Arlen L. Chitwood
A Good Report
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented —
of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:32-40)
The great issue in the book of Hebrews, as any other place in Scripture, is “Faith.” God has spoken, and man is called upon to believe that which God has revealed.
The exercise of “faith” as it pertains to the beginning point in an individual’s pilgrim walk (passing “from death to life”) is an issue in Hebrews chapter eleven (vss. 4, 17-19), but this is not the main issue of the chapter; nor is it the main issue of the book as a whole. “Faith” in Hebrews has to do primarily (actually, almost exclusively) with the pilgrim walk itself in relation to the expectation of that which God has promised beyond the pilgrim walk (11:5-16, 20-40).
Faith in Hebrews is the same as it is seen anywhere else in Scripture. Note, for example, how “faith” is presented in Romans 1:17, “from faith to faith,” with “the just” living “by faith,” which is simply another facet of the way “faith” is presented in Hebrews 11:6 — “without faith” it is impossible to please God.
The opening words in the first chapter of Hebrews form the foundation upon which the remainder of the book rests:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
has in these last days spoken to us by His Son [lit., “in Son,” i.e., in the person of His Son], whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds [the ages]. (Hebrews 1:1, 2)
There is the written Word, and there is the Word that became flesh. Both are living and inseparably identified with God (John 1:1, 2, 14; Hebrews 4:12). And it is this Word, both written and manifested in the form of flesh, which man has been called upon to exercise faith in, to believe.
God’s revelation in the book of Hebrews pertains particularly to issues surrounding a type-antitype treatment of the land of Canaan and the people who are to take that land and dwell therein within a theocracy (an earthly land and people in the type and a heavenly land and people in the antitype). Within this framework, the book deals with an earthly calling in the type and a heavenly calling in the antitype.
The Jewish people and the land of Canaan are seen in the type, relative to an earthly calling; and Christians and a land typified by the land of Canaan are seen in the antitype, relative to a heavenly calling. One land is on the earth, and the other is in the heavens above the earth; and governmental power and authority are to issue forth from both lands in the future theocracy.
A Better Resurrection
Hebrews chapter eleven forms a climactic point toward which revelation in the first ten chapters moves. The response, “by faith,” on the part of individuals throughout this chapter was occasioned by the promises of God. God had, through His revelation “to the fathers by the prophets,” revealed certain things concerning His plans and purposes.
And within the scope of God’s revelation concerning His plans and purposes lay the promises of future blessings that would one day be realized by His people. Numerous saints in the Old Testament manifested an interest in these things, took their eyes off the present, and looked out into the future, believing that God would ultimately bring to pass that which He had promised.
Outlining Abraham’s walk by faith in Hebrews 11:8-16, two things stand out above everything else:
1) The promise of an earthly inheritance.
2) The promise of a better inheritance, “that is, an heavenly.”
It is clear from verses 10-16 that not only did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob desire the heavenly inheritance above the earthly, but so did many other saints in the Old Testament (v. 9). And it is also clear from passages such as Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28 that these saints in the Old Testament who passed through their pilgrim life by faith, looking beyond the earthly inheritance to the heavenly, will one day realize this heavenly inheritance.
Hebrews 11:32-40, summing up thoughts about “faith” as it was seen manifested by certain individuals during Old Testament times, centers on that which would be realized in what is seen as “a better resurrection” (v. 35), which is a resurrection having to do strictly with saints from the Old Testament. These individuals, by faith, passed through trials and testing, refusing to accept deliverance, even to the point of death, in order to obtain something that God had promised — “a better resurrection.”
The better resurrection in this text cannot refer merely to the resurrection of saints from the Old Testament occurring at the end of the Tribulation, for this resurrection will include all of the saved from Old Testament days — both those who governed their lives in the manner set forth in Hebrews 11:8-16, 32-39, and those who did not so govern their lives. The resurrection of saints from the Old Testament, for example, will include all who came out of Egypt under Moses — both those who were overthrown in the wilderness, and those who were allowed to enter into the land of Canaan.
Passing victoriously through trials and testing as a prerequisite for attaining to this resurrection is alien to any Scriptural teaching on resurrection in a general respect. Thus, of necessity, something beyond simply the resurrection of the dead has to be in view.
