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The Resurrection of Jesus in the OT

Isaiah spoke of Jesus in Isaiah 52:13–53:12, with thoughts of the resurrection in Isaiah 53:10. Hinting at His death, Jesus would be “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Isa 53:7), and, indeed, He would be “taken away” and “cut off out of the land of the living” (Isa 53:8). He would die and lie in “His grave,” being made “an offering for guilt” (Isa 53:9–10). Nonetheless, Isaiah promised of Jesus that “He shall see His offspring” and that the Father would “prolong His days” (Isa 53:10). Though Isaiah does not specifically mention the resurrection, it is obviously implied between the prophecies of the death of the Messiah and His prolonged days thereafter

Psalm 16:10 gives another clear prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection. Speaking of Christ, David promised, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” Similar to how Abraham believed that God would have raised Isaac from the dead because of His promise of Abraham’s descendants through him (Heb 11:17–19), David knew that his Descendant would one day rule forever, which meant for Him that Sheol and corruption would be overcome by a resurrection (Ps 16:10; see also Acts 2:30–31; 13:34–37).

Many OT texts could be added to the two above.1 In summarizing the gospel, Paul pointed out of Jesus “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4). If only Paul could have told us which Scriptures!

Similarly, when Jesus spoke to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection, Jesus rebuked them for their failure to believe in His resurrection. (They did not realize it was Him at the time; cf. Luke 24:31.) Luke 24:25–27 states, “25 And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.’”

We only wish we could know in detail from Jesus Himself what Moses and the prophets had to say of Christ’s resurrection, a necessary event for Him to “enter in His glory.” At the same time, we at least know what some OT passages say of His resurrection, and, in our place in redemptive history, we can see the story and significance of the resurrection in the NT. Paul gives a snapshot of both in 1 Corinthians 15:20–22: “20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits 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, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Praise be to God for the resurrection of Christ, a picture and guarantee of our resurrection to come!

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.

  1. For a fuller discussion of the above, see Rolland McCune, A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity: The Doctrines of Man, Sin, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Allen Park, MI: Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009), 221–23. []