IN THE last two chapters, how many people did we read about who were resurrected?— There were five. How many were children?— Three. And a fourth one is called a young man. What do you think this shows?—
Well, it shows that God loves young people. But he will resurrect many others too. Will God resurrect only those who did what is good?— We might think so. Yet, many people never learned the truth about Jehovah God and his Son. So they did what was bad because they were taught wrong things. Do you think that Jehovah will resurrect people like that?—
The Bible says: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Why will those who were not righteous, or who did not do what was right, be resurrected?— It is because they never had a chance to learn about Jehovah and what he wants people to do.
When do you think people will be resurrected?— Think back to when Lazarus died and Jesus promised his sister Martha: “Your brother will rise.” Martha replied: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:23, 24) What did Martha mean when she said that Lazarus would rise on “the last day”?—
Well, Martha had heard about Jesus’ promise: ‘All those in the memorial tombs will come out.’ (John 5:28, 29) So “the last day” is when all those in God’s memory will be brought back to life. This last day is not a 24-hour day. It will be a thousand years long. On this day, the Bible says, ‘God will judge the people of the earth.’ The ones he judges will include those who have been resurrected.—Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:8.
Think about what a wonderful day this will be! During this thousand-year-long day, many millions of people who have died will be brought back to life. Jesus calls the place where they are brought back to live Paradise. Let’s see where Paradise will be and what it will be like there.
About three hours before Jesus dies on a torture stake, he talks about Paradise to a man on a stake next to him. The man is being put to death for crimes he has committed. But as this criminal watches Jesus and hears what is said about Him, he begins to believe in Jesus. So the criminal says: “Remember me when you get into your kingdom.” Jesus answers: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:42, 43.
What does Jesus mean when he says this? Where is Paradise?— Think about it. Where was Paradise to begin with?— Remember, God gave the first man, Adam, and his wife a paradise to live in right here on this earth. It was called the garden of Eden. There were animals in that garden, but they didn’t hurt anyone. And there were trees with lots of delicious fruit on them, as well as a big river. It was a wonderful place to live!—Genesis 2:8-10.
So when we read of that criminal being in Paradise, we should picture in our minds this earth made into a beautiful place to live. Will Jesus be right here on earth with the former criminal in Paradise?— No. Do you know why he won’t be here?—
It is because Jesus will be in heaven ruling as King over the Paradise on earth. So Jesus will be with that man in the sense that Jesus will raise him from the dead and care for his needs. But why will Jesus let a former criminal live in Paradise?— Let’s see if we can figure that out.
Before the criminal talked to Jesus, did he know about God’s purposes?— No, he didn’t. He did bad things because he didn’t know the truth about God. In Paradise he will be taught about God’s purposes. Then he will have the opportunity to prove that he really does love God by doing His will.
Will everyone who is resurrected live in Paradise on earth?— No, they won’t. Do you know why not?— Because some will be resurrected to live with Jesus in heaven. They will rule with him as kings over the Paradise earth. Let’s see how we know this.
The night before Jesus dies, he tells his apostles: ‘In the house of my Father in heaven, there are many places to live, and I am going my way to prepare a place for you.’ Then Jesus promises them: “I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.”—John 14:2, 3.
Where does Jesus go after he is resurrected?— Yes, back to heaven to be with his Father. (John 17:4, 5) So Jesus promises his apostles and other followers that he will resurrect them so that they can be with him in heaven. What will they do there with Jesus?— The Bible says that his disciples who have a part in “the first resurrection” will live in heaven and rule over the earth “as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Revelation 5:10; 20:6; 2 Timothy 2:12.
How many will share in “the first resurrection” and rule with Jesus as kings?— Jesus told his disciples: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) This “little flock,” who are resurrected to be with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom, are an exact number. The Bible shows that “a hundred and forty-four thousand” are resurrected from the earth.—Revelation 14:1, 3.
How many will live in Paradise on earth?— The Bible does not say. But God had told Adam and Eve while they were in the garden of Eden to have children and fill the earth. True, they failed to do that. But God will see to it that his purpose to have the earth filled with good people is carried out.—Genesis 1:28; Isaiah 45:18; 55:11.
Just think how wonderful it will be to live in Paradise! The whole earth will become like a park. It will be alive with birds and animals and beautiful with trees and flowers of every kind. No one will have pain because he is sick, nor will anyone have to die. Everyone will be a friend of everyone else. If we want to live forever in Paradise, now is the time to prepare for it.