Things involved in, “let us go on to perfection [maturity]” in Hebrews 6:1, 2, as these things would pertain to the Jewish people during Old Testament days, must be in view.
Hebrews chapter eleven is divided into two parts (vv. 4-16; vv. 17-40), and each part not only begins at the same point but also ends at the same point. Each part begins with a blood sacrifice, and each part ends at the Messianic Era.
At the beginning of part one Abel is seen as the sacrifice (v. 4b), and at the beginning of part two Abraham’s son is seen as the sacrifice (vv. 17-19).
Then, part one terminates with Abraham and the heirs with him passing through their pilgrim life on earth, by faith, desiring “a better, that is, a heavenly country” (v. 16); and part two terminates with saints in the Old Testament (heirs with Abraham) passing through the same pilgrim life on earth, by faith, that they might obtain “a better resurrection” (v. 35).
The “heavenly inheritance” into which Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and certain other saints from the Old Testament will enter is millennial in its scope of fulfillment; and, within the parallel between the two parts of Hebrews chapter eleven, the “better resurrection” must also be millennial in its scope of fulfillment. The “better resurrection” can only be seen as inseparably linked with the heavenly inheritance. Both present two ways of saying the same thing.
It is clear from verse forty that saints from the Old Testament who, in that coming day, have a part in the “better resurrection” will not be “made perfect [brought to the goal of their calling]” apart from saints from the present dispensation. The goal of their calling during Old Testament days was “a better country, that is, an heavenly”; and this calling must be realized at a future time in the heavens with saints from the present dispensation.
According to Matthew 8:11, individuals outside the nation of Israel — Gentiles who have become Christians — and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are to sit down together in the kingdom of the heavens.
“The fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be found in the Kingdom of the Heavens seems to reveal a mystery of which very little is said, although it is plainly corroborated by other Scriptures. This is, that saved Israelites, like believers of our own age, will ultimately be found to consist of two classes, the one, and much the smaller, of which will dwell in the Heavenly City of God; while the great bulk of the nation will, as Ezekiel tells us (Ezekiel 37:12-14), be raised from their graves when the Lord returns, and be led back to the land of Israel.”
— G. H. Pember
All through Hebrews chapter eleven there are parallels between the experiences of saints in the Old Testament and those of the present dispensation. The “better resurrection” associated with the Israelites’ pilgrim walk by faith is no exception, for this resurrection has its counterpart in “the out-resurrection” associated with the Christians’ pilgrim walk by faith. And a study of one resurrection will shed light upon the other resurrection.
In Philippians 3:10-14, Paul’s driving ambition, governing his entire pilgrim walk, was to “attain to the resurrection [lit., ‘the out-resurrection’] from the dead” (v. 11) and one day realize “the prize of the upward call [KJV: ‘high calling’] of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14):
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [the out-resurrection] from the dead.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In this passage, “the resurrection [lit., ‘the out-resurrection’]” in verse eleven appears in connection with “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” in verse fourteen.
“A prize” necessitates a conflict, which has to do with the present conflict between Christians and the world-rulers of the darkness of this age (Ephesians 6:12ff); and the reception of this prize requires victory in the conflict. Consequently, the “out-resurrection” of Philippians 3:11 cannot be the resurrection of Christians to which Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, for all of “the dead in Christ” — both the overcomers in the conflict and those who have been overcome in the conflict — will be raised from the dead at the time referred to in these verses.
The regular Greek word for “resurrection” appearing throughout the New Testament is anastasis. This is a compound word comprised of ana, which means “up,” and stasis, which means “to rise,” or “to stand.” Thus, anastasis means “to rise up” or “to stand up.” When used relative to those who have died, the exact meaning of the word would be, “a resumption of life, allowing one to rise up or stand up from the place of death.”
The Greek word appearing in Philippians 3:11, erroneously translated “resurrection” in most English versions of Scripture, is exanastasis. This word is made up of three parts (ex-ana-stasis). The latter two parts of the word (ana-stasis), as has been shown, mean “to rise up,” or to stand up.” But the preposition ex (from ek) prefixed to anastasis adds further meaning to the word. Ex (the form “ek” takes when prefixed to words beginning with a vowel) means “out of,” making exanastasis mean “to stand up out of [‘out-resurrection’].”
