Regarding Resurrection

♦   Did the heavenly resurrection begin in 1918?

On May 4, 2012, we received the following inquiry:

“I have read that the heavenly resurrection probably began in 1918, the last trumpet must be blown in 1918, read 1 Corinthians 15:51,52. But Paul says in verse 51 "we shall all be changed" verse 52 "in an instant in a moment during the last trumpet."  I can clearly see that I have not been transformed, and it is strange because the trumpet is blown in 1918, but in 1918, I was not even born. But Paul said, verse 52 "the dead shall be raised .. and we shall be changed.”  Is it possible when Jesus comes and blows the trumpet Matthew 24:31 time in the future, that all the dead are raised up in an instant and we who live are being changed in an instant, and together we all meet Jesus in the air.  What do you think?”

While we thank the author for visiting the site and posting the question, as the above introduction explains, we do not answer questions having to do with the interpretation or timing of Biblical prophecy.  There are various reasons for taking this position.

First, our purpose here is to help our brothers and sisters to recognize that the heavenly calling is held out to all who seek a relationship with the Father, and to help all such sons and daughters of God make their calling sure.  We have no interest in engaging in various types of eschatological speculations.  For it is truly as Jesus said: 

“Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

So why waste our valuable time speculating about something that we have already been told we cannot know?    

Second, when the end comes, how the end comes, what type of end comes are matters of little consequence to a faith son of God.  When we are sure in our hope, we are spiritually invincible.  Nothing can separate us from the Father’s love – not the end of the world, not the end of the system, not even the end of our own lives.  So we rest assured in our relationship and focus on helping others to solidify their own relationship with the Father.  We are absolutely confident that whatever occurs, whenever it occurs, all faith sons will be found on the favorable side of events.

“Now we know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Third, we answer questions that pertain to things we have published here on the website. We have never speculated about what did or did not occur in 1918, so we have no comment on that matter. We know that the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society has made several such comments.  We, therefore, suggest the author direct their question to the Society, the Governing Body and/or the Writing Department for clarification of those statements.     

We mean no disrespect to the author.  We believe you are sincere in your inquiry and in your desire to gain knowledge and understanding.  We are, however, concerned that your area of inquiry may cause you to take your focus off the Kingdom and your role as an Ambassador Substituting for Christ.  There is much work to do.  Many hungering and thirsting souls need the assistance of persons such as yourself, who have already accepted the heavenly calling, to understand their own relationship with the Father and to pursue it.  You can do much good for the Kingdom in that regard.  We pray that you consider these words.

♦   When I transform, will I be instantly transported to the presence of the Father?

On May 2, 2012, we received the following inquiry:     

“As I understand it, the angels see Jehovah God when they gather in front of him, read the Job book. So when Jesus comes, he will blow the trumpet and I will be transformed in an instant in a moment.  I become a spirit creature, read Matthew 24.  I go straight to heaven and get to meet Jehovah God, my father. I have understood it wrong?”    

To answer your question directly, yes, dear brother, based on everything we have been privileged to learn, we believe your understanding is wrong.  First, the book of Job does not mention the presence of recently resurrected men standing before the Father.  This account refers to a time in the far distant past, long before Christ invited us to follow him.  The ‘sons of God’ referred to in Job are indeed spirit beings, but they are a different order of sons than are the sons of men.  So, it does not provide instruction as to your question. Second, we have read the 24th chapter of Matthew several times and nowhere in that chapter do we see anything telling us that we instantly become spirit creatures and are immediately led to the Father.  If we have missed something in that chapter, please write us again and point out what you are referring to.   

In the meantime, we will respond to the rest of your question.  We agree that when the time comes for you to be released from the body, you will be transformed into another body – an incorruptible body, according to 1 Corinthians 15:52.  But that is not a spirit body.  There is a great difference between the two. The incorruptible body we will be given at that time is similar to the one Jesus had after his resurrection.  If you read carefully the scriptural references to his appearances after his resurrection, you will note that each time, he appeared a little different.  He was going through the transformations “from glory to glory.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)  When he completed his glorification, he attained a spirit body and was no longer visible.  As a perfect man, Jesus translated rather quickly – 40 days.  Our own individual transformations will take much, much longer.      

