Questions From Readers
● Will the great crowd of “other sheep” who survive Armageddon know whether their companions of the remnant proved faithful and gained the prize of immortality or not?—F. C., United States.
Yes, it seems reasonable to conclude that just who comprise the 144,000 members of the body of Christ will be common knowledge to those of the “other sheep” living in the post-Armageddon new world. Relevant thereto is Psalm 87:5, 6, which reads: “And respecting Zion it will be said: ‘Each and every one was born in her.’ And the Most High himself will firmly establish her. Jehovah himself will declare, when recording the peoples: ‘This is one who was born there.’”
That this should be the case is most reasonable. Certainly at the present time we know, because of the Scriptural record, that certain ones received Jehovah’s approval in times of old, which information is encouraging to us. So for those of the post-Armageddon new world to know that certain ones proved faithful and received the glorious reward of immortality would likewise prove an incentive to faithfulness to them. Their faithful devotion would be recalled by those that knew them, in keeping with the principle stated at Hebrews 13:7: “Remember those who are governing you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.”
● What is the meaning of the following statement, recorded at Matthew 10:23: “You will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives”?
Jesus said that in the year 31 (A.D.). This was when he was sending out his twelve apostles, in twos, to preach in all the cities of Israel. It may have been, as in the case of the seventy evangelizers whom Jesus also sent out to preach, that the apostles were sent in advance of Jesus and that Jesus would later come to the places where they had preached. (Luke 10:1) This, however, does not appear to be the thing referred to by Jesus in Matthew 10:23, namely, that he would personally, in the flesh, follow up his twelve apostles in the cities in which they had preached.
It is evident that when Jesus gave his twelve apostles these preaching instructions, he was doing so for the years that would follow his death, resurrection and ascension to heaven, never to come back again to the earth in the flesh. How is this evident? From the fact that Jesus spoke to the apostles about their being mistreated in the synagogues and being haled before governors and kings “for a witness to them and the nations.” (Matt. 10:17, 18) There is no record that such things occurred during the short preaching campaign in which the apostles engaged in Israel exclusively, after which they returned to Jesus and made their reports. At the time that Jesus gave them the above instructions, he plainly told them not to go to the nations or even to the Samaritans on this preaching campaign, but only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”—Matt. 10:5, 6.
So it must have been because he looked ahead to their world-wide preaching among outside nations after his ascension to heaven that Jesus said to the apostles: “You will be objects of hatred by all people [not merely Israelites] on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved. When they persecute you in one city, flee to another; for truly I say to you, You will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives.”—Matt. 10:22, 23.
On the occasion of saying those words, Jesus gave the apostles, for the immediate preaching campaign, a local territory assignment. It took in the territory of Israel in Palestine, namely, Judea, Galilee and Peraea, and did not include Samaria. By covering this they would “complete the circuit of the cities of Israel.” So now Jesus used this temporary, limited territory assignment as an illustration of their final complete territory assignment. Before he ascended to heaven the resurrected Jesus made their territory assignment the entire world, for he said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore [everywhere in the earth] and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.” (Matt. 28:18, 19) This enlarged their territory assignment beyond the borders of Israel, yes, beyond the borders of so-called Christendom and out into the so-called pagan world that does not belong to Christendom. Under Jesus’ instructions, his disciples were to undertake to complete the circuit of the whole inhabited earth, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom to all, to Jewish people, to professed Christian people and to all the pagan peoples.
By our consideration of Bible prophecy and modern events we discern that the Lord Jesus Christ, in company with Jehovah God, came to the spiritual temple in the spring of 1918. It was after that year, particularly from 1919 forward, that the remnant of Christ’s anointed disciples began preaching the good news of God’s kingdom as having been established in the heavens in 1914. How long after the Lord’s coming to the temple must this preaching continue? Until the “Son of man arrives” for the execution of Jehovah’s judgment. This will be in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” at Armageddon. In connection with that arrival Jesus said, in Revelation 16:15: “Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one that stays awake and keeps his outer garments, that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness.”
Accordingly, by means of his instructions to his twelve apostles Jesus was prophetically telling us today that his anointed disciples or the remnant of spiritual Israel would not complete the circuit of the entire inhabited earth with the preaching of the message of God’s established kingdom before the glorified heavenly King Jesus Christ would arrive as Jehovah’s executional officer in the battle of Armageddon. This means that Jehovah’s witnesses today, who now include hundreds of thousands of the “other sheep” or earthly companions of the spiritual remnant, will not be able to reach personally all parts of the earth with the Kingdom message before the battle of Armageddon breaks out.
We may be driven from one city to another by the persecution upon Jehovah’s witnesses, yet we should keep going. Why? Because, even being driven by the scattering power of the persecution to outside locations, we shall not be able to reach all the territory directly, personally, before the war of God Almighty’s great day breaks out and destroys the people of this wicked world and thus puts a finis to our work of witnessing to such worldly people.
Hence it is up to us to cover as much of the territory as possible before Armageddon. Till then we shall never run out of new territory to work or of territory in which the need for Kingdom publishers and teachers is great. Thank God for that!—Compare The Watch Tower as of June 1, 1900, page 174; June 15, 1907, page 184, paragraph 3.