Lazarus, Come Forth!
This is a verse-by-verse typological or prophetic study of the resurrection of Lazarus, which a depiction of the resurrection of Israel at the end of the seven-year tribulation period.
The story of the resurrection of Lazarus in chapter 11 of the gospel of John provides an amazing type of the sequence of events spanning the time period between the ascension of Jesus into heaven and His return in power and glory to save the nation of Israel. This story provides the time frame for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and it gives the sequence of the Firstfruits and Main Harvest Raptures, in addition to the resurrection of Israel at the end of the seven-year tribulation period. It covers the Pretribulation Rapture (i.e., Firstfruits), the Midtribulation Rapture (i.e., Main Harvest) and the Posttribulation resurrection (i.e., Gleaning & Reaping of the Corners). The Posttribulation resurrection will involve both saved Gentiles and Jews who were not saved during the Church Age. All Jews and Gentiles saved during the Church Age are members of the Church, and there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the Church. All members of the Church will be raptured or resurrected in either the Firstfruits Rapture or the Main Harvest Rapture. The gleaning at the end of the tribulation is for the Gentiles, and the reaping of the Four Corners is for the Jews.
Before embarking on the prophetic interpretation of the story of Lazarus, a brief summary of the three interpretations of Scripture must be given in order to understand the divine completeness and the supernatural inspiration of Scripture. An understanding of the three interpretations of Scripture is necessary in order to understand the prophetic interpretation of the story of Lazarus
The three interpretations of Scripture are the literal, the figurative and the prophetic. These are also known as the historical, the devotional and the doctrinal. It is important to remember that all three are valid Biblical interpretations. Many arguments have ensued over the years between theologians over the interpretation of a particular Scripture, when both theologians are actually correct. For example, the meaning of "crossing over Jordan" has several meanings and all are correct. Literally, it means to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Figuratively, it means to die a physical death, or it can mean to die to self and live what is called the exchanged life. In this instance, it means to enter into the spirit-filled life by resisting the old flesh nature and allowing the Holy Spirit to control one's life. Thus, "crossing over Jordan" figuratively means to change from one form of existence to another form. This change may be from an earthly existence to a heavenly or from a carnal to a spiritual, but both are figurative interpretations. In the prophetic interpretation, "crossing over Jordan" means to enter into the future millennial kingdom.
An important aspect of the prophetic interpretation is Typology. The understanding of typology requires a broad and a deep understanding of the Scriptures, along with a general knowledge of hermeneutical principles of Bible study. Another important aspect of the prophetic interpretation of Scripture is the fact that one Scripture can have a double or even triple fulfillment. Theologians have been known to argue over which fulfillment of prophecy is correct when both are actually correct. The double fulfillment generally occurs in the prophetic books when a literal prophecy is fulfilled sometime in the past, but the prophetic interpretation of the same Scripture awaits another fulfillment in the future. The historical and poetical books of the Bible generally only have one prophetic fulfillment, since the literal interpretation of these books provides a record of events that have already occurred. The book of Daniel is filled with prophecies that have a double fulfillment. The best known double fulfillment in the book of Daniel is as follows:
Dan 11:21 (KJV) And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
This Scripture is a literal prophecy that was fulfilled in 175 B.C. by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Antiochus is a type of the coming Antichrist, so this same Scripture also has a prophetic interpretation that will be fulfilled in the very near future by the Antichrist. This same Scripture has also had a figurative fulfillment in people such as Nero, Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler. This is one illustration of a triple fulfillment in prophecy. Since there are three Biblical interpretations of Scripture, one prophecy can be fulfilled literally, figuratively and prophetically.
In the same vein, the following Scripture will also have a double fulfillment:
Dan 11:20 (KJV) Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
This prophecy was literally fulfilled by Seleucus IV Philopator, the brother of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in the period 187-175 B.C. when he was poisoned by Heliodorus. This same Scripture will also be fulfilled prophetically by the predecessor of the Antichrist. It is not certain, but it appears that a president of the USA will be the prophetic fulfillment of this Scripture. If this is the case, then the Antichrist will reappear in the very near future as the "vile person." The Firstfruits or Pretribulation Rapture will occur immediately before Antichrist makes his reappearance. There is one other leader in between the raiser of taxes and the vile person, and Daniel calls him the “Prince of the Covenant”. The President appears to be the Prince of the Covenant, but that is another lesson on prophecy.
