The Live Men of Faith Who Will Never Die
1, 2. Millions of lovers of the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah God, have no desire to go where to enjoy eternal life, and what words of Jesus Christ about deathless living do they remember?
THERE are thousands of millions of persons living on earth today. Millions of these are now learning of the wonderful opportunity of keeping on living upon it without ever dying off it. Many of these may remember the old religious song, “O you must be a lover of the Lord, or you won’t go to heaven when you die.” But there are live millions of lovers of the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah God, who do not want to go to heaven at all. Their God-given hope is for the restoration of Paradise to this earth and the extending of it to embrace all the globe. There is where they want to live for all time, in human perfection, under a righteous heavenly government. (Luke 23:43) They have in mind the remarkable words of Jesus Christ, addressed to Martha, whose brother Lazarus he was about to raise from the dead. These are words worthy of the serious consideration of everyone living today. Here they are:
2 “And everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.”—John 11:26.
3. What speech concerning uninterrupted human life was given on February 24, 1918, and what further events during that year interrupted further delivery of that speech?
3 Men and women of this 20th century were alerted to this remarkable hope on Sunday, February 24, 1918, in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. There for the first time the then president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society gave the public address entitled “The World Has Ended . . . Millions Now Living May Never Die.”a This was at the very time when World War I, which had sucked in the United States of America, was nearing its climax. Further delivery of that epoch-making Bible lecture was interrupted, especially when shortly afterward, on May 8, 1918, the president of the Watch Tower Society and seven associates of his at the Brooklyn, New York, headquarters were arrested. Earlier, on February 12, 1918, the government of Canada had banned the Society’s latest bound book entitled The Finished Mystery, as well as the Society’s free tracts entitled Bible Students Monthly. On March 14 the United States government followed suit and banned The Finished Mystery and a related issue of the Bible Students Monthly, these publications being endorsed by the Society’s president. Then on June 21, after weeks of court trial, the federal court of the United States sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia, the Society’s president, its secretary-treasurer, the two coauthors of The Finished Mystery, three other members of the Brooklyn headquarters staff and the Society’s Italian translator. On July 4, 1918, all eight were transferred from Brooklyn, New York, to the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, while World War I still raged.
4. Spiritually speaking, how did the remnant of Jehovah’s people on earth become as dead, and what happened to their heavenly hope?
4 Before the following winter the Society felt obliged to move from Brooklyn, New York, back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, according to the Removal Notice published in the October 1, 1918, issue of the Watch Tower magazine, page 290. Throughout the earth young members of the congregations of International Bible Students were detained in military encampments, or even in prisons. Spiritually speaking, Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized people became as dead, notably as far as boldly preaching the Gospel, or good news, was concerned. They felt as though they had come to the end of their earthly career, and that their heavenly glorification was about to be realized. But not so, for in the month of November there came the signing of the armistice by the nations engaged in the world war, peace set in, and, look! here there was a remnant of Jehovah’s worshipers still alive on the war-wounded earth.
5. Their spiritual dormancy was like that of whom during long exile, but what had God’s Word predicted respecting them?
5 What now? Well, Jehovah’s prophetic Word had predicted that his apparently dead witnesses would be restored to renewed lively activity in his royal service on earth. During the first world conflict their spiritual condition had become like that experienced by the Israelites after their national capital, Jerusalem, had been destroyed by the military forces of Babylon in 607 B.C.E. and they had been deported to distant Babylon, to lie spiritually dormant there for 70 years.
6. How was the prophet Ezekiel used to make a prophetic picture of the revival of the Jewish nation and of its restoration to worship in its homeland?
6 That state of affairs for ancient Israel during 607-537 B.C.E. was referred to by Jehovah’s prophet Ezekiel, himself an exile in Babylon. In one of his visions he saw a low plain full of dry bones. He was told that these disorganized bones pictured the whole house of Israel in its exiled condition. When, in obedience to God’s command, Ezekiel prophesied over those scattered bones, they reassembled into skeletons, and these skeletons became clothed with flesh. Finally breath entered into them, and those bodies stood up erect upon their feet. (Ezekiel, chapter 37) In the typical fulfillment of this prophecy, this pictured how the Israelites would be released from Babylon after its downfall, and they would come alive again as a nation, worshiping their merciful God once again at a rebuilt temple in their restored national capital, Jerusalem.
