Questions From Readers
● What does Revelation 20:5 mean by the words, “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”?—J. S., Kentucky.
This does not mean that “the rest of the dead”, those aside from the body-members of Christ who reign with him in heaven for a thousand years, have no resurrection till the end of the millennium. The word “again” is not in the ancient reliable manuscripts, as shown by the modern translations based upon the latest studies in this field. The New World Translation renders this part of the text, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” In the past centuries mankind generally have been counted “dead in trespasses and sins”, under death sentence inherited from Adam, without right to life, and hence not having fullness of life in God’s sight. It is not until the end of the thousand-year reign, after the test brought about by the return of Satan for a short while, that the benefits of Christ’s ransom to those who will inhabit the earth reach their climax. Then it is that Jehovah God declares them righteous and registers their names permanently in the “book of life”, and they enter fully into everlasting life. Then, with Adamic death abolished, earth’s inhabitants for the first time “come to life” in the fullest meaning of life as Jehovah God views it.—Eph. 2:1; Rev. 20:7-9, 12, 15; 22:19.
● How could Jesus justly condemn and cause to wither the fig tree that had no fruit on it, in view of the fact that it was not the season for figs?—P. S., Oklahoma.
The account reads: “From a distance he caught sight of a fig tree that had leaves, and he went to see whether he would perhaps find something on it. But, on coming to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs. So, in response, he said to it: ‘May no one eat fruit from you any more forever.’” Soon thereafter the tree withered and died. (Mark 11:12-14, 20, NW) Different Bible scholars seek to show that under certain conditions figs were on trees at that time of year, but their arguments do not seem too strong, and fail to offset the Scriptural explanation that “it was not the season of figs”. Why, then, condemn the tree? Because the appearance of the tree led observers to expect fruit on it. In the case of fig trees the fruit appears before the leaves, and when leaves are out one can expect to find fruit. This tree had leaves. Jesus saw this from a distance. He had a right to expect fruit on it, in view of the tree’s leafy appearance, so he went to get some figs to satisfy his hunger. When he found none, he condemned the tree. Granted that it was not the season for figs, but apparently this tree was exceptional, unusually early for some reason, and its leaves promised fruit. It reminds of the Jewish nation, in covenant with God, having his law, going through the forms of worship, giving outward appearances of bearing fruit to God; yet when Christ Jesus came to earth and inspected that nation he found its pretensions to fruit-bearing false, and he condemned that nation, saying, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” It withered and died as God’s holy nation, for he cast it off and thereafter the Romans came and desolated Jerusalem.—Matt. 23:38.
● Can it be said that Armageddon started in 1914 with the casting of Satan out of heaven and down to earth?—Connecticut reader.
When the Gentile Times ended and Jesus Christ was enthroned in 1914, Satan did not accept the new King, and war in heaven resulted, which ended with the ousting of Satan therefrom. That war was the beginning of “the time of the end” for Satan’s world, but it was not pushed to Satan’s destruction. The trouble was cut short to allow for the preaching of the Kingdom gospel and the gathering of the Lord’s other sheep on earth. When the witness has been given and sheep and goats separated, then will come the final end upon Satan’s world. That will be Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God Almighty, and it will rid the universe of Satan and his demons and his visible agents on earth.—Matt. 24:14; Rev. 12:7-12; 16:14-16; 19:11-20:3.