The events of the third century B.C. literally fulfilled the prophecies in Daniel 11:5-20. The events at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century will also provide a prophetic fulfillment of these same Scriptures. Daniel 11:20-45 is a description of the activity of Antichrist during the first half of the seven-year tribulation period. Chapter 12 of Daniel describes the last half of the seven-year tribulation period. The Main Harvest Rapture of the Church in the middle of the tribulation period is described in Daniel 12:2-3. This is also the beginning of the time of Jacob's trouble as stated in Daniel 12:1.
The outstanding feature that characterized the rise of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a type of Antichrist, was a conflict in which Judea was caught and squeezed between the superpowers of Syria and Egypt. This theme of conflict and struggle continued throughout the third century B.C. These features in the third-century B.C. are being repeated in the twentieth century A.D and the twenty-first century A.D. The two superpowers struggling over the Middle East today are Russia, behind the Arabs, and the United States of America. Israel is in the middle of the conflict, just as in the third century B.C. It is nearing the time for the prophecy about the "vile person" to be fulfilled by Antichrist, in addition to the literal fulfillment that has already occurred in Antiochus Epiphanes.
Lazarus, Come Forth!
The story of Lazarus was a literal event in the life of Jesus, and all the characters and places were literal. Lazarus, Mary and Martha were actual people who were intimately associated with Jesus Christ. Lazarus was sick, died, and was resurrected from the dead by Jesus Christ. This is the literal interpretation of this passage of Scripture.
In addition to the literal interpretation of the story of Lazarus, there are figurative interpretations that may be drawn. Lazarus is a picture of the born again Christian, but he still has the grave clothes of his old nature encumbering his walk with the Lord. In order to experience the full freedom of a spiritual walk with the Lord, the old flesh nature must be discarded. Putting off the grave clothes is akin to the putting off of the old man, and the putting on of the new man described in Ephesians 4:22-24. This is one of the figurative or devotional interpretations of Scripture that may be validly drawn from this passage of Scripture.
In addition to the literal and figurative interpretations of the story of Lazarus, there is a prophetic interpretation that gives some important details of coming events in prophecy. This includes the time frame of the return of Jesus, and the sequence of events during the seven-year tribulation period. It even gives the criteria for the Firstfruits who participate in the Pretribulation Rapture of the Bride and her court.
The story begins as follows:
John 11:1-2 (KJV) Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Throughout this story, Lazarus is a type or picture of the nation of Israel, the firstborn of God. In type, Lazarus portrays the history of Israel from the Diaspora in 70 A.D., up until Israel's resurrection and restoration at the beginning of the 20th century. Mary and Martha are types of the Church. Martha represents those in the Church who will attain to the Firstfruits Rapture, and Mary represents those who remain until the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church.
Probably the most difficult type to understand is Martha's representation of the Firstfruits Rapture and Mary's representation of the Main Harvest Rapture. The reason for this is that most Christians view Mary as more spiritual than Martha, because of the incident in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was busy with serving the Lord, and Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus and "heard his word." The lesson from this story is that worship and study of the Word come before service. This is a lesson that Martha learned very well, according to her behavior and responses to the Lord in the story of Lazarus. This reversal in order of Lazarus, Mary and Martha is a confirmation of the Biblical principle that the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Mat. 19:30; Mk. 10:31). For example, the order of the people mentioned in the above Scripture is the exact reverse of how they will be judged and rewarded according to their works.
John 11:3-4 (KJV) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Prophetically, the sisters represent the Church calling upon the Lord concerning the current state of Israel, and Jesus replying that the end result will not be the death of Israel. Many in the Church still do not understand that God is not through with Israel and that Israel will be "resurrected" and restored to her position as head of the nations. The vision of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37 concerns the resurrection and restoration of the nation of Israel. The Bible is filled with visions and prophecies of Israel's restoration and being made spiritually alive. The restoration of Israel, the antitype of Lazarus, will be for the glory of God, as is stated in verse 4 above.
The above phrase "he whom thou lovest" is an allusion to the current state of affairs between Israel and Jesus. There is no mention that Lazarus loves Jesus, an accurate picture of the current attitude of Israel toward Jesus. However, Jesus still loves Israel very much. Just like Joseph in the Old Testament, Jesus will present himself to his brethren. The relationship will be restored, and Jesus will reign over his brethren just like Joseph reigned over his brethren.