7. What like that national revival was foretold in Revelation 11:3-13?
7 Centuries after that national resurrection, something like that was foretold in symbolic language, in Revelation 11:3-13:
“‘And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth.’ . . . And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city . . . And 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. And in that hour a great earthquake occurred.”
8, 9. (a) When, in modern times, did a like call to action come to God’s spiritually dead people? (b) With what symbolic language was the prophetic call to action set out in Isaiah 26:19?
8 Similar to that, a postwar call to action was due to come to the spiritually dead remnant of Jehovah’s dedicated people, to serve as his witnesses observable to the inhabitants of all the earth. In the first postwar year of 1919 such a call came to them, after they were awakened to the realization that Jehovah God had left them alive in the flesh upon the earth for a vital purpose. They deeply appreciated that without his help they could not accomplish anything during their further sojourn amid a hostile world. (Isaiah 26:18) In due time they got the reassurance and the command from the Almighty God as foretold in Isaiah 26:19, where the prophetic words that have been preserved for their benefit say:
9 “Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine—they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of mallows, and the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop in birth.”
10. In those words Jehovah draws on language suitable for what occasion, but why was the language fitting?
10 With those words Jehovah borrows or draws upon language suitable for the time of the literal resurrection of the ransomed dead of mankind under the heavenly Kingdom in the hands of his enthroned King, Jesus Christ, the Ransomer. Like the Israelites of old who were deported from the land of their national life and, spiritually speaking, buried for 70 years in Babylon, so the remnant of modern spiritual Israelites were threatened with extinction during the years 1914-1918. The end of World War I in 1918 left them like a “corpse” on Jehovah’s hands, spiritually speaking.
11. (a) Who alone was able to cause a spiritual rebirth, and to a freshness like that of what kind of plant? (b) It was the time for what call to go to Jehovah’s people?
11 As the Great Life-Giver, Jehovah would see to it that those “dead ones” lived again as his anointed witnesses. He could raise them up. Now that the opportunities of the postwar era had opened up, it was no longer the time for them to mourn and to be like dead people, like the “residents in the dust.” It was Jehovah’s unpostponable time to make them awaken to spiritual life and to cry out joyfully for being alive and in his service. (Psalm 126) Instead of being dry like dead corpses, like residents in the dry dust, they were to have the moisture of life, as if being bathed with the abundant dew of the low, creeping mallow plant. The Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ, now reigned in the heavens, and it was Jehovah’s due time for them to be released from exile as in the death-dealing land of Babylonia. Their state of exile, like the land of Babylonia in which the Israelites of old were held in exile, was no longer to hold them back in deathlike impotence; it was time to let them loose for a spiritual rebirth, with courage and ability to get out of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. God’s perfectly timed call was, “Get out of her, my people.” (Revelation 18:4) By prompt obedience they avoided being denounced by Jehovah for subjecting themselves to Babylon the Great and her worldly allies any longer.
12. (a) How would Jehovah’s people hide themselves from divine denunciation, and for how long? (b) What exposure would there then be regarding Babylon the Great, and with what accounting?
12 Isaiah 26:20, 21 continues, saying: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him, and the land will certainly expose her bloodshed and will no longer cover over her killed ones.” It would not be very long now, as if “for but a moment,” before Jehovah fully expressed his denunciation against Babylon the Great by having her worldly allies destroy her even before they themselves get destroyed during “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the battle site of Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) Then the bloodshed of which Babylon the Great will have been guilty will be exposed and be repaid to her. Human creatures for the killing of whom she has been responsible either directly or indirectly will no longer lie covered over and be ignored. Accounts will be settled for them by the executing of the killer. Many are the witnesses of Jehovah who have been killed by Babylon the Great!
Live Companions of Those Hidden From Divine Denunciation
13. (a) What restoration blessings crowned the postwar year of 1919? (b) According to Isaiah chapter 35, by what route did they return to a state of endless gladness?
