“Those bringing the many to righteousness [will shine] like the stars, forever and ever.”—DAN. 12:3.
SONG 151 He Will Call
1. What exciting events await us during the Thousand Year Reign?
WHAT a wonderful day it will be when the resurrection starts here on earth during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign! All who have lost loved ones long to see them again. That is how Jehovah feels too. (Job 14:15) Imagine what joyous reunions will take place earth wide. As we learned in the preceding article, “the righteous,” whose names are written in the book of life, will return to “a resurrection of life.” (Acts 24:15; John 5:29) Perhaps many of our loved ones will be among those restored to life early on in the earthly resurrection.b Additionally, “the unrighteous,” such as those who did not have sufficient opportunity to know Jehovah or to serve him faithfully before they died, will be raised to “a resurrection of judgment.”
2-3. (a) As indicated at Isaiah 11:9, 10, what will be the greatest educational program in all human history? (b) What will we consider in this article?
2 All these resurrected ones will need to be instructed. (Isa. 26:9; 61:11) So the greatest educational program in all human history will need to be implemented. (Read Isaiah 11:9, 10.) Why? For one thing, the unrighteous who are resurrected will need to learn about Jesus Christ, the Kingdom arrangement, the ransom, and the universal issue involving Jehovah’s name and sovereignty. Even the righteous will need to be brought up-to-date with what Jehovah has progressively revealed concerning his purpose for the earth. Some of these faithful ones died long before Jehovah’s word was compiled into the Bible canon. Both the unrighteous and the righteous will have a lot to learn.
3 In this article, we will consider the following questions: What will be involved in implementing this great educational program? What impact will that program have on whether names are written permanently in the book of life or not? The answers to these questions should matter to us today. As we will see, some fascinating prophecies recorded in the books of Daniel and Revelation will help clarify our understanding of what will happen when the dead are resurrected. First, let us consider the exciting events foretold in the prophecy of Daniel 12:1, 2.
“THOSE ASLEEP IN THE DUST . . . WILL WAKE UP”
4-5. What does Daniel 12:1 reveal about the time of the end?
4 Read Daniel 12:1. The book of Daniel reveals the sequence of exciting events that will occur during the time of the end. For example, Daniel 12:1 reveals that Michael, who is Jesus Christ, is “standing in behalf of [God’s] people.” That part of the prophecy began to be fulfilled in 1914 when Jesus was appointed as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom.
5 However, Daniel was also told that Jesus would “stand up” during “a time of distress such as has not occurred since there came to be a nation until that time.” This “time of distress” is the “great tribulation” mentioned at Matthew 24:21. Jesus stands up, or acts to defend God’s people, at the end of this time of distress, that is, at Armageddon. The book of Revelation refers to these ones as “a great crowd who come out of the great tribulation.”—Rev. 7:9, 14.
6. What happens after the great crowd survive the great tribulation? Explain. (See also in this issue “Questions From Readers” regarding the resurrection to life on earth.)
6 Read Daniel 12:2. What happens after the great crowd survive this time of distress? This prophecy is not referring to a symbolic resurrection, a spiritual revival of God’s servants that occurs during the last days, as we previously understood.c Rather, these words refer to the resurrection of the dead that takes place in the coming new world. Why can we draw that conclusion? The expression “the dust” is also used at Job 17:16 as a parallel of the expression “the Grave.” This fact indicates that Daniel 12:2 is referring to the literal resurrection that will occur after the last days have ended and after the battle of Armageddon.
7. (a) In what sense will some be resurrected to “everlasting life”? (b) How is this “a better resurrection”?
7 What does Daniel 12:2 mean, though, when it says that some will be resurrected to “everlasting life”? It means that those who are resurrected and come to know, or continue to know, and obey Jehovah and Jesus during the 1,000 years will ultimately receive everlasting life. (John 17:3) This will be “a better resurrection” than the one in the past that brought certain humans back to life. (Heb. 11:35) Why? Because those imperfect humans died again.
8. How are others resurrected “to reproach and to everlasting contempt”?
8 But not all resurrected ones will accept Jehovah’s educational program. Daniel’s prophecy says that some will be resurrected “to reproach and to everlasting contempt.” Because they will show a rebellious spirit, their names will not be written in the book of life and they will not receive everlasting life. Instead, they will receive “everlasting contempt,” or destruction. So Daniel 12:2 is speaking of the ultimate outcome for all resurrected ones based on what they do after their resurrection.d (Rev. 20:12) Some will gain everlasting life; others will not.
“BRINGING THE MANY TO RIGHTEOUSNESS”
9-10. What else will happen after the great tribulation, and who “will shine as brightly as the expanse of heaven”?
