Resurrected—“Each In His Own Proper Place”
“In Christ all will be brought to life; but each in his own proper place.”—1 Cor. 15:22, 23, The New English Bible.
1. How did Martha show that she had faith that Jesus could have cured her brother Lazarus of his fatal sickness?
IT WAS a mournful winter day at Bethany when the stone was rolled before the entrance of the memorial tomb of the well-known Lazarus. His surviving sisters, Martha and Mary, and friends of the family thought that this would be the last that they would see of Lazarus during this system of things. Apparently too late, his beloved friend Jesus Christ arrived on the fourth day of Lazarus’ death. Martha went out to meet Jesus and said to him: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”
2, 3. (a) Martha expected the resurrection of her entombed brother to occur on what day? (b) As regards the resurrection, Martha displayed the faith of what ancestor of hers?
2 Jesus said to Martha: “Your brother will rise.” Disclosing her faith in the resurrection, Martha said to Jesus: “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”—John 11:1-24.
3 Martha was thinking of a resurrection of all the human dead back to life here on earth under the kingdom of God by means of his Messiah, or Christ. She believed this Messiah to be Jesus himself, who had raised other persons to life just as the prophets Elijah and Elisha had done centuries previously. (John 11:27) Her faith in the resurrection was like that of her forefather Abraham, who had come to be called “Jehovah’s friend.” (Jas. 2:21-23) Martha’s brother Lazarus was already dead and buried, but in Abraham’s case his son Isaac was yet alive, about to be offered up as a human sacrifice. Isaac was as good as dead, for Abraham was determined to obey Jehovah’s command to sacrifice him. Concerning Abraham’s faith on this trialsome occasion, Paul, a descendant of Abraham, writes:
4. How did Abraham receive his son Isaac back from the dead “in an illustrative way”?
4 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac, and the man that had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son, although it had been said to him: ‘What will be called “your seed” will be through Isaac.’ But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.”—Heb. 11:17-19; Gen. 22:1-18; Isa. 41:8; 2 Chron. 20:7.
5, 6. (a) Abraham expected the resurrection of the human dead at what time? (b) Did the death of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob without their having received the things promised ruin their faith in God’s Messianic government?
5 So Abraham had faith in the coming resurrection of the human dead under the kingdom of the Christ. Jesus Christ, whose own resurrection was foreshadowed by the figurative resurrection of Isaac, once said to Jewish descendants of Abraham: “Abraham your father rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.” (John 8:56) In harmony with Jesus’ words about Abraham, the father of Isaac and the grandfather of Jacob, we read:
6 “In faith all these died, although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. For those who say such things give evidence that they are earnestly seeking a place of their own. . . . But now they are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven [the kingdom of the heavens with Christ enthroned in it]. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”—Heb. 11:13-16.
7, 8. (a) How did Jesus’ words to the Sadducees regarding Abraham, Isaac and Jacob prove them to be certain of a resurrection? (b) In harmony with Psalm 45:16, what will the Messianic Ruler in the heavenly government do for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
7 Since God has made preparations for the long-dead Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those ancient men of faith are sure to have a resurrection from the dead under the “city,” or government, in which the glorified Messiah, or Christ, rules. Jesus Christ himself pointed out that fact in a discussion with Jewish Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said: “In the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but are as angels [not: are angels] in heaven. As regards the resurrection of the dead, did you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.”—Matt. 22:30-32.
8 Jehovah used to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob before they died. He can be a God of a living Abraham, of a living Isaac, of a living Jacob, only by resurrecting them from the dead. They will be persons living on earth under the “city,” or heavenly government, that Jehovah their God has prepared for them. It will then be in fulfillment of Psalm 45:16 for the glorified Messiah, Jesus, as ruler in that “city,” to appoint them as “princes in all the earth.” The heavenly Messiah will fulfill toward them each one of his titles as foretold in Isaiah 9:6, even Eternal Father.
9. What did the prophet Isaiah write concerning the resurrection of the human dead, and after God’s “denunciation” upon what?
9 Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and other ancient people of faith will be raised on that “last day” about which Martha spoke to Jesus just before he raised her brother Lazarus back to earthly life. (John 11:24-44) The humans who are to be resurrected were redeemed by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and with respect to these the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write, saying: “In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: ‘ . . . Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine—they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, you residents of the dust! For your dew is as the dew of mallows [in contrast to the dryness of corpses], and the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop in birth.’” (Isa. 26:1, 19) Thus there will be a rebirth, a regeneration of the earthly dead. This will take place after Jehovah expresses his denunciation upon the bloodguilty world for all the innocent people that it brought down prematurely into Sheol, gravedom. That means after “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the world situation that the Bible calls Har–Magedon.—Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-21.
