Living Now in That “Last Day” of Resurrection
1. For decades beforehand, it was thought that the glorification of the remnant of surviving Christians would occur at what time, but was what was foretold at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 fulfilled from then on?
SINCE the “dead in Christ” are raised up in spiritual bodies invisible to human eyes on that “last day,” we humans must walk by faith, not by sight, as to its actually taking place now. We recall that for some decades quite a few thought that the glorification of all surviving members of the Christian congregation would occur at the end of the Gentile Times around October 1, 1914. (Luke 21:24) However, nothing like what is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 took place at that date. Rather, war broke out in heaven, and the losers, Satan and his demons, experienced a rapid descent earthward. (Rev. 12:7-13) Interestingly, quite a number of spirit-begotten Christians who were alive and active on earth in 1914 are still with us in the flesh. Apparently something was wrong about the timing of the “last day” for the glorification of the spirit-begotten congregation.
2, 3. The glorification is due to occur during what period, and so what question arises concerning the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:50-57?
2 Nonetheless, the invisible “presence,” or parousia, of the glorified Jesus Christ began at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. So from then on it is the time period when what is foretold at 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 should take place respecting the surviving spirit-begotten Christians, to correspond with the “last day.”—John 6:54.
3 Reasonably when does fulfillment start for 1 Corinthians 15:50-57? “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death [when the corruptible human body dies], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we [Christians like Paul] shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’ ‘Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?’ The sting producing death is sin, but the power for sin is the [Mosaic] Law. But thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
4. When did Jesus die, and how had Daniel 9:24-27 indicated this?
4 Toward a Scriptural calculation of the time, we can compare events that run parallel or that correspond in their nature. So we ask, When was Jesus Christ himself resurrected to become “Christ the firstfruits”? This was on Sunday, Nisan 16, of the year 33 C.E. Two days earlier, on Passover, Nisan 14, he had been hung on a stake till dead. That day of Christ’s sacrifice was a time marked off in the schedule of events drawn up by Jehovah God and recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. It marked the middle of that last week of a series of “seventy weeks,” weeks of years, not of days. Daniel’s prophecy foretold that during this last or 70th week of years “Messiah will be cut off, with nothing for himself.” But at what time during this last week of years, which began in autumn of the year 29 C.E.? Daniel 9:27 answers: “At the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease.” Hence, animal sacrifices were valueless after Jesus died.
5. How is the beginning of the 70th “week” of years calculated, how was it marked, and what period did it begin for Jerusalem and the Jewish system?
5 Since Jesus sacrificed his perfect human life “at the half of the week,” or on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., that “week” began three and a half lunar years earlier on Tishri 15, 29 C.E. Well, then, what event marked the start of that 70th “week” of years? Jesus proved to be the Messiah, which means “Anointed One.” It was at the time when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer. Right afterward, Jesus was “anointed” with the holy spirit to become the Messianic King over Jehovah’s people. Jesus was then 30 years old. (Luke 3:21-23; 4:1-21) This event really marked the start of the “time of the end” for Jerusalem and the Jewish system of sacrifices. Less than 41 years later, or in the summer of 70 C.E., Jerusalem and its temple were reduced to desolation. As Daniel 9:26 foretold: “The city and the holy place the people of a leader [General Titus] that is coming [in 70 C.E.] will bring to their ruin. And the end of it will be by the flood [of Roman legionnaires]. And until the end there will be war.”
6, 7. What followed right after the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, and what announcement then made in heaven came true as regards our earth and its dead?
6 Parallelwise, when the Gentile Times expired in autumn of 1914, the “time of the end” began for this system of things. (Dan. 12:4) Immediately following upon that expiration of those Gentile Times the anointed Jesus in the heavens was installed as King, the permanent Heir of his ancient forefather, King David of Jerusalem. There and then the announcement that followed the blowing of the seventh trumpet became true. As regards this we read, in Revelation 11:15-18:
7 “And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord [the Sovereign Lord Jehovah] and of his Christ, and he [the Sovereign Lord Jehovah] will rule as king forever and ever.’ . . . ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.’”
