What to Expect of Judges for a Thousand Years
1. What was given to those who sat on the thrones seen by John?
WHEN giving his preview of the thousand-year period soon to bring in almost unbelievable marvels, the inspired apostle John wrote: “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them.”—Revelation 20:4.
2. Why does the thought of “judgment,” here introduced, tend to take away from what is otherwise a bright picture?
2 “Thrones,” occupied by those to whom the power of judging was given! Is this a hopeful, consoling prospect, or does it cast a gray shadow over what would otherwise be a bright picture of the coming Millennium of millenniums? How did the apostle John himself view such a prospect? How are we today to view it? Are we not deeply disappointed in the judicial system that obtains today, even in Christendom? In our time, as at no previous time, is when the words of Psalm 82:5 have come true as a prophecy with respect to men in a judicial capacity who are like “gods” but who have proved false to their office: “They have not known, and they do not understand; in darkness they keep walking about; all the foundations of the earth are made to totter.” Or, as the Roman Catholic Jerusalem Bible puts this Bible verse: “Ignorant and senseless, they carry on blindly, undermining the very basis of earthly society.”
3, 4. (a) However, after what John saw just previously, what feeling should the sight of those thrones give us? (b) Why is it proper to expect relief for misjudged mankind from those “thrones”?
3 What mankind wants today is relief! And, happily, what the apostle John saw concerning those “thrones” of judgment was something to bring us great relief of mind, not something to stir up dark misgivings. Let us recall that, in prophetic vision, John had foreseen the war between the heavenly King of kings and the “kings of the earth” with their “armies” and the worldwide political organization. There were defeat and destruction of all those kings and their earthly supporters. This left vacant the thrones or seats of power from which the political rulers rendered judgment. Immediately after this, the apostle John saw the descent of God’s angel to the vicinity of the earth and then the chaining of Satan the Devil and his demons and the hurling of them into the abyss, to be imprisoned under divine seal therein for a thousand years.—Revelation 19:11 through 20:3.
4 Such a destruction of the Devil-controlled system of things certainly called for a change in judgeships over mankind. Especially now that the heavenly control over mankind had passed over into the hands of the victorious King of kings, who “is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness.” (Revelation 19:11-16) In the proper course of things, then, new thrones of judgment come into existence. Nothing else but a better body of judges could be expected to occupy those new thrones of judgment, which are set up by God’s authority in the heavens. Judicial relief could thenceforth be expected to come to misruled, misjudged mankind.
5, 6. Who will be the judges occupying those “thrones,” according to Jesus’ words to his eleven faithful apostles before his betrayal?
5 This new set of judges over mankind, who are they? The words of Jesus Christ to a representative group of those prospective judges indicate who are to belong to that set of heavenly judges.
6 On the night of his betrayal and arrest and unjust trial by the highest court of Jerusalem, Jesus said to his remaining faithful apostles: “You are the ones that have stuck with me in my trials; and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30) Those faithful apostles were the foremost ones of the 144,000 who are taken by Jesus Christ into the covenant for the heavenly kingdom, with its thrones of judgment. (Matthew 19:27, 28) Over these 144,000 associate judges will, of course, be the Presiding Judge, Jesus Christ.
7. According to Paul’s words to the Areopagus Court of Athens, how will the inhabited earth be judged in God’s appointed time?
7 Here there come to mind the words of the apostle Paul, when he was haled before the Areopagus Court of Athens, about the year 51 C.E. In the course of his explanation of his case to these judges who seemed “to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are,” Paul finally said: “True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:22-31) So the judging of the inhabited earth will be “in righteousness,” and the principal one by whom God will do the judging will be his resurrected Son, Jesus Christ.
8, 9. (a) How will this appointed Judge be able to judge mankind as no human judge has done so? (b) According to Jesus’ words in John 5:27-30, how will he see to it that everyone gets judged?
8 Designating by name the one appointed to do the judging, the apostle Paul, when writing his final letter to his fellow missionary Timothy, said: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead, and by his manifestation and his kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:1) This divinely appointed Judge will act as a judicial officer in a way that no human judge on earth has ever acted or could act; he will judge more than just the living humans. He will also judge the dead humans. No mere human judge appointed by men could call back the dead in order to judge them. But this Judge of God’s appointment can do so. And these human dead will have this millennial judgment even though it requires bringing them back from the dead in order that they may have this judgment to which they as well as “the living” are entitled, through Christ’s sacrificial death. Note Jesus’ words:
9 “Just as the Father raises the dead up and makes them alive, so the Son also makes those alive whom he wants to. For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. Do not marvel at this, because 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, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear [from the Father], I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 5:21-23, 27-30.
