For Whom There Are Resurrection Hopes
“And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, . . . And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.”—Rev. 20:13, 14.
1, 2. (a) What power has man’s great enemy, and who is he? (b) By whom will he be brought to nothing, and through what course of that one?
MAN’S great enemy has the power to cause death. He is soon now to be brought to nothing. This is one of the wonderful things that will result from the death of Jesus Christ nineteen hundred years ago. Previous to then Jesus had been the glorious heavenly Son of God, but he humbled himself under his heavenly Father’s mighty hand. He set aside his heavenly glory and, by God’s power, he was born as a human babe of blood and flesh, as a descendant of the patriarch Abraham through King David of Jerusalem. He became like one of the children of Abraham, by means of a Jewish virgin named Mary, a descendant of King David. On the Passover day of the year 33 of our Common Era, Jesus died. On that day the Passover lamb was slaughtered by the Jews, but then Jesus let himself be slaughtered like a lamb by the earthly servants of the Devil, the one “having the means to cause death.” Of the deliverance that results from Jesus’ death we read:
2 “Therefore, since the ‘young children’ are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly partook of the same things, that through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil; and that he might emancipate all those who for fear of death were subject to slavery all through their lives. For he is really not assisting angels at all, but he is assisting Abraham’s seed.”—Heb. 2:14-16.
3. By his sacrificial death, to what was Jesus Christ brought down, but how was Psalm 16:10 fulfilled toward him?
3 Thus, for sacrificial purposes according to God’s will, Jesus Christ was brought down to Sheol or Haʹdes, the common grave of the humans who lie dead in the dust of the ground. However, Almighty God did not let Sheol hold his faithful Son forever and thus let his flesh undergo a gradual decay in the memorial tomb. On the third day God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and thus fulfilled Psalm 16:10, as written by King David. The Christian apostle Paul quoted from Psalm 16:10 and said: “Hence he also says in another psalm, ‘You will not allow your loyal one to see corruption.’ For David, on the one hand, served the express will of God in his own generation and fell asleep in death and was laid with his forefathers and did see corruption. On the other hand, he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”—Acts 13:35-37.
4. Why will Jesus Christ be able to bring the death dealing Devil to nothing, and how will he do so?
4 Almighty God raised up Jesus Christ out of Sheol as an immortal spirit person, far mightier than Satan the Devil, “the one having the means to cause death.” In God’s due time the resurrected Jesus Christ will bring to nothing this death-dealing Devil. He will bind him and all his demon angels and imprison them in an abyss where they will not be able to interfere with the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ as God’s anointed King.
5. (a) When will that take place, and thus what will flee away? (b) What vision of Judgment Day will then be fulfilled?
5 This will be immediately after the battle of Armageddon, in which the Devil’s earthly organization of political rulers will be defeated by the heavenly warrior Jesus Christ and his angels. (Rev. 19:11 to 20:3) It is in this way that the symbolical heaven and earth are made to flee away from before God’s great white throne of judgment. This will make room for “a new heaven and a new earth.” (Rev. 20:11; 21:1) It will be then that the vision of the Christian apostle John is fulfilled: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Haʹdes gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.”—Rev. 20:12, 13.
6. Why does not that vision include the 144,000 disciples?
6 Revelation 20:13 says that “the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Haʹdes gave up those dead in them.” This does not include the 144,000 footstep followers of Jesus Christ who are referred to in Hebrews 2:16 as “Abraham’s seed,” by means of whom all the nations of our earth will procure an everlasting blessing. (Rev. 7:3-8; 14:1, 3; Gen. 12:3; 22:18) Nineteen centuries ago Haʹdes or Sheol gave up the dead Jesus Christ, and these 144,000 faithful followers who are his spiritual brothers are made like him in having part in what is called “the first resurrection.”
7, 8. (a) When did their resurrection begin? (b) How does Revelation 20:4-6 picture their resurrection?
7 According to indications in the Bible, their resurrection began in the year 1918 C.E., or three and a half years after Jesus Christ was enthroned and crowned as heavenly King to begin ruling in the midst of his enemies. (Ps. 110:1, 2; Heb. 10:12, 13; Rev. 14:13) Hence before Revelation, chapter twenty, tells us about the delivering up of the dead ones by the sea and by death and Haʹdes, it tells us first about the resurrection of the 144,000 spiritual followers of Jesus Christ, in the following words:
8 “I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death [symbolized by the lake of fire] has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:4-6, 14; 21:8.
