Thy Dead Men Shall Live
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 26. You will recognize that this is the same chapter in which we meditated in our last lesson, but you will recall that we told you that the very first stanza of this song was so very familiar to the believers of all ages that we did not feel that we would be following the leading of the Lord unless we spent some time on the precious words found in verses 3-4:

Isaiah 26

3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength [or, as we pointed out to you, the LORD JEHOVAH is the Rock of Ages] :

Having looked at those verses from the standpoint of blessing, and they are able to be a blessing to the people of this age or any age, we want to look at the entire song in this lesson, because we would not be doing justice to the song if we did not look at the entire song. Notice the phrase in verse 1:

Isaiah 26

1In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah…

That reminds us that, as I pointed out to you in the last lesson, this is a song which will be sung by the believing remnant as they dwell at last in peace in the city of Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Christ.

The Righteous Reign of Christ

If you are not familiar with your Bibles, I have said a lot of things in that rather long, drawn-out sentence with which you are not familiar, so let me pause long enough to suggest that when we are speaking of the millennial age, we are speaking of the period of time which will begin upon the earth when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to establish a thousand year reign of righteousness. It will be a thousand year reign of peace. It is called the Millennium because the word millennium is the Latin word for a thousand years.

One may say, “Do you believe in the Millennium? I thought that nobody believed in the Millennium any more.” Well, there are a few of us who still do. There were at one time premillennialists and postmillennialists . Premillennialists are that group of people who believe what I have just said to you. Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth and establish a righteous reign of one thousand years. Pre means “before.” Jesus is coming before the Millennium.

The postmillennialists believe that after you and I, by the preaching of the Gospel and disarmament conferences brought in a thousand years of peace, Christ would look down on the earth and say, “You know, that is almost as good as Heaven. I think I will move down there.”

For a long time people believed that but, as you know, things have gone from bad to worse to such an extent that it is almost ridiculous to talk about that any more, for we are not getting better and better; we are getting “worser and worser,” if you will permit an ungrammatical phrase for the sake of emphasis. Our postmillennialists brethren, though they love the Lord, don't love us; and rather than join the premillennialists in their interpretation of the Scripture, they became amillennialists. Of course, the prefix a means “against,” so they say, “We just don't believe in a Millennium; we are just against it.” Because most of Christendom has adopted that tradition, a lot of people say, “Nobody believes in a Millennium any more.” I repeat, a few of us do.

The Believing Remnant

This song that we are looking at in Isaiah, chapter 26, is going to be sung during this period of time, as we pointed out to you in the last lesson. I said that it was going to be sung by the believing remnant. That is a phrase with which all of us may not be familiar. What do we mean by the believing remnant ?

God has chosen the nation of Israel many years ago to be the channel through which He would give His truth to the world. You say, “I know some Jews, and I don't like them.” It doesn't make any difference whether you like them or not; God chose them to be His channel through which He was going to give the Word to the world. He did. The Bible came from the Jews. Jesus Christ is the Son of David, and God said that if the Jews remained true to Him, they would be able to evangelize the whole world with the oracles which had been committed to them, but you and I know that they didn't remain true to Him. The vast majority of the Jewish race has departed from God, so that today you hear about atheistic Jews. You hear about orthodox Jews. You hear about modern Jews, liberal Jews; you hear about some Jews who say they are a race and not a religion. You hear about others who say, “We are not a race; we are a religion.” It is a conglomerated mess, but in all the ages from the time that Israel departed from God down through the present hour and on to the end, there will be some who still believe in God, (notice carefully what I am saying) still looking for the Messiah.

You say, “Oh, the Messiah came.” That's right. He did, and we have received Him as our Savior as Gentiles, and every time we have the opportunity to minister to a Jew, we say, “Jesus of Nazareth was your Messiah.” We take them to the Old Testament Scripture that tells them that is true, but they don't believe it yet.

