"He will swallow up death in victory"

1867 292 There would seem to be a difficulty from the position which the words "He will swallow up death in victory" occupy in the strain of the prophet Isaiah, which, containing many subjects, begins with Isaiah xiii., and ends with Isaiah xxvii. But, as usual, every difficulty of scripture serves only as an occasion to discover its perfection. The difficulty is that, according to the order in which the prophet brings the statement into his strain (Isa. xxv. 8), the event would seem to follow the great crash of universal judgment related in Isaiah xxiv., embracing, as it does, the world and all its systems, the host of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. Yet we know that St. Paul applies the passage to the resurrection of the Church, or first resurrection, embracing, of course, the saints of the Old Testament days. This event we know happens previously to this crisis of judgment detailed in Isaiah xxiv., introductory of the kingdom — a clear proof, by the way, that the Church does not pass through the tribulation: her promise being that she would be kept from the hour of temptation which comes upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Rev. iii. 10.)

It would seem to mean that, in a general way, without giving the order of the events, the first resurrection would take place at such a time as that spoken of in the group of Isaiah xxiv. — xxvii., and without pointing out the order of the occurrences, or the moment of time for their fulfilment — a general thing with this prophet.

But the order is much more precise than this when we come to examine Revelation xx. 4. We have there three classes of persons spoken of:
1st. Those who are received up when the Lord comes, i.e., the Old Testament saints and the Church.
2ndly. Those of the Jewish remnant who had been martyred under the fifth seal (Rev. vi. 9); and
3rdly. Those who had not worshipped the beast, etc.
The last two classes would, of course, lose their lives, and with their lives the earthly blessings of the kingdom about to be established; and they receive, instead, a heavenly blessing, and a place in the first resurrection, having loved not their lives unto death. All three classes enumerated compose the first resurrection, which, as we know, is not a period of time, but a class of persons, although not raised at the same moment of time but within a period extending from the taking up of the saints at the Lord's coming, and through the period of judgment which passes over the world, and till the eve of the kingdom.

Now the last two classes not being raised at the same moment with the former, and being comprised especially of the slain remnant of the Jews, it is towards those the Prophet Isaiah has his attention specially directed, forming as they do the prominent subject in his burthen. Hence the order in which we find them in Isaiah xxv., after the judgment of the world, and at the time when the Lord establishes His kingdom in Zion. This answers so beautifully to the word in Revelation xx. 4, "They lived (this word applying especially to the two latter classes) and reigned with Christ a thousand years;" while the first mentioned class was raised previously to the time when the crisis or tribulation took place.

The mind of the Spirit in the prophet is chiefly occupied with these last mentioned classes; while Paul, who is the instrument used in the revelation of the higher and subsequently revealed truth of the Church, uses the same passage when speaking of the resurrection of the saints who compose it when Christ comes; the passage thus embracing all those of the first resurrection, and the order of resurrection of the Jewish prophet having in primary view the slain ones of the Jewish remnant who are raised last in order of time, and at the closing moment of the events related in Isaiah xxiv. — xxvii. F. G. Patterson.