13 The year 1919 was crowned with divine goodness. On March 21, before ever a nationwide petition work by the International Bible Students could be completed, the eight representatives of the Society were admitted to bail, and on March 25 they were released from the Atlanta Penitentiary, never to return. Why? Because they were later exonerated and found not guilty of any crime against the United States. Later that year the Society’s headquarters was moved back to Brooklyn, New York, to its original address. Thus the remnant of spiritual Israelites broke free from their bondage to Babylon the Great and returned to their proper spiritual estate in the sight of the God whom they worshiped. As foretold in Isaiah 35:8-10, they made their return to spiritual life and activity in Jehovah’s service—over a symbolical highway: “The Way of Holiness it will be called.” The prophecy goes on to say: “The very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.”
14. (a) What convention was held in September of 1919, and what proposed publication was announced? (b) To what location did the publishers’ address move back, and what printing project was started?
14 On September 1-8 of that selfsame postwar year of 1919, a general convention was held at Cedar Point, Ohio, and there a new feature of their postwar work was announced to them, namely, the publication of a 32-page, biweekly magazine called The Golden Age, as a complement to the Watch Tower magazine. On October 1, 1919, the first issue of that new magazine (now called Awake!) appeared and proceeded to serve the timely purpose not only of apprising the inclined toward God of the golden Millennium that was approaching but also of exposing Babylon the Great as doomed to early destruction. Later, with the issue of December 15, 1919, the Watch Tower magazine once again announced its publishers’ address as being 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York. As for The Golden Age, in its 15th issue, dated April 14, 1920, it announced that it was now being published at 35 Myrtle Avenue, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York, the location of the first printing plant of the Watch Tower Society. Today the Society and its branches have printing plants around the globe.
15. All that restoration work was in fulfillment of what that had been foretold by God’s prophets, and it was part of “the sign” foretold by Jesus to indicate what?
15 All that restoration work, on a small scale at the beginning, was the postwar start of “the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time,” to mark the invisible return and presence of the glorified Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:21) The accompanying release and regathering of Jehovah’s dedicated people from antitypical Babylon was part of “the sign . . . of the conclusion of the system of things” that Jesus foretold in his prophecy recorded at Matthew chapters 24, 25; Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21.
16. As having a bearing on the modern setting, who went back with the Israelites to the land of Judah in 537 B.C.E.?
16 All of that furnished the setting for something else of great magnitude to take place. What? Well, we must remember that when the Israelite exiles left Babylon in 537 B.C.E. by virtue of the decree of Babylon’s conqueror, Cyrus the Great, a large number of non-Israelites went back with them to the land of Judah. These included the Nethinim, the male and female slaves and the foreign singers.—Ezra 2:43, 58, 64, 65, 70; 3:1; 6:21, 22; 1 Chronicles 9:1, 2.
17. Whom do those non-Israelite companions picture today, and to whom also did they bear a resemblance?
17 Such non-Israelite companions picture those today who hear the message of God’s Kingdom in the hands of his Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ, and have associated themselves with the remnant of spiritual Israelites since their release from the control of modern Babylon the Great and her worldly allies in the postwar year of 1919. They also resemble the non-Israelites, “a vast mixed company,” that accompanied the Israelites when these left Egypt under the leadership of Moses in 1513 B.C.E.—Exodus 12:37, 38; compare Revelation 7:9-17.
18. When were such sheeplike ones informed of their privilege of “consecrating” themselves, and after what further identification of these at Washington, D.C., did hundreds of them symbolize their “consecration”?
18 They also correspond with the “other sheep” that the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, said that he had yet to bring, to combine them finally into “one flock” with those spiritual sheep in “this fold” that contains the heirs of God’s heavenly Kingdom. (John 10:16)b In the issue of June 6, 1934, of The Golden Age, page 574, under the subheading “Jonadab Class,” those symbolic “other sheep” were informed of their privilege of “consecrating” themselves to Jehovah God through Christ and of giving public witness of this by water baptism. On May 31, 1935, the Society’s president spoke at the Washington Convention and identified the “other sheep” with the “great multitude” foreseen in Revelation 7:9-17. (Authorized Version) On the next day of the convention 840 got baptized in water, the majority of these entertaining the hope of earthly life under God’s Kingdom.