10. So, on that “last day,” why will the earth no longer be a global cemetery?
10 So that “last day” of which Martha spoke will see the human dead raised to life again instead of lying covered over in the bosom of the earth. (Isa. 26:20, 21) What a bedewed freshness of renewed human life that “last day” will bestow upon the redeemed dead of mankind! Earth will no longer be a global cemetery.
11, 12. How did King Herod the Great fail in his cruel efforts to kill the recently born “king of the Jews”?
11 Even the dead infants and unresponsible young children will be favored with a return to new opportunities for growing up to eternal youth on a paradise earth. In that way the death-dealing work of King Herod the Great will be reversed. He sent the inquiring astrologers from the East to Bethlehem, to locate for him the recently born “king of the Jews.” He schemed to kill Jesus, the son of the Jewish virgin Mary. After being foiled in his crafty efforts to learn the whereabouts of the prospective “king of the Jews,” Herod sent and had his soldiers kill off all the young children two years old and younger. The mourning of the bereaved mothers in and around Bethlehem was foretold in Bible prophecy, along with words of comfort about the resurrection.
12 The Gospel writer Matthew tells us: “Then that was fulfilled which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much wailing; it was Rachel weeping for her children, and she was unwilling to take comfort, because they are no more.’” (Matt. 2:1-18) But Mary was not among the mothers weeping and wailing, as she had escaped with the boy Jesus and had gone down to Egypt to stay there till Herod died.
13. According to Matthew’s application of Jeremiah’s prophecy, what was the “land of the enemy” from which the slaughtered innocent young children will return?
13 However, for those bereaved mothers the case was not altogether hopeless. The prophecy of Jeremiah from which Matthew made his quotation went on to say: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘“Hold back your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there exists a reward for your activity,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and they will certainly return from the land of the enemy.”’” (Jer. 31:15, 16) According to the way in which Jeremiah’s prophecy was applied by Matthew under inspiration, the “land of the enemy” would not be ancient Babylon of Jeremiah’s day. It would be the land to which the enemy, Herod the Great, had prematurely consigned his innocent victims, the land of death. Death also is spoken of as an “enemy,” for 1 Corinthians 15:26 says: “As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.”
14. (a) How did the land of Babylon prove to be a place of death for Israelites in Jeremiah’s day? (b) How will the innocent babes of Bethlehem “return,” and on what day?
14 The land of pre-Christian Babylonia proved to be the land where the deported Jews were “appointed to death” by their captors. Many of such deportees did die there as aliens. (Ps. 79:11; 102:20; Isa. 14:17) During and after 537 B.C.E. thousands of Jewish “prisoners” did “return” from the land of the enemy Babylon. The return of the innocent babes of Bethlehem is yet future. It will be by a resurrection on “the last day” mentioned by Martha of Bethany, which “last day” begins after “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon and after the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demon angels.—Rev. 20:1-3, 11-15.
A DAY OF JUDGMENT
15. How did Jesus indicate that the “last day” will be one of judgment of the resurrected human dead?
15 That same “last day” will be a day of judgment for resurrected mankind, including those humans who disregarded Jesus and did not receive his sayings. Jesus indicated that when he said: “He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word that I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48) Jesus associated the time of judging of the world of mankind with the resurrection when he said: “[God] has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. 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 5:27-29; see The Watchtower of September 1, 1978, under the title “A Resurrection of Life and One of Judgment,” pp. 20-24.) Of course, that “last day” will not be a day of twenty-four hours. It will be a time period of 1,000 years in length. It will coincide with the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign.—2 Pet. 3:8; Rev. 20:4, 6.
16. For what reason, as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26, will that coming “day” of judgment be a glorious one?
16 That “day” will be a glorious one, for it will be marked by the wiping out of all the effects of the death that we all inherited from Adam and Eve because of the sentence of death that was pronounced upon them. So the 1,000-year reign of Christ is something to which we should all look forward, because in 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26 it is written: “For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death [inherited by us from Adam] is to be brought to nothing.”
17. If anyone dies after that “day” of judgment, why will this occur, and what kind of death will it be?
17 The giving of the death-stroke to the Adamic death that we inherited is pictured for us by what Jesus used the apostle John to write down. Describing the “last day” for mankind’s resurrection, Revelation 20:13, 14 says: “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. And death and Haʹdes were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.” So anyone on earth dying after that will not die because of having inherited death from Adam. He dies for willfully violating God’s law and committing sin. His death then will be “the second death,” from which he will never rise up.
18. From what death and effects does Jesus Christ release humankind, and so he is what to them?
18 Jesus Christ releases mankind only from the Adamic death and our common grave, Haʹdes. He assured us of this when he said: “I am the First and the Last, and the living one; . . . and I have the keys of death and of Haʹdes.” (Rev. 1:17, 18) So, with good reason, Jesus said to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life.”—John 11:25.
