Worship the God of Resurrection
1. What is it necessary to believe, and how did the mother of Samuel show she had such belief?
IT IS necessary to learn what the Christian knows, that men can kill only the body, but they cannot kill the soul. (Matt. 10:28) In Jehovah God’s written Word he has promised a resurrection of the dead, and today the same Holy Scriptures that the Hebrews in Nebuchadnezzar’s day believed we still have and they are still true. The three Hebrew friends of Daniel knew what their ancestors taught them. For example, Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel said: “There is no one holy like Jehovah, for there is no one but you; and there is no rock like our God. Jehovah is a Killer and a Preserver of life, a Bringer down to Sheol, and He brings up.”—1 Sam. 2:1, 2, 6.
2, 3. What faith in future life was had by faithful men of ancient times?
2 Believers in God’s Word know that God can bring up from Sheol, the common grave of dead mankind. That is something man cannot do. There will be a resurrection of the dead, the three Hebrews believed. So to die as martyrs in the fiery furnace meant to them to die and be kept in secret, asleep, for a time indefinite to them, but after that a resurrection. They knew of Job’s hard experience and likely recalled his words: “O that in Sheol [the grave] you would conceal me, that you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, that you would set a time limit for me and remember me!” (Job 14:13) Job was not afraid to go into the grave or Sheol, because he knew there would be a resurrection from it in God’s promised due time. Jehovah said to Abraham that through him and his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed. How could that be without the resurrection of the peoples of all nations? Abraham, Job and the three Hebrews knew, as do honest students of the Bible today, that the grave is where mankind in general goes and that those there are in an unconscious state. David, in support of this, wrote: “In death there is no mention of you; in Sheol who will laud you?” (Ps. 6:5) The psalmist said: “Hear this, all you peoples. Give ear, . . . Sheol rather than a lofty abode is for each one.” “From the hand of Sheol I shall redeem them; from death I shall recover them.” (Ps. 49:1, 14; Hos. 13:14) A thousand years later the apostle Peter knew that David was still in the grave, resting as in sleep, awaiting the resurrection. Read Acts 2:29, 34, 35 and Hebrews 11:35.
3 David was sure his God Jehovah would redeem him from the grave. Jehovah made provision for this through his Son Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) In due time David along with billions of others, including the three Hebrews and Daniel, will stand up and live in the new system of things after the battle of Armageddon. The last words of Daniel’s prophetic book are: “And as for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:13) Daniel and the three Hebrews knew that, while one is living, this is good advice: “All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.” (Eccl. 9:10) They knew the condition of the dead, just as Christians today do. They read Isaiah’s prophecy, and it gave them hope when the three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace and when their friend Daniel was thrown to the lions. They read Jehovah’s words: “For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isa. 65:17) This would be the day for which Christians pray in saying, “Your kingdom come,” when the earth will be brought to a Paradise condition and there will be the resurrection of the dead.
4. How did Jesus give definite assurance regarding a resurrection?
4 Now Christians are definitely assured of the resurrection because of Jesus’ own words. He said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) When these three faithful Hebrews are resurrected in the new system of things, with new heavens and new earth, they will undoubtedly do good things during the reign of Christ Jesus. Then, because of their continued faith and loyalty to Jehovah their God, they will get the fulfillment of God’s promise.—Heb. 11:34, 39, 40.
5, 6. (a) How far-reaching will the resurrection be according to Acts 24:15? (b) How long might a resurrected person be permitted to continue living in sin, and with what final result?
5 Just how far-reaching is this resurrection Jesus spoke of when he said: “All those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out”? It certainly must be far-reaching, because the apostle Paul stated: “I have hope toward God, which hope these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) However, does that mean that even those practicing vile things after their resurrection are going to keep on living in this new system of things? It appears from the Scriptures that those who do not want to change and do good things after being resurrected on earth will be cut off before too many years pass. Certainly they will be given the opportunity to know the truth through others’ teaching them God’s will.
6 Isaiah, who wrote about Jehovah’s creating new heavens and a new earth, also said about the shortness of life of sinners in comparison with everlasting life: “One will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.” (Isa. 65:20) It will be just as the apostle John stated: “Death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” (Rev. 20:13) So if their deeds in the “new earth” show they exhibit no faith and love of righteousness and they strive to practice vile things, then their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.—Rev. 20:14, 15; John 5:29.