God is going to send tribulation upon the whole earth, as we learned in chapter 24. That tribulation is going to last for seven years, and God is going to empty judgment out on the earth like a mighty deluge from Heaven. The whole world is going to suffer, but God is going to concentrate His judgment upon the Jewish race. When He concentrates His judgment on the Jewish race, that believing remnant, that little group—in Elijah's day it was only seven thousand. It may be fewer than that today. I don't know, but the believing remnant has always believed in God—though they have not believed in Jesus the Messiah, they are going to cry out to God for help, and God is going to take the veil away from their eyes and they are going to look back at Jesus of Nazareth, and they are going to say, “We have made a mistake. We should not be looking for our Messiah now; our Messiah has already come.” They are going to cry out to God, “Forgive us for not receiving Him when He came the first time,” and God is going to forgive them, just as He forgives anybody who turns to His Son. That believing remnant is going to sing the song that is recorded here in Isaiah, chapter 26. That is what the phrase means, where we read in verse 1:

Isaiah 26

1In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah…

What is it that they are going to sing? This song is divided up into stanzas, not verses, for they have the chapter divided into verses, but it is divided into stanzas of contrast.

Two Cities Contrasted

The first stanza is a stanza related to two cities. One of them is the city of Jerusalem, and the other is the city of Babylon. The city of Jerusalem is described in the words at which we looked in the last lesson. We read:

Isaiah 26

1In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
2Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.
3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength [the Rock of Ages] :

By way of contrast, we read in verses 5-6:

Isaiah 26

5For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground; he bringeth it even to the dust.
6The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy.

Somebody may say, “Well, I don't see the city of Babylon mentioned anywhere in these verses.” No, but we are in chapter 26 of the book of Isaiah, and if you had been listening, you would have heard about the city of Babylon. We have read how it, a high and lofty city opposed to everything that is righteous and good, is going to be rebuilt in the end of the age and will be the capital of the last world dictator and will be destroyed at the hand of God.

The city of Jerusalem today is hemmed in by barbed wire, but will be delivered by the power of God. It will not need any more walls; it will not need any more guard gates. Peace will be its walls, and it will be, according to chapter 2 of Isaiah, the dwelling place of Jesus Christ when He returns to the earth.

The Judgment of Nations

What do we read in verse 2? The gates of that city will be open to the righteous nations (plural) which keep the truth. Where do those righteous nations come from? When you have time, you read chapter 25 of the gospel of Matthew. You say, “Oh, I know what that says. That is talking about the judgment of the sheep and the goats. That means that one of these days we are all going to have to stand before the throne of God and God is going to tell some of us we are sheep and the rest of us that we are goats. He is going to tell those of us who are sheep to go to Heaven and tell the goats to go to Hell.” If that is your hope, you don't have very much. If you have to wait till you get there to find out whether you are a sheep or a goat, I feel sorry for you.

Chapter 25 of the gospel of Matthew is not talking about individuals. It is talking about the judgment of the nations that will occur at the end of the Tribulation, at the beginning of the Millennium, when the Lord Jesus Christ will decide which nations will enter into the millennial reign of Christ. Those that are walking uprightly will enter in through the gate, and that is the message of the first stanza—a contrast in cities.

A Contrast In People

The second stanza begins with verse 7 and concludes with verse 11, and it represents a contrast in people, for there we read:

Isaiah 26

7The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.
8Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.
9With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
10Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
11LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people; yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them.

There are two kinds of people in this stanza. What kinds? Well, the just people in verse 7 and the wicked people in verse 10. That is the only two kinds of people there are in the world today. Whether you are Jew or Gentile, whether you are white or black or yellow, there are just two kinds of people in the world. One kind is the just, who have been justified by faith, and the wicked , those who insist on going in their own way.

Those Justified By Faith

Let's notice the good things that are said about the just , because though this song is sung by the believing remnant in the end time, the things that are said here are true of any people of any age in some respects. Look at verse 7:

Isaiah 26

7The way of the just is uprightness…

Look at that word uprightness . Recognize that it is the Hebrew word meyshar . A better translation would be “straight.” Turn with me to the book of Psalms and listen to a prayer of the Psalmist, where he used this word uprightness , but he used it in the manner I just suggested. He used it as straight , and he made a personal application to his own heart. It is a Psalm of David, and we will not take the time to read the whole Psalm, but will you notice verse 8:

Psalm 5

8Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

That was a prayer of the Psalmist. “Lord, I have a lot of enemies around and a lot of false direction. Make the way that I am going to travel straight before Thy face.”