“THE FIRST RESURRECTION”
9. (a) Does this mean that the 144,000 joint heirs of Christ never go to Haʹdes or Sheol? (b) According to Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18, what will not overpower the 144,000?
9 When we say that Revelation 20:13 does not include the above-mentioned 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ, we do not mean that these 144,000 do not go at death into Haʹdes or Sheol, or into death in the sea if they should die at sea and their bodies not be recovered for burial on the dry land. In order to have part in “the first resurrection,” they need to be raised out of Haʹdes or out of death in the sea. The words of Jesus Christ plainly give us to understand this fact when he told his twelve apostles about building his church or congregation upon himself as the foundation rock, for he said: “On this rockmass [petra] I will build my congregation, and the gates of Haʹdes will not overpower it.” (Matt. 16:18) And after his own resurrection from the dead, Jesus said in his vision to the apostle John: “I am the First and the Last, and the living one; and I became dead, but, look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of Haʹdes.” “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: He that conquers will by no means be harmed by the second death,” and so he will be resurrected.—Rev. 1:17, 18; 2:11.
10. (a) As respects death and Haʹdes, how does Jesus Christ break their power toward his 144,000 joint heirs? (b) As regards judgment, how does Revelation 20:4 picture the 144,000?
10 The resurrected Jesus Christ will bring to nothing the Devil “having the means to cause death.” As Jesus possesses the keys of death and of Haʹdes, he will not permit Haʹdes to overpower his faithful congregation of 144,000 spiritual brothers. After his heavenly enthronement as King in 1914 C.E., he breaks the power of death and of Haʹdes and releases the dead members of his congregation to take part in “the first resurrection.” By this invisible, spiritual resurrection, the 144,000 join him in the heavens as his joint heirs to reign and be priests and judges with him for the thousand years that Satan the Devil is bound in the abyss. They are not pictured as standing before the “great white throne” to be judged. Instead, Revelation 20:4 says that they sat down on thrones and “power of judging was given them.” Thus their death in Haʹdes does not become an endless death, an everlasting death, which is what is signified by the expression “the second death.”
11, 12. How, in John 6:39-54, did Jesus assure his disciples that death and Haʹdes would not overpower them forever?
11 Repeatedly Jesus Christ assured his faithful disciples that death and Haʹdes would not overpower them forever. As God’s instrument for resurrecting, he would see to it that their death in faithfulness to him did not become everlasting. He said:
12 “This is the will of him that sent me, that I should lose nothing out of all that he has given me but that I should resurrect it at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.” “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day. . . . Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood [by means of faith], you have no life in yourselves. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day.”—John 6:39, 40, 44, 53, 54.
13. Of what power did Jesus give an example in connection with his friend Lazarus, and how?
13 Even on earth Jesus Christ gave us examples of his coming resurrection power. He brought back to life his dear friend Lazarus, who was then in Sheol for the fourth day. Just before that Jesus said to Martha, the sister of Lazarus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.” After that Jesus had the stone taken away from in front of the memorial tomb and then called Lazarus back to life and out of the tomb. In this miraculous way Martha got her brother Lazarus back sooner than she expected, for she had said to Jesus: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”—John 11:24-44.
14. What happened to Lazarus later on, but what is our expectation for him?
14 Of course, Lazarus died again, presumably as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. So he returned to Sheol or Haʹdes. But Haʹdes will not overpower him as a member of the faithful Christian congregation, for it could not overpower him on that day when Jesus came to Bethany to awaken him from his four-day sleep of death. Only this time, after he is raised from Haʹdes with the rest of the Christian congregation by Jesus Christ when ruling as King in God’s kingdom, Lazarus will never die again.—John 11:26.
15. By “first resurrection,” what is indicated regarding resurrection as a whole, and how does 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 prove it?
15 Since Revelation 20:5, 6 speaks of “the first resurrection,” it indicates that there is a certain order followed in the resurrection as a whole. This is clearly told to us in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, which speaks to us about the resurrection of the 144,000 disciples who will have a glorious, heavenly, spiritual resurrection. Those verses cited read: “Now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man. For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive. But each one in his own rank: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.”
16. How does Revelation, chapter twenty, also indicate order as to resurrection?
16 Revelation, chapter twenty, also indicates order by depicting for us first the coming to life of the 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ, who are made happy in the first resurrection, and later the deliverance from the sea and from Haʹdes of all the other dead who get the opportunity for eternal life on earth.
“A BETTER RESURRECTION”
17. In Hebrews 11:35, to whom is the expression “better resurrection” applied?
17 In Hebrews 11:35 occurs this interesting expression about people who lived before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection.”