10. (a) In behalf of that judgment, from what will the Judge liberate the dead? (b) What kind of act led to that liberation, and so what question arises about the purpose of the resurrection?
10 Think of it! This Judge, who was known as the Son of man on earth, will glorify his millennial judgeship by liberating all those who are dead in the memorial tombs. The millennial Judgment Day will be resurrection day for all those in the memorial tombs, for whose sakes the Son of man died as a perfect human sacrifice. This means all the redeemed mankind aside from the 144,000 associate judges who have part in the “first resurrection,” a heavenly resurrection. (Revelation 20:4-6) Are we now to think that this loving act of liberating the buried dead, this earthly resurrection, is to be used for a hurtful purpose toward the resurrected ones? Is a loving act done to lead to the hurt of one toward whom the act is performed? What we mean is this: This resurrection will be not only of those reckoned as righteous but also of those who are called “unrighteous” in comparison. “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) We have no fears for the righteous, but what of the unrighteous?
11. (a) What question arises as to the objective of the resurrecting of the “unrighteous”? (b) How does the case of the dying evildoer sympathetic to Jesus have a bearing on the matter?
11 Are the “unrighteous” ones to be shown the undeserved kindness of being resurrected only to face a stern, harsh judge who will rehearse all their past unrighteousness in their ears and show them in that way just why he is now sentencing them to the punishment of utter destruction from all existence? Of what practical benefit would resurrection be to these “unrighteous” ones if that was the objective in their case? Is that the purpose of resurrecting them in the case of that one of the “evildoers” who hung on an execution stake alongside Jesus Christ at Calvary and who said to him: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom”? His saying those sympathetic words to Jesus did not convert him from an evildoer into a saint, did it? Jesus’ consoling reply to him did not mean that the evildoer was declared righteous or justified by faith, already forty-two days before the resurrected Jesus ascended to the presence of his heavenly Father to present the merit of his human sacrifice, did it? (Luke 23:39-43) The man still died as a condemned evildoer and must be counted as one of the “unrighteous” due to be raised up.
JUDGES OF PRE-CHRISTIAN TIMES
12. Why will the “righteous” as well as the “unrighteous” need more than liberation from the memorial tombs by resurrection?
12 What will the resurrection of the dead mean for those called “unrighteous” as well as for those called “righteous”? All of them died because of inheriting sin and its penalty death from the disobedient Adam and Eve. So they all died without having any righteousness of their own. (Romans 5:12; 3:23) So when they come back in the resurrection, untransformed as to their personal characteristics, even the “righteous” ones will not be humanly perfect, or free from imperfection and sinfulness. This was true in the cases of those men and women whom the prophets Elijah and Elisha and the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles resurrected, brought back to life on earth. (Hebrews 11:35) In view of that, the “righteous” just as well as the “unrighteous” will need more than just liberation from the memorial tombs by resurrection from the dead. The “righteous” also will need liberation from sinfulness and human imperfection. Consequently, the heavenly Judge Jesus Christ cannot pronounce them at once actually innocent, perfect, free from condemnable sinfulness and hand down the decision on their very day of resurrection that they are worthy of eternal life on earth.
13. (a) Why does God assign a thousand years for Jesus Christ to be Judge of mankind? (b) What does the book of “Judges” show regarding what to expect of God’s millennial Judge?
13 If the matter of carrying out the duties of a judge were limited to just pronouncing decisions on the day that the resurrected “righteous” and “unrighteous” ones appear before him, why is it that a thousand years are assigned to him to serve as judge in behalf of humankind? Such a long period is assigned for a work to be done and not merely for a pronouncing of verdicts and sentences. In the Bible the ones whom God raised up as judges for his chosen people of pre-Christian times did more than merely settle disputes between individuals or hand down and execute judicial decisions. Those “judges” from God were deliverers of his chosen people. There is a book in the Bible that is specifically named “Judges.” As a book it is a thriller! Therein we read of the courageous exploits of those men whom God, “the Judge of all the earth,” raised up for the deliverance of his oppressed people. Hail the day of judgment that began when God raised up a judge to execute judgment for his afflicted ones!
