A few nights before sending the manuscript of my second book to the editor, I asked our Heavenly Father if I could pass along something new to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. My book was written as an appreciation for all He had done in my life, and I shared many of those intimate experiences in the book.
However, I also realized that as wonderful as those experiences were, they were not new. My story is just one of many testifying to God’s existence and to His goodness. So, even though the main goal of my book was to serve as another witness to those facts, it was also my heart’s desire to pass along something new. If possible, I wanted to provide new insights from His Word that would honor Him even more and also be an encouragement to others.
After making that last request known to Him, and before turning the text over to the editor, almost immediately, another set of amazing events occurred. As a result, at the last minute, I took a topic from the Appendix, and brought it forward in the book, making it a chapter of its own. I called the new chapter “Bloom,” because, like a flower, it had just opened up to me. It was about Paul’s experience of being caught up to the third heaven.
Seven years later, that topic blossomed into a significant theme that I have found throughout the Bible, literally, from Genesis to Revelation. What follows is a brief summary of it.
Knowing me, some parts of it may not be perfect, but I don’t think my family in Christ will hold any shortcomings against me. Rather, I believe the richness of our Father’s kindness will dominate and win the moments.
Recently, after reading several well-regarded commentaries and on-line articles on the topic of “resurrections,” the idea of God’s plan including one or two future resurrections was reinforced as the predominant belief of mainstream Christian thinking. It appears that most believe in two, with some proposing the first one is reserved for the saved and the second for the unsaved.
Others see the people involved in each one slightly different, and those proponents rely on Revelation 20:4-6 to describe the ones harvested in each. There, we read about “souls” being made alive in the “first resurrection,” then, reigning with Christ for “a thousand years.” We also find “the rest of the dead do not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” These expositors understand the second resurrection occurs when “the rest of the dead” come to life.
Furthermore, some of the writers who believe in two resurrections use John 5:28-29 and Revelation 20:12-15 to provide a few more details concerning the second one. In those passages we find “the hour comes” when “all who are in the tomb” are raised either to “life,” or to “judgement,” with the latter being “thrown into the lake of fire.” (I did find one writer who separated this second resurrection into two parts, the saved and the unsaved, and he came up with three. However, since his second and third counts happen at the same time when “the hour comes,” most writers counted this one event as one resurrection.)
As I read each argument, I found some merit in each, and I appreciated the light each teacher was able to cast on the subject. But what would happen if they were shown another resurrection occurring after the ones they described? Pardon the pun, but this would present a “grave” problem for their counts and their conclusions, because whether they believe in one or two, afterwards, they conclude the eternal destinies for all of mankind are set in stone, and it’s all over. According to them, all “believers” will be in heaven forever, and all “non-believers” will either be exterminated forever, or sent to a place of endless conscious torment forever, after their version of the first or second resurrection. If true, what would be the purpose for another occurring at a much later time? Obviously, according to their understanding, there would be no need for one.
However, in the rest of this article we will clearly demonstrate that the Bible does teach another resurrection following the ones they described. Once this additional resurrection is realized, a wholesale re-examination of traditional beliefs surrounding the end result of God’s plan will be necessary. Please note that this paper is only meant to be an introduction to the topic. However, I will present enough evidence here to make the main points more than reasonable. I pray the contents will whet your appetite for further study and examination.
The Three Strands
Ecclesiastes 4:12 informs us that a chord of three strands is not easily broken. Therefore, we will demonstrate how the writings of Moses, John, and Paul are three strands on this subject that are tightly woven together in one “a chord” 😉. We will start with Paul’s words.
In 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Paul makes it clear that Jesus had already risen when he used the perfect tense for the verb, “raised” in verse 20. He is just as clear when he describes how all others will also be made alive sometime in the future, when he used the future tense of that verb in verse 22. Furthermore, he stated that each person will be raised in his own “order.” Tagma is the Greek word translated as order, and according to Strong’s, it is a military word signifying a company, squadron, or group.
1st Corinthians 15: 20-28
20. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruit of those who have fallen asleep. 21. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23. But each one in his own Order: Christ the first-fruits, afterwards, those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power. 25. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. 26. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death . . . 28. Now when all things are made subject to Him, the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
As in the above, the first group in the list to be resurrected is normally translated as “Christ the first-fruits.” However, it cannot refer to Him for several reasons. First, the phrase “shall be made alive” is written in the future tense, and since Jesus had already risen, this cannot refer to Him.
