DEAD BEFORE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST – The Faith of the Dead (Lesson 1)

By Kathy L McFarland

Hebrews 11:13-16

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13–16)

This study module is focusing upon a group of people, rather than a specific person. However, don’t take the lack of specificity to define the importance of this expression of faith example in Hebrews 11. Rather, examine the amount of words that Hebrews 11:13-16 contains in defining this type of faith, and recognize that it is both noteworthy and essential for all Believers to understand perfectly!

Who are the dead in faith? They are the ones that died before the promises of the coming Messiah were fulfilled, and who were not taken directly to Heaven as a Saint. It was the promises given through the Lord Jesus Christ that overpowered death, and gave life to those that believed and followed after Him. Until His Time was fulfilled, most of the Chosen People of the LORD God went to their graves, and are presently sleeping; they unknowingly await the resurrection at the final Judgment of Jesus Christ, to receive their reward or punishment.

Revelation 20:11-15

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15)

The Israelites that descended from the generations of Abraham did not receive the promises of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew 1 traces the generations that led to the designated father’s side of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:1-17

“The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; 16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:1–17)

Traditionally, Bible scholars have attributed the generations listed within Matthew 1 to represent the line of Joseph, while the genealogy listed in Luke 3:24-38 to show the lineage of Mary, showing a family relationship between Mary and Joseph. Luke 3:24-38 traces the generations that led to the Lord Jesus Christ, clear back to the time of Adam!

Luke 3:24-38

“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 24 Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, 25 Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, 26 Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, 27 Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, 28 Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, 29 Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, 30 Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, 31 Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, 32 Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, 33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, 34 Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor, 35 Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala, 36 Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech, 37 Which was the son of Mathusala, which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Jared, which was the son of Maleleel, which was the son of Cainan, 38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. (Luke 3:23–38)

Now, when you compare the names in both of these genealogies, you will notice a few inconsistencies. Some of the names are different, but similar, which can be explained by the Hebrew vs. Aramaic translation of the names. Some Kings are left out, like Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, those between Joram and Uzziah, and Jehoiakim in the Matthew line. Matthew also includes women in the lineage, which is a rare event in ancient genealogies. While rare in tradition, their places in the lineage were crucial to establishing certain timelines in the Bible, just as the missing Kings were unimportant to the author’s point. Comparisons of Luke and Matthew show disagreement, but can be explained in scholarly fashion. But, you know what! We don’t have to worry about any of these arguments, to go to the places we need to go to learn about the faith!

We only need to look at Luke 3:23-28 to realize that there were a whole bunch of people, generation after generation for many generations that brought forth the fulfilled line of David through our Lord Jesus Christ! That means that all of those past people who contributed to the human being expression of Jesus Christ DIED IN FAITH! They went to their graves, when they died. They did not realize the promises that their faith looked forward too! Most of the actual human being relatives of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in Heaven! That’s an amazing statement of fact!

Remember, the lineage of Jesus Christ as expressed in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, represents one branch of the generations before Jesus Christ! There were hundreds upon hundreds of offspring that sprang from the seed of Abraham! The specific genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ is but one of many that form the tree of Abraham that leads to the Twelve Tribes of Israel that are God’s Chosen People who looked expectantly to the future promise of the coming Messiah.

Philippians 2:5-11

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11)

The hope of all Jewish people is centered fully upon the promise by the LORD God to send a Messiah to them, to lead them from the oppressions of this world. Sadly, when the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth with the nature of a human being, few of the Jews knew Him. They did not recognize Him as Messiah, because they thought the Messiah would be powerful and mighty and cause their enemies to perish. The Lord Jesus Christ not only exhibited the nature of human being, but was easily crucified upon the cross. The Jewish people were made blind by the LORD God, and unable to see the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They could not connect this with the perfect expression of God’s power over death, and His exaltation of His only begotten Son.

John 4:19-26

“The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4:19–26)

The Lord Jesus Christ, coming in the nature of man, with the flesh and blood of human being, had to die, in order to destroy the power of death.

Hebrews 2:14-18

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14–18)

It was only after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ that brought him to die, that death could be conquered. Thus, all those that lived before the Lord’s coming, died with faith that He would one day come. It is the circle of faith that took generations upon generations to accomplish the fulfillment of His Promises to His Chosen People.

Hebrews 11 honors those of faith in the Promises of the Messiah that were unable to see the fulfillment of His coming. It is with that same heart we look with honor upon the ancestors of God’s People before Christ, who kept the faith pure and moving forward, without guarantee that they would see the Promise in their lifetime.

The generations of God’s People had a faith that is worthy of study, recall and emulation, as our own time troubles began to increase beyond endurance. The Promised return of our Lord Jesus Christ is an important promise to Christians, just as those generations of Adam looked to the first Promise of the Messiah’s return. Thus, it is worthy to know the coping tools of the Chosen People of the LORD God, to give us the survival tools of our own time, promising a hope where all seems impossible, and encouraging a faith that is sure and true in salvation, redemption and rescue by our Lord Jesus Christ, regardless of the wickedness that surrounds us.