Think about it.  What transformative power do you suppose human death has?  Do you believe that merely exiting the physical body transforms you into a perfected spirit qualified to stand in the very presence of the greatest personality in the universe?  Unless and until we have mastered our personalities in the perfection of love as did Jesus Christ, and ‘become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48), we will not be granted that audience. I doubt that any of us can say we have achieved that level of personality perfection.     

But this is not a negative.  In the many abodes of the Father’s house (John 14:2), we will have the opportunity to correct all of our personality flaws and continue to grow in spiritual stature. In addition to perfecting our personalities, there will be many more things to do and learn. Do you suppose the language spoken in the heavens is English?  Do you not understand that there are hierarchies and protocols in the heavens that we will need to understand before we can be a part of them?  Do you not know that we will be exposed to new types of spirit beings, different types of heavenly places, unimagined visuals, and heretofore incomprehensible concepts and ideas?  

“But just as it is written: “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

Brother, do not shortchange and underestimate the vastness of the Father and his universe by relying on the elementary doctrines given to lowly man in his most imperfect state.  The problem lies in mankind’s general lack of appreciation for the sophistication and complexity of the heavens, and the grandeur of the Father.  Jesus understood that most of us are not capable of comprehending spiritual things, so there were many things he could not explain in detail.

“I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present.” – John 16:12

The apostles who wrote the letters that eventually made their way into the Bible canon, likewise, gave answers regarding spiritual and heavenly things in shorthand form. But that is to be expected. Think of it like this: When a young child asks where babies come from, a wise parent does not begin to describe in detail the anatomy and the biological processes. Instead, he gives a short summary expressing the ultimate outcome in a way that the child’s mind can grasp.  For instance, such a parent might say that babies grow in the mother’s belly and when its ready, it comes out.  That explanation is accurate and might be sufficient for a young child.  But when the child grows older, more detail can be added to the story until the child has grown to a stature sufficient to understand the complete biological process. It is similar for us who are spiritual babes.      

When Jesus explained heavenly things, he gave ultimate outcomes, not a detailed explanation of the entire process of spiritualization. Even Paul, who was apparently privy to some heavenly concepts, hesitated to give detailed explanations for what he saw, even hesitating to admit that it was he who had the experience:

“I have to boast. It is not beneficial; but I shall pass on to supernatural visions and revelations of [the] Lord.  I know a man in union with Christ who, fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught away as such to the third heaven.  Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows— that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak. Over such a man I will boast, but I will not boast over myself, except as respects [my] weaknesses.  For if I ever do want to boast, I shall not be unreasonable, for I shall say the truth. But I abstain, in order that no one should put to my credit more than what he sees I am or he hears from me, just because of the excess of the revelations.” 2 Corinthians 12:1-7  

Nevertheless, what was written is accurate; it is just not in detailed form.  Jesus told us that we would be led to all truth by means of the spirit of truth after his resurrection.

“However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming.” John 16:13

This promise applies, not only to first century Christians, but to all of us down to this day. The spirit of truth works with all the children of God.  And to those of us who want to know more, the spirit of truth will lead us to as much of it as we can comprehend.  As for the writers here, we have been given much, but like the apostle Paul, we are restrained as to what we can present here.  That is why we encourage everyone who is interested to make their desire for more knowledge and understanding a matter of diligent and repeated prayer.  When you do, you will not need to be asking anyone; the spirit will teach you.  

“And as for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.” 1 John 2:27

Having said all of this, the bottom line is that the details do not matter. What is will be.  Our belief in or acceptance of the Father’s plans do not affect those plans.  If we have been faithful, when we are released from our bodies, we will know for a certainty whether we will be granted immediate audience with the Father. It is not imperative that we know the details before our release. Knowledge of it adds beauty and color to our worship, but it does not affect its value before God.      