19. (a) At John 11:26, what did Jesus say about never dying? (b) What course of action by the nations unites them, prior to what experience of theirs at Har–Magedon?
19 Here is the place to consider the words of Jesus Christ at John 11:25, 26: “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.” According to all the evidences since that war-struck year of 1914, we find ourselves alive in “the time of the end,” yes, in “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Daniel 12:1-4; Matthew 24:1-3) Although Jehovah’s Witnesses have proclaimed “this good news of the kingdom” worldwide since 1919, the nations, even those of Christendom, have refused to submit to that Messianic Kingdom as established in the heavens since 1914. Opposition to God’s rightful Kingdom and its preachers unites the nations, and they are thus being gathered to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. That global “war” will mean total destruction for those faithless nations. This will signify the end of this system of things.—Revelation 16:14-16; Matthew 24:14.
20. (a) What thrilling experience will the sheeplike ones on earth then have? (b) In what book will they want to have their names registered, and what will this guarantee for them?
20 Then only the sheeplike people of faith, those who belong to the “one flock” of the Fine Shepherd, will escape death. This includes the “great crowd” of the “other sheep.” At Revelation 7:9-17 these were forevisioned as coming alive “out of the great tribulation” and entering into the Millennial system of things on earth. (Matthew 24:21, 22) Why should these ever need to die off the earth? Under the reign of Christ they will be afforded the opportunity of gaining endless life in the Paradise restored to earth. (Revelation 20:1-6) How many of the more than 2,000,000 of these dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah today living will be preserved alive through the globe-encircling “great tribulation” now so near at hand remains to be seen. But it will be an unnumbered “great crowd” out of the many nations and languages. For such men of faith it will be more thrilling to step out into the post-Har–Magedon system of things than it was for Noah and his family to step out of the ark into the cleansed earth after the global Deluge. In the case of those modern men of faith, the words of Jesus will be true in a very literal sense: “And everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.” (John 11:26) Those Har–Magedon survivors will want to have their names “written in the book of life” that the life-giving God will keep. (Revelation 20:7-15) This registration of their names will guarantee their living forever on the Paradisaic earth.
21. What will these Har–Magedon survivors not need to experience during the Millennium, and to whom will they then be witnesses for having been integrity-keeping witnesses of Jehovah now?
21 Unquestionably, so late in this “time of the end” since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, there are many live men and women of faith and integrity who will never die off the face of the earth, God’s footstool. What an unusual opportunity lies ahead of them! Because of never dying and being buried, they will need no resurrection of the dead during the thousand-year-long reign of Jesus Christ. In fact, they will survive to welcome back from the dead those sleeping in the dust of the earth for whom the King Jesus Christ laid down his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice. To those billions of resurrected humans the Har–Magedon survivors will be privileged to bear witness of all that Jehovah God did by Jesus Christ during this “conclusion of the system of things.” So, then, all through this crucial time of all times let these highly favored ones prove themselves to be integrity-keeping witnesses of Jehovah God to the vindication of his universal sovereignty.
a See The Watch Tower issue of March 1, 1918, page 80, bottom, under “Conventions to Be Addressed by Brother J. F. Rutherford”; also, Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, page 76, last paragraph; also, The Watch Tower issue of September 15, 1924, page 280, under the subheading “Why Millions Will Never Die.”
b See page 345, paragraphs 577, 578, of the book The Harp of God, published in 1921; also the Watch Tower issue of October 15, 1923, page 310, paragraph 33, of the article “The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.”
Do You Remember?
□ How had the anointed remnant become as dead?
□ Jehovah raised up his anointed witnesses to what postwar opportunities?
□ This restoration was in fulfillment of what prophecies?
□ What will earthly survivors of Har–Magedon not need to experience during the Millennium?
[Picture on page 21]
Anointed witnesses of Jehovah and their sheeplike companions wholeheartedly cooperate in spreading the Kingdom message