Our Own Twentieth-Century Generation and the Resurrection
1, 2. (a) Will all those of our twentieth-century generation come within God’s provision for a resurrection? (b) What does Jesus’ parable show regarding those likened to “goats”?
MANY persons of our twentieth-century generation are dying who come within the provision made by Jehovah God for a resurrection under the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ.
2 However, among our own generation there are many who will share the final destiny of Satan the Devil and his demons. These will be those whom Jesus Christ compared to goats. He gave a prophecy on the conclusion of this wicked system of things and closed this prophecy with his parable of the sheep and the goats. This parable or illustration is found in Matthew 25:31-46. In our generation the symbolic “goats” are people from all the present-day nations, and they are separated from the righteous class of persons whom Jesus likened to sheep. Both these “sheep” and the “goats” are earthly classes of people; that is to say, they have no call from Jehovah God to the heavenly inheritance with his Son Jesus Christ but are earthly-minded.—Matt. 25:31-33.
3. From whom does Jesus differentiate both the “sheep” and the “goats,” and how?
3 Jesus differentiates both “sheep” and “goats” from his spiritual “brothers,” his 144,000 joint heirs who have a heavenly inheritance with him. Jesus pronounced his “sheep” to be those who have his heavenly Father’s blessing. The reason for this is that they have done good to his spiritual brothers, even to “the least of these my brothers.” (Matt. 25:34-40) The reason for Jesus to pronounce the “goats” to be a cursed class is that they have failed to do good to his spiritual brothers, even to “one of these least ones.” Thus the “goats” failed to do anything good for the One whom these brothers represented, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.
4. When sending away the symbolic “goats,” to whom did Jesus make reference, and in what respect?
4 In his parable Jesus pointed forward to the fact that Satan the Devil and his demon angels will be hurled into the “lake of fire and sulphur,” which symbolizes the “second death.” Jesus did so when he said to the “goat” class: “Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”—Matt. 25:41-45; Rev. 20:10, 14.
5. When will the King Jesus Christ say those words to the symbolic “goats”?
5 The King Jesus Christ has been reigning in the heavens since the end of the “times of the Gentiles” in 1914 C.E. (Luke 21:24) So, when will he say those words to the people whom he classes as “goats”? It will be at the destruction of Babylon the Great and in the battle of Armageddon that immediately follows Babylon the Great’s destruction, that is to say, in the “ war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 17:1, 2, 15, 16; 16:14, 16; 17:14) The “goats” then executed will include all those persons on earth who are not among the blessed “sheep” class.
6. How do the symbolic “sheep” show themselves to be such?
6 The “sheep” are a class of people who demonstrate their support of the King Jesus Christ by positively doing good to his spiritual brothers and joint heirs. The “sheep” have forsaken Babylon the Great (the world empire of false Babylonish religion). They have dedicated their lives to God through Christ and have been baptized in water and thereafter they share with Christ’s spiritual brothers in giving that final earth-wide witness to God’s kingdom, as foretold earlier in Jesus’ prophecy, in Matthew 24:14. These “sheep” do not march with the “kings of the entire inhabited earth” and their armies to Armageddon to fight against God.
7, 8. Whom do the “goats” executed as “cursed” persons include?
7 Contrariwise, the “goats” who are to be executed as “cursed” persons will include the religionists who stay inside Babylon the Great till she is destroyed forever; also, the religionists who are the modern-day part of the composite “man of lawlessness,” “the son of destruction”; also, the symbolic “tares,” that is, the “weeds,” “the sons of the wicked one” (Matt. 13:25-30, 38-42); also, those political “kings,” their military commanders, their cavalrymen, the freemen and the slaves, the great and the small, all of whom are lined up at Armageddon, but not on the side of the King of kings and Lord of lords.—Rev. 19:18-21.
8 The “goats” would also include those husbands and wives who have believing marriage partners but who, in spite of the good example of their believing marriage mates, are found to be still unbelievers in the day and at the hour of the execution of God’s judgment against this enemy world; also, the children of a believing parent or the children of believing parents (fathers and mothers), which children were once “holy” as minors, as unresponsible children, but who have grown up to responsible years and have refused to become dedicated, baptized believers by the time that divine execution upon the “goats” begins.—1 Cor. 7:12-16.
9. Who would those “goats” then be, by differentiation from whom?
9 In other words, at the time of the execution of divine judgment the “goats” would be all those persons, young and old, who have not become “sheep” and who have not been gathered into the “one fold” under the “one shepherd,” where the small remnant of the Shepherd’s spiritual brothers are.—John 10:16; Rev. 7:9-17.