Let's go back to Isaiah, chapter 26, and use that translation. What do you read in verse 7? “The way of the just is straight.” No need to wonder and weave about, no need to take any crooked steps. Why? Look at the last part of verse 7:

Isaiah 26

7…thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.

That word weigh comes from the Hebrew word palac , which means “to roll out flat.” It is translated “prepare” in other portions of the Word of God. So what do we read here? “Thou, most upright God, prepare the path of the just.” Yes, God does that. He prepares the path of the just. Notice verse 8:

Isaiah 26

8Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee [to Thy memorial name] .

Isaiah speaks for the whole nation, and says, in verse 9:

Isaiah 26

9With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early…

He is saying, “Night and day, Lord, I have desired that time to come when the Lord Jesus Christ will rule and reign in righteousness.” Now, notice the last statement in verse 9:

Isaiah 26

9…for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

When will His judgments be in the earth? When the Lord Jesus Christ returns. Then and only then will people learn righteousness. That is the reason I can't get too enthusiastic over laws to prohibit evil. Now, I will vote for them, because I want to choose the kind of city I live in, and if there is a prohibition election you can count on me to be on the right side of the fence. But I don't have much confidence in laws regulating unregenerated human nature.

The Wicked Refuse to See

When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness, and what I have just said to you is emphasized by the contrast in this verse, because in verse 10 we are talking about the wicked. He is saying, “You show favor to the wicked, and he will not learn righteousness.” Someone comes along and says, “You be kind to these people and they will treat you real nice.” God says, “They won't.” Notice verse 11:

Isaiah 26

11LORD, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see…

The phrase, “when thy hand is lifted up,” means “Your hand is lifted up in judgment.” Even though God chastens them, they won't see. He says in verse 10:

Isaiah 26

10…in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

What does that mean? You see it in the midst of you every day of the world. Our churches are filled with people who are unconverted. Even in the midst of the sanctuary they are dealing in unrighteousness. The unregenerated human nature is going to be wicked until God changes it. That is what they are singing about, but thank God He will change it some day, just as He changed things for the nation of Israel.

A Contrast In Rulers

That brings us to the third stanza that we want to consider with you. It begins with verse 12. Look at verses 12 and 14, a contrast in rulers , a contrast in Lords if you please. Notice in verse 12:

Isaiah 26

12LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.
13O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
14They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.

He is saying, “Lord, there has been a time in our history in the past when we have been under the dominion of many lords. We have worshiped idols. We have been in captivity. We have not been able to call our life our own, but Lord, you have come to our rescue. You have delivered us so thoroughly from these other lords that as far as we are concerned, they are dead, they are deceased, they will not rise, they are forgotten, and we are free from them forever.”

Look again at verse 12. Here we find another of those precious verses of Isaiah that though by interpretation belongs to a future date, by application can be used for your own heart, even today. Verse 12:

Isaiah 26

12LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Let me offer another translation that I think is a little better, because I think it includes all of the meaning and all of the juice of the word, so to speak. That translation is, “But thou, oh Lord, wilt maintain our welfare, for whatsoever we achieve is all of thy doing.”

I like that, don't you? “But thou oh LORD will maintain our welfare, for whatsoever we achieve, it is all of thy doing.” Oh, what a wonderful thing it is to change your leadership, to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's Son, to change those who have dominion over you. When other lords had dominion over the nation of Israel, they did not have the interest of Israel at heart, but when God was permitted to have dominion over the nation, He maintained their welfare, and whatever they did, they recognized it was really His doing.

A Contrast In Conditions

I said if you changed lords, you changed conditions, so the next stanza, beginning with verse 15 and going through verse 19, is a contrast in conditions. Read, beginning with verse 15:

Isaiah 26

15Thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.

This is not a happy translation, for it doesn't convey the meaning. Really what that verse says is, “You have enlarged the borders of our land; you have extended the boundaries of our land.”

