Questions From Readers
● Since Jude 7 shows that Sodom and Gomorrah became a “warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire,” does that not bar the inhabitants of those cities from a resurrection?—A.C., U.S.A.
Reading only that verse, without our taking into consideration what the rest of the Bible has to say on the matter, one might draw such a conclusion. But other scriptures present additional facts that cannot be ignored if we are going to arrive at a sound conclusion.
For example, at Matthew 11:23 it is written: “If the powerful works that took place in [Capernaum] had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day.” Obviously, this does not mean that the same individuals who were living in Sodom at the time of its destruction would have remained alive for over 1900 years down to the time when Jesus spoke those words, but that the city would have remained as an inhabited place.
Then the next verse refers to the Judgment Day, saying: “Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.” (Matt. 11:24) Similarly, at Matthew 10:15 are recorded Jesus’ words: “Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city” where the people would reject the message carried by Jesus’ disciples. For it to be “more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah” than for others, it would be necessary for former inhabitants of that land to be present on Judgment Day. It is not the literal land, the ground, that is to be judged. Revelation chapter 20 shows that it will be persons raised from the dead who will stand “before the throne.” Nor will judgment be passed on them as groups, as former inhabitants of certain lands, but they will be “judged individually according to their deeds” during the time of judgment. So apparently individuals who used to live in that land will be resurrected.—Rev. 20:12, 13.
What is it, then, that underwent “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire”? While the inhabitants of the cities were certainly destroyed, apparently it was not the people but the cities themselves that were everlastingly destroyed. They have not been rebuilt down to this day. Notably, J. Penrose Harland wrote: “It has been shown that Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim were doubtless situated in the area now covered by the waters of the southern part of the Dead Sea.”—The Biblical Archaeologist Reader (1961), page 59; see also Isaiah 13:19, 20.
What happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah at the time that Jehovah rained fire and sulphur on them from heaven stands as a warning to all to avoid immoral conduct such as was carried on in those cities.
● On what animal did Jesus Christ make his triumphal ride into Jerusalem? Matthew 21:7 mentions both an ass and a colt.—M.E., U.S.A.
Jesus said to the disciples he sent into Jerusalem: “You will at once find an ass tied, and a colt with her.” (Matt. 21:2) So there was a mother or she-ass and a colt that was yet with its mother. Then at Matthew 21:7 we read: “They brought the ass and its colt, and they put upon these their outer garments, and he seated himself upon them.”
We will be aided to understand which animal Jesus actually used if we first read the prophecy that Jesus was thus fulfilling. Translated directly from Hebrew, Zechariah 9:9 reads: “Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass.” Thus, the Messiah would use a “full-grown” male animal, “the son of a she-ass.”
The accounts in Mark, Luke and John mention only that one animal, the one Jesus rode. They refer to it both as an “ass” and as a “colt.” Obviously, that animal could be identified satisfactorily by either term. (Mark 11:2-7; Luke 19:30-35; John 12:14, 15) Interestingly, both Mark and Luke show that the “colt” was one “on which none of mankind [had] yet sat.” While it was a mature male animal, it had not yet been separated from its mother and used as a mount. So the disciples brought both the she-ass and its colt to Jesus, but the one he rode was the male ass, the colt.
We are informed that the disciples “put upon these their outer garments, and [Jesus] seated himself upon them.” Thus Jesus seated himself, not on both the she-ass and its colt, but on the outer garments placed on the colt. Then Christ rode into Jerusalem.