“Those who are born are destined to die, and those who died are destined to live” (Ethics of the Fathers, 4:22)
I would like to share with the readers of Breaking Israel News my idea on this subject. I do not believe that resurrection of the dead will take place in the Messianic Era. I mean resurrection to immortality. That is what I gathered by studying Maimonides.
First of all, I am convinced that the Messianic World is an integral part and continuation of this physical world (Olam Hazeh) and is limited in time and space and will not last forever! It is a transitional, temporary period of time, a preparation for a better, beautiful and never ending spiritual World-to-Come (Olam Haba), which truly will last forever.
It’s possible there will be some resurrections of the saints in the Messianic Time, but those resurrections will be physical and temporary, and the resurrected people will definitely die again later. “They will be restored to life with all human characteristics: drink, eat, copulate, beget and die after a very long life, like the lives of those who will live in the Days of the Messiah,” wrote Maimonides. That is why he calls those who believe in a general, physical resurrection in the Messianic Era as part of the purely spiritual World-To-Come ‘utter fools’ and their beliefs are ‘follies’.
It would seem that scholars have identified the Messianic World with the World-to-Come and understand the Messianic Era as a culmination of the historical process, the ultimate design of Almighty for humanity.
The seventh day of the Creation week is not the 1000 years of the Messianic Era. It is not an era of history incorporated in this World. It is something different. It is another World of pure spirituality not compatible with the physical World as we know it. It is a crown of the Creation, the blessed, eternal “Sabbath” for sake of which the whole World was created. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the future Divine Kingdom of God.
Maimonides praised and highly esteemed this spiritual World: “The final goal is the attaining of the World-to-Come, and it is to it that all our effort must be directed.” In the Messianic Time the people will try to get better and develop their spirituality on the highest level possible in the physical world in preparation to merit life in the World-to-Come. There will be no place of physicality in the World-to-Come; it is a purely spiritual existence, the fulfillment of God’s Divine attributes and His essence, the ultimate purpose of God Creation. “The World-to-Come will have neither eating or drinking” (Berashot 17a).
My understanding is that after the expiration of the Heavenly determined years for the existence of the Messianic Age as an integral part of this World (there are 224 years left to complete six millennia of the six days of the Creation week) and the complete achievement of the goals of the Plan of the Almighty for Mankind, this World, together with the Messianic World, will cease to exist and become dormant for 1000 years. There will be no life left on planet Earth. It will be a Sabbatical Year of complete rest and peace.
As Rabbi Katina said in the Gemara, “The seventh year is the Shmita year, so too does the world have 1000 years out of seven that are hallow (mushmat) and desolate (haruv), as it is written, ‘And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day’” (Isaiah 2:11).
Nachmanides says that “the sixth millennium will see the advent of the Messiah and the seventh millennium will be the Shabbat of the World-to-Come (not the Messianic World!), wherein the righteous of all nations will be resurrected and rejoice”. He also interpreted the verse, “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3) as a reference to His blessing of the World-to-Come at the beginning of the seventh Millennium (Ramban, Shaar HaGemul, ch.58).
This is what I call the 1000 years of the Seventh Day of Creation, where the resurrection of the dead will occur. This place is called the World-To-Come. It will be an invisible, highly spiritual existence, when nothing will be impossible, because people will be ‘like God’ having His image and His Divine attributes of all-Power and Holiness. One cannot compare the temporal physical restoration to life of those personalities, who eventually sooner or later would die as all other human mortals, with a universal spiritual resurrection of those ‘who sleep in the dust of the earth’ (Daniel 12:2) and will awaken for everlasting life in the World-To-Come.
The World-to-Come will be the recipient of all those multitudes who awake from death to immortality and are reunited with their purified souls. Their newly incorruptible resurrected glorious bodies will be spiritual habitats and beautiful garments for perfected souls.