Secondly, the introductory noun refers to a group, not just one. Revelation 20:4-6 proves the point, as it reveals a group of “souls” being made alive in the “first resurrection.”
Lastly, there is no article in front of the word “christos” where it appears in the first part of verse 23, when Paul describes the first group. Christos in the Greek simply means “anointed.” Put an article in front of it, and you have “the anointed,” or “the Christ,” as in the previous verse 22 and in the latter part of verse 23. Both of those occurrences have “the” in front of christos. However, sandwiched between them, christos is found without the article, making it clearly distinct from the other two occurrences.
Therefore, for all of the above reasons, a more precise translation of the first group to be raised in the future would be: “anointed first-fruit.”
As a side note, I’d also like to point out how the use of the term, “first-fruit,” establishes an agricultural theme comparing men to crops, and we will see the same analogy used in the writings of Moses and John. The terms used are repetitive, pregnant with meaning, and crucial to understanding God’s plans for humanity.
As author Julie Ferwerda asked when she opened the chapter, The Great Harvests, in her book, Raising Hell: “Have you ever noticed that the Bible is blooming full of agricultural terms? There’s a significant reason for this that goes beyond a nice little farming theme. Consider the frequency of some of these words as they occur in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek): Season – 334; Field – 332; Seed – 300; Crop/Produce – 124; Vineyard – 115; Harvest – 78; Planting – 66; Wheat 45; Barley – 36; Grapes – 22; Winepress – 21.”
Back to Corinthians, Paul goes on to describe the second squadron as “those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Verse 24 follows with: “then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father.” Some consider the matter closed at this point. They conclude “then comes the end,” means the doomsday clock has sounded for those who did not believe in Jesus prior to their death, and they, the majority, will go down into the lake of fire to be eternally tormented, or annihilated, while the minority in the second group will go up to heaven and join the first group for eternity. However, the subject matter in verse 23 is groups who are to be made alive. Using this rationale, others understand the phrase: “then comes the end,” not as a reference to time, but as a reference to the end of the groups, the last group of humanity to be made alive. Obviously, that interpretation would point to a third harvest, and what follows is proof of its existence.
First, the words of John found in Revelation chapter 14 aligns perfectly with Paul’s words. In verses 1-5, we find the first resurrected group and the agricultural theme: “Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads . . . these have been redeemed from mankind as first-fruits. . .”
In verses 14-16, we find the second resurrection: “Then I looked and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like the son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, ‘Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour (from John 5:28-29) to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.”
In verses 18-20 we find the third and final harvest: “Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sickle, ‘Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine from the earth, for its grapes are ripe.’ So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God; and the wine was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress as high as a horse’s bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia.” In this metaphoric language, grapes are harvested and transformed under His feet in the great winepress of His wrath.
And what happens to the grapes in this process? They are made into something good – wine – but only after an intense process where the outside flesh of the grape is discarded. And notice how this Revelation language, referencing the final harvest of grapes “trodden” outside the city, matches our Corinthians’ text where we found: “Then comes the end . . . when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.”
Other scholars have pointed to the distance mentioned in this passage as the length of Israel at that time. Coupled with Jesus stating: “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household,” a picture can be drawn where blood from a winepress is flowing abundantly through the land of His enemies. And in the very next verse, Revelation 15:1, we are informed about how “the wrath of God is ended.”
Blood from a winepress? Why the reference to blood and wine? Where have we seen this before? But the main point we are making at this juncture is that there is a third group that is harvested, or resurrected – made alive. Revelation refers to them as grapes trodden under His feet, and our Corinthians text refers to them as “enemies under His feet.” Before you think we might be stretching the connection between these passages, let’s look at another reference in the Bible to three harvests and see how the writings of Moses ties them all together making one strong chord.
In keeping with the agricultural theme found in our Corinthians and Revelation texts, it is no coincidence that Israel celebrated three agricultural feasts each year after the harvest of three different crops. Moses wrote about these well-known feasts in Exodus 23:14-17. They are called, The Feast of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. At God’s command, three times a year, men were to “appear before the Lord God.” Each time, they were to “celebrate a festival unto me.”
The first celebration was the Feast of Passover, which started on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (between the end of our March and the first part of our April.) Barley was harvested at this time, and as a crop, it matured first. In Leviticus we find the first-fruit of the barley being mixed with oil, “anointed” if you will, and cooked in “an offering by fire to the Lord.” As an anointed first-fruit, it was consecrated to the Lord as an earnest or pledge for the full harvests yet to be gathered during the rest of the year. The barley squadron appears to represent those who mature first in Christ. And remember how Jesus fed the masses with five loaves of bread made from barley? Isn't that the calling of first-fruits, to be a living sacrifice in service to others?