7. What opportunities will resurrected ones first have before ever being condemned to everlasting destruction?
7 Thus it seems that those who do not develop an appreciation of life under the new system of things when Christ is king will not be permitted to live indefinitely. Those returning from the grave, young or old, to begin with, will have to make progress in the right direction after they are told what happened and what the conditions of living are then under God’s kingdom. After having an opportunity of understanding Jehovah’s Word, and being given information on the effects of sin upon mankind over a six-thousand-year period, and how the ransom of Christ Jesus makes it possible for them to gain everlasting life, if after all this they refuse Jehovah’s provision for life, then they will be condemned to everlasting destruction. Thus their resurrection will prove to be “a resurrection of judgment” because of their doing vile things.
8. What advantage will those now dying have if they withdraw from evil practices in this day?
8 Those who, during their present life, have acquainted themselves with God’s Word and who are withdrawing from the evil practices of this wicked system of things, will certainly make far smoother progress when they are resurrected from the dead, because they will want to continue doing good things. They will be striving to make theirs a “resurrection of life.”
9, 10. (a) How will those resurrected during the thousand-year reign of Christ learn about God’s righteous requirements? (b) How is Jehovah’s patience in this matter shown?
9 A tremendous educational program will be in operation during the thousand-year reign of Christ. All coming forth from Sheol or Hades will have an opportunity to learn, but there will be those who prove incorrigible, who will not adopt right worship. That will be their responsibility. But still they will first have an opportunity to decide on choosing either life or adverse judgment. Only those will get life who are doing the will of God. Remember, Isaiah said: “As for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.” Some may feel that a hundred years is a rather long time to prove a man right or wrong. But Jehovah is patient.
10 We read in the Scriptures: “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad. Although a sinner may be doing bad a hundred times and continuing a long time as he pleases, yet I am also aware that it will turn out well with those fearing the true God, because they were in fear of him. But it will not turn out well at all with the wicked one, neither will he prolong his days that are like a shadow, because he is not in fear of God.”—Eccl. 8:11-13.
11. How will a person prolong his days in the new order of things, and what result will befall the habitual sinners, and when at the latest?
11 So during the rule of the kingdom of God very likely this principle will be applied. If one wishes to prolong his days he will have to do good things. Those who do bad things even a hundred times early in life or when nearing one hundred years of age will certainly be proving themselves habitual sinners. Then, when God chooses, his judgment will be called down upon such ones. So they will die as mere boys, although some of them are a hundred years of age. Just how long people will be given the opportunity to practice vile things we cannot say, but it will be long enough to determine that the individuals do not want to do the will of God. There will be many who will not prove rebellious and vile until the end of the thousand years, when Satan the Devil is loosed a little while to test all then alive on earth. (Rev. 20:7-10) Those who do good things will live to the end of the thousand years. If then they pass the final test of perfect obedience to God, they will prove to be “those who did good things” and their resurrection will turn out to be a “resurrection of life.”—John 5:29.
12, 13. What, therefore, is the course of wisdom now, and why is it so necessary to follow the advice recorded in Revelation 18:4, 5?
12 Why, therefore, get steeped in wickedness now, continuing with this wicked system of things that will be destroyed at the battle of Armageddon? Why not get acquainted with God’s Word and study it daily, taking advantage of sharing in the vindication of Jehovah’s name and Word? Paul says: “Working together with him, we also entreat you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose. For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’ Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”—2 Cor. 6:1, 2.
13 Many persons today find it quite easy and pleasant to go along with the false religious organizations that encourage them to compromise with the State and even to worship the State. But God’s written Word says: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”—Rev. 18:4, 5.
14. While millions may hear the truth, what do most do, following what group of people of the days of Jesus?
14 Surely now is the time to flee from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. If you do not want to go down in the destruction that God is bringing upon false religion, then flee! There are millions of people today who are hearing the message concerning God’s kingdom and they are being urged to study the Word of God. But most of them push it aside as of no account. In Jesus’ day he preached for three and a half years and he sent his disciples out to preach too. Be sure that you do not get yourself into a situation like those persons who lived in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. They had an opportunity to hear the truth, but they would not change their course of action. They could have become disciples of Jesus back there, but they missed out on the calling to share in the heavenly kingdom.
15. What are the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:20-24?
15 Today you can become his followers too, true Christians, and share in the preaching of God’s kingdom. Read the account in Matthew 11:20-24, and you will see what Jesus said about consequences. There he said that in the resurrection it will be much better for the people of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom, to whom Jesus never preached, than for those persons to whom Jesus did preach in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. It was in these cities that Jesus did many of his powerful works, but they did not repent and follow him. Now, when the resurrection takes place for all these people, as it will for the thief who heard Jesus say, “You will be with me in Paradise,” what is going to happen? Jesus gave the answer to those of Chorazin and Bethsaida: “It will be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day than for you.” And to those in Capernaum: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.’—Matt. 11:22, 24.