18. About whose exploits does Hebrews, chapter eleven, tell us, and how does it show their resurrection to be certain?
18 This verse is found in a chapter that tells us about exploits of “so great a cloud of witnesses,” running from the time of John the Baptist all the way back to the first faithful witness for Jehovah, Abel the younger brother of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve. (Heb. 11:4 to 12:1) The resurrection of these ancient men and women of godly faith is certain, for the Christian writer of Hebrews, chapter eleven, proves that they believed that “God was able to raise . . . even from the dead,” and at the close of this chapter he says to his Christian readers: “And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the fulfillment of the promise, as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.”—Heb. 11:19, 35, 39, 40.
19. In what way does their resurrection not take place “apart from us” (the 144,000)?
19 The 144,000 faithful disciples of Jesus Christ are all going to be “made perfect” by resurrection from the dead, even as Jesus Christ himself was. Apart from such Christians, or before such Christians are “made perfect” in the heavens, the resurrection of the “cloud of witnesses” of pre-Christian times could not take place. This is so because the faithful 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ take part in “the first resurrection,” a resurrection that is first in time as well as in quality and importance.
20. (a) Will it be “a better resurrection” in comparison with that of the 144,000? (b) In what way will it be “a better resurrection”?
20 Hence the “better resurrection” that the ancient “cloud of witnesses” will have will not be better than the resurrection of the 144,000 heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom. It will be better than that of the persons who were raised from the dead by the prophets Elijah and Elisha. Yes, even better than the resurrection of those whom Jesus Christ and his apostles raised from the dead.a How “better”? Because all those whom these servants of God raised to life had to die again in the flesh and go into Haʹdes or Sheol. Why so? Because God’s heavenly kingdom by his Son Jesus Christ had not yet begun its rule, inasmuch as the “times of the Gentiles” for ruling the earth were not due to end until the year 1914 C.E. The “better resurrection” of the ancient “cloud of witnesses” will take place under God’s heavenly kingdom, which has now been established. When Jesus Christ the heavenly King uses the “keys of death and of Haʹdes” and brings those ancient witnesses forth from Haʹdes or Sheol, they will not need to die again. Why not?
21. Why after resurrection will those ancient witnesses not need to die again?
21 By keeping their names written on the “scroll of life” through their continued godly faith and obedience they will be gradually lifted up to human perfection. Finally they will be given the prize of everlasting life in human perfection on our earth transformed into a Paradise. They will not be “hurled into the lake of fire,” that is to say, into the “second death.” Since they are persons of faith to begin with at their resurrection, they should all the more easily make progress toward human perfection then.
22. Of what was Daniel assured in Daniel 12:13, at what time?
22 For instance, there was the prophet Daniel. “In the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia” God’s angel gave to Daniel a marvelous prophecy concerning this “time of the end.” He ended this prophecy by saying to Daniel: “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. 10:1 to 12:13)b Daniel is no doubt one of those referred to in Hebrews 11:33, who “stopped the mouths of lions.” He will “stand up” for his lot by a resurrection under God’s kingdom.—Ezek. 14:14, 20; 28:3; Matt. 24:15.c
23. (a) To what did Abel go down at his murder? (b) What will happen to those whose memorial tombs perished before the Flood or have perished since the Flood?
23 When the first one of that ancient “cloud of witnesses,” namely, Abel, was killed by his brother Cain and was buried, he went down to Sheol. Whether Abel was put in a memorial tomb, the Bible does not state. (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 12:24; Gen. 4:8-11) Doubtless many memorial tombs were made for the dead from Abel’s time down to the earth-wide flood of Noah’s day, but, for the most part, those memorial tombs were wiped out by that destructive flood. However, the all-knowing God Jehovah knows and remembers all those who went down into Sheol or Haʹdes before the Flood, “both the righteous [like Abel and Enoch] and the unrighteous.” Jehovah will cause Haʹdes or Sheol to deliver up all those dead under his kingdom by Jesus Christ. The same will be true regarding the many graves and memorial tombs that have disappeared since that flood in 2370 B.C.E. down to our own day.
GEHENNA, “THE VALLEY OF HINNOM”
24, 25. (a) Jesus spoke of some men as going to what different place at death, and what would this mean for them? (b) In Matthew 23:13-33, whom did Jesus specify those men to be?