The second celebration was the Feast of Pentecost, which started on the 6th day of Sivan (first of June.) Wheat was harvested at this time, and in Leviticus 23:17 we find two loaves of flour mixed with leaven and offered to God. According to Leviticus 23:15-16, the Jews were commanded to start counting fifty days from the Feast of First-fruits (the second day of Passover) to the next feast, the Feast of Pentecost. During the forty-nine days of this count, which they call “the counting of the Omer,” the wheat crop was in the ripening process. By the end of the Omer count, the crop was ready for harvest and could be brought to the Temple for Pentecost. Notice how both grains, the barley and wheat, had to be “cooked” in fire. The description of these feast days is rich with symbolic significance and meaning, but we’ll leave that fascinating study for another time.
The last celebration was the Feast of Tabernacles. In Nehemiah 8:1-12, we find all Israelites and all strangers in the land gathering to read the law during this feast. At that point, they stood together, read it, and said, “Amen” in unity, signifying that everyone was in agreement with God’s ways. This celebration occurred on the 15th day of Tishrei (late September to early October.)
Grapes were harvested at this last feast celebration. And what did they do with the grapes after harvesting them? They put them in the wine press and stomped them under their feet to make wine. Remember our Corinthians passage: “For He must reign until He puts all enemies under His feet.” And Paul goes back to this “under His feet” theme several times in the latter part of our Corinthians text, until he ends in verse 28 with, “that God may be all in all.” This momentous victory marks the point when death is destroyed, as we learned from verse 26.
Author Julie Ferwerda made some interesting observations that each crop needed a different process when it came to removing the chaff, that which is not wanted. Barley was winnowed (a light blowing) while wheat was threshed (a more vigorous process.) The grapes were sent to the wine press (the most vigorous process of all) to remove its flesh from the byproduct.
The following chart may be helpful as it summarizes what we have learned about the three groups to be harvested/resurrected/made alive.
Leviticus 23 Israel's Feast Celebrations
Passover: Barley - First-fruit
Ones found in Book of Life with good deeds; His, not His enemies
Ones found at the "hour" with good deeds; His, not His enemies
Crops that are ready/ripe (His) at the “hour" of His coming
Grapes - trodden in the winepress of God's wrath
1 Corinthians 15
His at His coming
Enemies - put under His feet
Two Big Questions and Some Final Thoughts
For those who can only recognize two harvests, adding a third may not be permissible. According to their eschatology, a third may fall into the category of unthinkable, therefore, “unutterable” (2 Corinthians 12:4.) However, for those who see three, the questions become: “Who participates in the third harvest? Who are these enemies?” The anointed first-fruits and the rest of those whose names were found in the Lamb’s Book of Life had already been resurrected in two previous harvests with a great deal of time elapsing between each reaping, as we will soon discover. For those who have previously seen only two harvests, please consider the following.
From the beginning in Genesis, we find significant foreshadowing of the three groups to be resurrected in the story of Noah and his sons. It has been said that all of humanity can be summed up in Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem’s personality, as the oldest and more mature son, matched those resurrected in the first group. He was a man of character, authority, and honor, and His worldview was divorced from personal gain. Ham was the opposite. He was the youngest and less mature brother. He was also self-centered and more concerned with personal gain. Japheth was the one in the middle. Like his older brother, he had some genuine concern for others, but he also possessed some self-centered tendencies as well, just like his younger brother.
Other more notable indirect references in the Bible to the three groups are expressed in the following:
Jesus raised a person from the dead on three different occasions during His ministry on earth.
Our Lord’s words found in Luke 13:32: What’s His purpose? He came not to condemn the world, but to save it. And to save means to rescue or heal. With this understanding, we find Jesus sending a prophetic message to Herod, a prince and power of this world standing in opposition to His work. He said to tell that rascal (devil) that I’m going to cast evil out of men and save them today; I’m going to do it a second time tomorrow, but on the third time around, I’ll reach my goal, and in doing so, His will, will be done.
And why do you suppose Jesus spent three days in the grave? Maybe this was the sign of Jonah where He would spend “three days in the earth” resurrecting people at three different times before accomplishing His purpose and reaching His goal.
I also believe it is more than coincidental that we have three manifestations of the God-Head. It appears that each one identifies with the three groups to be made alive.