16. What seems evident from Jesus’ words at that time?
16 It appears from Jesus’ statement that those of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom will repent and accept the provisions to gain life more quickly than will the Jews who had seen the powerful works that took place in their cities when Jesus was there with them. What about the people in Christendom and elsewhere today in this twentieth century? What are their prospects?
ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE EDUCATION FOR LIFE
17, 18. Over a twenty-year period what increase in the Kingdom witness has taken place, and how have Jehovah’s witnesses shown loyalty and devotion in their God-ordained work?
17 Never in the history of mankind has such a tremendous witness been given concerning the kingdom of God as in the last twenty years. Jehovah through his Son Christ Jesus declared that “this good news of the kingdom” would be preached, and Jehovah’s witnesses feel their responsibility and have gone preaching. Twenty years ago throughout the earth there were only 128,976 persons telling out the good news of the Kingdom in 6,727 congregations located in sixty-two lands. In the service year of 1964 throughout the earth there were on the average each month 1,001,870 who shared in that same proclamation work, and a new peak in Kingdom proclaimers of 1,075,523 was reached. These witnesses of Jehovah were located in 194 different lands. They spent 162,808,312 hours preaching the “good news of the kingdom” from God’s Book of truth, the Holy Bible. Further, they made 55,954,267 return visits to the homes of the people and also conducted 741,367 home Bible studies each week.
18 In order to help the people get better acquainted with the Word of God, Jehovah’s witnesses left with those interested 4,553,282 books and 13,181,871 booklets. Additionally, they obtained 1,551,436 subscriptions for the Watchtower and Awake! magazines and placed a combined total of 127,055,165 individual copies of these magazines. The Society’s printeries produced 111,194,768 copies of The Watchtower and 104,003,980 copies of Awake! during the past year.
19. How have many people shown interest in the message of the Bible?
19 That people listened to their message is evidenced by this fact: 1,809,476 met on Saturday, March 28, 1964, for the celebration of the Lord’s death, the Memorial, in 23,483 congregations throughout the world, though only 11,953 partook of the Memorial emblems, signifying they were a part of the remaining members of Christ’s bride here on earth. For the detailed report on what has been going on in different countries of the world, please see pages 22-25.
20. (a) What personal changes are those who flee Babylon making? (b) Whom do they not want to be like, and why?
20 From this you see thousands upon thousands of persons that withdrew from Babylon the Great. They are fleeing. They do not want to wait until the Judgment Day to make then first their decision on whether they will serve God or not. By delay they could be caught in Babylon’s destruction and be destroyed forever with her. So they are hearing the “everlasting good news” and doing something about it. They have taken up the ministry. Just last year there were 68,236 persons baptized, showing that they have dedicated their lives to the doing of Jehovah’s will. They want to preach as Jesus preached. Therefore, they repented of their evil ways and turned around. They do not want to be like the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, whose reforming after their resurrection will be more difficult than that of those coming back from Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe, because of their stubborn disposition then when Jesus was on the earth nineteen hundred years ago, they will show an even worse disposition when raised from the dead and they will be more resentful of what is taking place. That will not be disturbing to those who want to do good things so as to have their resurrection, when they are brought forth from the memorial tombs, prove to be one of life.
21. How will the sinner conduct his life, and what will be the result to him?
21 Those grateful that they are alive again will do what they can to help these persons who in former times did not listen to God’s Son and those who never knew Jehovah. But the sinner, doing bad things one hundred times, or as long as he pleases, will be permitted to go only to a certain limit, for his sinning will not prolong his days. His days will be like a shadow, and he will disappear in the second death.
22, 23. What is the wise way to act now in spite of opposition, and why can we answer the question, “Does your worship to God come first?” in the affirmative?
22 There is work to be done today and, by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, Jehovah’s witnesses want to do that work of spreading the good news everywhere. Now is the day of salvation. Now is the time to take your stand just as the three Hebrews did when they said to Nebuchadnezzar: “Your gods are not the ones we are serving.” (Dan. 3:18) Be like the apostles who walked in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. They were bold and said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
23 Everyone who hears the everlasting good news should get well acquainted with it and study God’s Word and then share in the declaration of it “to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’” (Rev. 14:6, 7) This is not the time to put off your decision as to whom you will worship because of fear of pressure, persecution, opposition, chiding, ridicule, or for any other reason. You must feel strong in Jehovah and be determined to do his will. What is your answer to the question: Does your worship to God come first? If it is Yes, then you will be able to say to the whole world: “Your gods are not the ones we are serving, and the image of gold that you have set up we will not worship.” Why so? Because you are not “fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” but, rather, you are fearful of “him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”*
For a very detailed discussion on the matter of the resurrection there will be five more articles in succession on this very subject in “The Watchtower.”
[Chart on page 22-25]
1964 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLD WIDE
(See bound volume)