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[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.
Meleti, I was wondering if you could comment on Jesus words at Matthew 11:11,12: Truly I say to you, among those born of women, there has not been raised up anyone greater than John the Baptist, but a lesser person in the Kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it. (Matthew 11:11, 12 NWT) I believe the Watchtower uses this as support for anyone from the time of John the Baptist… Read more »
Actually, I’d like to hear some different points of view on that scripture. Anyone?
The NET Bible has this footnote to verse 11: “After John comes a shift of eras. The new era is so great that the lowest member of it (the one who is least in the kingdom of God) is greater than the greatest one of the previous era.” Albert Barnes thinks this to be a shift in terms not in terms of privilege but of knowledge: “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he – The phrase “kingdom of heaven” is used in many senses. See the notes at Matthew 3:2. It here probably means,… Read more »
Hello Jerome Ime inclined to agree with Mr Barnes, Johns knowledge was not yet completed. It’s worth remembering that Jesus was the last of the old covenant prophets and John was the second last, had he not had his head cut off by a corrupt ruler , his role may have changed under Jesus guidance, conjecture of course. However what JW teaching seems to ignore is the statement made by Jesus in the verse , that now the kingdom of heaven was the goal, effectively changing the goal posts, if John did believe he had an earthly hope , then… Read more »
I agree with previous comments on Matthew 11 the scripture is referring not to John as a person or position but to the message he had he proclaimed the coming of The Christ but the Apostles who would represent The Kingdom of The Heaven’s at that time were to be instructed directly ,perform miracles,witness the Sacrifice of The Christ ,witness about the Blood ,The New Covenant , establish Congregation’s and more . Reference is also made to how those pressing forward are seizing it ,this is of course the poor the downtrodden the seemingly ungodly yet Spiritually hungry ones such… Read more »
Hi Jerome, thanks for highlighting this verse. Have you looked at other translations? Wow, they certainly give a whole different dimension! I am using my phone so it’s hard to write much, but I would love to hear other people’s views. ?
Just a note for those who have not seen that the detailed annual report is now available on JW.Org, but apparently without the average publishers by country, although the percentage increase is probably based on this, as it is certainly not based on 2016 and 2017 peak publishers.
Please let me know if I have missed something.
I ran this past a work mate who is still very much an active JW and he just brushed it of as “oh well we don’t know when Lazarus died..” His response to the transfiguration was equally as weak in that Moses and Elijah were just there to validate things. Frustrating that there’s no one to talk to except here and DTT forum. Mike I came across a debate you had with a witness?? name Rotherham on truetheology.net very thought provoking and respectful. It doesn’t seem like that board is used very much. However I read the articles under Church… Read more »
Hello Mike, Your not the only one that’s confused. I have an epileptic son, between mid 2005 through to mid 2006 he was in a cycle of constant seizure activity, I was sure he was going to die , to bolster myself I started a personal study of the ressurection , with the aim of building myself up should what seemed inevitable happen. Instead what I found is that my WT theology on the resurrection was faulty, and while I came out of that with a better understanding of the ressurection , I was in a turmoil that ones who… Read more »
Wild Olive, I can understand your frustration. Studying the resurrection should be an encouraging thing, much like this recent Watchtower article. But next week’s article couldn’t be more different, and frustratingly so. It gets so complex that I have a hard time imagining JW’s getting encouragement from it.
This is a problem Mike, the brothers are addicted to Macreligion, enough of an ear tickle, and go away from the meeting thinking you have eaten something spiritual, when really its junk.
Just as a side point to the trans configuration of Jesus. The one thing that the three in the vision have in common ,is that their bodys disappeared , both Moses and Elijah in the vision with supernatural body’s and Jesus later after his resurrection with a glorified body , kinda makes it plain to me .
Meleti, i’m genuinely confused by the WT perspective here, unless it’s just a flat out contradiction with no answer at all. According to WT theology, Lazarus along with any dead anointed are resurrected starting in 1914. But isn’t “the last day” a different time period altogether? Consider: “I should resurrect them on the last day: Jesus states four times that he will resurrect people on the last day. (Joh 6:40, 44, 54) At Joh 11:24, Martha too refers to “the resurrection on the last day.” (Compare Da 12:13; see study note on Joh 11:24.) At Joh 12:48, this “last day”… Read more »
You’re right, Mike. Their own theology contradicts the teaching of a resurrection starting–I believe the current year is 1919–just after 1914. Where can we find your podcast?
It is JW Review. Mike does a nice job on his podcasts.
Where do I find them?
Go to Michael J Felker.com
Thanks Warp Speed!
The direct iTunes podcast link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jw-review-podcast/id1123789045
Hello dear Mike … I can not enjoy your podcasts because they are in English. And they only serve for iphone not for Android. You have an article that I found interesting but I think I’ll be left with the question: should Jehovah’s Witnesses be baptized again?
Hi Phelps, i’m sorry about that, though your English seems pretty good! I will work on an Android-friendly way to get the podcast. But for now, you can download the podcast simply via mp3 on my website. With regards to my baptism video, i’d like to think you’d be left with an answer rather than more questions, but i’ll leave that for you to decide 🙂
No dear Mike. ..is a Google translator. I was just asking about baptism out of curiosity because I know what the scriptures say. But thanks for your contribution ?