The Father, who is sovereign, uses vessels in the first group to rule and reign with Him for a season.
The Son – His – who uses vessels in the second group for worship. They are “His” at His coming.
The Holy Spirit, which falls as fire on those to be purified in the third group in an age to come. (When the Holy Spirit fills a person in this group, it engenders a natural flow of praise in words previously unutterable to them, because it was foreign to their thinking – like a foreign language. These words of praise are spoken directly to our Heavenly Father.)
And here is another interesting observation – If the first group rules and reigns with God until He puts all enemies under His feet, and that occurs when the grapes are harvested and thrown into the wine press, then the time period between the first and second resurrection could be a thousand years – meaning a long period of time (just as the phrase “cattle on a thousand hills,” is not to be taken literally; it just means “a bunch of beef.”) It also may mean that the thousand years pertains to the time between the first and third resurrection, when "the rest of the dead" (all) come to life. (I lean toward the latter interpretation.)
The dividing of that long period of time is found in Israel’s feast celebrations, where there were 50 days between the first and second harvests. But also notice how there were 127 days between the second and third. With all of the symbolism found here, I am not certain of the exact timing between each resurrection, but one thing we can know for sure, the harvest of each crop does NOT occur at the same time; they are completely distinct celebrations separated by distinct periods of time. Therefore, we cannot divide the second resurrection and come up with three; the third transpires at a much later date.
We also know that the entire harvest season is not complete until both grains have been harvested for bread, and the grapes have been harvested for wine. It appears that God’s communion with mankind is not complete until the bread and the wine are ready to be served.
Speaking of communion, from the phrase, “while they were eating,” many theories have been proposed about what was on the menu at the Last Supper. We know the Jewish people were fiercely traditional, and from those traditions, we know the meal on the first day of Unleavened Bread, could have included a variety of dishes, including a stew of beans, a green salad, olives, dates, honeycomb, fish, and possibly lamb. An article in Christianity Today, another in Smithsonian Magazine, plus several other on-line articles from various scholars, confirm these dishes as good possibilities based on what we know about the traditions surrounding this meal.
The point to be made here, is that of all those items they ate that night, Jesus only mentions the bread and wine. Could there be some significance here? I believe the answer is a resounding, “YES,” for the bread and wine speak of the three groups to be resurrected.
While eating the meal, Jesus broke the bread. Afterward, He took a cup, and poured wine into it. The imagery is quite clear – two pieces of bread and a cup of wine. Concerning the partaking of them, Luke and Paul added these words from Jesus: “Do this in remembrance of me.” In essence, Jesus was saying, when you do this, remember something about me, for I am the Lord of the Harvest; I am the One who made it possible for the barley and the wheat to be turned into bread, symbolized by the dividing of that bread. I am also the One responsible for the harvest of grapes and turning them into wine. He made all of it possible by the breaking of His body and the pouring out of His blood in a much-needed covenant called “Grace.” He is the bread of life, and He is the vine which gives life to the grapes! He is the reason for the three feast celebrations!
For the past 2000 years, He established a reminder for us, namely, that He spilled His blood to the point of death and said, "It is finished." At that point, the veil in the Temple separating God and man was ripped in two. The choice made by one man, Adam, led men down the undesired path of separation from God and eventual death. Now the choice of another, Jesus, leads men back to God, resulting in life!
And here is something else to remember about Him. The Adversary knew of God’s plans, and he made a desperate attempt to disrupt them when he tested Jesus three times. The first test was to take some stones from the wilderness and turn them into bread to satisfy His hunger. I believe those stones represent the bread from the barley harvest. In this test, Jesus was asked to take that bread, and leave the rest. Essentially, the Adversary told Jesus the bread from the barley harvest would satisfy His desire.
Jesus responded that man would not be able to live on bread alone. In other words, His Father’s plans would not end in perfection by taking that bread group alone; more crops would need to be harvested as well. He told the Adversary that all of mankind would live by the proclamations which come out of the mouth of God – proclamations that include all families, nations, and peoples being blessed by His Son’s sacrifice on the Cross, not just the barley group.
After passing the first test, the Adversary took Jesus to the highest point on the Temple grounds in view of all that worshipped God. He told Jesus that if He would jump (come down from His calling) He would not be hurt by these stones on the Temple grounds. 1 Peter 2:5 refers to God’s people as living stones being built as a spiritual house. Obviously, these stones would not hurt our Lord’s ministry. I believe this second group of stones in this second test represent the wheat from the second harvest - those that are His at His coming. Again, Jesus rejected that offer, because there is another crop to be harvested – the grapes.