10 Who “will shine as brightly as the expanse of heaven”? We find a clue in Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 13:43: “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” In the context of these words, Jesus was speaking about “the sons of the Kingdom,” his anointed brothers, who will serve with him in the heavenly Kingdom. (Matt. 13:38) So Daniel 12:3 must be referring to the anointed and the work they will do during the Thousand Year Reign.
11-12. What work will the 144,000 do during the 1,000 years?
11 How will the anointed bring “the many to righteousness”? The anointed will cooperate closely with Jesus Christ to direct the educational program that will be carried out here on earth during the 1,000 years. The 144,000 will not only rule as kings but also serve as priests. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6) As such, they will assist with “the healing of the nations”—gradually bringing mankind back to perfection. (Rev. 22:1, 2; Ezek. 47:12) What a joy that will be for the anointed!
12 Who will be among “the many” brought to righteousness? These will include those who are resurrected and also those who survive Armageddon together with any children who may be born in the new world. By the end of the 1,000 years, all living on earth will be perfect. So at what point will their names be written permanently in ink and not in pencil in the book of life?
THE FINAL TEST
13-14. What will all perfect people on earth need to demonstrate before they receive everlasting life?
13 We must remember that being perfect does not in itself mean that a person will automatically gain everlasting life. Think of Adam and Eve. They were perfect, but they needed to demonstrate their obedience to Jehovah God before they would be granted everlasting life. And, sadly, they failed to obey him.—Rom. 5:12.
14 What will be the situation of those on earth by the end of the 1,000 years? All will have gained perfection. Will all those perfect people fully support Jehovah’s rule forever? Or will some prove to be like Adam and Eve—who despite being perfect became unfaithful? These questions will need to be answered, but how?
15-16. (a) When will all mankind receive an opportunity to show their loyalty to Jehovah? (b) What will be the final result of this test?
15 Satan will be confined for the 1,000 years. During that time, he will not be able to mislead anyone. However, at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released from his confinement. He will then try to mislead perfect humans. During that test, all perfect humans on earth will have an opportunity to show clearly where they stand on the issue of God’s name and sovereignty. (Rev. 20:7-10) Their individual responses to Satan’s efforts will determine whether their names should be written permanently in the book of life.
16 Some, an unspecified number, will prove to be like Adam and Eve, rejecting Jehovah’s rulership. What will happen to them? Revelation 20:15 tells us: “Whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.” Yes, these rebellious ones will be completely destroyed forever. But the majority of perfect mankind will pass this final test. Their names will then be written permanently in the book of life.
DURING “THE TIME OF THE END”
17 How exciting it is to think about these future events! However, Daniel also received from an angel some important information concerning our time, “the time of the end.” (Read Daniel 12:4, 8-10; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) The angel told Daniel: “True knowledge will become abundant.” Yes, the prophetic words in his book would be understood more fully by God’s people. The angel added that during this time “the wicked ones [would] act wickedly, and none of the wicked [would] understand.”
18. What will soon happen to the wicked?
18 Today it may appear that the wicked are getting away with their wicked conduct. (Mal. 3:14, 15) But soon Jesus will judge the goatlike ones and separate them from the sheeplike ones. (Matt. 25:31-33) These wicked ones will not survive the great tribulation, nor will they be resurrected to live in the new world. Their names will not be in the “book of remembrance” mentioned at Malachi 3:16.
19. What is it now time for us to do, and why? (Malachi 3:16-18)
19 Now is the time for us to prove that we are not among the wicked ones. (Read Malachi 3:16-18.) Jehovah is gathering those whom he views as “a special property,” or a treasured possession. We surely want to be among them.
20. What final promise was made to Daniel, and why do you look forward to the fulfillment of that promise?
20 Truly, we are living in exciting times. But far more amazing things are about to happen. Soon we will see the destruction of all wickedness. Following that, we will see the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise to Daniel: “You will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Dan. 12:13) Do you long for the day when Daniel, along with your loved ones, will “stand up” again? If so, do your utmost now to be faithful, and you can be sure that your name will remain written in Jehovah’s book of life.
SONG 80 “Taste and See That Jehovah Is Good”
a This article provides an adjustment in our understanding with regard to the great educational program described at Daniel 12:2, 3. We will examine when this will happen and who will be involved. We will also see how this educational program will prepare those on earth for the final test at the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign.
b The resurrection may start with those who died faithful during the last days and then may proceed backward, generation by generation. If this proves to be the case, each generation will have an opportunity to welcome back those whom they had known personally. Whatever the case, the Scriptures speak of a “proper order” with regard to the heavenly resurrection, and we can assume that the earthly resurrection will also be carried out in an orderly manner.—1 Cor. 14:33; 15:23.