8. (a) Against whom then did the nations become wrathful and why, and to what extent? (b) How did this parallel what happened to the anointed Jesus “at the half of the week”?
8 During World War I of 1914-1918 C.E., “the nations became wrathful,” and they vented their wrath on the dedicated people of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Why? Because these were preaching the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 and the full establishment of Christ’s kingdom in the heavens. This wrath of nations came to a head in the spring of 1918, markedly in the United States of America. This was three and a half years from the end of the Gentile Times and the installation of the anointed Jesus as a heavenly King. What happened to the Kingdom proclaimers on earth in 1918 runs quite parallel with what happened to Jesus at Jerusalem “at the half of the week.” In his case a resurrection of the dead became necessary. Correspondingly, in 1918 the proclaimers of his kingdom were dealt what the persecutors thought was a “death blow,” so that the Kingdom proclamation needed a revival, a resurrection.
9. (a) Why would the reviving or figurative resurrection of the persecuted Kingdom proclaimers to renewed activity not be a true parallel of Jesus’ resurrection Nisan 16, 33 C.E.? (b) Their being ‘caught away to meet the Lord’ could not precede whose spiritual resurrection?
9 The resurrection of Jesus on Nisan 16, 33 C.E., was of a spiritual kind, into the heavenly realm, but it was from an earthly tomb. In the case of the Kingdom proclaimers yet in the flesh, their revival was to an earthly activity, to renewed preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth “for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Not yet were those spirit-begotten Christians to be glorified in heaven, to “be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” Their experiencing this was not scheduled to “precede” the resurrection of Christians who had “fallen asleep in death through Jesus” down till 1918. Rather, as 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 points out, “those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” Fittingly, their resurrection first would precede the reviving or resuscitating of the Kingdom proclaimers to their further work in the flesh on earth during this “time of the end.” This reviving occurred in spring of 1919.
10. Whose resurrection, and this at what time, would be the true parallel of Jesus’ resurrection on Nisan 16, 33 C.E.?
10 The spiritual resurrection of the “dead in Christ” in the spring of 1918, three and a half years from the enthronement of Christ at the end of the Gentile Times in autumn of 1914, would parallel Jesus’ own resurrection on Nisan 16, 33 C.E., “at the half of the week.” (Dan. 9:27) Thus they did “rise first.” Their doing so did “precede” the resurrecting of those surviving to Christ’s “presence,” or parousia, and to the killing of Kingdom preaching.
11. What corresponding time period comes into play in connection with God’s prophetic witnesses of Revelation, chapter 11, and does their ascent to heaven picture a fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:17?
11 A similar time period comes into play in connection with God’s prophetic witnesses pictured in Revelation, chapter 11. According to Revelation 11:3-7, they were killed after prophesying for 1,260 days, or 3 1/2 years. But they have a resurrection: “After the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.” (Rev. 11:11, 12) This prophetically pictured the reviving of the remnant of spirit-begotten Christians in Kingdom service in the spring of 1919. Their ascending to worldwide prominence was not the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In this connection, we recall that the 120 disciples of Jesus Christ were not revived to public activity in Jerusalem until 51 days after the impalement and burial of their Lord, Jesus Christ.
12. How was such a reviving of the spiritual remnant also foretold in the vision set out in Ezekiel 37:1-14?
12 Such a reviving of the surviving remnant was also foretold in Ezekiel 37:1-14. There Jehovah gave the prophet Ezekiel a vision of a valley full of dry Israelite bones. The bones were then reconstructed into living Israelites who were ready to leave their exile in pagan Babylon. Telling how the vision would be fulfilled, Jehovah said: “Here I am opening your burial places, and I will bring you up out of your burial places, O my people [exiled in Babylon], and bring you in upon the soil of Israel. And you will have to know that I am Jehovah when I open your burial places and when I bring you up out of your burial places, O my people.”—Ezek. 37:12, 13.
13. How was this vision of the valley of dry bones fulfilled in modern times, and how did this correspond with what happened to Jesus’ disciples after what occurred “at the half of the week”?