Unfortunately, most of Christianity appears to have fallen for one, or both, of these first two temptations - take the bread group(s) and leave the rest. That may be enough to satisfy their desires, but not our Father's. He wants that last group, the wine, as much as He wants the bread.
Understanding that Jesus would not be satisfied with the bread groups alone, the Adversary took Jesus to a high mountain. Why a mountain? And what mountain? First, a mountain is a pile of stones, either sedimentary or metamorphic, that have been elevated over time by a force beneath them – a great force which lifted them up. Therefore, I submit this mountain represented the nation of Israel, who had been elevated above all other kingdoms for the purpose of establishing God’s Kingdom on the earth (Isaiah 2:1-5.)
On this mountain Jesus was able to see “all the kingdoms of the earth.” The Adversary then offered it to Jesus, if He would fall and worship him. Of course, He would not. Jesus also knew that taking the mountain by force, and all the nations that came with it, would not accomplish His Father’s desire to change every human heart of stone into a willing vessel of love.
To learn a little more about this mountain and those involved in the third temptation, let’s review the story found in Mathew 21 and in the 11th chapter of Mark, where Jesus curses a fruitless fig tree. When His disciples marveled at the immediate death of the tree, Jesus told them that if they had faith, “if ye shall say to this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” The fig tree and this mountain were direct references to the nation of Israel to whom Jesus had been sent. Because they rejected Him, Jesus foretold Israel’s fate, as they would be removed as a nation and thrown into the sea of humanity in 70 A.D. at the hands of the Romans. Furthermore, Jesus said to that tree, “May you never bear fruit again.” In perfect alignment with these words, Mark informs us that afterwards, Jesus went to the Temple and cleansed it.
Reading the 23rd chapter of Mathew will provide a good overview about how Jesus felt about those of His own household who rejected Him. They had become His enemies. In the 24th and 25th chapters, He ministered to the disciples and let them know about the impending judgment that would fall on that generation in Israel and the reasons for it. As three examples, He said to learn from the sign of the fig tree, be faithful like the wise servant, and be prepared like the five wise virgins who had oil in their jars for the arrival of the bridegroom.
Jesus also said there would be two different types of people in Israel. They had been called as a nation to be laborers in the field and in the mills for the harvest of the nations. The ones who were unprepared and continued to hold on to the old covenant of the law would be removed from that calling, while the others, who accepted the new covenant of grace, would be left behind to finish the work of the harvest.
Those left behind to do that work would become a part of the stone “cut out of the mountain without human hands.” We are told this rock will crush all the kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision. It will become God’s Kingdom filling the whole earth, and it will never be destroyed (see Daniel chapter 2.) That Kingdom is the one made without human hands; it’s the one within our hearts. It’s the place where God will rule and reign, and its identity will be marked by hearts of stone changed into vessels that give and take love freely. When that occurs within every person, when God is “all in all,” all of the physical kingdoms of this world will become His Kingdom.
For the ones who rejected Him and were removed from the field and the mills, the good news is that there is coming a day when “all of Israel” shall be saved (Romans 11:26), fulfilling the prophecy in them where many who were chosen to be first to enter this Kingdom, would be the last ones to enter. Jesus, as their near kinsman redeemer, paid their debt, and one day, they will be brought back into His family. These enemies will be harvested as grapes and turned into fine wine.
In the parable of the talents, those in Israel who rejected Jesus were depicted as the one talent person who buried their talent and stayed under the Covenant of the Law. The two-talent person, the wheat harvest, mixes the two covenants, Law and Grace, believing that salvation is based on the work of Jesus, plus what they do and the decisions they make. The five-talent person reflects the Barley crop – those who trust solely in the work of Christ alone. In the Bible, five is the number that represents grace.
To cast even more light on those who participate in the final harvest, we can learn from the story of Saul of Tarsus. After all, he was an enemy of Christ, and maybe his story is a prototype of how God plans to treat His enemies. For instance, why did Saul spend three days in total darkness and anguish before a brand-new man emerged on the other side of it? Is God’s Word hinting that His enemies will have to wait for the third resurrection day? What we do know for sure is that this experience resulted in death to Saul and resurrected life for Paul. We certainly won’t find Saul’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but we will find Paul’s name. It’s like, Saul was made new!
