Billions Now Dead Will Soon Live Again
THE Kingdom administration in the hands of Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associate rulers will indeed bestow grand blessings upon the survivors of the “great tribulation.” At that time the damaging effects of Adam’s plunging himself and his unborn offspring into sin will not be recalled in such a way as to be mentally and emotionally painful. The inspired words of the prophet Isaiah promise: “The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.”—Isaiah 65:17.
For that to be the case, the pain and sorrow resulting from the death-dealing effects of sin must be completely undone. This would include raising to life billions of people now dead. Why?
Well, if you were to survive the “great tribulation,” would you be truly happy knowing that dear friends and relatives who had died in years past were still deprived of life and its blessings? Would this not bring pain of heart and mind to you? To remove any possibility of such pain, the dead must be raised. Only if they can be restored to life and be assisted to attain perfection in body and mind will the damaging effects of sin be fully erased.
The Holy Scriptures assure us that the dead in general will live again. They will be given the opportunity to have more than the short lifespan that ended at their death. Jehovah God has empowered his Son Jesus Christ to resurrect them. (John 5:26-28) Jesus’ being empowered to raise the dead agrees with the fact that he is prophetically referred to in the Bible as the “Eternal Father.” (Isaiah 9:6) By raising to life those sleeping in death, Jesus becomes their Father.—Compare Psalm 45:16.
BASIS FOR BELIEF
For one who accepts the existence of God, there should be no problem in having a firm belief in the resurrection. Is it not reasonable that the One who originally started off human life is also wise enough to restore life to the dead, to re-create dead humans? Jehovah God has personally promised that the dead will live again. He has also performed powerful works that strengthen one’s confidence in this promise.
Jehovah God empowered some of his faithful servants actually to raise the dead. At Zarephath, not far from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Elijah the prophet resurrected the only son of a widow. (1 Kings 17:21-23) His successor Elisha raised the only son of a prominent, hospitable woman at Shunem, in the northern part of Israel. (2 Kings 4:8, 32-37) Jesus Christ resurrected the daughter of Jairus, a presiding officer of a synagogue near the Sea of Galilee; the only son of a widow at Nain, to the southwest of the Sea of Galilee; and his dear friend Lazarus, who had been dead four days and was buried not far from Jerusalem. (Mark 5:22, 35, 41-43; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:38-45) At Joppa, on the Mediterranean coast, the apostle Peter raised Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead. (Acts 9:36-42) And the apostle Paul, on a stopover in the Roman province of Asia, resurrected Eutychus after he had tumbled to his death from a third-story window.—Acts 20:7-12.
The most remarkable resurrection was that of Jesus Christ himself. This well-attested historical event provides the strongest proof for there being a resurrection. That is what the apostle Paul pointed out to those assembled at the Areopagus in Athens, Greece: “[God] 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 17:31.
Jesus’ resurrection was a fact established beyond a shadow of doubt. There were far more than two or three witnesses who could testify to it. Why, on one occasion the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to upward of five hundred disciples. So well confirmed was his resurrection that the apostle Paul could say that denial of the resurrection meant denial of Christian faith as a whole. He wrote: “If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised up. But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and our faith is in vain. Moreover, we are also found false witnesses of God, because we have borne witness against God that he raised up the Christ, but whom he did not raise up if the dead are really not to be raised up.”—1 Corinthians 15:13-15.
Early Christians, like the apostle Paul, knew for a certainty that Jesus had been raised from the dead. So powerful was their conviction of being rewarded in the resurrection that they were willing to face severe persecution, even death itself.
RESURRECTION TO SPIRIT LIFE
The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows that raising the dead does not mean bringing back to life the identical body. Jesus was raised, not to human life, but to spirit life. With reference to this, the apostle Peter wrote: “Why, even Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) At his resurrection Jesus received a body, not of flesh and blood, but one suitable for heavenly life.—1 Corinthians 15:40, 50.
That spirit body was, of course, invisible to human eyes. Hence, for his disciples to see him after his resurrection, Jesus had to take on flesh. It should be noted that Jesus was not buried with clothing but was wrapped up in fine linen bandages. After his resurrection the bandages remained in the tomb. So, just as Jesus had to materialize clothing, he also took on flesh to make himself visible to his disciples. (Luke 23:53; John 19:40; 20:6, 7) Strange? No, this was exactly what angels had done prior to this time when they appeared to humans. The fact that Jesus materialized a body of flesh explains why his disciples did not always recognize him at first and why he could appear and disappear suddenly.—Luke 24:15-31; John 20:13-16, 20.
Only the 144,000 joint heirs who are associated with Jesus Christ in rulership will experience a resurrection like his. Discussing that resurrection to spirit life, the Bible tells us:
“What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body. . . .
“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. It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven. As the one made of dust is, so those made of dust are also; and as the heavenly one is, so those who are heavenly are also. And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one.”—1 Corinthians 15:36-49.
RESURRECTION TO LIFE ON EARTH
But what of those who, unlike Jesus Christ and his 144,000 fellow rulers, will be resurrected to earthly life? Since they have ‘returned to the dust,’ will God have to reassemble all the atoms that once formed their bodies so that their bodies are identical in every respect to what they were at the moment of death?
