Growing in Faith & Love


 By Voy Wilks
Reprinted from The Faith, 10-12, 2001

Did Yahshua ascend to the Father in his physical body?

When we review the several Scriptures dealing with this topic of study, we will see that the Messiah did, indeed, ascend to the Father in the same body which was buried, although it had been changed from a mortal body (one subject to death), to an immortal body (one unable to die), but it was the same body. The scars in his hands, feet, and side were the very reason, it seems, that Thomas was convinced Yahshua had indeed risen from the dead. The Apostle Paul further explains this:

“Lo! I tell [explain to] you a mystery. We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature [or body] must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature [or body] must put on immortality. When the perishable [body] puts on the imperishable, and the mortal [body] puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. 0 death, where is thy victory? 0 death, where is thy sting?” (l Cor. 15:52-55 RSV).

We mortal men and women gain the victory over death and the grave through Yahshua, the Messiah for, just as he arose from the dead to immortality, we too will rise from the dead to immortality (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Rev. 20:4-6). This change takes place when the dead come from the grave in the first resurrection. At that same time, the living saints will be changed in a moment (to immortality) to meet Yahshua in the air (1 Thes. 4:13-18). This will be at the sounding of the last (and seventh) trumpet (l Cor. 15:52; l Thes. 4:16; Mt. 24:31; Rev. chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, especially 10:7 & 11:15).

Scriptures tell us that even though we cannot completely understand it, we will “be like Him” (Yahshua) when he appears again (l John 3:2). Job, the ancient saint, helped our understanding a great deal by writing,

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see Elohim: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27 KJV).

This indicates a resurrection from the grave. Job in the flesh will, with his own eyes (not the eyes of another) see Yahweh. This, of course, will be after Job’s flesh has been changed to immortal (undying) flesh; that is, his physical body will be transformed into a spiritual body, then his eyes will see Yahweh.

Comprehension of the spiritual body is made easier by the proverb which says, “The physical body is tangible and real, but the spiritual body is more real than the physical body.”

In line with this, may I call attention to Israel’s great (and future) resurrection from the dead which Ezekiel predicted? It is found in Ezek. 37. Very dry bones lay on the plain of the valley, but at Ezekiel’s command the bones stood upright, then sinew came upon them, then flesh came upon the sinew, then skin covered the flesh, after which breath came into each restored body. Because the exiled Israelites expected to die in a foreign land, many felt they were lost forever, so Yahweh revealed this prophecy to Ezekiel as an encouragement to the people showing he had not forgotten his promise to Abraham (Gen. 17) and to David (Jer. 33). There will be a resurrection from the dead and Israel will return to the homeland, at which time they will once again become one kingdom with one king.

This is what “salvation” (being saved) is all about – being rescued from our greatest enemy – death and the grave (l Cor. 15:26). It is our physical bodies which are held captive by death and the grave. Yahshua came to set us free from death, and from the fear of death (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23); “… to deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage (Heb. 2:15). The Apostle Paul wrote that we and all creation are in “bondage” to decay and death, but we look forward to a time when we will be “set free” and will become children of Yahweh (Rom. 8:18-25). In the meantime “… we wait for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our BODIES” (Rom. 8:23).

In view of all these Scriptures it is reasonable to conclude that this very human body will rise from the dead, but in the moment of rising it will be given immortality, making it impossible to die again. This mortal “puts on” immortality, and so becomes a spiritual being at the moment of rising from the dead (1 Cor. 15:42-44). The fleshly body is first, and only later comes the spiritual body – the immortal body (1 Cor. 15:45-48). The very body which is placed in the grave (not some ethereal spirit within us) will be saved (redeemed) from death and the grave. Yahshua captured the keys of death and the grave, as indicated by the following Scriptures:

“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:17-18 RSV).

He will, so to speak, unlock the doors to the prison which holds captive all mankind – death and the grave. This may be why the Messiah said to his disciples, “… be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

”As they were saying this, Yahshua himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed they saw a spirit [a ghost, or apparition]. And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, …? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit [or ghost, an apparition] has not flesh and bone as you see that I have. … Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24:36-39, 50-51 RSV).