What is the meaning of “the morning of the first resurrection?”
In Alma 11:42-43, Amulek taught that in the resurrection “the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death. The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame….”
While all will be raised from the dead, the timing of when people are resurrected differs. There are three general resurrections: the morning of the first resurrection, the afternoon of the first resurrection, and the second resurrection. These resurrections indicate when a person is resurrected and the glory the person receives.
Jesus Christ’s resurrection opened the first resurrection. He was the first to rise. Others rose from the dead after Jesus did.
And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Matthew 27:52-53
The morning of the first resurrection continues through the Savior’s second coming. When He comes again, the righteous dead, those who qualify for the Celestial Kingdom, will be resurrected.
At the Savior’s second coming, Earth will become a terrestrial world. Celestial and terrestrial people are associated with the earth during the Millennium. After the morning of the first resurrection transpires, the afternoon of the first resurrection begins. Those whose lives merit a terrestrial body will resurrect and experience Christ’s millennial reign.
The last, or second, resurrection is reserved for those who obtain telestial glory who must suffer for their sins during the Millennium. Towards the end of the Millennium, those folks will finally be resurrected. Sons of perdition will be resurrected last of all.
Consider these words by Joseph Fielding Smith.
While there was a general resurrection of the righteous at the time Christ arose from the dead, it is customary for us to speak of the resurrection of the righteous at the Second Coming of Christ as the first resurrection. It is the first to us, for we have little thought or concern over that which is past. The Lord has promised that at the time of his Second Advent the graves will be opened, and the just shall come forth to reign with him on the earth for a thousand years. …
Resurrection of Celestial Bodies. In modern revelation given to the Church, the Lord has made known more in relation to this glorious event. There shall be at least two classes which shall have the privilege of the resurrection at this time: First, those who “shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever;” and second, honorable men, those who belong to the terrestrial kingdom as well as those of the celestial kingdom.
At the time of the coming of Christ, “They who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him’ and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.”
These are the just, “whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all. These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.”
Resurrection of Terrestrial Bodies. Following this great event, and after the Lord and the righteous who are caught up to meet him have descended upon the earth, there will come to pass another resurrection. This may be considered as a part of the first, although it comes later. In this resurrection will come forth those of the terrestrial order, who were not worthy to be caught up to meet him, but who are worthy to come forth to enjoy the millennial reign. …
This other class, which will also have right to the first resurrection, are those who are not members of the Church of the Firstborn, but who have led honorable lives, although they refused to accept the fulness of the gospel. …
Resurrection of Telestial Bodies. All liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers and all who love and make a lie, shall not receive the resurrection at this time, but for a thousand years shall be thrust down to hell where they shall suffer the wrath of God until they pay the price of their sinning, if it is possible, by the things which they shall suffer.
These are the “spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation; And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth” (Doctrines of Salvation, volume 2, pgs 295-297).
The scriptures and modern prophets teach us how to prepare for and be ready to meet the Savior when He comes again. We each have the opportunity to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection if we choose to be redeemed and sanctified by the Savior.