Questions From Readers
Will people be resurrected if they do not accept true Christianity now and die before the start of the great tribulation?
It is good for all of us to resist any inclination to act as judges, recognizing that in the final analysis, Jehovah’s judgment by means of Jesus Christ is what counts. (John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1) But the Scriptures do provide some helpful information in answer to the foregoing question.
Worldwide preaching of the good news of God’s Kingdom is a vital aspect of ‘the sign of Jesus’ presence.’ This sign has been in evidence since early in this century. The preaching work is resulting in a dividing of the people of all nations in fulfillment of Jesus’ illustration of “the sheep” and “the goats.” With the completion of this preaching and dividing activity, the “great tribulation” will bring the present wicked system of things to an end.—Matthew 24:3, 21, 22; 25:31-46.
Jehovah, along with his Son, will judge whether any who reject the Kingdom message and die prior to the outbreak of the great tribulation are classed as goats. Jesus said that the goats “will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” Therefore, we can conclude that those who are determined by God to be goats will not receive a resurrection. They have a judgment similar to that of those who “undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction” at the time of the great tribulation.—2 Thessalonians 1:9.
But what about those who may not seem to have been sufficiently exposed to the Kingdom message so as to have been able to make an intelligent choice for or against the truth before they died during these “last days”?—2 Timothy 3:1.
Many who die while the preaching work is in progress prior to the great tribulation will evidently receive a resurrection. This is indicated by what we read at Revelation 6:7, 8 concerning the ride of the symbolic horsemen. Many people have died as victims of wars, food shortages, and deadly plagues. Since it is “Hades” that claims these victims of “Death,” they will be resurrected during Christ’s Millennial Reign, when Hades gives up all the dead in it. (Revelation 20:13) A number of those raised to life may have had some contact with the Kingdom message before they died.
How grateful we can be that Jesus did not leave it up to humans to determine who are like sheep and who are like goats! Imperfect humans cannot properly evaluate how much of an opportunity a certain person had to hear and accept the good news. Can we know what his heart condition was or whether he truly loved righteousness? Can we measure how much his response might have been affected by his family, his religious background, or other influences? Obviously not. Yet, we can be sure that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ can evaluate such matters and then reach judgments that are perfect, just, and righteous.—Deuteronomy 32:4; Isaiah 11:1-5.
Hence, there is no reason for us to speculate about who among those who have died recently may or may not be resurrected. This is something we have not been authorized to do. (Compare Luke 12:13, 14.) It is far wiser for us to wait on the decisions of the righteous Judges, Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. This will give us more peace of mind as Jehovah’s servants. It will also help us to give better attention to what we have been assigned to do—‘go and make disciples of people of all the nations, teaching them to observe all the things Jesus commanded.’—Matthew 28:19, 20.
[Picture Credit Line on page 31]
Leicester sheep, Meyers