament except in allusions at best. N. T. Wright says, “It is all the more surprising, then, to discover that, within the Bible itself, the hope of resurrection makes rare appearances, so rare that some have considered them marginal.”1 According to Gage, “Gordon Fee makes a similar but yet more sweeping rejection of Paul’s claim that the resurrection, especially the ‘third day’ resurrection, was ‘according to the Scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:3–4). He writes about the ‘difficulty’ of Paul’s claim, boldly saying, ‘… neither the tradition of the third day nor the Resurrection is well attested in the OT …’” (see Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 727).2 One can’t help notice that resurrection, especially on the third day, is explicitly expressed in the Old Testament. Hosea 6:1-2 says, “ “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”

We live with images of a “resurrection” every day of our lives. After a long day we have dinner and settle down in our comfy chairs to enjoy some brief entertainment but within an hour or so both of us have dosed off. One will wake up first and rouse the other to go to bed. We’re tired, and sometimes exhausted, but we know that sleep will restore us and we will rise again refreshed in the morning. It’s interesting that Paul speaks of “sleep” as an allusion to the death of believers. He knows there will be a resurrection. We grow accustomed to this routine and accept it as inevitable. I know there may be a time, now at 75 years of age, when I may not wake up after going to sleep but I’ve been alive long enough to learn the pattern and believe in it. God takes delight in showing us the truth of the idea of resurrection every day of our lives. It happens with food. I get famished and eat and I am restored. I get sick, and with or sometimes without medicine my health is restored. I hurt myself, break an arm, cut my finger, and pretty soon I’m as good as new. We see resurrections every day! Suffering is essential for resurrection. This is what Jesus was trying to get across to his disciples in Mark 8:31 when he “…began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

We also see it in the world all around us. We see it in the going down of the sun followed by its rising the next day. I believe that night came first in the Hebrew schedule of the day. Frequently in Genesis it’s said “It was evening and morning” on each day of creation with evening being mentioned first. Before there can be sun rise there is sunset. In the Jewish calendar days begin at sunset not at sunrise. The seasons show us the death of things with the winter followed by the rebirth or resurrection of all things in the spring and summer. Gage says, “The Creator has made all nature to be filled with images of life emerging abundantly from death. As the Savior taught, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth to die, it remains alone. But if it die, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The biblical image of this natural rebirth is “resurrection.”2

1 N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 85.

2 Warren Austin Gage, Milestones to Emmaus: The Third Day Resurrection in the Old Testament (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Warren A. Gage, 2011), 1.