John 11:5 (KJV) Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
It is important to note that verse 5 reverses the order given in verse 1. Martha is shown first on the list of whom Jesus loved. This is a confirmation of the principle that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
John 11:6 (KJV) When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
Prophetically, the place where Jesus was when the sisters of Lazarus sent for him is in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the father. Jesus ascended into heaven in about 30 A.D. and Israel became sick unto death in 70 A.D when Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Jews were scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth, and the final step in the Diaspora was complete. The above verse states that Jesus remains where he was for two days. In the prophetic interpretation, two days equal two thousand years, so this Scripture confirms that Jesus will return after two thousand years to resurrect and restore Israel. Since each millennium since creation represents one day, the end of the two days was the year 2001. The time of the Firstfruits Rapture must be very close.
John 11:7-8 (KJV) Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
"Then after that" prophetically refers to the end of the two thousand years, when Jesus speaks to his disciples in heaven and states that it is time to return to Judea. These disciples would represent the entire Church in heaven, considering that Jesus is talking to them at the end of two days (i.e., 2000 years) and directly preceding his return in power and glory. This is consistent with the fact that many in the Church still do not understand that God is not finished with Israel. These disciples remind Jesus that the last time he came to the region of Judea and to the earth, the Jews sought to kill him. These disciples are expressing their dismay that Jesus would consider returning to the Jews again, considering their hatred for him when He came the first time.
John 11:9-10 (KJV) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
These two verses are difficult to understand in connection with the literal interpretation of this Scripture, but they are very clear when they are understood as part of the prophetic interpretation. In response to the disciples about his return to Judea, Jesus asks them a rhetorical question. Jesus states that a man will not stumble if he walks during the day because he sees the light of this world. Literally, the light of this world is the sun. Prophetically, Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness. Prophetically, the first time that Jesus came to the Jews, it was night. Jesus literally and prophetically came the first time at night, for the "shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." The Jews were unable to see and understand that Jesus was the Light of this world. The second time that Jesus comes to the Jews, it will be day, and the Jews will recognize him as the Light of this world, and they will not stumble as they did the first time.
This is an accurate picture of Israel being saved in a day, when they recognize Jesus upon his return in power and glory, setting his feet on the Mount of Olives. It is highly significant that Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, is just over the summit of the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem. In fact, Bethany is very likely right on the fault line that goes through the Mount of Olives from East to West. It is this fault line that will split the Mount of Olives when Jesus sets his feet on the mount. Therefore, Bethany is the place from which Jesus will resurrect the nation of Israel, just as it was the place where He resurrected Lazarus. This is additional confirmation that Lazarus is the type and Israel is the antitype in the resurrection of Lazarus.
John 11:11-14 (KJV) These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
Prophetically, Israel appears to be alive, but she is dead spiritually. It will take a miracle of spiritual regeneration to awaken Israel. The vision of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37 depicts the coming together of the body of Israel, but the breath of life from God Almighty is not infused into the nation of Israel until Jesus Christ actually returns physically to the Mount of Olives (i.e., Bethany).
John 11:15 (KJV) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
Literally, this verse means that the disciples of Jesus will believe in his position as the Anointed One of Israel, who has power over life and death, when they see Lazarus resurrected from the dead. Prophetically, it is a reference to the members of the Church who became believers because of Israel's rejection of her Messiah (See Rom. 11:30).
John 11:16 (KJV) Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Literally, this shows a lack of faith by Thomas in the power and authority of Jesus Christ since he felt sure that they would be killed upon their return to Judea. The weak faith of Thomas is demonstrated further in John 14:5 and John 20:24-25. Prophetically, the name Thomas means twin. Therefore, Thomas in this passage of Scripture is a type of the two witnesses who will testify during the last half of the tribulation period. They will be killed by the Antichrist at the very end of the tribulation period at about the time that Jesus comes in power and glory. They will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three and one-half days as the world watches, but they will be resurrected and will ascend into heaven in full view of the world (Rev. 11:3-12). These two witnesses will almost certainly be Enoch and Elijah who will return to earth from heaven for this purpose. This is further confirmation of the prophetic interpretation of this verse of Scripture with Thomas as a type of the two witnesses.
John 11:17 (KJV) Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
Israel has been in existence for the last four millennia, which is the prophetic interpretation of four days. Prophetically, this verse demonstrates that the elect of Israel will be resurrected from the dead at the Second Coming of Jesus in power and glory. This is the Posttribulation resurrection that will take place at the end of the seven-year tribulation period.
