In this season of Halloween, very alive in my neighborhood, this week’s focus on instances of resurrection from death feels fitting. Like the classic John Carpenter film Halloween (1978), which dies and rises again and again, hope for a sequel in our life and stories springs eternal. More than cats, the movie franchise has had 13 resurrections. That’s also more than the number of resurrections documented in the Bible according to the Adult Bible Study Guide.
Can you name them? The Teacher Comments section has a convenient list. I noticed that the lesson missed one (prior to Christ) when I looked at the official Adventist Resurrection belief website, see number 7.
1. Moses (Matt. 17:3, Luke 9:30, and Jude 9);
2. The son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:21–23);
3. The Shunammite’s son (2 Kings 4:32–37);
4. The son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14, 15);
5. Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:40–42);
6. Lazarus (John 11:41–45);
7. Israelite man (2 Kings 13:20-21);
9. The saints in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:50-54);
10. Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42);
11. Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12).
The same section of the lesson notes an interesting detail: “Of all these individuals who died, only Moses went straight to heaven. All the rest were brought back to life here on earth.” I wish the Bible told the stories of how these lucky people spent their incredible chance at a sequel life.
In addition to lists, we also get a little special Adventist doctrine reminder in the quarterly:
Daniel 12:2 states: “ ‘Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt’ ” (NIV).
This verse speaks about the two resurrections: the first one before the millennium, when all those who have given their lives to Jesus will be resurrected and taken to heaven; and the second one, after the millennium, of those who rejected Jesus as their Savior (Rev. 20:4–6). (Seventh-day Adventists see a special resurrection here: “A special resurrection precedes Christ’s second advent. ‘All who have died in the faith of the third angel’s message’ will arise at that time. In addition, those who beheld with mockery Christ’s crucifixion, and those who have most violently opposed the people of God, will be brought forth from their graves to see the fulfillment of the divine promise and the triumph of truth [see GC 637; Rev. 1:7].”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 878.)
This special good-and-bad-people sequel moment seems pretty thinly sourced. That’s a total of five verses, all from Daniel and Revelation. A brief search online shows that this special resurrection belief does draw some negative attention from beyond our denomination. If Ellen White hadn’t commented on this, I wonder if we would believe it? Or do we? It’s not even mentioned in the entire official resurrection belief at adventist.org.
Literarily, that Daniel 12 passage feels more poetic than doctrinal, especially if one reads the next verse. “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” I just don’t think the author was suddenly making a specific point about a literal special resurrection sequence. It reads more like encouragement for those who live just lives: in the end, even in troubling times, your faithfulness will live on after you are gone. That sounds like the hope that springs eternal.
Beyond special doctrines lie spiritual truth and serendipitous connections. I find both in the way the structure of Daniel 12:2 is echoed by the final stanzas in William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence.” Whatever mystery our Halloween traditions aim to evoke and our beliefs try to reify, I find poetic metaphor often rises again and again to enlighten the metaphysical moving pictures of life.
Every Night & every Morn
Some to Misery are Born
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to sweet delight
Some are Born to Endless Night
We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day
Treat yourself to legendary British actor Sir Ralph David Richardson reading the entire poem.
Alexander Carpenter is executive editor of Spectrum
Title image: William Blake, The Soul hovering over the Body reluctantly parting with Life, 1808 (public domain)
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