14. Briefly, what do we read of Judges Ehud and Barak?
14 We read of Ehud who began his judgeship by lone-handedly killing the unusually fat King Eglon of the Moabites in his own conference room and then escaped, organized the Israelites and then led them to victory over Moabite oppressors. We read of Barak who demonstrated his being chosen for the judgeship of his nation by defeating the mighty military forces of Jabin the king of Canaan who made his military forces fearsome by equipping them with nine hundred war chariots that had iron scythes on their wheels.
15. Likewise, what do we read of Gideon, also Jephthah?
15 Then there was Gideon, an unassuming man, who with just three hundred men of faith in God put to rout the Midianites and Orientals who had swarmed into the land of Israel like numberless locusts. In the dead of the night, when Gideon and his three hundred almost encircled the sleeping enemy camp, they crashed unitedly their jars to the ground, held aloft their exposed torches, blew on their trumpets, and shouted, “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” The suddenly disturbed camp panicked and fled, slaughtering one another, and Gideon and his three hundred went in pursuit of the survivors. Many years afterward another crisis arose in the Promised Land, and Jehovah raised up Jephthah, an outcast man, to confront the arrogant Ammonites. Jephthah’s zeal for God’s cause was so fervent that he vowed of his own accord to sacrifice to God whatever came to meet him on his return home if he were given the victory. When, flushed with victory, he was met first by his lone child, his daughter, he showed his devotion to God by offering her for the divine service.
16, 17. (a) How did Samson serve as judge of Israel? (b) What does the inspired writer say about the judges in Hebrews 11:32-34?
16 Who, though, has not heard of Samson, the man whose birth was foretold to his parents and who proved to be the physically strongest man ever on earth! All alone he delivered his people Israel from the oppressive Philistines, but, in the day of death, as a blind prisoner of the Philistines, he caused the collapse of the temple of Dagon at Gaza, Philistia, upon more than three thousand celebrators, thereby killing more Philistines in this day of his death than he had put to death during his lifetime.
17 Including these judges among the men of triumphant faith in God, the inspired Christian writer says, in Hebrews 11:32-34: “And what more shall I say? For the time will fail me if I go on to relate about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David as well as Samuel and the other prophets, who through faith defeated kingdoms in conflict, effected righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, stayed the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from a weak state were made powerful, became valiant in war, routed the armies of foreigners.”
18, 19. (a) Who were responsible for the afflictions that came upon the Israelites after settling in the Promised Land? (b) Why was it necessary for a series of judges to be raised up for them?
18 Of course, the Israelites in the days of those judges were responsible for their afflictions at the hand of the enemy, because they departed from the pure worship of Jehovah as the living God. But when they returned to him in sincere repentance and worship, He showed them favor. As the record in Judges 2:16-19 says:
19 “So Jehovah would raise up judges, and they would save them out of the hand of their pillagers. And even to their judges they did not listen, but they had immoral intercourse with other gods and went bowing down to them. They quickly turned aside from the way in which their forefathers had walked by obeying the commandments of Jehovah. They did not do like that. And when Jehovah did raise up judges for them, Jehovah proved to be with the judge, and he saved them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for Jehovah would feel regret over their groaning because of their oppressors and those who were shoving them around. And it occurred that when the judge died they would turn around and act more ruinously than their fathers by walking after other gods to serve them and bow down to them. They did not refrain from their practices and their stubborn behavior.”
IMMORTAL HEAVENLY JUDGES
20. (a) During the millennium, why will not mankind be left to itself again and again, as during the time of Israel’s judges? (b) Why will even the “great crowd” of tribulation survivors need further deliverance?