John 11:18-19 (KJV) Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
Prophetically, this Scripture states that it was not far from Jerusalem, the heart and capitol of Judaism, to the home of Martha and Mary, who represent the Church. It is true that Christianity and Judaism are very close to each other, and it is also true that many Jews have become Christians during the current Church Age. Many of the Jews who become Christians are students of prophecy who know that Israel will be resurrected and restored to its rightful position among the nations. Therefore, these Jews are able to comfort those in the Church who have little or no understanding about their brother nation, Israel. Therefore, the Jews in this passage of Scripture appear to represent the Jews who become Christians during the current Age of Grace. They often have the ability to relate the details of prophecy to the Church.
John 11:20 (KJV) Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
This is probably the most significant verse of Scripture in this whole text. The literal understanding of this verse is crucial to the prophetic understanding of this verse. We have Martha and Mary together in the house, and there is a sudden separation of them with Martha going to the place where Jesus is located. It is highly significant that Martha was ready and waiting to leave as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, and it is also highly significant that Mary remains seated in the house after Martha has gone to be with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophetic interpretation of this one verse of Scripture is confirmed by numerous other passages of Scripture. Prophetically, Martha and Mary represent the Church who are in the house, which is the household of faith during the Church Age. Martha is clearly representative of those Christians who are watching, prepared and ready for the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. Mary represents those Christians who are unwatchful, unprepared and unready for the return of Jesus. The seated position is a position of inactivity and unreadiness. The hearing that "Jesus was coming" represents the midnight cry explained in chapter 25 of gospel of Matthew. Martha is analogous to the five wise virgins who were prepared when the midnight cry was heard so they entered the open door into heaven. Mary is analogous to the five foolish virgins who were not prepared for the midnight cry, since they did not have the extra measure of oil, a type of the overflowing abundance of the Holy Spirit.
Martha in this story is clearly a type of the Firstfruits Rapture of those in the Church who are watching, prepared and ready for the return of Jesus. Mary is a type of those Christians who will be raptured in the Main Harvest Rapture in the middle of the tribulation. The remainder of this story of the resurrection of Lazarus will provide a clear picture of both the Main Harvest Rapture and the resurrection and restoration of Israel. The rest of the story will also provide additional characteristics that Martha had that Mary did not have that are necessary for Christians in the Church today to qualify for the Firstfruits Rapture.
John 11:21-22 (KJV) Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
Martha's statement to Jesus in verse 21 above is identical to Mary's statement in verse 32 when Mary has also come to be with Jesus. However, Martha makes the statement in verse 22 that Mary does not make when she sees Jesus face to face. In verse 22, Martha is literally speaking of her faith in Jesus that He has to power to resurrect her brother, Lazarus. Prophetically, Martha represents the watching and ready part of the Church who understand and believe in the coming kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They know about the resurrection and restoration of Israel as the head of the nations. The Firstfruits of the Church know and understand the Word of the Kingdom. How else could they be seeking the kingdom of God if they did not understand what the kingdom is all about. Conversely, Mary shows her lack of understanding about the kingdom of God and the reestablishment of Israel.
John 11:23-24 (KJV) Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Literally, Jesus confirms Martha's faith by stating that Lazarus "shall rise again," and Martha expresses her understanding that she knows Lazarus will be resurrected at the last day at the end of the age. Prophetically, Jesus is confirming that Israel will be reestablished, and the Firstfruits of the Church understand that Israel will be reestablished at the beginning of the seventh millennium, which is the seventh day of the week in type. The seventh or Sabbath day is the day of rest, and the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ is referred to in Hebrews as the day of rest.
John 11:25-26 (KJV) Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Literally, Jesus is telling Martha about the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church. He tells her about the dead in Christ rising first, and then those who are alive being changed into incorruptible bodies that will never die. This Scripture is almost universally understood as pertaining to the Rapture of the Church. This is true both literally and prophetically, but prophetically, Jesus is present with the Firstfruits of the Church (i.e., Martha) telling her about the Rapture of the Church. Please note that Mary, representing the Main Harvest Christians, is not with Jesus.