And maybe we can learn a little bit more about how God treats His “enemies,” like Saul, from Isaiah 1:24-25: “Therefore, the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: ‘Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you. . .’”
And what does God do to get relief and revenge when He turns against His enemies – His foes – those like Saul who stand against Him? His answer comes in the remaining part of verse 25 . . . “I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove your impurities.” Another translation reads: “I will turn against you and clean away all your wrongs as if with soap; I will take all the worthless things out of you.”
Here, we find God’s retribution and wrath is all about the eradication of evil from within, just as in the case of Saul. Maybe this is how God plans to treat His enemies and why He commands us to: “Love your enemies,” “do good to them,” “bless them,” “pray for them,” “feed them,” and “give them drink.” Is God a hypocrite, or does He plan to do the same?
And maybe we can learn even more on this subject from the end of Revelation, where we find the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven as a bride. We are told those on the outside of the city – the ungodly – are unable to enter into the city. (This is at the end when death is destroyed in a lake and all tears are wiped away – when all things are made new.)
So, who can be those outside the city at that time, other than the ones who were cast into the lake of fire? And we learned from chapter 14, at the end of the last harvest, blood/wine starts flowing from a winepress that is located outside the city on the command of the One who has power over fire. Why outside the city? And whose blood is it? Whose blood is offered as wine? Whose blood flowed abundantly in the land of His enemies? Whose blood paid for and covered all sin? Jesus answered those questions when He proclaimed: “This is my blood.”
Is Jesus at another wedding feast (yes – His own) turning the substance in a lake into wine? In our Lord’s first miracle (His number one miracle) done in Cana, we are told that those who tasted the wine said the bridegroom had departed from the custom, and saved the best for last. In other words, He departed from the custom of the day (the law) and gave grace. Also notice how Jesus performed this miracle when He transformed all six containers of water into the best wine, on the third day of the feast! “Six” symbolizes mankind, human weakness, and the evils of sin. Is Jesus hinting that He will save, what men will consider His best work, His number one miracle, for the last group – on the third feast day?
The idea of saving those who rejected Him in this life is something traditional theology doesn’t think will be possible. However, as Jesus explained to His disciples concerning the rich young ruler, even though it seems impossible for some to enter the kingdom of heaven based on their behavior, with God, all things are possible, based on His behavior. Therefore, Jesus promises to seek the lost sheep “until He finds it” (Luke 15:4). Taking full responsibility, He carries it on His shoulders back to safety.
For those contemplating what the “Judgment of God” will be, please consider His verdict as given by Paul in Romans 5:18: “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation (resulting in death) for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”
There's a popular song on the radio we sang at a church I recently attended – Unstoppable God. The words fit so well, for "mercy triumphs on the third day," for to Him "nothing is impossible; God's plan is "unstoppable!" And this is precisely what Jesus is asking us to remember each time we take communion. He passed all three tests giving us assurance of all three harvests. He resisted temptations to take less and went to the Cross to reap it all. Knowing what it would take, three times in the garden He asked, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass; nevertheless, thy will be done.” Jesus did the will of the Father; this is what He wants us to remember about Him.
In the Bible the number “3” signifies “divine completeness and perfection,” and in summary, we’ve found three groups, three feast celebrations, three harvests, three crops, and three vivifications at three different and very distinct time periods. There are many more references to these three groups throughout the Bible, including Paul’s vision when he was caught up to the third heaven after the third harvest, but for the sake of time, we will have to save further study for another day.
It is my prayer that the eyes of those who only see two harvests at this time be opened to God’s plan for three. The third harvest will ensure His will, will be done on earth, as it already is in heaven.
We mentioned a verse in Ecclesiastes at the beginning of this article. It said a chord with three strands is not easily broken. I submit the giving of life to all three groups is a chord of truth that provides irrefutable strength to a statement by John the Baptist when he first laid eyes on our Savior: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
As Isaiah 25: 6-9 declares: “And in this mountain (His Kingdom that resides within) shall the Lord make unto all people a feast of fat things; . . . and he will destroy in this mountain the covering cast over the face of all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad, and rejoice in his salvation.”
That concludes this brief summary meant to introduce you to some new insights and understanding surrounding this topic. There is much more to it, and for those seeking more, please find the article, “The Three Heavens,” at this web site. The cover page and the first twelve pages of that article are a repeat of what you have seen here in “The Three Resurrections.” The rest of it will be new.
I’d also love to hear from you with any comments, corrections, suggestions, or further insights. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.