20 However, the judges whom this same Jehovah God raises up in Jesus Christ and his 144,000 judicial associates will not die off and leave the inhabitants on earth to themselves, even though Satan the Devil and his demons have been removed from the vicinity by being abyssed. Possessed of the “power of an indestructible life,” they will all serve continuously for the full judicial term of a thousand years. They will not just sit on thrones and hand down decisions and rulings, but they will act as deliverers, just as did the faithful judges who gained Jehovah’s approval in ancient times. Even “the living,” who survive the “great tribulation” under divine protection and live on after Satan and his demons are abyssed, will still need a further deliverance. Because of their righteous standing with God they are preserved alive on earth into the millennial day of judgment, but there is more in their case from which to be delivered. What is that? It is their sinfulness, imperfection, weakness and dying state with which they have been preserved clear through the destruction of this system of things and the hurling of Satan and his demons into the abyss.
21, 22. (a) Why will the human dead, when resurrected, need further deliverance? (b) For what reason will some, like Job and David, be counted “righteous” when resurrected?
21 Likewise, in the case of “the dead,” who need to be restored from the memorial tombs: Whether counted “righteous” or “unrighteous” on being awakened from the sleep of death, they all need to be freed from sinfulness, shortcomings, faultiness, human frailties, and proneness to death. The fact that any are counted as “righteous” does not mean that they are humanly and morally perfect in the flesh. Their being righteous in God’s eyes, however, means that they are men and women of integrity toward God, as the patient Job of the land of Uz was. (Job 2:3, 9; 27:5; James 5:11; Ezekiel 14:14, 20) Or, like King David of Jerusalem who was not afraid to be judged by his God, for in Psalm 26:1-3, 11, David said:
22 “Judge me, O Jehovah, for I myself have walked in my own integrity, and in Jehovah I have trusted, that I may not wobble. Examine me, O Jehovah, and put me to the test; refine my kidneys and my heart. For your loving-kindness is in front of my eyes, and I have walked in your truth. As for me, in my integrity I shall walk. O redeem me and show me favor.”
23, 24. (a) For the sake of what kind of resurrection did those pre-Christian men of integrity refuse to bargain with the ungodly? (b) What does Hebrews 11:35-40 have to say about such ones?
23 Other men of pre-Christian times who died in their integrity, refusing to prove disloyal to Jehovah God by any sort of bargain or compromise with the ungodly, were the men and women named or spoken of in chapter eleven of the book written to Christianized Hebrews. They looked forward to a resurrection to life under better earthly conditions, under a better government, under which they could live forever in perfect peace and happiness and integrity to the living God. In expression of this it is written in Hebrews 11:35-40:
24 “Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection. Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by bonds and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth. And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the fulfillment of the promise, as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.”
25, 26. (a) Why will those “righteous” ones, when resurrected, not fear Judgment Day? (b) Why will those “unrighteous” ones, when resurrected, be under a handicap in comparison with the “righteous”?
25 Dying in their integrity to God, these “righteous” ones will be raised in their integrity toward God, even though not raised in human perfection and faultlessness of conduct. They will not fear the great Judgment Day of a thousand years into which they have been ushered by resurrection. Their integrity that they developed before death and with which they will be raised up will give them an advantage over the “unrighteous” in advancing to actual human perfection in complete freedom from sinfulness. They will, as it were, have a head start over the “unrighteous” in that direction.
26 To this effect it is written: “Anyone of little means who is walking in his integrity is better than the one crooked in his lips, and the one that is stupid.” Also: “The righteous is walking in his integrity. Happy are his sons after him.” (Proverbs 19:1; 20:7) On the other hand, it will go much harder for the “unrighteous” ones, who down till death cultivated sinful tendencies and bad habits and evil cravings. These will be handicaps, disadvantages, encumbrances, to work against them in the race to win everlasting life in sinless human perfection on a paradisaic earth. Also, in this life many of these “unrighteous” ones have failed to take advantage of the spiritual opportunities and provisions that were at hand, but which they ignored, disdained, despised, or resisted. They thus have an unappreciative, obstinate disposition to master. Hence, it will be woeful for them. Jesus Christ gave examples of cases of this kind, when he said to the unrepentant cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum:
27. How did Jesus illustrate the foregoing by the use of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum?
27 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! because if the powerful works had taken place in Tyre and Sidon that took place in you, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Consequently I say to you, It will be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Haʹdes you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day. Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.”—Matthew 11:20-24.
28, 29. (a) Why will the ancient Ninevites and the queen of the south condemn the Jewish generation of Jesus’ day? (b) On Judgment Day, how will matters be counterbalanced as between the now advantaged ones and the religiously disadvantaged ones?