John 11:27-28 (KJV) She (i.e., Martha) saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
Literally, Martha addresses Jesus expressing her belief in his deity and his Second Coming into the world. She then goes to her sister, Mary, to bring her to Jesus, specifying that Jesus had made a special request in secret for Mary to come to Jesus. With the typical understanding that Mary is the Main body of the Church still on the earth after the Firstfruits Rapture has already taken place, the prophetic understanding of this passage of Scripture should be clear. In verse 27 the Firstfruits (i.e., Martha) are with Jesus, and the Second Coming is still future. In the very next verse, both the Firstfruits (i.e., Martha) and Jesus come to the rest of the Church (i.e., Mary) and call it out of the earth secretly, saying "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." Paul describes this Main Harvest Rapture of the Church as follows:
1 Th 4:15-17 (KJV) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
John in Revelation 7:9-17 also describes it.
John 11:29 (KJV) As soon as she (i.e., Mary) heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
Literally, Mary got up from her seated position described earlier and went to Jesus. Prophetically, the Main Harvest Christians hear the last trump, they are changed in the twinkling of an eye, and they are caught up to be with the Lord.
John 11:30 (KJV) Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
Literally, Jesus had not yet come to Bethany for the purpose of resurrecting Lazarus. He was still in the place where Martha met him. Prophetically, both the Firstfruits Rapture and the Main Harvest Rapture have taken place, and Jesus is still in heaven with the Church. Jesus has not yet come to the Mount of Olives (i.e., Bethany), since that does not take place until 3 1/2 years later at the end of the seven year tribulation period.
John 11:31 (KJV) The Jews then which were with her (i.e., Mary) in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
Literally, a group of Jews are with Mary in the house comforting her about her brother when she hastily gets up and leaves the house. This verse is simply giving more details of what has already happened in verse 29. The Jews in the house with Mary see her go out suddenly, but they are not sure where she went since they incorrectly surmise that she went to the grave of Lazarus. The word for followed in "followed her" is the transliterated Greek word akoloutheo. It means to "be in the same way with, or to accompany as a disciple." Prophetically, the Main Harvest body of Christians are still on the earth after the Firstfruits Rapture, and they have some Jewish followers who believe the same way that they do in regard to Jesus being their Lord and Savior. When the Main Harvest body of Christians are suddenly raptured, these Jews see them go , but they are unsure where they went.
Prophetically, there are several distinguishing characteristics about these Jews that help us to determine the antitype for them. They are in the household of faith in complete accord with the Main Harvest body of Christians who were left on the earth after the Firstfruits Rapture. They are Jews, and they are not raptured with the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church. Therefore, the antitype for these Jews has to be the 144,000 Jews who are left on the earth and sealed in order to pass through the last half of the tribulation period.
John 11:32 (KJV) Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
It is important to note that this statement by Mary is identical to the statement made by Martha in verse 21 above. However, Mary does not express any faith in the power of Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead as Martha did in verse 22. Prophetically, Mary represents that segment of the Church that does not understand and believe in the coming kingdom with the resurrection and restoration of the nation of Israel. The largest segment of the Church today does not believe in the millennial kingdom with Israel being restored as the head of the nations. These are the same Christians who do not study prophecy, and who are not prepared and looking for the Lord to return. Thus, watchfulness and preparation are again shown to be the key factors in attaining unto the Firstfruits Rapture, represented by Martha in this passage of Scripture.
John 11:33-34 (KJV) When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
Literally, Jesus sees Mary and the Jews associated with her weeping at the death of Lazarus, and Jesus asks them where they had lain Lazarus. Jesus is preparing to resurrect Lazarus, but He asks where Lazarus was buried. Prophetically, when Jesus returns at the end of Daniel's seventieth week, the remnant of Jews representing national Israel will have been in hiding for 1260 days (See Rev. 12:6 & Dan. 12:1). The last statement in verse 34 pictures the second coming in power and glory at the end of the week. The following verse literally depicts the reaction of Jesus to the contemplation of the death of Lazarus. Prophetically, it is the reaction of Jesus to the spiritual death of the nation of Israel.
John 11:35 (KJV) Jesus wept.
John 11:36-37 (KJV) Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
Literally, the Jews present are overwhelmed by the love that Jesus has for Lazarus, and they also express their faith that Jesus could have saved Lazarus if He had been there. These Jews had seen Jesus heal the blind and the lame. Unfortunately, they are like Mary in that they do not demonstrate the mature faith that Jesus even has control over life and death. Martha demonstrated this mature faith in her statement in verse 22. It is the mature fruit-bearing faith that attains unto the "out-resurrection," the "better resurrection," the "abundant entrance," or the "narrow door," which are all descriptions of the Firstfruits Rapture of mature believers.