But, brother, you need not believe what we have written here.  You only need to focus on doing the will of the Father, being ambassadors for the Kingdom substituting for Christ. All other things will be added. (Matthew 6:33)      

Finally, we want to say that of all the things you wrote, the most encouraging to us is that you recognize that you are a son of God and that your destiny is in the heavens.  You are already way ahead of so many of our brothers.  We pray that you continue on your path, keep on praying, keep on seeking, keep on asking (Matthew 7:7), and you will eventually be led ‘into all truth.'

♦   Visitor asks several questions about 144,000 and the resurrection.

On September 28, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiries:

“I have a few remarks and questions, and I would kindly ask that you would provide the answers in your Q&A section.
“I am puzzled as to what view do you uphold regarding the heavenly hope. If I understand you correctly, you believe that the Bible only offers ONE hope for salvation, and that would be the everlasting life in heavens. No everlasting life on earth, then. In that regard, I have the following questions:

“a) Do you believe that the "144.000" is a literal number? Why?

“b) Since you hold the belief that only "144.000" are going to heaven, does that mean that there is only hope for 144.000 individuals?

“c) Since when in history have those 144.000 individuals been gathered?

“d) In what category falls "John the Baptist"? Since Jesus was clear that he wouldn't be part of the "Kingdom of Heavens", what is the hope for John the Baptist? Will he be resurrected? Where to? What about Abraham? What about David? What about Job? They all believed in the resurrection. Where to?

“e) What are the "other sheep"?

“f) What is the "great crowd"?

“g) If salvation is only achieved through eternal life in heavens, don't you think that God's purpose for planet earth, as expressed to Adam and Eve, would be defeated?

“h) If salvation has nothing to do with everlasting life on earth, what is the purpose of Armageddon?

“i) If God's purpose, as expressed in 2 Timothy 2:3 is that " all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.", how come you teach that salvation is narrowed down to only 144.000?

“j) Wouldn't it be unfair that there was no hope for all those MILLIONS of sincere, devout Christians and servants of Jehovah in the past, that only 144.000 would be saved?

“k) What would you say about the promise made to Daniel, in Daniel 12:13? And as for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days? Daniel was personally assured of his future resurrection. Where to?

Please be so kind as to publicly supply the biblical answers to your claims, which I find deeply disturbing and faith-breaking, and misrepresenting Jehovah's mercy.”

To the author, we thank you for visiting our site and submitting your questions.  While the answers to practically all of your questions can be found on our site, we are happy to comply with your request to publicly respond to each one.  We believe that you will find the answers to be enlightening, encouraging and completely representative of our loving heavenly Father.  We will take your questions in order:

“a) Do you believe that the "144.000" is a literal number? Why?

The number 144,000 appears only in the symbolic book of Revelation.  When we consider the context surrounding the number, it appears to us the number is symbolic.  However, because it is a prophecy, and we do not claim to be able to interpret prophecy at this time, we refrain from making a firm, dogmatic statement as whether it is literal or not, though our inclination is that it is not literal.

“b) Since you hold the belief that only "144.000" are going to heaven, does that mean that there is only hope for 144.000 individuals?

We do not hold this belief.  In fact, the entire site is dedicated to Jesus’ teaching that we are all sons of God with a heavenly hope.

“But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One.” – Matthew 23:8-9

 “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26

 “I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.  Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.” – Philippians 3:14-15

“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons.” – Romans 8:14

“c) Since when in history have those 144.000 individuals been gathered?    

We are unable to answer this question because we do not claim to be able to interpret prophecy at this time so as to be able to identify for a certainty who the 144,000 are.     

“d) In what category falls "John the Baptist"? Since Jesus was clear that he wouldn't be part of the "Kingdom of Heavens", what is the hope for John the Baptist? Will he be resurrected? Where to? What about Abraham? What about David? What about Job? They all believed in the resurrection. Where to?    

