Questions From Readers
● Could it be said that the angel of Revelation 14:6 who had “everlasting good news to declare” symbolizes the “faithful and discreet slave” class? Also, what do the second and the third angels symbolize at Revelation 14:8, 9?—R. W., U.S.A.
The three angels, discussed in The Watchtower of October 1, 1963, in the article “‘Everlasting Good News’ for the ‘Time of the End’” do not symbolize the “faithful and discreet slave,” the governing body, the Watch Tower Society or other visible overseers of God’s people. Instead, all three giving their messages would indicate that there is participation by angels in the preaching work. This is indicated, for example, regarding the first angel when, on page 590 of that Watchtower, it is said: “Since the year 1919 he, or the angelic organization that he symbolizes, has been seeing to it that this territory and its population are being reached with the glad tidings.” The preachers of the Kingdom message on earth catch up the angelic pronouncements as recorded in the book of Revelation and herald these; they do so under angelic direction.
● How are the remnant of the anointed members of Christ’s body “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” thus ‘always being with the Lord’?—1 Thess. 4:17.
1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 reads: “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first. Afterward we the living who are surviving will, together with them, be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
At Christ’s second presence those of the anointed ones who had already died were to be resurrected first. Christ, in ‘descending from heaven,’ did not come down from heaven literally and bodily, but he turned his attention to and extended his power toward the earth. (Compare Genesis 11:5, 7.) He issued from his throne a “commanding call, with an archangel’s voice,” to his followers on earth. Christ Jesus is Michael the archangel, in charge of the holy angels at his presence. (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 12:7) As foretold at Daniel 12:1, 2, he was to stand up, and at that time many asleep in the dust of the earth were to wake up. At Revelation 11:7, 8, 12 we find a similar picture, with God’s witnesses on the ground as dead being given the command by a loud voice out of heaven to “Come on up here.” And they go up into heaven in the cloud.
So Christ, the archangel, uttered the loud command for his people to wake up out of the dust from the spiritually dead, sleeping condition they were in in 1918, in fear and captivity to Babylon the Great, and to become alive with activity, and this they did starting in 1919. This was accompanied by the sound of God’s “trumpet,” and so it takes place during the time of the trumpetlike proclamation that the great King has taken his throne.
They were “caught away” by being “snatched away” or delivered from bondage to Babylon the Great and her political paramours and brought into a free theocratic organization under the invisible Lord. A similar illustration is found in the parable of the wheat and the weeds in which the wheat class are spoken of as being harvested; and at Luke 17:34, 35 they are said to be “taken along.” They are like those taken into the ark with Noah, and like Lot and his family, who were taken by the angels into a place of safety. They are separated from this world, taken to serve as witnesses in the day of judgment for upholding the issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty.
Something in a cloud is invisible to human observers on earth, just as Christ was at his ascension when “a cloud caught him up from their vision.” (Acts 1:9) The remnant on earth are not invisible bodily, but certainly this position into which they are brought during the time of Christ’s invisible presence is not at all seen or recognized by the world. This catching away of them takes place “together with them,” or during the same time period as the resurrection of the faithful followers of Christ who have already died.
To “meet the Lord in the air” would not mean for the surviving remnant on earth to go to heaven directly. For millenniums Satan the Devil has been “the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2) So ‘meeting the Lord in the air’ would mean their coming to know that the spirit Lord, Jesus Christ, is in authority in the air since ousting Satan from heaven, and their being brought into relationship with him in this authoritative capacity, being at unity with him at God’s spiritual temple and doing God’s will, carrying out the work he wants done on the earth at this time. The anointed remnant are now in this condition and, remaining therein until they finish their earthly course in death, they will be resurrected out beyond our atmosphere to the actual presence of the Lord in heaven just as those faithful followers who preceded them have been, thus ‘always being with the Lord.’