In contrast to Lazarus who represents the nation Israel being resurrected, the Jews in the above Scripture represent the 144,000 Firstfruits of the Jews who were made spiritually alive in the first half of the tribulation period. It is stated twice in this chapter that these Jews "followed" Mary. As explained above, the Greek word for followed is the same word in Scripture that shows they were disciples of Jesus Christ just like Mary was a disciple. They were associated with Mary in the house (i.e., the household of faith) after Martha had already gone to be with Jesus. It is very significant that these Jews saw Mary leave the house (i.e., she was raptured) just like Mary was with Martha when Martha left to go be with Jesus (i.e., Firstfruits Rapture).
Prophetically, verses 36 and 37 above are a picture of the 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits being amazed at how much Jesus loved Israel, even during the time that Israel had rejected him as their Messiah. They have seen the blind eyes of the Gentiles opened to see and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and they see that Jesus could also have kept Israel from "dying" if it had been in God's plans. The 144,000 Firstfruits of the Jews are about to witness the amazing resurrection and restoration of Israel (i.e., a nation saved in a day).
John 11:38 (KJV) Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Literally, Jesus was deeply moved and He came to the grave, which was a cave, tomb or sepulcher that had a literal stone rolled against the entrance. Prophetically, Jesus is returning in power and glory to restore his brethren, the Jews. The depth of the emotion of Jesus when this occurs can be seen in the Old Testament type of Joseph when he was united with his brothers at the time that Joseph was "lord of all Egypt" (Gen. 45:1-2). In the prophetic interpretation of Scripture, a cave represents a place of persecution and humiliation without having any authority. It is the opposite of mountain, which is a high level position of reigning and ruling. The stone that covered the cave represents Jesus Christ as the "stone of stumbling" or the "rock of offence" as mentioned in the following verses:
Isa 8:14 (KJV) And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
1 Pet 2:8 (KJV) And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Jesus has been a stumbling stone to the Jews these past 2000 years, but this stone will be removed and the nation of Israel will recognize Jesus as their Messiah according to the following Scripture:
Isa 57:14 (KJV) And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.
John 11:39 (KJV) Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
Literally, Jesus commands that the stone be taken away from the tomb. Prophetically, it is by the Word of the Lord that Israel will have her spiritual eyes opened so that she will recognize Jesus as her Messiah. Israel will have her sins washed away as a nation, and the New Covenant will be established.
Literally, Martha tells Jesus that Lazarus "stinketh" since he has been dead four days. The body begins to corrupt after three days, and it starts to smell. Prophetically, the wife of Jesus is commenting that Israel has actually been spiritually dead for four thousand years instead of just two thousand years. This goes all the way back to Israel at the time she perished in the wilderness for her unbelief in the power of God to help her conquer the promised land.
It is significant in this verse of Scripture that both Martha and Mary are with Jesus, but Martha is the one who has the ear of Jesus. Martha is the one who has a close relationship with the Lord. It bears repeating that Martha represents those Christians who have an intimate walk with the Lord now and will be taken out in the Firstfruits Rapture. This intimate relationship will continue on into the kingdom that will be established at the return of Jesus in power and glory at the end of the tribulation period.
John 11:40 (KJV) Jesus saith unto her (i.e., Martha), Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Literally, Jesus is referring back to verses 25 and 26 when He asked Martha if she believed that He could raise Lazarus from the dead. If Martha believed this, she would see the manifestation (i.e., glory) of the nature and power of God in the resurrection of Lazarus. Prophetically, Jesus is talking to his bride about her belief in the coming kingdom along with the resurrection and restoration of the nation of Israel. The belief spoken of here is more than just a simple belief in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. It is a belief in the prophetic Word of God, and the understanding of the rewards for faithful service in studying, believing and applying the Word of God.
The Greek word for see in verse 40 above is optanomai, and it means much more than the mere act of seeing. It means to actually experience, attain to or enjoy. Therefore, the bride of Christ as the antitype of Martha will actually participate in the glory of Christ when He comes into his kingdom. The reason for this honor to participate in the glory of Christ will be a knowledge and belief of prophetic truths about the coming kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians who believe these truths are seeking the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God. This is not the imputed righteousness of Christ for those who believe in the atoning death of Jesus, but it is the practical righteousness of Christ that comes through the crucifying of the flesh nature so that the life of Christ can be manifested in the believer. It is significant that Jesus is addressing Martha and not Mary in regard to these truths about the kingdom.
