Questions From Readers
▪ My friend had a miscarriage. As a woman I sympathize with her, but would it be proper to encourage her to hope in a resurrection?
You certainly can do much good by giving her comfort and loving Christian help. But the Bible does not provide a basis to expect a resurrection of the embryo. Consider why:
When a woman conceives, there is just one cell, a fertilized egg. Normally, over a period of nine months that cell divides and implants in her uterus, the embryo develops, and finally a child is born. A miscarriage cuts short this natural process, ending the life that has begun and that should grow into a separate human. If an abortion is performed, it conflicts with the sanctity of life and with God’s command against murder.—Exodus 20:13; 21:22, 23; Numbers 35:16-18; 1 Peter 4:15.
Our Life-Giver is aware of a life growing in the uterus, as we can see from what the Bible says about Jesse’s wife carrying the embryo that developed and that was born and named David. (Psalm 139:13-16; compare Job 31:15.) What, though, about the possibility of a resurrection in instances of miscarriage or stillbirth?
The Bible acknowledges that a fetus or an embryo can die. This results in spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, or in a stillbirth.—Genesis 31:38; Exodus 23:26; 2 Kings 2:19-21; Job 21:10; Psalm 58:8; 144:14.
Job mentioned various ways in which a miscarriage can occur, any of which he felt would have been better for him than the suffering he was experiencing. He said that he might have been “a hidden miscarriage,” someone who “should not come to be, like children that have seen no light.” (Job 3:16) This could refer to a woman’s miscarrying even before she realized that she was pregnant and while the embryo was not viable. The Body Machine states: “Many ova [fertilized eggs] do not develop normally, a greater number in fact than those which do. About ten per cent fail to implant and of those that do about half are aborted spontaneously, usually without the mother knowing.”
Job also said that if ‘the doors of his mother’s belly had been closed, he would have been concealed from trouble.’ So he would have escaped suffering if he had ‘proceeded to die from the womb’ or “in the womb.” (Job 3:10, 11, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures; Rotherham) Serious defects in the embryo or fetus sometimes cause this. Or it may result from abnormalities in the mother’s reproductive organs; deficiencies of vitamins, hormones or oxygen; or maternal disease.
In his agony Job felt that such possibilities would have been better for him. Yet his mother would have been saddened, even as are women today when inherited imperfection results in miscarriage or stillbirth. In mentioning those possibilities, Job did not say that he would have been in line for a resurrection anyway. The benefit, as he saw it, was that he would have been concealed from trouble or have been undisturbed.
Job added another possibility: “Why did I not come forth from the belly itself and then expire?” (Job 3:11) If, as sometimes occurs, Job had been born and soon thereafter died, maybe even before having been suckled, what might his future prospects be? He did not in the context discuss that. But later he showed that if, after having lived as a human, he had died and gone to Sheol, God likely would ‘set a time limit and remember him.’ Our Life-Giver ‘would call and Job himself would answer.’ Yes, Jehovah God could bring Job back to life, resurrect him.—Job 14:13-15.
This accords with our knowledge of resurrection in Biblical examples. Those who were resurrected evidently were brought back to life as the individuals they had been at death. That is, children who died were resurrected as children, adults as adults. (2 Kings 4:17-20, 32-37; Luke 7:12-15; 8:40-42, 49-55; John 11:38-44) Would it be reasonable to think that if a “hidden miscarriage” had occurred in Job’s case, in the New Order that microscopic embryo would be restored to his mother’s womb to continue a pregnancy of which she might have been unaware? That does not conform to what the Bible shows about the resurrection, which always involved persons who had been born and existed as separate individuals before God.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
But what if the embryo was more developed, had become a fetus or even was close to full term? There are many possible situations. However, there is no point in speculating, for there are countless sad consequences of imperfection suffered today. In the restored Paradise our loving heavenly Father will reverse man’s sinful condition and bring marvelous blessings. Many people will be resurrected. The decision as to how the resurrection will be carried out, and to what extent, rests with Jehovah and Jesus. We can be sure that the decision will reflect Jehovah’s perfect wisdom and justice.
Elihu assured Job: “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly! For according to the way earthling man acts he will reward him . . . Yes, for a fact, God himself does not act wickedly.” (Job 34:10-12) All of us, including couples who have had the very sad experience of a miscarriage or stillbirth, can take comfort in knowing that “good and upright is Jehovah.”—Psalm 25:8.
▪ Since the Bible speaks of certain men as “anointed” because they were specially chosen, or appointed, by God, could all overseers today be termed “anointed ones”?
The Hebrew and Greek words for “anoint” have the idea of daubing, or smearing, as with oil. The term “anointing” could also be used when holy spirit was poured out on someone, such as Jesus and the Christians whom God chooses to be his joint heirs.—Genesis 28:18, 19; 31:13; Psalm 133:2; 45:7; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Hebrews 1:9; Ephesians 1:13, 14.
On occasion the Bible uses the word “anointed” with regard to one who was chosen, or appointed, for a special role or office. For instance, Elijah was to “anoint Hazael as king over Syria” and ‘Elisha as prophet in place of you.’ (1 Kings 19:15, 16) Yet, there is no record that they were anointed with literal oil, as was Jehu. (2 Kings 9:1-6) Cyrus the Persian apparently never had actual oil or holy spirit poured out on him, but he was called Jehovah’s anointed because he was specially commissioned for a specific role. (Isaiah 45:1) Similarly, Moses could be referred to as “the Christ [anointed]” because God commissioned him, gave him a special appointment.—Hebrews 11:26.
What about elders, or overseers, in the local congregations? At Acts 20:28 the apostle Paul told congregational elders that “the holy spirit has appointed you overseers.” That was at a time when all baptized Christians whom God approved were anointed with holy spirit and called to heavenly life.—2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 1 John 2:20, 27.
However, in saying that ‘the holy spirit appointed you overseers,’ Paul did not use the Greek word for anointed. He used a form of the word tithemi, which can mean put, place, establish, appoint.—Compare Mark 4:21; 16:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 9:18; 15:25; 2 Timothy 1:11; Hebrews 1:2.
It is true that God uses his holy spirit in appointing, commissioning, or putting, elders in assigned places. But it would not be proper to speak of all congregation overseers as anointed. That could lead to confusion, suggesting incorrectly that all elders are anointed with holy spirit and have the heavenly calling. In fact, by far the majority of faithful overseers in the congregations today, while appointed as elders, have the hope of everlasting life in the restored earthly Paradise.