28 Speaking to the generation of Jews who were adulterating their relationship with God by worldliness and basing their belief on visible signs, Jesus said: “Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but, look! something more than Solomon is here.”—Matthew 12:38-42.
29 What surprises, then, there will be for many self-righteous religionists, self-satisfied, complacent formal religionists, who were sure in themselves that they were more righteous than those whom they called pagans or heathens! They will find that they were religious hypocrites, whereas the heathens whom they looked down upon were more sincere, more teachable, more appreciative, and less reprehensible because of their ignorance. Then the sincerity and attitude of persons less favored religiously will condemn the privileged people who neglected their opportunities indifferently or willfully. So there will be a just counterbalancing of matters as between the present-day advantaged persons and the disadvantaged ones.
THE ADVANTAGES OF JUDGMENT DAY
30, 31. (a) On Judgment Day, do all humans need to have their previous condition rehearsed before them to see whether they are innocent or guilty? (b) By the use of the Jews under the Law, what was demonstrated about all mankind?
30 There is no denying the truthfulness of the statement, in Romans 3:22, 23: “There is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Hence, all on Judgment Day, “the living and the dead,” urgently need to be delivered, by the help of the heavenly judges whom Jehovah God raises up, from all traces of sin and moral weakness and bodily imperfection with which they are ushered into the Judgment Day. The evidence and testimony are all against mankind, as comprehensively stated in Romans 3:23 and other scriptures, and this does not need to be rehearsed before those on judgment to see whether they are innocent or guilty. By the failure of the natural Jews to keep the Law that God gave them through Moses, it was demonstrated that no part of humankind, not even the favored Jews themselves, could keep God’s law perfectly. Thus by this practical demonstration with the Jews under the Law, every human mouth was silenced from defending its user and all the world of mankind was proved guilty before God. It is just as the apostle Paul wrote long ago:
31 “Now we know that all the things the Law says it addresses to those under the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become liable to God for punishment.”—Romans 3:19.
32. (a) What should be said about humans having a “second chance” on Judgment Day? (b) On whom, then, will it depend as to whether they will live on the Paradise earth or not, and why?
32 Because of being born sinful and condemned to death, mankind never had “a chance.” It could never justify itself before the God of absolute perfection by doing perfect works of righteousness and ridding itself of sinfulness. So, Judgment Day does not offer mankind what is called “a second chance.” Rather, it affords to mankind its first real opportunity to gain eternal life in human perfection and absolute innocence in an earthly Paradise. Judgment Day affords mankind the opportunity that Christ’s perfect human sacrifice provides for them to be cleansed from sin and to be uplifted to the full “glory of God” from which they now fall short. In view of this fact it depends upon what “the living and the dead” do on Judgment Day as to whether they will possess the Paradise earth forever or not. Their past record is already made and is irreversible, with good effects or bad effects to themselves. Judgment Day will allow them to prove their sincere heart’s desire to be done, finished, through with sin forevermore. The heavenly judges will be in office to help them with instructions and guidance.
33. How, in symbolic language, is the opportunity of the Judgment Day pictured in Revelation 20:11-15?
33 This opportunity on Judgment Day is pictured for us in Revelation 20:11-15, in this symbolic language: “And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Haʹdes gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Haʹdes were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.”
34. (a) Does the resurrection there pictured include those sharing in the “first resurrection”? (b) Of what do the “scrolls” then opened not contain a record, and why?
34 This symbolic picture does not involve those who share in the “first resurrection,” and who were already spoken about in Revelation 20:4-6 as being in no danger of the “second death.” This picture refers to those who share in a resurrection to existence on earth, and who will be adjudged worthy of everlasting life only at the end of the thousand years, when they will be able to show their fully acquired righteousness in human perfection. The “scrolls” that are opened and according to the things written in which they are judged favorably or adversely are not scrolls containing the record of all their past imperfect, sinful deeds in this present life under this system of things. The heavenly judges do not need to spend a thousand years in going through the records of past human lives in order to determine the guiltiness or innocence of each individual resurrected. They are not so ignorant or ill-informed about mankind’s past. What the judges are looking to is, not mankind’s past, but mankind’s future. Mankind needs guidance for the future!
35, 36. (a) What, then, do those “scrolls” picture, and who will know the contents of them? (b) Why will there be no excuse for anyone on earth not to know?
