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 hither, 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 whereunto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
I recall listening to a wise pastor from Idaho years ago discussing the first few chapters of the Gospel of John and as I listened 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 journey through these early years of 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’s such a wonderful feeling to know we have now entered 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 can also be worded “after two thousand years He will revive us: in the third thousand-year period (the Millennium 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/Resurrection. Yet, remember, it does say “after two days”.
In brief, Lazarus was ill, 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 all the parables, the personal story of Lazarus has a national meaning, indeed one that reveals a powerful prophecy, centering, I think, on this very moment of time. Let us now look at this magnificent message.
The name “Lazarus” is interchangeable with “Israel” so in reviewing the national message, it is the story of 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 of which were divorced from God and like most of their brethren in Palestine and elsewhere, all chasing false gods and all under the curse of death. It is not by accident that the “Lazarus” in the parable, “The Rich Man and Lazarus” also represents Israel. It is interesting that Jesus describes Lazarus’ (Israel’s) 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” (11:4), certainly a wonderful description of the power of the Resurrection. Jesus knew that Israel was sick when He walked among us, yet as 11:6 demonstrates, in the second fulfillment, He stays two days or two thousand years in the same place where he is, that is, by the right hand of God in Heaven. Then, the hidden meaning of 11:7 has Christ saying to His angels, “Let us go back again to Judea” and of course, we know that Christ’s feet will first touch on Mount of Olives. What follows in 11:9-10 is an analogy describing those who believe on Him as walking in the daytime and those who don’t as walking in darkness. Verse 20 might reflect the difference between those who go to meet him and those who remain on earth. To those that meet him, Jesus confirms in Verse 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.” Then in a loud voice (1 Thessalonians 4:16 refers to it as a shout), He resurrects Lazarus (i.e., Israel and all who walk with her by virtue of their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ).
How can we definitely know that Lazarus represents Israel? It’s important to read verses 50-52 after 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). Basically, Caiaphas says to them, “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).
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 earlier, or four thousand years. It is also significant to Israel that it is now nearly four days since God entered into the Covenant with Abraham.
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 years from now, we can be assured it will happen, because as the Lord spoke in Matthew 24:25, “Behold, I have told you before.”