Jesus did not say that John the Baptist would not be a part of the Kingdom of the Heavens.  Here is what Jesus actually said:

“I tell you, Among those born of women there is none greater than John; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.” – Luke 7:28

We believe Jesus is referring to the fact that while John preached that the kingdom was near, he had no real concept of what the kingdom was.  He died before Jesus began his ministry about the kingdom of the heavens. This does not mean that John would be excluded from the Kingdom, only that he would have a ‘lesser’ position in the heavenly kingdom than a ‘lesser’ one who had the benefits of Jesus’ teachings.      

Further, while men could only reach out for the kingdom after Jesus began preaching about it, the heavenly kingdom is the destiny for all mankind who desire it, even those who lived before Jesus.  Paul explained that mankind waited in expectation for something, but what they did not know, until Christ came and revealed that we are all sons of God.  

“Consequently I reckon that the sufferings of the present season do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going to be revealed in us. For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:18-21

You might want to read the article: Freedom of the Children of God for a more in-depth explanation of that scripture.    

Also, please note this scripture:

"But I tell you that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens.” – Matthew 8:11

So not only will faithful pre-Christian Jews be in the kingdom of heaven, but even men from the east and the west.  Yes, all mankind is invited!    

And we want you to consider one other very important point.  When certain Sadducees inquired about who would marry whom in the resurrection, Jesus said:

“You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:29-30

If those resurrected are ‘as angels in heaven’ and apparently without sex organs, why would such beings be returned to live on earth along with marry-able, fully equipped beings?    

“e) What are the "other sheep"?    

You are referring to the following scripture:

“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” – John 10:16

While Jesus does not specifically identify the other sheep, Paul makes a parallel reference that leads us to a conclusion as to their identity:

“But now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ.  For he is our peace, he who made the two parties one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off. By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might create the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace; and that he might fully reconcile both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself.” Ephesians 2:13-16  

By this scripture, we believe the ‘other sheep’ are the gentile Christians who joined with the Jewish Christians to become one flock.    

“f) What is the "great crowd"?  

We assume you are referring to the ‘great crowd’ that is mentioned in the book of Revelation:

“After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9

As we mentioned earlier, we refrain from attempting interpretations of prophecy at this time.  So, our answer to your question is that we do not know for sure.  

“g) If salvation is only achieved through eternal life in heavens, don't you think that God's purpose for planet earth, as expressed to Adam and Eve, would be defeated?    

No.  The Bible states that God’s purpose for the earth is that it be inhabited. (Isaiah 45:18)  As men and women achieve their heavenly inheritance, there will be others will be born and  mature on earth. You assume that at some point in the future, men and women would stop bearing children.  We see nothing to support that idea.  You might want to read our article: The Real Hope for Life on Earth.    

“h) If salvation has nothing to do with everlasting life on earth, what is the purpose of Armageddon?  

Again, you are asking us to interpret prophecy.  We cannot do that at this time.  Our purpose, at this time, is to clarify the open and plain teachings of Jesus Christ, not interpret prophecy. You may wish to direct your questions concerning prophesy to another ministry that claims to know those things.                        

“i) If God's purpose, as expressed in 2 Timothy 2:3 is that " all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.", how come you teach that salvation is narrowed down to only 144.000? 

We do not teach that.  You have us confused with what the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, or another ministry, teaches.  Our ministry is to correct that idea and teach that ‘all sorts of men will be saved.’  Please see the several letters we have written to the Governing Body and Writing Department of Jehovah’s Witnesses seeking such a correction in Open Letters to the Society.     

“j) Wouldn't it be unfair that there was no hope for all those MILLIONS of sincere, devout Christians and servants of Jehovah in the past, that only 144.000 would be saved?    

Yes.  It is indeed unfair.  And it is not true.  The Bible does not teach that.  Our ministry is to help others know that that teaching is not accurate.  Please read our article The Reality of the Earthly Hope and The Real Hope for Life on Earth.    

“k) What would you say about the promise made to Daniel, in Daniel 12:13? And as for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days? Daniel was personally assured of his future resurrection. Where to?    