10. What is the treatment to be given to children of the goatlike people, and how was this illustrated prophetically?
10 The undedicated children of goatish people will not be spared from execution and being sentenced to Gehenna just because they are themselves minor, unresponsible children. This hard fact is illustrated in the orders that Jehovah God issued to his executioners when apostate Jerusalem was to be destroyed. To his executioners he said: “Pass through the city after him [the man who marked the ones to be spared] and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off.” And that is what they did, as illustrated in Jerusalem’s destruction, 607 B.C.E.-Ezek. 9:5-7.
11. What spiritual class will be executed along with such “goats”?
11 Executed along with the “goats” at Armageddon will be the remnant of the “evil slave” class, the “wicked and sluggish slave” class, who were once Christ’s spiritual brothers but who cease to be such because of turning unfaithful and traitors. They will have no heavenly resurrection.—Matt. 24:48-51; 25:24-30.
12, 13. (a) Where do those executed “goats” go? (b) What does their punishment with something everlasting mean, and how is this indicated by Jesus’ words?
12 Where do the executed “goats” go when sent out of the King’s presence? Not into Haʹdes or Sheol, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and other faithful witnesses of Jehovah God are. No; they go into the symbolic “everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41) This “everlasting fire” is certainly not found down in Haʹdes or Sheol. Even Jesus’ parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus does not prove that the Gehenna fire or the “fiery lake that burns with sulphur” is in Haʹdes or Sheol. (Luke 16:19-31)* What, then, does this punishment with something everlasting mean? It means the very opposite of everlasting life. In other words, it means the everlasting punishment of endless destruction. That it means such endless destruction is indicated by Jesus’ closing words regarding the unrighteous “goat” class:
13 “And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off [or, everlasting punishment], but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt. 25:46, NW; AV.
14. Into what will those “goats” not go, and what will they not have?
14 Such “goats” who get executed at the destruction of Babylon the Great or in the battle of Armageddon will not go into “everlasting life” in any form, nor even in endless conscious torment. Being destroyed as by fire, they will have no resurrection.
15. Who of those on their way to “everlasting life” will not need a resurrection, and why not?
15 The righteous “sheep” class among men are on their way to everlasting life in God’s new order of things under Christ. A “great crowd” of them will survive the coming battle of Armageddon. As they thus enter into the reign of Jesus Christ for a thousand years over the earth, they will not need a resurrection. (Rev. 7:9-17) By the faithful course they pursue then under that Messianic kingdom they will avoid being executed in the “lake of fire,” the “second death,” and will never die as human creatures. They will never go to Haʹdes or Sheol and need to be resurrected.
16. So, at the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign, who will there not be on earth, and why not?
16 However, it will not be so with the “goat” class of our twentieth-century generation. At the destruction of Babylon the Great and in the battle of Armageddon they will be executed with an everlasting punishment and will never be resurrected from the dead, for they will go into the “second death.” Consequently, at the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign, there will be no “goat” class on hand to interfere with that righteous rule.
17. (a) Who will then not be able to interfere in the invisible realm, and why not? (b) For what will the “sheep” class on earth prepare?
17 Neither will there be any invisible Devil and his invisible demon angels to interfere with the operation of Christ’s kingdom. Why not? Because right after the battle of Armageddon they will be bound into helplessness and be pitched into the abyss and sealed off from all contact with others in the living universe. (Rev. 20:1-3) So without wicked interference the “sheep” who survive Armageddon will prepare for the coming resurrection of the earthly dead from the sea and from Haʹdes or Sheol.
The “rich man” in Jesus’ parable is not pictured as going into Gehenna, because Gehenna pictures utter destruction and the “rich man” would not properly be pictured in the parable as talking out of utter destruction. Moreover, some individuals who have found themselves in the religious “rich man” class have got out of that class by becoming Christians and thus have escaped from the tormenting experience of the spiritually dead “rich man” class. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, felt great torment for a while after Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., so that he became a persecutor of Christians. But afterward he got out of the “rich man” class and joined the Lazarus class in Abraham’s bosom, figuratively speaking.—Acts 7:58-60.
See also The Watchtower as of February 15, 1951, pages 113-126, and as of March 1, 1951, pages 141-156.
So the “rich man’s” being “in anguish in this blazing fire” is pictured as taking place with him in Haʹdes or Sheol. As he talks to Abraham across a gulf, he is pictured as being where the dead Abraham is.