Those of our people who have died will live again! Their bodies will come back to life. All those sleeping in their graves will wake up and sing for joy. As the sparkling dew refreshes the earth, so the Lord will revive those who have long been dead.” (Isaiah 26:19, GNB)

This is a fascinating little verse sandwiched in between a section of Isaiah in which God’s judgment upon Israel and ultimately for the entire world for her sins is laid out.  It is a promise in the midst of judgment for sin.

The Old Testament speaks of the afterlife only vaguely and uncertainly because God had not revealed much about it.  It’s only in this verse and Dan 12.2 that God begins to draw back the curtains of death, as it were, and show his people what awaits them.  Where before God’s people only understood that the grave in her insatiable appetite drew people into her and never let them leave, now people who have died will live again! The grave will not hold them.  Notice also that it is our people who will live again, not all people, the pagan and those who do not follow Yahweh will not wake up and sing for joy.

The dew that comes to the earth fresh every morning and is used to sustain life and help plants grow and perish, becomes the metaphor for those who rise in the Lord, who will himself raise even those who have long been dead.

It isn’t until the New Testament and Christ’s resurrection that God draws the curtain back even further and we see the promise of life after death in a much more complete way.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, ESV)

This is our belief. This is our hope. This is our confidence.