John 11:41 (KJV) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
Literally, the stone was removed from the tomb of Lazarus. Prophetically, the spiritual blindness of Israel will be removed. Literally, Jesus raised up his eyes to heaven to thank the Father for the resurrection of Lazarus. The Greek word for lifted is airo, and it has an additional meaning of the expiation of sin. Thus, prophetically, Jesus expiated or made atonement for the sins of Israel from his vision, and He thanked the Father for the resurrection and restoration of Israel.
John 11:42 (KJV) And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
Literally, Jesus knew the Father would hear him, but Jesus said it out loud so that the ones present would believe that he was the Messiah or the Sent One. Prophetically, when the nation of Israel turns to Jesus and recognizes him as Messiah, this will have a tremendous impact on the Gentiles who witness this event. This will prepare them for the sheep and goat judgment which takes place after the atonement of the nation of Israel.
John 11:43-44 (KJV) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
It only takes the spoken word of Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead, which is the literal interpretation, and resurrect and atonement for the sins of Israel in a moment of time, which is the prophetic interpretation. Lazarus walked out of the tomb with the grave clothes still binding him, and the napkin was still about his face. There is a distinction here between the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus was resurrected in an incorruptible body of flesh and bone, while Lazarus was resurrected in a body of flesh and blood. Prophetically, this speaks of the resurrection of the nation of Israel in bodies fitted for dwelling on the earth. Israel will be God's earthly people during the millennium, so they will have bodies like Lazarus. The Church will have bodies like Jesus, so they will be fit to dwell in the New Jerusalem.
Jesus said, "Loose him ,and let him go." This was literally talking about removing the grave clothes from Lazarus so he could move about freely. Prophetically, it is speaking of the removal of the sins of Israel so she can enter into the earthly aspect of the kingdom. It is a removal of the defiled garments that have encumbered Israel for so long.
John 11:45-46 (KJV) Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
Literally, the Jews which had come to Mary (Note: Martha is not mentioned and this implies her absence since she had gone to the place of Jesus) saw the things which Jesus had done and they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. There were others who still did not believe, and they went to the Pharisees to report on what Jesus had done. Prophetically, this is what will take place on the Day of Atonement when Jesus returns in power and glory. A remnant of the Jews will look at Jesus and recognize him as the Messiah. They will be physically preserved from death, but the remainder who do not recognize Jesus will be destroyed in accordance with the following Scripture:
Zec 13:8-9 (KJV) And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
In regard to the literal and the prophetic interpretations of Scripture, it is hoped that the above exegesis of John 11 will give a deeper insight into the order of events at the Second Advent of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a clear pictorial of the separation that will take place between faithful and unfaithful Christians when Jesus Christ removes his Bride and her court from the earth. Those Christians who are not prepared for the Second Advent, because they failed to watch and purify themselves, will be separated and left on the earth to be sifted and purified during the "hour of temptation." There are numerous Scriptures that attest to this coming separation that will take place, but the majority of the Church is fast asleep and completely oblivious to these truths that are so prevalent throughout the Word of God.
Jesus himself warned of this coming separation three times in the Church section of the Olivet Discourse. Paul spoke of working very hard so that he could attain unto this out-resurrection, which is a literal resurrection out from among those who are dead in Christ. Peter spoke of it as the abundant entrance into the kingdom. The writer of Hebrews—probably Paul—wrote of the better resurrection in speaking of this separation.
It is grave error to refuse to take all of these warnings about a special resurrection and rapture literally. Many students of the Bible routinely interpret these passages of Scripture figuratively, but this is a flagrant violation of the hermeneutical principle that a passage of Scripture must always be taken literally unless it does not make any sense when taken literally. All of these passages of Scripture make perfect sense when taken literally, so it is incumbent upon all interpreters of Scripture to take these passages literally. When Paul speaks of a special out-resurrection, he means it literally. When Peter speaks of a special abundant entrance into the kingdom, he means it literally. When Jesus says that some Christians will be "taken" and others will be left behind, He means it literally. When Jesus says that unfaithful servants will be "cut asunder" or separated from the faithful servants, He means it literally. When Jesus says the wise virgins will be separated from the foolish virgins, He means it literally.