The resurrection (anastasis) of Christians will be a separation of “the dead in Christ” from the remainder of the dead, whether saints from the Old Testament or the unsaved dead. The out-resurrection (exanastasis) will be a further separation beyond this point. It is the “standing up” of a particular group “out of” all those previously raised from among the dead (“out of” all Christians).
At the time of the resurrection (anastasis), Christians will be separated from non-Christians; but at the time of the out-resurrection (exanastasis), certain Christians will be separated from other Christians. A smaller group will be separated from the larger group. The called out will be removed from the called, from the complete body of Christians.
Understanding exanastasis in the light of its context in Philippians 3:11 will clearly reveal that a resurrection per se (a rising from the dead) is not what is in view at all. The subject at hand is “overcoming,” “winning a prize in a conflict”; and these things are associated with the issues of the judgment seat and the coming kingdom. Exanastasis has to do with certain Christians (the overcomers) being elevated to a status above — “a standing up out of” — the status occupied by the remaining Christians (the non-overcomers).
At the judgment seat of Christ, certain Christians will be shown to have overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil — the three great enemies presently confronting every Christian. And the remaining Christians will be shown to have been overcome.
Overcoming Christians will then be elevated to a standing above Christians who were overcome and, in this manner, will be set apart for the distinct purpose of occupying positions with Christ in the kingdom. They will realize the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The overcomers will “stand up out of” (exanastasis) the entire group which had previously “stood up” (anastasis) from among the dead.
These are the ones who will realize life during the Messianic Era, as opposed to those who will not (Romans 8:13). And this life will be in connection with a new order of sons (comprising a firstborn son, following the adoption) which God will bring forth at that time (Romans 8:14ff).
Paul’s magnificent obsession in Philippians 3:10-14 centered on an intimate relationship with Christ during his present pilgrim walk (v. 10) of a nature that would allow him to ultimately be among those who would “attain to the out-resurrection” (v. 11), receiving “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (v. 14).
Positions in the Kingdom
As previously seen, during Old Testament times Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob were in possession of both an earthly calling and a heavenly calling. Many saints in the Old Testament looked beyond their earthly calling to a higher calling, a heavenly calling. The removal of the kingdom of the heavens from the nation of Israel during the earthly ministry of Christ (Matthew 21:43) cannot void the fact that certain individuals, beginning with Abraham, aspired to and have been promised positions in the heavenly sphere of the coming kingdom.
The nation of Israel itself can have nothing to do with the kingdom of the heavens in the coming age. This right was forfeited at Christ’s first coming. Israel’s lot is earthly, and the heavenly sphere of the kingdom is being reserved for the Church. But individual Israelites during Old Testament days who aspired to heavenly places, passed through the trials and testing set before them, by faith, looking for “a better resurrection,” will one day realize the goal of their calling. They must, else the promises of God to these individuals would fail of fulfillment.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were strangers and pilgrims in a land that they were to receive for an everlasting possession (Genesis 13:14-16; 15:13; 17:7, 8; 26:3, 4; 28:13, 14); and in order for the promises of God to be fulfilled concerning this land, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must be raised from the dead and placed back in this land, no longer strangers and pilgrims (cf. Genesis 37:1). Then, for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to realize their heavenly inheritance as well, they must also dwell in heavenly places but still retain their status relative to the earthly inheritance.
Thus, it would appear that following the resurrection of Israel — after Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all other saints from the Old Testament have been raised from the dead and placed back in the land of their possession — there will then occur what Scripture calls, “a better resurrection.” At this time, as in the case of Christians and “the out-resurrection” following the resurrection of all Christians, there will be a separation of Israelites — the majority to remain in the earthly sphere of the kingdom, but a segment to be elevated to heavenly places and occupy positions of rulership in this heavenly sphere.
The positions that saints from the Old Testament will occupy in the kingdom of the heavens will evidently be over the nation of Israel. Christians, apart from the twelve apostles (Matthew 19:28), are never promised positions of rulership over Israel, only over the nations (Gentiles). And Israel is not to be “reckoned among the nations [KJV]” (Numbers 23:9).