When is Israel going to sing this song? In the Millennium, after Christ has returned. What are they going to sing? They are going to sing, “Lord, Thou hast enlarged the borders of our land. Thou hast given us possession of everything that you promised Abraham.”

When you have time, read Genesis, chapters 12, 15, and 17. Get yourself a map and see what God promised Abraham. Then look at another map, and see what the nation of Israel actually possessed, and realize that never in their lifetime have they ever possessed all of the land that God gave them. They haven't had it all; they have been compressed into a small territory, comparatively speaking. Right now, they are compressed into even a smaller territory as a nation, but God—Egypt notwithstanding, the United Arabic Republic notwithstanding, Iraq not withstanding—is going to push back the borders of the land of Israel so that they will be able to say, “Thou hast increased the nation, Oh, Lord. Thou hast increased the nation. Thou art glorified. Thou hast enlarged our boundaries.”

It hasn't always been that way. As a matter of fact, most of the time it has been like this, in verse 16:

Isaiah 26

16LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
17Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD.
18We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

A better translation for the word fallen , is “neither have the inhabitants of the world been born.” The word fallen is speaking of dropping the child when it is born, or the creature, whichever the case may be.

The Prayer of Israel

What is this that we have just read? We are reading about how the nation of Israel, in her own strength, all through the years has tried to make a dent upon the world and has failed. How often does the Spirit of God compare this effort on the part of Israel to a woman with child? Here is a woman with child, the time is ready to give birth, but the child is not born. Nothing but disappointment is the result. The nation of Israel, back yonder in the days of Abraham, were committed the task of evangelizing the world, but they failed. They have brought forth nothing but wind. The inhabitants of the world have not been born into the family of God. One of these days the nation of Israel is going to come to its senses and realize that it has failed miserably. When is that going to be? Look at verse 16:

Isaiah 26

16LORD, in trouble have they visited thee…

When is it going to happen? It is going to happen when the judgment of God falls upon the nation of Israel until they cannot stand it any more, and they will cry out to God for help. That is what we read in verse 16:

Isaiah 26

16…they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

Someone says, “You know, this is rather new to me, and I don't know for sure if the Bible teaches a thing like this. Is it taught throughout the Word of God?”

The Offense of Israel

I could give you many passages of Scripture, but we don't have time, so I am going to suggest that we turn in our Bibles to the book of Hosea, the prophet, and notice with me a very definite statement along this line. We don't have time to read the entire passage, but if we did, we would find that it is referring to the thing that I am talking about. In Hosea, chapter 5, verse 15, we read:

Hosea 5

15I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

Who is this speaking? As I said, if we had time to pursue this we would find that these are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I will go and return to My place.” Where is that? At the right hand of the throne of God. “How long am I going to stay there?” Someone says, “Forever, didn't you know that?” No, I don't know that, because this passage of Scripture said that He is going to be up there at the right hand of the throne of God until the Jewish nation acknowledges their offense. The word is offense —singular, not plural. Till the Jewish nation acknowledges their offense.

Someone says, “Didn't you read the paper? Don't you know that at one of the Ecumenical Councils they decided that the Jews didn't crucify Jesus? Yes, I read the paper, but I still read my Bible, and I accept the Word of God regardless of what the newspapers say. The Word of God says that the Jews crucified Jesus Christ. Somebody says, “You hate them, don't you?” No, I love them. That's why I'm saying that. “Well, you're anti-Semitic aren't you?” No, I'm not. I am a preacher of the Word of God, and the Word of God says that they did crucify the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will stay in Heaven until they acknowledge that and turn to Him.

When will they do it? In the midst of their affliction, the time of Jacob's trouble, the Tribulation. You will notice in chapter 6, because there were no chapter divisions in the original text:

Hosea 6

1Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
2After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live [as a nation] in his sight.

Go back to Isaiah, chapter 26, where we read in verse 16:

Isaiah 26

16LORD, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.

Did you ever hear the phrase, “bringing back the King?” You have even sung about it, haven't you? Have you been told that the way to bring back the King is to bring the Kingdom in, and have you been told that the way to bring back the King and bring the Kingdom in is to build hospitals and Christian colleges and universities and teach the world about God?