No, that simply could not be. Why not? First of all, because this would mean that they would be brought back to life in a condition on the verge of death. Persons resurrected in the past were not brought back in the identical sickly condition that preceded their death. Though not perfect at the time of their resurrection, they had a whole, reasonably sound body.
Moreover, it would not be reasonable to insist that precisely the same atoms be regathered to form their restored body. After death, and through the process of decay, the human body is converted into other organic chemicals. These may be absorbed by plants, and people may eat these plants or their fruit. Thus the atomic elements making up the deceased person can eventually come to be in other people. Obviously, at the time of the resurrection the identical atoms cannot be reassembled in every person brought back from the dead.
What, then, does resurrection mean for the individual? It means his being brought back to life as the same person. And what makes an individual the person he is? Is it the chemical substance making up his body? No, inasmuch as the molecules in the body are regularly being replaced. What really distinguishes him from other people, then, is his general physical appearance, his voice, his personality, his experiences, mental growth and memory. So when Jehovah God, by means of his Son Jesus Christ, raises a person from the dead, he evidently will provide that person with a body having the same traits as previously. The resurrected person will have the same memory that he had acquired during his lifetime and he will have the full awareness of that memory. The person will be able to identify himself, and those who knew him will also be able to do so.
‘But if a person is thus re-created,’ someone may say, ‘is he really the same person? Is he not just a copy?’ No, for this reasoning overlooks the fact earlier mentioned that even in life our bodies are constantly undergoing change. About seven years ago the molecules making up our bodies were different from the molecules forming them today. We even differ in appearance as the years go by. Yet, do we not have the same fingerprints? Are we not the same persons? Most certainly.
Those to whom the resurrection seems almost unbelievable should reflect on a similarly marvelous process that takes place at the time of human conception. The tiny cell that is formed by the uniting of the sperm and the egg has within it the potential for becoming a person different from any other person that has ever lived. Within this cell there are the factors that direct the building of the individual and the forming of the basic personality he inherits from his parents. Then, of course, his life experiences thereafter add to that personality. Similar to what happens at the time of conception, at the time of the resurrection or re-creation the deceased person will have his personality and life record restored to him, every cell of his body being impressed with the characteristics that make him different from all other persons. And his heart, mind and body will have impressed within them the added qualities, traits and abilities that he developed during his former lifetime.
Regarding the Creator, the inspired psalmist noted: “Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.” (Psalm 139:16) Accordingly, as soon as the genetic combinations are formed at the time of conception, Jehovah God is capable of perceiving and having a record of a child’s basic traits. So it is wholly logical that he is capable of having an accurate record by which to re-create one who has died.
We can have confidence in Jehovah’s perfect memory. Why, even imperfect humans, by means of videotape, can preserve and construct visible and audible reproductions of persons. Far greater is God’s ability to keep such records, for he calls all the numberless stars by name!—Psalm 147:4.
It can be seen, therefore, that resurrection or re-creation is possible because the deceased individual lives in God’s memory. Because of his perfect memory of life patterns and his purpose to resurrect the dead, Jehovah God could count deceased men of faith like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as being alive. That is what Jesus Christ called to the attention of unbelieving Sadducees, saying: “That the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, in the account about the thornbush, when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.’ He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.”—Luke 20:37, 38.
There is indeed ample basis for believing in the resurrection or re-creation. True, some may reject the idea. But would you be better off to close your eyes and mind to the evidence and refuse to believe in the resurrection? Would it make it easier for you to lose a dear relative or friend in death? Would you be better prepared to face the grim prospect of your own death?
Knowing that this life is not all there is frees one from the fear of having it cut off prematurely by violent means. This fear has been exploited by Satan the Devil in holding people in slavery, maneuvering them through his earthly agents to do his bidding. (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 2:14) Afraid of the possibility of being executed, many have failed to follow the dictates of their conscience and have committed dastardly crimes against humanity, as was done in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
The person with strong faith in the resurrection, however, is strengthened in his determination to do what is right even if that might mean death for him. To him the life that he will enjoy upon being raised from the dead is far more precious than a few years of life now. He does not want to jeopardize his opportunity to gain everlasting life for what, by comparison, could hardly be called a lengthening of his life. He is like the men of ancient times of whom the Bible book of Hebrews reports: “[They] were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom [some compromise of what is right], in order that they might attain a better resurrection.”—Hebrews 11:35.
Certainly those who have confidence in God’s promise to raise the dead are far better off than those who do not have the resurrection hope. They can look to the future without fear.
Biblical evidence shows that this system will soon come to its end, within this generation, and be replaced by a righteous administration in the hands of Jesus Christ and his associate rulers. That is why billions now dead will soon live again and begin to benefit from Kingdom rule. How grand it will be for the “tribulation” survivors to welcome back the dead! Think of the joy of once again being able to have the encouraging companionship of dear friends and beloved relatives, to hear their familiar voices and to see them in good health.
What effect should this have on you? Should it not prompt you to thank God for the marvelous resurrection hope? Should not your gratitude move you to do all that you can to learn about him and then to serve him faithfully?
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Is it not possible for the one who makes a baby grow in its mother’s womb also to resurrect the dead?