19. What man famous for his patience will be among those resurrected, and till when did he want to lie buried in Sheol?
19 Among those for whom the reigning King Jesus Christ will use the key of Haʹdes (or, Sheol, in Hebrew) is a man famous for his patience. This is Job of the land of Uz in the ancient Middle East. Because of the woes mounting upon us today, some of us may get to feeling like Job and wishing that we were dead and buried in Haʹdes, or Sheol. But we should have what Job had, faith in the resurrection. He knew that when this occurred on the “last day,” he would be free from all the present troubles of mankind. If he fell asleep in death and was buried, he would rest till the “heaven” or superhuman forces now controlling mankind had passed. Their passing will allow for the start of a wonderful transformation of earthly conditions here below. Hence, Job prayed to Jehovah God:
20. According to Job 14:12-15, for what did Job pray to God?
20 “Man also has to lie down and does not get up. . . . they will not wake up, nor will they be aroused from their sleep. O that in Sheol 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! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service [because of God’s permission of wickedness] I shall wait, until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.”—Job 14:12-15.
21. What change of face did Job want to see, and what did he expect his “redeemer” to do in his behalf?
21 During the time of Job’s affliction, he did not see God’s face as being favorable to him. Do we today sometimes feel that, because of the trouble God lets come upon us, he is looking with disapproval upon us, and we should like to see a change of facial expression toward us? On the coming “last day” there will be a resurrection of the human dead from Sheol, or Haʹdes, and this very fact will signify that Jehovah God looks upon redeemed mankind with favor. Job believed that there would be a resurrection for him and others of mankind because there was a “redeemer,” someone who would provide the purchase price to buy him back from the “compulsory service” into which he had been sold.
22, 23. (a) Because of confidence in what did Job believe that there would be one to provide a basis for his resurrection? (b) When did Job expect this “redeemer” to come, and whose face of favor did Job expect to see?
22 Job had confidence in his personal integrity toward Jehovah in spite of the men who falsely accused him. Hence, he felt sure that there would be a “redeemer” for him. This “redeemer” would rise up after Job’s death, but Job would leave behind a good record for his “redeemer” to consider. In the confidence that the coming “redeemer” would furnish the basis for a resurrection, Job exclaimed:
23 “And I myself well know that my redeemer is alive, and that, coming after me, he will rise up over the dust. And after my skin, which they have skinned off,—this! Yet reduced in my flesh [due to the skinning] I shall behold God, whom even I shall behold for myself, and whom my very eyes will certainly see, but not some stranger. My kidneys have failed deep within me,” because of the tremendousness of the expectation.—Job 19:25-27.
24. How did the “redeemer” whom God provided become related to humankind, and what did this one give as “a ransom in exchange for many”?
24 So, then, let Satan the Devil keep on maligning mankind as being unfit for a resurrection because of an inability to produce men and women who would keep their integrity toward God. Resurrection of dead mankind will take place on the “last day” mentioned by Martha of Bethany. Why so? Because God, for whom nothing is impossible, has produced a “redeemer,” his only-begotten Son who became related to humankind by being born as a perfect man. He came temporarily to earth, not to be served, “but to minister and to give his [human] soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45) This paved the way for God to sanction the resurrection of as many as were ransomed or redeemed by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
25. Why will the “last day” not be the final one for mankind to exist, and, on that “day,” what will God do in behalf of mankind?
25 Consequently, the “last day” does not mean the final day for mankind to exist, inasmuch as the resurrection of redeemed mankind takes place on that “day” under Christ’s millennial reign. This will be “the last day” after all the previous days during which God has let sin and death rule over mankind with countless millions going down into Sheol, or Haʹdes. That will be the “day” for God to count redeemed mankind as acquitted of all past sins and to teach them his righteous requirements for them to gain everlasting life in a paradise restored to earth.—Isa. 26:9; Rom. 6:7.
26. (a) What was Christ’s “own proper place” with regard to the resurrection? (b) How does 1 Thessalonians 4:16 show that there will be a resurrection of others in order of rank or of place or of importance?
26 So there had to be the death and resurrection of the “redeemer” before there could be a resurrection of mankind that needed to be redeemed. Thus the resurrection of the Redeemer Jesus Christ proved to be of the first rank. He was resurrected “in his own proper place” as regards place of importance. Moreover, there will be a resurrection of others in order of rank or of place or of importance, before the resurrection of Job, the slaughtered babes of Bethlehem and others of dead mankind. This is called to our attention by the inspired words written in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which read: “And the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (American Standard Version) Who are those who shall share first in a resurrection, and when and how will this be?
[Picture on page 17]
Imagine the joy of welcoming back from the dead faithful men of old, and the happiness of mothers receiving back their young ones killed by Herod!