Again, we do not attempt to interpret prophecy at this time.  However, Daniel was a faithful servant of God, so we fully expect that he will be resurrected to the heavens.    

Now, we have publicly supplied our answers to your questions as you requested.  Perhaps you can now look at the article we pointed you to, along with the other articles on our site.  In particular, you might also want to see Fundamental Beliefs for a Living Faith which sets forth and explains our statement of beliefs, as well as Being Born of Spirit, and Worshiping with Spirit and Truth. These articles will give you a better idea of our ministry.  And please feel free to write us again.

♦   Are you sure Daniel will be resurrected to the heaven? I don’t believe I am anointed.

On January 23, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry (some of which we reworded for clarification):     

“A previous visitor asked as question [on September 28, 2012], ‘What would you say about the promise made to Daniel, in Daniel 12:13? And as for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days? Daniel was personally assured of his future resurrection. Where to?’ You answered: ‘Daniel was a faithful servant of God, so we fully expect that he will be resurrected to the heavens.’ WHAT DOES THAT MEANS ?? MAY I ASK WHAT YOU MEAN THAT HE WILL BE IN HEAVEN. Please answer my question on your website.  And not to forget, I want to thank you all for the making of this website.  I'm not one of the anointed, but I enjoy knowing what your current focus is.  But my younger brother is.  He accepted his calling last year and I just turned 19 this year.  This website has helped him a lot.  I know you are indeed helping out your brothers so thanks a lot.  Your sister in the truth.  Thanks again, indeed God is with you.”        

Dear Sister, thank you for visiting our site and posing your question.  We are pleased to know that our site is helping your brother.    

We understand why the answer we provided asserting that Daniel would be resurrected in the heavens is news to many Jehovah’s Witnesses, and possibly even confusing.  But it really is not that complicated.  The only reason there is confusion is because the leadership in our organization has convinced the vast majority of us that only 144,000 will be resurrected to heaven and the remaining billions will be resurrected to earth.  They feel that since Daniel died before Jesus, he could only have a resurrection to the earth.  We strongly disagree with that reasoning.     

We find nothing in all of Jesus’ teachings, or in the teachings of any of the Christian Bible writers that the resurrection of mankind would be on earth.  Many, including our leadership, have attempted to interpret certain verses in the symbolic book of Revelation and have concluded that they must refer to an earthly resurrection.  Such interpretations are shortsighted, presumptuous, and, in direct opposition to what Jesus taught.  It might be helpful if we provide an in-depth discussion of the concept of resurrection.    

To that end, today we published an article entitled The Promised Resurrection which addresses this matter in detail.  You also might want to read the articles What Hope is There for the Dead?  and What is God’s Purpose for the Earth? After you have had an opportunity to read the article, if you still have questions, please feel free to write us again.    

One other interesting thing you wrote was that you do not believe you are among the anointed who will be going to heaven.  We think you are mistaken.  Every person who is a follower of Christ, will be following him into the heavens.  There is no salvation in any other way as is evident from Jesus’ conversation about the eternal destinies of mankind.  He explained that there were only two destinies: 

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world. . . . Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. . . And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” Matthew 25:34, 41, 46

Either one will inherit the kingdom or be destroyed.  There is no middle ground – no other destiny.  Also, ask yourself these questions: Do I belong to the Christ? When I pray, do I refer to God as my Father?  When I pray for direction, am I led by spirit?  If you answer yes to these questions, you are a child of God with the heavenly hope.  Notice these scriptures:

“But he who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God.  He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.” – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: “Abba, Father!” The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children. If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ, provided we suffer together that we may also be glorified together.” – Romans 8:14-17

We challenge you to find one teaching in the Bible that tells followers of Jesus to pursue everlasting life on earth, or that speaks favorably of anyone who fails to pursue the heavenly hope.  We have not been able to find any such teachings.  Although it is generally accepted in our organization that the majority of us have an ‘earthly hope,’ that teaching is not found anywhere in the Christian writings.      