You will not bring back the King that way. There is only one way that you will bring back the King, and that is to pray that the veil will be taken off the face of the Jewish nation, that they may recognize that they are guilty of crucifying the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. When the veil is taken away and they confess it, the Lord Jesus Christ will say, “I will forgive you and come back,” and He won't until then. So you see, we are not helping matters by agreeing with the man over in Rome who says, “In the interest of Christian unity, let us say that the Jews did not crucify Christ.” You are not bringing back the King; you are keeping Him away if we adopt that position.

Three Sections of the First Resurrection

Look with me at the last verse of this last stanza that we are going to notice, which represents a contrast in condition. Verse 19:

Isaiah 26

19Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Ah, this is a wonderful promise. What does Isaiah do? He looked down through the corridors of time and he recognized a day when the believing remnant will acknowledge their sin of crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. When they do, He will see Old Testament saints rising from their graves, the nation of Israel reunited, and Isaiah himself saying, “Even I am going to get up out of my grave and be joined together with all of the Old Testament saints.”

You see, the Bible does not teach a general resurrection of the dead. Some of you have been saying the Apostles Creed for a long time, and you say, “I believe in the general resurrection of the dead.” Well, you ought not to say that, because the Bible doesn't teach it. The Bible doesn't teach a general resurrection of the dead. The Bible teaches specific resurrections of the dead.

The Bible gives you the order of resurrection in I Corinthians, chapter 15. The first thing that happens in connection with the resurrection is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the resurrection of all believers when Jesus Christ comes in the air for His Church. Those two things are called the first resurrection .

When the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to the earth, He will bring us with Him, and when He comes back to the earth in response to the plea of the living Israelites, He will say to Michael, “He has been sleeping in the dust of the earth long enough. I told him especially that he was going to rise.” Michael will wake up the Old Testament dead, and the third section of the first resurrection will occur. That is described in I Corinthians, chapter 15: “Then cometh the end.”

Last Part of the Resurrection

The last part of the resurrection is one thousand years later, when the dead, those who have died without any faith in Christ, will be raised to stand before the Great White Throne. The books will be opened, and the Book of Life will be opened. The books will be opened at the Great White Throne because there are degrees of punishment in Hell like there are degrees of rewards in Heaven. The sinners will be judged out of what is written in the book.

There will be another book there. It will be the Lamb's Book of Life, and in the place where the name could have been written, there will be a horrible blank and men will stand condemned before God without excuse.

You say, “Will I be there?” Let me ask you a question: Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? “Yes, I have.” Then you will be there. Don't go along with what people tell you—that you will stand at the judgment bar of God and wonder if you are going to Heaven or going to go to Hell. That was settled at Calvary, and if you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, received Him as your Savior, you're not going to stand there. But let me tell you that if you have never trusted Him as your Savior, you'll stand there, and you will hear one sentence pronounced, and that is, “Depart into Hell, prepared for the Devil and his angels.”

A Glorious Reunion

The song comes to a close on a glorious note in verse 19:

Isaiah 26

19Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

I'm glad that we have a great hope. It is the hope of a glorious reunion by and by. We will be reunited with all of our loved ones, friends and acquaintances, and all of the folk we have met in this Book. If you have spent very much time in this Book, you will feel like these folk are your friends. You feel like you know them.

I am going to be really glad to see Abraham. I'm going to ask him some questions that I wonder about. I am going to be really glad to see Moses. I am going to be really glad to see Elijah. I would like to ask him how he felt when he was running like mad ahead of that thunder cloud. I tell you, I'm not wondering what I am going to be doing in Heaven. Folk say that they are going to float around on a cloud and do nothing. Well, I'm not. I'm going to take me a heavenly tape recorder and record some of the things these folk can tell me that I have been wondering about for a long time. I'm going to see every one of them and I am going to be able to recognize every one of them, because the Bible says, “Then we shall know even as now also we are known.”

I have never been able to understand why some folk think we will have less sense in Heaven than we've got now. The Lord knows that I don't have much sense now, but I have enough sense to know people that I know. I have enough sense to know people that are described to me, and I think I will have just as much when I get up there. I am glad that we can sing this song.


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