35 So those “scrolls” that are opened are the new set of instructions, directions and orders that will be given out by the judges acting for God to mankind. Thus all mankind will be informed of the contents of those opened “scrolls,” in order to know the standards by which they are to be judged and what is to be expected of them as to their future conduct and work. Mankind will not be left in ignorance, and everybody will be obliged to know what is the law according to the judgment scrolls. There will be no Satan the Devil and none of his demons around in the invisible vicinity of the earth to blind people, to mislead people, to pervert the published law and instructions. No, indeed; for those old “heavens” will have fled away from before the face of God who set the time for this Judgment Day. Accordingly, there will be no witch doctors around, no spirit mediums or clairvoyants, no astrologers with horoscopes, no sale of Ouija boards and suchlike demonistic contrivances. There will be only the “new heavens” in existence and they will drop down righteousness. As we read:
36 “O you heavens, cause a dripping from above; and let the cloudy skies themselves trickle with righteousness. Let the earth open up, and let it be fruitful with salvation, and let it cause righteousness itself to spring up at the same time. I myself, Jehovah, have created it.”—Isaiah 45:8.
37. (a) How will the heavenly judges communicate to mankind the contents of those “scrolls”? (b) How will mankind know when God’s laws and rulings are being executed?
37 How the invisible heavenly judges will communicate the contents of the opened “scrolls” to earth’s inhabitants is not specifically stated to us in the Bible. But there will be direct representatives of the heavenly kingdom of God on the earth. Their presence among mankind will be an official evidence that a “new earth” has come into existence with its new human society. The old “earth” dominated invisibly by Satan the Devil has fled away from before God’s face and no place has been found for it except in destruction. The law courts and lawyers and attorneys and judicial system are a thing of the past; the law of God is the thing now for a person to be well versed in, to judge by and to apply. And when the Kingdom’s earthly representatives act, the people will know and distinctly understand that it is God’s law and rulings that are being executed.
38. Will the heavenly King Jesus Christ have to depend upon his earthly ancestors for illustriousness or have his own?
38 Indications of this arrangement for the thousand-year Judgment Day are given us in the prophetic Scriptures. Take, for example, Psalm 45, which is a lyric concerning God’s anointed King, Jesus the Messiah or Christ. After telling prophetically about the heavenly marriage of Jesus Christ and his bridal congregation and those who are attending upon the bridal class, the psalm says: “They will enter into the palace of the king. In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.” (Psalm 45:15, 16) Of course, the heavenly King Jesus Christ has had illustrious ancestors, of whom the list is given in the Bible record, whether these have served on the earthly throne of King David at Jerusalem or not. But the heavenly King will not have to depend upon them for illustriousness. He will have his own, even though on earth as a perfect man Jesus Christ refused to sit upon any material throne at Jerusalem or elsewhere.
39. How will the King Jesus Christ exceed in illustriousness even King David as regards territory?
39 The heavenly King Jesus Christ will surpass even David in fame, honor and illustriousness. He will extend his kingdom far beyond the boundaries of all the territory that King David conquered in his day according to God’s promise to Abraham. (Genesis 15:17-21) Yes, to where East meets West and North meets South, even all around the planet, “all the earth.” As it is written “Regarding Solomon” as a prophetic type of the King Jesus Christ: “O God, give your own judicial decisions to the king, and your righteousness to the son of the king. May he plead the cause of your people with righteousness and of your afflicted ones with judicial decision. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Psalm 72: superscription, 1, 2, 8.
40. As regards princely sons, what problem seems to arise here because of Jesus’ earthly childlessness and his being Permanent Heir to King David?
40 However, does a problem seem to arise here? This King who is greater and wiser than Solomon the son of King David did not marry when he was here on earth as a perfect man with the reproductive power in his loins to bring forth a perfect human family. How, then, can the prophecy be fulfilled that, “in place of your forefathers,” notice, “there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth”? Moreover, the heavenly Jesus Christ is the Permanent Heir of King David, and because of his “power of an indestructible life” he will reign without successors, without the need of a son to succeed him. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary concerning her prospective Son Jesus: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Luke 1:32, 33.
41, 42. (a) Why are the 144,000 joint heirs not the “sons” to be appointed on earth? (b) How will the heavenly Jesus Christ have earthly “sons,” in fulfillment of what prophetic title?