In this respect, the numerous positions of rulership in the kingdom of the heavens over the nation of Israel are evidently being reserved for a select group of individuals who have already been singled out, called out, for this purpose. They were called out during Old Testament days; and these individuals, having a part in the “better resurrection,” will be elevated to heavenly places and occupy positions of authority over Israel in the coming age. Their place in the kingdom of the heavens must be after this fashion, else they would lose their association with the land in the Abrahamic covenant — a land given to them for an everlasting possession.
Rights of the Firstborn
Israel, as God’s firstborn son, was in direct line to inherit the rights of primogeniture in the Old Testament. The rights of primogeniture consisted of three things:
a) The firstborn was to be ruler of the household under and for the Father.
b) The firstborn was to act as priest of the family.
c) The firstborn was to receive a double portion of the Father’s estate.
Israel was placed in the position of God’s firstborn son to “serve” the Lord their God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” in the land of their inheritance — the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6). In addition, at this time, Israel was also in direct line to inherit the double portion of the Father’s estate.
The Father’s estate included both heavenly and earthly territories, but Israel forfeited the heavenly portion of this inheritance. This forfeiture nullified any claim that Israel as a nation possessed to the inheritance. Only the select group of saints in the Old Testament who qualified to rule from the heavens could claim the inheritance beyond this point in Israeli history, for the nation’s relationship as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” to the heavenly portion of this inheritance was gone.
The Church was subsequently called into existence to be the recipient of this forfeited inheritance, and the Church will inherit the double portion of the Father’s estate following the adoption into sonship. Although the blessings in store for Christians are heavenly, these heavenly blessings will include an earthly “inheritance” and “possession.” Christians are to be joint-heirs with Christ; and the Father has promised His Son,
Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations [the Gentiles] for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. (Psalm 2:8; cf. Revelation 2:26, 27)
This earthly inheritance and possession — completely separate from Israel’s earthly inheritance and possession — is associated with “the kingdom of the world [present world kingdom under Satan]” that will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ [future world kingdom under Christ]” (Revelation 11:15, ASV).
The saints from the Old Testament who qualified to rule from the heavens will realize the double portion of the Father’s estate at the same time as Christians. As the saints from the present dispensation who rule from the heavens will possess an earthly inheritance (having to do with the Gentile nations), the saints from the past dispensation who rule from the heavens will also possess an earthly inheritance (having to do with the nation of Israel).
They will retain their rights of primogeniture, possessing a double portion of the Father’s estate — both heavenly and earthly. The promise of the land within the bounds of the Abrahamic covenant, as an everlasting possession, will be realized in this manner by saints from the Old Testament who rule with Christ from the heavens. And, in this manner alone, Israel, as a nation, will realize the double portion of the birthright.
(For additional information on the rights of the firstborn, refer to Chapters 13, 14 in this book.)
Order of Rulers in the Kingdom
Within the coming kingdom of Christ, both in the heavens and on the earth, there will be two spheres of activity. One sphere of activity pertains to Israel, and the other to the Gentile nations. The order of rulers under Christ in the heavens will be divided between those who rule over Israel and those who rule over the Gentile nations, and supremacy among nations on earth will have passed from the Gentile nations to the nation of Israel.
Israel will be the supreme nation on earth, and all the Gentile nations will be subordinate to Israel (actually in positions of servitude [cf. Isaiah 14:1, 2]).
And, with Israel exercising the regal rights of the firstborn in this manner, God will bless the Gentile nations of the earth through Israel, as Israel exercises the priestly aspects of the birthright as well.
Those who will rule with Christ in the kingdom of the heavens over the nation of Israel appear in Scripture in an orderly threefold classification:
b) The Twelve Apostles.
c) Saints from the Old Testament.
Those who will rule with Christ in the kingdom of the heavens over the Gentile nations also seemingly appear in Scripture in an orderly threefold classification:
b) The 144,000 Jewish Witnesses of the Tribulation.
c) Probably Tribulation Martyrs.