13 In modern fulfillment of that vision the remnant of spiritual Israelites were revived in the spring of 1919 and were liberated from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and from abject subjection to her political, judicial and military paramours who did her bidding during World War I. Likely, with a prophetic bearing upon the modern timing of events, the reviving of Jesus’ personal disciples and their liberation from the oppressive Jewish system of things did not take place until after his death and burial and his resurrection from the dead on the third day, Nisan 16, 33 C.E. This was shortly after the “half of the week” when Jesus was sacrificed as a ransom for all mankind.
14. To what class mentioned at 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 do these revived, reactivated witnesses of modern times belong, and how is what Jesus called “the last day” a “happy” one for them?
14 In modern times, the revived, reactivated remnant of spiritual Israelites who took up the witness work again in the spring of 1919 were those whom the apostle Paul spoke of as “we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:15) They expect, after finishing the final Kingdom witness world wide, to die “in union with the Lord” and during his presence. Their death is during that “last day” during which, as Jesus said, he would raise up from the dead those disciples who are privileged to feed on his flesh and drink his blood. This signifies for them their being “caught away” to meet him, their Lord, “in the air.” This instantaneous resurrection of theirs to heavenly life is unseen to humans left behind on earth as if it were obscured by “clouds.” “Happy,” indeed, they are because they “die in union with the Lord from this time onward” during the “presence of the Lord,” not needing to sleep in death in expectation of his second coming.—Rev. 14:13; John 6:53, 54; 1 Cor. 15:52, 53.
15. What recent colaborers will be on hand when the surviving remnant make their departure at the close of the “last day,” and what kind of parting may this prove to be?
15 Many Christian companions, a “great crowd” of them, are left behind. During this “time of the end” and during the invisible “presence of the Lord” they have become colaborers with the remnant of spiritual Israelites in the final Kingdom witness to all the nations. This “great crowd” expects to survive the “great tribulation” in which this worldly system of things perishes. (Rev. 7:9, 14) Thus they will be on hand when the happy time arrives for the last ones of the remnant of spiritual Israelites to “be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thess. 4:17) How loving it would be for the “great crowd” living in that last day of resurrection to bid farewell to the surviving remnant as these finish their earthly course at the close of the “last day”! (John 6:53, 54) This may be no easy parting, but it could be accompanied by a heartfelt interchange of affection between those departing and those left behind on a paradise earth. No more will the “great crowd” see them.
16. Although losing the personal association of whom, the “great crowd” will have the joy of welcoming what entrants into the paradise earth?
16 Although losing the physical association of the glorified remnant, the “great crowd” will be comforted by a numberless throng of new inhabitants of the paradise earth. Who are these, and from where do they come? These are other redeemed ones of mankind who will be resurrected from the land of “the last enemy,” the Adamic death. (1 Cor. 15:26) What a joy it will then be for the “great crowd” to meet the resurrected Job, yes, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, John the Baptizer, ah, yes, even the young children of Bethlehem who were dispatched to the realm of the dead by their enemy, Herod the Great! What a joy also to meet known friends, the Fine Shepherd’s “other sheep” who did not survive the “great tribulation” and enter directly into his 1,000-year-long reign! (Rev. 20:4, 6; John 10:16) Will the members of the anointed remnant who survive the “great tribulation” live on in the New Order to witness the beginning of the resurrection of the earthly dead on their “last day”? (John 11:24) The Scriptures do not indicate this with any certainty.
17. (a) As regards the harvesting of the earthly dead, those then resurrected will be what in comparison with Christ? (b) Although needing no resurrection from the grave, the “great crowd” will be like those resurrected in what respect, and what blessed situation will obtain at the end of Christ’s millennial reign?
17 Such resurrected humans will be harvested as the afterfruits, of which the resurrected Jesus became “Christ the firstfruits.” (1 Cor. 15:20, 22, 23) Although needing no resurrection from the grave, the surviving “great crowd” will be just like the resurrected dead, still needing further benefits from the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ. All effects of inherited death must be wiped out. Blessed, indeed, it will be by the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign, when, “as the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing” for all redeemed and obedient mankind, including the “great crowd” of tribulation survivors. Then, most deservedly, Jehovah God will “be all things to everyone.”—1 Cor. 15:26, 28; Rev. 1:18; 20:11-14.
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Welcoming resurrected ones in Paradise