24 In the year 33 C.E., when Jesus was speaking about the “righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah,” he spoke of men then living who at death would go, not to Haʹdes or Sheol, but to another place, to Gehenna. For that reason it would mean “woe” to them. Who were those men? In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew, Jesus specified who they were, saying:
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you build the graves of the prophets and decorate the memorial tombs of the righteous ones, and you say, ‘If we had been in the days of our forefathers, we would not have been sharers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are bearing witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. . . . Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?”—Matt. 23:13-15, 29-33.
26. Why were such ones subjects for Gehenna or liable to its judgment, and how did Jesus then show this?
26 Thus those religious persons who were subjects for Gehenna and who were liable to the judgment of Gehenna were the unrepentant Jewish scribes and Pharisees and their proselytes. They were persons who were unrepentant and who refused to enter into the kingdom of the heavens. Jesus showed this by next saying: “For this reason, here I am sending forth to you prophets and wise men and public instructors. Some of them you will kill and impale, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; that there may come upon you all the righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation.”—Matt. 23:34-36.
27. How does the book of Acts show whether some of such liable ones fled from the judgment of Gehenna?
27 Some Pharisees did repent and quit shutting up the kingdom of the heavens, like Saul of Tarsus who became the Christian apostle Paul. (Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-30; 22:1-5; 23:6; Phil. 3:4-6) Also, Acts 2:10; 8:27-39 speaks of circumcised proselytes, and Acts 6:7 says: “The number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and a great crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.” These gave up all religious hypocrisy and stayed faithful to the Christian faith. Thus they successfully fled from the judgment of Gehenna to which they had been liable. They proved that they were not “serpents, offspring of vipers,” sons of the Devil as a religious father, offspring of the “original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan.”—John 8:44; Rev. 20:2.
28. From what is the Greek word Gehenna drawn, and what is the literal translation of the original expression?
28 Just what is this place called Gehenna, or what does it symbolize? The Greek word “Gehenna” is a transliteration of the Hebrew expression Gei-Hinnom, meaning “the valley of Hinnom.” In the Greek word Gehenna the syllable “Ge” stands for the Hebrew word Gai (גיא) meaning “Valley,” and the addition “henna” stands for Hinnom, the name of a man in the days of Judge Joshua.
29. What was the original Gehenna, and what did it mark according to Joshua 15:8; 18:16?
29 This Valley of Hinnom or Hinnom Valley is first mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 15:8 as marking the boundary between the territories of the tribes of Judah and of Benjamin, and it is associated with Jerusalem: “The boundary [of Judah] went up to the valley of the son of Hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite at the south, that is to say, Jerusalem; and the boundary went up to the top of the mountain that faces the valley of Hinnom [Gei-Hinnom, Hebrew; Ge-Ennom, Latin] to the west, which is at the extremity of the low plain of Rephaim to the north.” Here the Greek Septuagint translation calls it the Pharanx of Onom, that is to say, the Cleft (Chasm, Ravine, Gully) of Onom. Hinnom Valley or Valley of Hinnom is also mentioned in Joshua 18:16, in connection with the territorial boundary of the tribe of Benjamin.
30. How did Gehenna come to be misused by the Israelites, and how was it made unfit for such misuse?
30 The Valley of Hinnom, lying to the west and southwest of ancient Jerusalem, came to be misused by the backsliding Jews. In 2 Chronicles 28:3 we read about King Ahaz of Jerusalem: “He himself made sacrificial smoke in the valley of the son of Hinnom [Gai-benenom, LXX] and proceeded to burn up his sons in the fire.” (Also, 2 Chron. 33:6; Jer. 7:31, 32; 32:35) Faithful King Josiah saw good to defile this Valley of Hinnom because it had been used for the idol worship of Baal and for offering human sacrifices to this false god. In 2 Kings 23:10 it says of Josiah: “And he made unfit for worship Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, that no one might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to [the false god] Molech.”d The modern name of the valley is Wadi el-Rababi.
a See 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:17-37; 13:20, 21; Matthew 10:8; 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:38-44; Acts 9:36-41; 20:7-12.
b Daniel 12:2 has been applied to Christians who were merely spiritually dead and who were awakened from their religiously dead condition after the year 1918 C.E.—Compare with Revelation 11:7-13.
c In the Greek Septuagint translation of Daniel 12:13 the Greek word for “stand up” is anastései, from which is derived anástasis, meaning “resurrection,” in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
d See also Nehemiah 11:30; Jeremiah 19:2, 6. Hinnom Valley is mentioned thirteen times in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
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VALLEY OF HINNOM
TRIBE of BENJAMIN
TRIBE of JUDAH
PLAIN OF REPHAIM