Winston Churchill once said, “the further you can see into the past, the clearer the vision of the future.” Well, it’s a little like this with prophecy. The more we can see the proof of the unfolding of prophetic events in the past, the greater our certainty that those future prophetic happenings will occur as well, and right on time. After all, our Wonderful God told us, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
While listening to a visiting pastor from Idaho discussing the first few chapters of the Gospel of John, I was inspired to re-study the entire Book. It was like a new adventure, as one revelation after another flooded my mind. It astonishes how we can read a passage or passages over and over again, then all of the sudden; God enlightens us to new thoughts. Even before reaching chapter eleven, the study had been immensely enriching, yet as I read the story of Lazarus, I instinctively realized that this event during Jesus’ Ministry has a second fulfillment. “Why hadn’t I read about this before?” I thought, as my mind raced with excitement, “Surely other students of prophecy have perceived what I had!” My first inclination was that I made a wrong assumption. Still, the chapter is such a perfect New Testament double witness to Hosea 6:2 that it had to be explored. And so, I share these thoughts with you, dear reader, with my prayer you will be enlightened further and have your own opportunity to inspire others. Can any journey be more worthwhile as we embark further upon this, the seventh millennium from the fall of Adam.
In an exhortation to repentance, Israel is told, “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight” (Hosea 6:2). It is such a wonderful feeling to know we are now in the third day and soon we shall be residing in a Kingdom ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. We know from 2 Peter 3:8 that with the Lord, “one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” So, in looking at Hosea 6:2, it really means, “after two thousand years He will revive us: in the third thousand-year period (the Millennial Kingdom) he will raise us up and we shall live in his sight.” Most students of prophecy pinpoint the starting point of this prophecy at either the date of the First Advent of Christ or the date of the Crucifixion.
In brief, Lazarus was sick, and a message of the illness was dispatched to Jesus. Actually, in looking at John 11:17, Lazarus was most likely already dead by the time Jesus was informed. Still, despite his grief, Jesus remained two more days in the place where He was before announcing to His Disciples that they would then go to Judea. Lazarus’ sister Martha went to meet Jesus while sister Mary sat still in the house. Upon His return, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It is a very touching story, one that demonstrates Jesus’ love and compassion. Yet, like the parables, the personal story of Lazarus also has a national meaning, indeed one that reveals a powerful prophecy, centering, I think, on the present time. Let us now look at this magnificent message.
In the personal story, Jesus’ friend is Lazarus. In the Prophecy, the name “Lazarus” reflects “Israel” (and those who walk with her), so the name “Lazarus” is indicative of “True Israel.” The hidden meaning of this story is therefore about the twelve tribes of Israel, which at the time of Christ were scattered abroad (James 1:1). Some Israelites were still in Judea and Galilee of course but the bulk of Israel was in Europe. Ten tribes were divorced from God and like most of their brethren in Palestine and elsewhere, all were chasing false gods and all were under the curse of death. Yet, it is not by accident that the “Lazarus” in the parable, “The Rich Man and Lazarus,” (Luke 16) also represents Israel.
In John 11:4, it is interesting that Jesus describes His Friend Lazarus’ condition when He said, “This sickness is not to end in death; but it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Amplified Version). This is certainly a wonderful description of the power of the soon to occur Resurrection.
In the personal story, despite hearing about the sickness of Lazarus, Jesus abode two further days in the place He was (11: 6). In the prophecy, Jesus knows Israel is sick and under the curse of death, yet in this second fulfillment, He also stays two days or two thousand years in the same place where he is, that is, by the right hand of God in Heaven.
In John 11:7 the story of Lazarus has Christ saying to His Disciples, “Let us go back again to Judea.” The Prophecy of Lazarus would have Christ saying this to His Angels when He readies Himself for His Second Advent. The Bible tells us that His feet will first touch on the mount of Olives, that is, He will go back again to Judea.
What follows in verses 9-10 is an analogy describing those who believe on Him as walking in the daytime and those who don’t as walking in darkness. Recall that in John 8:12 Jesus states: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. … When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World”.
Verse 20 suggests the difference between those who go to meet him and those who remain on earth. To those that meet him, Jesus confirms in Verses 25-26, “I am the Resurrection, and the Life…whosoever liveth and believest in me shall never die….” Upon His Return, He again exhorts, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God” (11: 40).
In 11:43, Jesus resurrects Lazarus. The Bible words it this way, “And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth”. A loud voice! Doesn’t this appear similar to the coming Resurrection of Israel described in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout…”?
Yet, how can we definitely know that Lazarus represents Israel and that this chapter of the Bible reflects a major prophecy? It’s important to read verses 50-52 where Caiaphas, the high priest, makes a declaration to those Jews concerned that the Romans might come and take away or destroy their nation (Verses 45-49). Paraphrasing his comments, he says, “You know nothing at all. You don’t understand that it is better for our own welfare that one man should die for his people rather than the whole nation perishing. That he (Caiaphas) was not saying this for his own accord but being the high priest that year; he prophesied that Jesus was to die for that nation. (See also Isaiah 53:8) And his death was not for that nation only, but also for the purpose of uniting into one body the children of God who have been scattered far and wide” (See also Isaiah 49:6). We know Jesus died to redeem Israel, as well as bringing the offer of Salvation to the world.
Finally, it is interesting that in Verses 17&39, Lazarus is said to have been dead four days. If you think about it, Adam brought the curse of death upon his descendants four days before the First Advent of Christ, or four thousand years. It is also significant to Israel that it is now four days, or four thousand years, since God entered into the Covenant with Abraham. Considering Adamic-Israel history, the symbolic two- and four-day periods were not a random choice in our inspired Scriptures.
Jesus Himself said, “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” In His own wonderful words in John 11, He gives witness to Hosea 6:2 that He will indeed return after 2,000 years to resurrect His believers. Whether soon, as most of us hope, or later, we can be assured it will happen, because as the Lord said in Matthew 24:25, “Behold, I have told you before.”