The First Resurrection (10 of 12)

Mike Connell

Notice again, he's saying this is a very big deal. It's a very big calling. It's so stunning that you need to walk worthy of that. We find examples in the Old Testament, in Zechariah 3. Joshua, the high priest, appears before the Lord, and they put him on clean clothing which is a gift to him. Then God says to him:

Zechariah 3:7 - “If you walk in My ways and keep My commands, or keep My mandate or assignment, you will judge My house and have charge in My courts, and I will give you places to walk among these people in the angelic realm”.

There it is again, an Old Testament picture of coming into the First Resurrection, but it requires faithfulness to the charge that God has given us, and that varies - some aspects are the same for all of us and some are not. Also, in the Old Testament, the sons of Zadok…

Ezekiel 44:15-19 – “They kept charge of My sanctuary, when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they will come near to Me to minister to Me”.

He says that in the days when there was backsliding in the nation, the priesthood became corrupt. The priesthood fell away from serving God. We are the priesthood, called to worship God, offer up sacrifices of prayer and worship, and of service to God, and service to people. We are that priesthood now; and He said: when pressure came on, when there was decline in the nation - some became unfaithful in their priestly duties.

These people were faithful, so now I'm going to reward them. They will now come into resurrection bodies; and it says that when they come into His presence, they have certain garments on; but when they leave His presence to be with others, they've got different garments. It's a prophetic picture of resurrection.

I'll finish with this then, one last point…. When will we know that we've been counted worthy?

I've been wrestling with this question over the last couple of weeks. Let’s look at the example of Paul.

Philippians 3:11 – “if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead, for I have not that I've already attained, already perfected; I press on that I may lay hold of it all”.

Does that sound like someone who's confident he's going to be in? No. Okay now read just before his death…

2 Timothy 4:7-8 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I kept the faith. Now, finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”.

Does that sound confident? Earlier in his life, he's not sure. He's forgetting all things that are behind, he's pressing on… and then now, he's got to the end of his life… I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown. He's saying, that's why I don't worry about dying now. I know it's there - I've got it! How did he know? God told him. God can tell us before we finish our race that we've finished well.

Basically, they have a sense of great peace, in dying; there's no fear of death, because He's there. But the issue of the reward… either He reveals it, or we don't know (or you didn’t get it). All we know is that, for Paul, God told him before he died. However, others found out after they died.

The next one, some found out after they died, so afterwards you know. At some point in Paul's life, he was judged, and found to qualify, and given the assurance he qualified. But there are others who found that out afterwards.

Revelations 6:9-11 – “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who'd been slain for the word of God, and the testimony which they held. And they cried out with a loud voice, saying: how long, O God, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

These are people who've died, and specifically, people who were martyred for their faith. They're saying: God, when are you going to do something about it? That's what their prayer is.

“…Then a white robe was given to each of them…” - and the white robe we understand is the righteousness. It's symbolic always of the overcomer. In Revelations 3, those who overcome will be given a white robe. The white robe given to them is an indication that they have qualified - they're an overcomer, who has qualified for the First Resurrection and reward. We either find out before death, or we find out after death - when the Lord comes, we're either resurrected or we're not. We're left behind in that sense.