Take a look at the numerous articles on this site that show the true hope for all Christians, including Who Are Led by SpiritMoving Forward in FaithHolding Fast to the Sacred Secret, and Foreordained from the Founding of the World.  Again, if you continue to have questions after you have read these articles, please feel free to write us again.    

We know this information is not in harmony with what the Governing Body currently teaches.  It is our hope and prayer that soon they, too, will see the true light of the good news of the kingdom and correct their course as has often been required of those who seek to please the Father.    

And we wish you and your brother the very best.

♦  How do you understand Matthew 27:52-53? (the mass resurrection)

On July 28, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:

“Do you have a thought on Matthew 27:52 and 53? As a Witness I never saw this.”

To the author, thank you for your email.  It is not our intention to answer every question one may have about the Bible.  We like to focus our ministry on matters of sonship with God, the brotherhood of man, and the heavenly hope.  However, the scriptures you refer to have a bearing on things heavenly so we will provide our thoughts.

Let’s look at the scriptures you refer to in context.  Here is what they state:

“Again Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up [his] spirit. And, look! the curtain of the sanctuary was rent in two, from top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rock-masses were split. And the memorial tombs were opened and many bodies of the holy ones that had fallen asleep were raised up, (and persons, coming out from among the memorial tombs after his being raised up, entered into the holy city,) and they became visible to many people. But the army officer and those with him watching over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things happening, grew very much afraid, saying: “Certainly this was God’s Son.” Matthew 27:50-54

We can see how these verses raise many perplexing questions. They seem to indicate that immediately after Jesus’ death, there was a physical resurrection of people who walked out of the grave sites and into Jerusalem, and that many people saw these walking resurrected ones. But taking this in context with the rest of the Christian writings, we know that is not what is being conveyed.      

First, we can assume that the resurrections referred to occurred, not at the time and location of Jesus’ death, but at the memorial tombs because they could not occur until after Jesus had been resurrected.

“[T]hat the Christ was to suffer and, as the first to be resurrected from the dead, he was going to publish light both to this people and to the nations.” – Acts 26:23

Second, the resurrection of the dead is a raising to spiritual life.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one.” – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

And third, we know Jerusalem was not considered to be a ‘holy city.’

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” Matthew 23:37-38

Based on these conclusions, we will share with you what we believe the verses are conveying.    

It appears that the writer is giving some information and then supplementing that information with other events that are used to explain the impact of the original event.  Specifically, the writer is speaking about Jesus’ death and explains that an earthquake occurred shortly after he expired. The writer then adds some supplemental information when he explains the later-discovered impact the earthquake had, i.e., it caused some memorial tombs to split open. This event is then used as part of the writer’s evidence confirming that a mass resurrection took place.  Then the writer returns to his original event, the death of Jesus, when he describes how the army officer, standing near Jesus at his death, reacted to the earthquake.    

Hence, we believe the writer is telling us that Jesus’ resurrection was followed by a resurrection of those who were sleeping in death up until that time, possible as far back as the days of Adam. When the verse says “they became visible,” it reminds us of the body Jesus had when he was resurrected – the body was invisible, but it could become visible at will. Then those who were resurrected eventually entered into the ‘holy city’ in heaven, New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2), though, of course, that part was conveyed to the writer in some manner other than by sight, since human eyes could not have seen this event.  It is much like what Paul wrote when he said ‘Christ entered into a holy place to appear before the person of God.’ (Hebrews 9:24) Paul did not witness this event, but it was made known to him in some other manner. And finally, before the resurrected ones ascended to heaven, many people were granted a glimpse of this mass resurrection as a witness that such a resurrection had occurred. Matthew made a written record of it.    

We want to emphasize that this is how we understand these verses.  There may be other ways to understand them and, if they are consistent with the rest of the Christian writings, would be just as much a possibility, and equally as valid, as is our understanding. Whatever its true and actual meaning, this is an interesting scriptural reference that will likely give rise to much conversation and conjecture until the matters are further revealed to mankind either during our earthly sojourn or when we attain to our places in heaven.

♦  Who is left on earth after the separating of the sheep and the goat?