41 We know that the 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ are not his spiritual sons, but are sons of God, “heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) Who, then, are these ones spoken of as “your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth”? Manifestly these are not heavenly sons of the King Jesus Christ. They must be earthly sons, who, being on earth, can be appointed princes “in all the earth.” These will be the sons of His by the resurrection of the dead, specifically of the “righteous” dead. His promised title, according to the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, 7, namely, Eternal Father, will be no mere empty honorary title. He will really be a father to the resurrected human family. He is “the last Adam,” who became “a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47) The first man Adam sold all his human offspring into sin and death, but the “second man,” who is “out of heaven,” laid down his perfect human life in order to purchase them back from such an Adamic inheritance. So we read:
42 “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.”—Hebrews 2:9.
43. (a) How will the King become the father of the “great crowd” of tribulation survivors who need no resurrection? (b) How will his fatherhood of mankind become eternal?
43 By his self-sacrifice according to God’s will, Jesus Christ gained the right to impart life to the dying race of mankind, in this way becoming their father. He will transmit life to the “dead,” both the “righteous” and the “unrighteous,” by calling them out of their memorial tombs or watery graves and then lifting up all the willing ones to perfection of human life. As for the “living” who survive the “great tribulation” into Christ’s millennial reign, he will likewise lift these “righteous” survivors up to a level of life “in abundance,” life as human creatures in glorious perfection. (John 10:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 24:15) He will have all this accomplished by the end of the thousand years. But this abundant life of his earthly children can go on forever, and there will be those who by keeping integrity in perfection will prove deserving of eternal life. These will be his eternal children, and he will be literally their Eternal Father.
44, 45. (a) How will the King begin his reign with sufficient princes on the earth, and why will all the appointed ones rank as “princes”? (b) However, is royal lineage necessary for a chief over others to be called a prince (sar)?
44 At the beginning of his millennial reign the illustrious King Jesus Christ will begin to take suitable ones from among his earthly children to be “princes in all the earth.” The “living” who have survived the “great tribulation” and the abyssing of Satan and his demons will furnish a number of these “princes.” The “righteous” ones of the “dead” who are resurrected from the sleep of death will furnish others, sufficiently so in order to have the appointed “princes in all the earth.” Psalm 45:16 appears to mean that such “princes” will include the “righteous” men from among his resurrected “forefathers.” Once these were his ancestors, but now they become his “sons” by resurrection. Being the sons of the heavenly King, these appointed ones will rank as “princes.”
45 However, it is to be noted that the Hebrew word in Psalm 45:16 for “princes” is sarím. Among the ancient Israelites not everyone who was called a “sar” had royal connections. Among them a chief of a thousand, a chief of a hundred, a chief of fifty, and even a chief of ten men was called a “sar.” Even a chief of the royal butlers or chief of the royal bakers could be called a “sar.”—Exodus 18:21, 25; Deuteronomy 1:15; 20:9; 1 Samuel 8:12; Genesis 40:2. Compare Genesis 23:5, 6.
46, 47. (a) Will all those appointed have to be royal or patriarchal ancestors of the King, and what kind of men will they have to be? (b) In whose interests will they really have to be interested, as described in Isaiah 32:1, 2?
46 Not all those appointed to be “princes in all the earth” need to be the royal or patriarchal ancestors of Jesus Christ as a man. Basically, they need to be men of integrity, “capable men,” “men wise and experienced,” such as the prophet Moses appointed to be judges, concerning whom we read: “Moses proceeded to choose capable men out of all Israel and to give them positions as heads over the people, as chiefs [sarím] of thousands, chiefs [sarím] of hundreds, chiefs [sarím] of fifties and chiefs [sarím] of tens. And they judged the people on every proper occasion. A hard case they would bring to Moses, but every small case they themselves would handle as judges.” (Exodus 18:25, 26; Deuteronomy 1:15) The earthly princes appointed by the King Jesus Christ will really be interested in the welfare of the people and in settling difficulties peacefully and amicably. They will be courageous and protective of what is right, like the princes described in Isaiah 32:1, 2, which says:
47 “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes [sarím], they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.”
