[From ws17/12 p. 3 – January 29-February 4]
“Our friend has fallen asleep, but I am traveling there to awaken him.”—John 11:11.
A rare article that sticks to what the Bible says without introducing doctrines of men. All in all, an encouraging review of historical resurrections to give us faith in the future resurrection.
Of course, the subtext to this article is that the attendees at this week’s Watchtower Study will be thinking only of an earthly resurrection for themselves. It is the only hope offered to them in the publications. In fact, JW theology teaches three resurrections, not the two that Jesus and Paul referred to at John 5:28, 29 and Acts 24:15. Besides the earthly resurrection of the unrighteous, they teach two resurrections of the righteous—one to heaven and another to earth.
So according to the Organization, Daniel will be resurrected to imperfect, sinful life on earth as part of the earthly resurrection of the righteous while Lazarus, as one of the anointed who died after Jesus, will be resurrected to immortal heavenly life.
A discussion of the nature of the heavenly resurrection can wait until another, more opportune occasion. For now, the question that concerns us is whether there is reason to believe that Daniel and Lazarus will share in the same resurrection or not.
The basis for the belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that only those who died after the death of Jesus can lay claim to the heavenly hope, since the spirit of adoption was only poured out on them. Faithful servants, like Daniel, cannot expect that resurrection, having died prior to the outpouring of redemptive Holy Spirit.
This is the only basis for this belief, and it should be noted that there is nothing explicitly stated in Scripture to support it. It is a deduction based on the premise that the adoption of sons cannot be applied retroactively, nor given to dead people. Perhaps another reason for this belief is that the Organization limits the number of those getting the heavenly reward to 144,000; a number that would surely have already been reached by the time Jesus walked the earth, if we are to include all the faithful servants from Abel down to Jesus’ day. (There were 7,000 alone in the day of Elijah—Romans 11:2-4)
Of course, the premise that Jehovah cannot pour out his Holy Spirit of adoption on dead people ignores the Bible truth that to Him, his faithful servants are not dead!
“‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’. He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” (Mt 22:32)
Another indication that the pre-Christian servants of God will join with the disciples of Jesus in the kingdom of the heavens is given by Christ when he says:
“But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside.” (Mt 8:11, 12)
And then we have the transfiguration. Some of his disciples bore witness to a transfiguration in which Jesus was seen coming in his kingdom with Moses and Elijah. How could that apparition reflect the true nature of the kingdom of the heavens if Moses and Elijah are not to take part in it along with the Apostles?
This article has unwittingly provided us with one more proof of this. Martha refers to the same time period as the angel did who reassured Daniel of his reward.
The message to the prophet Daniel continued: “You will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” – par. 18 (See Daniel 12:13)
Martha clearly had reason to be confident that her faithful brother, Lazarus, would “rise in the resurrection on the last day.” The promise given to Daniel, as well as the certainty reflected in Martha’s reply to Jesus, should reassure Christians today. There will be a resurrection. – par. 19 (See John 11:24)
There are two resurrections. The first occurs at the end of the system of things or the “end of the age”—i.e. the “last day” or “end of days”—when the last day of the rule of man comes with the arrival of Jesus in conquering glory and power to establish the rule of God. (Re 20:5) This is the resurrection of which Lazarus, Mary, and Martha will be part. It is what she referred to when she said, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” This is the same time period that the angel referred to when he told Daniel he too would rise for his reward “at the end of days”.
There are not two ‘ends of days’, two ‘last days’ when faithful servants are to be resurrected. There is nothing in Scripture to support such a conclusion. Daniel and Lazarus will share in the same reward as is fitting.