1) Rulers Over Israel
a) David: Israel’s first king from the kingly line, the line of Judah, was David; and David will be raised from the dead to rule over Israel in the coming age (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:22-25; Hosea 3:4, 5). David’s throne in Old Testament days was in Jerusalem, and his throne during the Messianic Era must once again be in the earthly city of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:10-16). Old Testament prophecies concerning David’s coming rule over Israel also place David among his people in the earthly sphere of the kingdom (e.g., Ezekiel 34:24; 37:24).
But David was a “prophet” as well as a “king” (Acts 2:29, 30; Jeremiah 30:9), and according to Luke 13:28, 29, “all the prophets,” along with “Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob,” will have a part in the heavenly sphere of the kingdom (cf. Matthew 8:11, 12). Consequently, Scripture clearly places David in both spheres of activity in the coming kingdom — earthly and heavenly.
Such a rule will not be peculiar to David, for Christ, who will be over David, will rule in both earthly and heavenly spheres of the kingdom as well. He will exercise a rule from David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem and exercise a rule from His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem (Luke 1:32, 33; Revelation 3:21). It is thus evident that David will exercise a rule with Christ in both spheres of the governmental structure of the kingdom.
b) The Twelve Apostles: Next in the order of rulers over Israel in the kingdom of the heavens will be the twelve apostles. The specific promise concerning their place in the coming kingdom was given to the twelve during the earthly ministry of Christ:
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28)
These twelve will receive their authority from the Lord Jesus Christ, evidently through David, as they apparently occupy positions directly under David over the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Ezekiel 37:24).
c) Saints from the Old Testament: Next in the order of rulers over Israel in the kingdom of the heavens will be the saints from the Old Testament — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, et al. — who qualified to rule from the heavens. These are the ones who will have a part in the “better resurrection” of Hebrews 11:35. And there will undoubtedly be a graduation of rulers directly under David for these individuals as well.
2) Rulers Over the Gentile Nations
a) Christians: Christians constitute the “peculiar people” to whom the offer to rule in heavenly places over the nations with Christ in His kingdom is presently being extended. The specific promise concerning this rule is given in Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21:
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —
He shall rule them with a rod of iron . . .
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne . . . .
Christians who qualify to occupy positions in the kingdom will rule in various positions of power and authority — some over ten cities, some over five, and some over one (Luke 19:11ff).
b) The 144,000 Jewish Witnesses of The Tribulation: The twelve who proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom to Israel for approximately three and one-half years at Christ’s first coming will occupy positions over Israel. And the 144,000 who will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to the Gentiles for a comparable length of time immediately preceding Christ’s second coming will occupy positions directly under Christ over the Gentile nations.
The specific promise to the 144,000 is given in Revelation 12:5:
She [Israel] bore a male child [lit., ‘a son, a male’ (‘sons’ alone can rule in God’s kingdom; a ‘child’ cannot)], who was to rule [lit., ‘is about to rule’] all nations with a rod of iron.”
The “male child” is to be identified as the 144,000 of Revelation chapters seven and fourteen, not as Christ (Revelation 12:17).
(For additional information on the male child [KJV: man child] in Revelation chapter twelve, refer to the author’s book, The Time of the End, Chapter 21.)
c) Tribulation Martyrs: The specific promise concerning Tribulation martyrs and their place in the kingdom is given in Revelation 20:4:
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the Word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
This is the only information provided in Scripture concerning the place of the Tribulation martyrs in the kingdom. Their rule with Christ will probably be from the heavens, though specific information concerning their rule is not given in Scripture.
This is how the future kingdom of Christ will evidently be established following the end of Satan’s rule and the end of the Times of the Gentiles.
Christ will rule over all. And individuals from the camp of Israel in the prior dispensation, those from among Christians in the present dispensation, the 144,000 from the Tribulation, and probably martyrs from the Tribulation will form the great company of saints who will occupy various regal positions and rule from the heavens with Christ during the Messianic Era.
For some, their rule will be associated with Israel; they will rule through counterparts in the Jewish nation on earth.
For others, their rule will be associated with the Gentile nations; they will rule through counterparts among the nations of the earth.
Those from different dispensations will, together, occupy regal positions in the kingdom of the heavens. One will not be brought to this goal apart from the other (Hebrews 11:40).