48, 49. (a) There has been an increase of crime because of what belief encouraged in criminals because of present legal processes? (b) According to Ecclesiastes 8:11-13, with whom will it go well—with a repetitious criminal or with whom?
48 In those days of the heavenly Prince [Sar] of Peace the dealing out of justice and of bringing offenders to account will not be a slow, dragging process, without sufficient judges and officers to try all the offenders promptly. The taking of a long time, years of time in many cases, to bring wrongdoers to trial and to right injustices and enforce justice, has encouraged criminals who are led to believe that they can get away finally unpunished. Crime has increased tremendously during the last half of this twentieth century, but already in the eleventh century before our Common Era began to count, the wise inspired writer of sharp observations wrote:
49 “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad. Although a sinner may be doing bad a hundred times”—think of that! But the inspired writer goes on to say: “and continuing a long time as he pleases, yet I am also aware that it will turn out well with those fearing the true God, because they were in fear of him. But it will not turn out well at all with the wicked one, neither will he prolong his days that are like a shadow, because he is not in fear of God.”—Ecclesiastes 8:11-13.
50. (a) The present slow operation of justice is due to what on high above mankind? (b) How will the “new earth” respond to the “new heavens” as to righteousness?
50 The present slow process of bringing the wrongdoers to justice or of never bringing them to account is because we are living in the ‘old earth’ under the ‘old heavens’ and Satan the Devil and his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” are in control over human society. The destruction of the old corrupt human society and the abyssing of Satan and his demons will remove all obstruction of justice during the millennial judgeship of the Prince [Sar] of Peace with his 144,000 associate judges. As a result of the dripping and trickling down of righteousness from the “new heavens,” the human soil of the “new earth” will respond and become fruitful in a corresponding way. Jehovah has foretold this, saying: “Let the earth open up, and let it be fruitful with salvation, and let it cause righteousness itself to spring up at the same time. I myself, Jehovah, have created it.”—Isaiah 45:8.
51. For what epoch, then, do we, along with Isaiah, long with our souls?
51 Do we not yearn for such an age of righteousness and justice as that? During that time the path of the righteous person will not be such rough going as now but will be smoothed out. In anticipation of that desirable epoch, the prophet Isaiah, who looked forward to an earthly resurrection, wrote under inspiration: “The path of the righteous one is uprightness. You being upright, you will smooth out the very course of a righteous one. Yes, for the path of your judgments, O Jehovah, we have hoped in you. For your name and for your memorial the desire of the soul has been. With my soul I have desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me I keep looking for you; because, when there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn. Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly and will not see the eminence of Jehovah.”—Isaiah 26:7-10.
52, 53. (a) Even in the land of straightforwardness, under divine favor, for whom will it be difficult to learn righteousness? (b) In their case, what principle stated by the apostle Peter seems fitting?
52 The millennial “land of straightforwardness,” of straightforward dealing with the people and among the people, will be a place where great favor is shown to all mankind in their inborn human imperfection. Some members of the human family have gone down more deeply into sinful degradation than others and have been hardened in an unjust personality because of long failing to be brought to account. Their accustomed bent is toward injustice. It is easy to see how wicked ones of that kind would find it difficult to learn righteousness and uprightness even when all around them there is straightforwardness and divine favor is being shown to them through the King Jesus Christ. In spite of all the help proffered to them, they will be inclined to do unjustly. They will not want to recognize the eminence of Jehovah as the rightful Lawgiver nor the rightness of His standards for living. Respecting them the principle set forth by the apostle Peter seems fitting:
53 “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? ‘And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?’”—1 Peter 4:17, 18.
54. Do those who receive the favor of God in vain, missing its purpose, need to be preserved till the end of the Judgment Day, and what is the reason?
54 Persons who, in the “land of straightforwardness,” receive the “favor” of God in vain, missing its loving purpose, and who prove unreformable, need not necessarily be preserved to the end of the thousand years before being executed as unfit for eternal life in the Paradise restored to earth. Without any injustice to such who prove to be beyond correction, they may be executed by the one whom God has appointed to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness. These do not get their names written “in the book of life” and hence they are fit for nothing but the “second death,” as symbolized by the “lake of fire” that causes a complete destruction. (Revelation 20:14, 15) How wise and prudent it is, then, to be obedient now to the “good news of God” and to cultivate a love of righteousness in view of that coming Judgment Day!