Now, after such a remarkable survey of history in advance, the angel foretells some of the rich blessings enjoyed by God’s people “in the final part of the days.”—Daniel 10:14.
A Time of Resurrections
2. How did some dead ones “wake up” during “the final part of the days”?
2 The angel tells Daniel: “And there will be many of those asleep in the ground of dust who will wake up, these to indefinitely lasting life and those to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence.” (Daniel 12:2) Evidently, “the final part of the days” is a time for resurrections, of raising those “asleep in the ground of dust.” One such awakening began soon after Jesus became King in 1914. (Matthew 24:3) Looking forward to that time, the apostle Paul wrote: “We the living who survive to the presence of the Lord shall in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death . . . Those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16; Revelation 6:9-11) Evidently, then, soon after 1914 Jesus raised to spirit life in the heavens those of “the Israel of God” who had already died faithful. (Galatians 6:16) For them, the awakening was to “indefinitely lasting life.”
3, 4. How did a group of faithful servants of God come to be ‘dead’ in 1918?
3 But the angel’s words undoubtedly include another resurrection. For about 40 years preceding 1914, a small group of Christians had been warning that that year would mark the end of the Gentile Times as prophesied by Jesus. (Luke 21:24) These Christians had Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society incorporated in 1884, and they published the results of their Bible research in a journal called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
4 In 1914 the truth of their message was dramatically confirmed when the first world war broke out, and the “pangs of distress” foretold by Jesus began. (Matthew 24:7, 8) Nevertheless, their religious enemies used the war hysteria to persecute them until finally, in 1918, their preaching work was virtually stopped, and principal servants of the Watch Tower Society were unjustly imprisoned. This caused great rejoicing in some quarters. It also fulfilled the prophecy recorded in the book of Revelation: “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.”—Revelation 11:7.
5, 6. How did this group’s experiences in 1919 provide a fulfillment of the prophecy that “many of those asleep in the ground of dust . . . will wake up”?
5 According to the prophecy, however, they were not to stay ‘dead.’ “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 went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.” (Revelation 11:11, 12; Ezekiel 37:1-14) Their resurrection was evidently a symbolical one, since a literal resurrection to spirit life in heaven would have been invisible to their enemies. Rather, they were resurrected from a deathlike state of inactivity to a vibrant state of zealous activity in full view of those who had schemed their end. In 1919 the representatives of the Watch Tower Society were released from prison, the preaching work was reorganized, and the world saw the beginning of the greatest Kingdom witnessing campaign in history.—Matthew 24:14.
6 In this symbolical sense, ‘many of those asleep in the dust of the ground woke up.’ Then, starting in 1919, that small, awakened body of Bible Students began to seek out and gather the remaining ones of Jesus’ brothers so that the full number of the 144,000 could be sealed. (Matthew 24:31; Revelation 7:1-3) As individuals responded, they dedicated themselves to God through Christ and became members of Jehovah’s visible organization on earth. Receiving the free gift of holy spirit, they were declared righteous on the basis of their faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and were adopted as sons of God in a spiritual way.—Romans 8:16; Galatians 2:17; 3:8.
7. For many of these, how will this prove to be an awakening “to indefinitely lasting life”?
7 Those of them who remain faithful to the end of their earthly lives have the firm prospect of taking their place in heaven alongside Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-53) Thus, their spiritual awakening is to everlasting life. While still alive on earth, they experience peace among themselves even though living in a warring world. (Romans 14:19) But more importantly, they enjoy peace with Jehovah God himself, “the peace of God that excels all thought.”—Philippians 4:7.
Awakening “to Reproaches”
8, 9. In what way could this spiritual awakening be “to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence”?
8 Why, then, do some “wake up . . . to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence”? The fact is, not all those who accept the invitation to be part of that Kingdom class stay faithful. Some let their faith weaken and they fail to endure. (Hebrews 2:1) A few even become apostate and have to be removed from the Christian congregation. (Matthew 13:41, 42) Such ones are described by Jesus as “that evil slave” whom the Master punishes “with the greatest severity,” assigning him with the hypocrites. “There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”—Matthew 24:48-51; Ephesians 4:18; 5:6-8.
9 What a tragedy, to accept the highest privilege ever offered to imperfect humans and then to turn against it! Of those who act in this way, the apostle Paul said: “It is impossible as regards those who have once for all been enlightened, and who have tasted the heavenly free gift, and who have become partakers of holy spirit, and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, but who have fallen away, to revive them again to repentance, because they impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6) In this way, their awakening turns out to be “to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence.” They have no further prospect of everlasting life.
14. The prophecy that “many of those asleep in the ground of dust . . . will wake up” will come to include who else?
14 Thus, the angel’s words take us beyond the time of Michael’s ‘standing up’ and the unparalleled “time of distress” right into the new system of things. Moreover, the blessings channeled through these ones shining “like the stars” will not be limited to those who survive the “time of distress.” Jesus, while still a man on earth, said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28, 29) These words point to a literal resurrection of dead mankind, and doubtless this resurrection, too, is an extended fulfillment of the angel’s words: “Many of those asleep in the ground of dust . . . will wake up.”—Daniel 12:2.
15. For those resurrected then, how can it prove to be an awakening “to indefinitely lasting life”?
15 Among those included in this particular awakening will be Daniel himself. He was told by the angel: “As for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest [fall asleep in death], but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:13) Those like Daniel who are resurrected then and who respond to the ministry of Jesus and his brothers from heaven will be raised to human perfection. When they pass the final test, they will have their names permanently inscribed in the book of life. (Revelation 20:5) For them, too, the awakening will be “to indefinitely lasting life.”
16. For whom will the awakening in the new system of things prove to be “to indefinitely lasting abhorrence”?
16 Not all will so respond, however. Some will doubtless try to bring back the practices that have robbed man of peace for so long. Such ones have fair warning in the Bible: “As for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) This “second death” is a direct judgment from Jehovah from which there is no resurrection. It is eternal, unending oblivion. Those resurrected who prove to be unappreciative will suffer this second death; hence, their awakening will be “to reproaches and to indefinitely lasting abhorrence.”—Daniel 12:2.