On February 26, 2014, we received the following comment and inquiry translated from a French speaking visitor:

“What I wanted to say, When Jesus comes, he will gather the nations into two groups, good and bad. Evil will be destroyed and the good will be resurrected as sons of God who will go to heaven. There will be no one on earth.  By the end of the 1000 years (Rev. 19:7) Satan will make war with the nations on earth. Question, just where these did these nations come from since the second resurrection has not started. These 1000 years during which they are to restore the land after (2 Peter 3:10-12) + (2 Peter 3: 13) + (Revelation 21:1).  Who put these people to be on the earth for 1000 years?”

To the author, thank you for your email.  We understand your dilemma based on the current understanding of these prophetic words. As you may know, we hesitate in answering questions having to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy because those types of answers are all speculation.

The problem man has in coming up with accurate interpretations is that there is so much about our universe that is not revealed.  For example, the Governing Body claims that the 24 elders (Revelation 19:4) and the 144,000 (Revelation 14:1) are the same group viewed from different perspectives. (The Watchtower, January 1, 2007, page 26, paragraph 10.) How can they come up with such a ridiculous interpretation? The answer is: because they do not know all the various groups of personalities that exist in heaven. They believe there is Jehovah, Jesus, Gabriel, some angels and, in the future, some resurrected humans.  So, they have to interpret all the prophetic characters according to their limited knowledge. They have not opened their minds enough to encompass the reality that they do not know everything or that mankind in general is not fully conversant in universe affairs.  For all we know, the heavens could be teaming with innumerable types of beings with unimagined responsibilities, who, for the first time, are revealed to man symbolically in the book of Revelation. Thus, humility would, and should, cause every human to exercise extreme caution when it comes to Biblical prophecy.

Having said that, we can tell you that we suspect the separating of sheep and goats (Matthew 25:31-46), or wheat and weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), occurs after a dispensational resurrection.  To us, it seems like Jesus is referring to what he will do as a part of the resurrection and judgment of ‘the righteous and the unrighteous’ as spoken of in these scriptures:

“Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29 

“And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” – Acts 24:15

When we think about it, it seems premature to judge someone as a sheep or a goat, or a wheat or a weed, until they have fully exhausted their time on earth.  Think of the ‘evil doer’ who hung alongside Jesus. 

“Then one of the criminals hanging there began to speak abusively to him, saying: ‘You are the Christ, are you not? Save yourself and us too!’ In response the other rebuked him, saying: ‘Do you not fear God at all, now that you have received the same judgment? And we rightly so, for we are getting back what we deserve for the things we did; but this man did nothing wrong.’ Then he said: ‘Jesus, remember me when you get into your Kingdom.’ And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.’” – Luke 23:39-43

 Had he been called to judgment before his death, we wonder if he would have been so thoroughly saved. No matter how stubborn or resistant people are at the moment, they can do a complete turnaround in the next moment. That is one of the reasons why murder is so detestable.  No one has the right to arbitrarily take away another’s time and opportunity to find God and become reconciled to Him before their physical bodies wear out.      

At the end of a dispensation, a resurrection can occur that does not disturb those who are still living on earth. We wonder if the vast majority of those on earth would even be aware of such an event, since the promised resurrection is a resurrection to heavenly life. (See The Promised Resurrection.) The only Biblical reference we have as to dispensational resurrections is what apparently occurred after Jesus’ death, as we discussed in Question and Response 7/28/13b.  In this instance, most of the population was not even aware of the true meaning of what was occurring.    

So, you see, brother, there is great need for caution and an even greater need for patience.  Allow matters to work themselves out according to the Father’s plan and focus on those things you can clearly understand and have a measure of control over – yourself and your ministry.  Have absolute confidence in the goodness and fairness of the Father. 

“But just as it is written: “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

And know that whatever the future holds, your hope is secure. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

We also want to add that what we have written above is not doctrine.  It is one way that we view these matters, but we remain ever open to the possibility that we are mistaken and that the parables of the sheep and goat, and the wheat and weeds, have entirely different meanings.

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