Exodus chapter 19 contains a pattern that may have provided Paul the divine inspiration for the mystery of the resurrection of the dead and the catching up of believers. Exodus chapter 19 describes the children of Israel, who had just miraculously passed through the Red Sea by the hand of God, encamped at Mount Sinai. The Lord was preparing to meet with Moses to give him the law.
But before Moses could meet with him, the Lord gave him several instructions to tell the people. Moses went down from the mountain and repeated what the Lord told him. At this point, several interesting similarities between this passage and the I Thessalonians chapter 4 passage are evident.
- Sanctification and washing
Exo 19:14 Then Moses went down from the mountain to the people, and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes.
I The 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.
Just as the people of Israel were to be sanctified and wash their clothes before their meeting with the Lord near the mountain, so the believers in Jesus Christís death and resurrection will participate in the events of this day, whether living or dead. Paul explained both the sanctification and washing of which a believer partakes in his letter to the Ephesians:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her
Eph 5:26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word,
- The third day and the resurrection of the dead
Exo 19:15 And he said to the people, "Be ready by the third day. Do not go near your wives."
Exo 19:16 And on the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud on the mountain . . .
I The 4:16 . . . and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The Lord told Moses to have the people ready on the third day, because on that day, he was going to descend onto the top of Mount Sinai. It is very interesting that Jesus Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection of the dead into an immortal body, repeatedly foretold of his resurrection from the dead on the third day:
Luk 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
Christís resurrection to immortality, as the pattern for the future resurrection of the dead in Christ, occurred on the third day. This is paralleled by the Lordís announcement that he was going to descend on Mount Sinai on the third day.
- The trumpet sound of Godís voice
Exo 19:16 And on the third day in the morning there was thunder and lightning and a dense cloud on the mountain, and the sound of a very loud horn; all the people who were in the camp trembled.
Exo 19:19 When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him with a voice.
I The 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God . . .
On Mount Sinai, the Lordís presence was accompanied by an extremely loud sounding horn. In fact, the passage seems to indicate that the Lordís voice was the sound of the horn. Similarly, at the Lordís appearance at the resurrection and catching-up event, the trumpet of God will be heard in the earth.
- The Lordís descent
Exo 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire; and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain shook greatly.
I The 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command . . .
Just as the Lord descended from the heavens onto the top of Mount Sinai, the Lord will descend from heaven at the resurrection and catching-up event.
- The catching up of believers to meet the Lord
Exo 19:20 And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain; and the Lord summoned [qara] Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
I The 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up [harpagesometha] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Moses was "summoned", or called up to the top of the mountain, then went up to meet the Lord. In the same manner, believers will be caught up, or summoned, into the air to meet the Lord. The roots of the Hebrew word qara for "summoned" are extremely interesting. According to the highly respected Hebrew dictionary by Brown, Driver, and Briggs, this is a primitive root verb whose basic meaning is that of accosting a person you have just met. It is a common verb appearing many hundreds of times in the Old Testament, but its root meaning matches nearly perfect with the Greek harpazo, or sudden forcible snatching.
While the Exodus chapter 19 account may not be an exact parallel of what is described by Paul in I Thessalonians chapter 4, it is a very good pattern, or model, of the event Paul described. The harmony between the two passages is hermeneutically striking and convincing.
Another Old Testament passage that Paul may have been drawn to is recorded in Isaiah chapter 26. The prophet Isaiah was anticipating the vindication of the Lord against the wicked and his justice for their deeds. The Lord was preparing to act in vengeance, but the wicked were not able to discern it. Isaiah closed the chapter with a word of encouragement:
Isa 26:19 Your dead will come back to life; your corpses will rise up. Wake up and shout joyfully, you who live in the ground! For you will grow like plants drenched with the morning dew, and the earth will bring forth its dead spirits.
Isa 26:20 Go, my people! Enter your inner rooms! Close your doors behind you! Hide for a little while, until his angry judgment is over!
Just as in I Thessalonians chapter 4, the resurrection of the dead preceded the command of the Lord for his people to enter their inner rooms. Furthermore, in agreement with a catching up of believers prior to Danielís 70th week, Isaiah described the hiding as occurring until the Lordís angry judgment is over. Remember this important passage from Isaiah, as it will be further explored throughout the book.
* * *
The preceding was an excerpt from the 5th chapter of Earthquake Resurrection: Supernatural Catalyst for the Coming Global Catastrophe by David W. Lowe. The book features a unique prophetic model involving a pattern with earthquakes and resurrections which sheds new and intriguing light on the future resurrection in connection with a global catastrophe. If you have comments or questions about this excerpt or the book, you may