Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?

What will Armageddon mean for earth's present billions of people, the vast majority of whom do not profess Christ in any form whatsoever? Will they be eternally destroyed, as some religious leaders would have us believe? Will all mankind be destroyed at Armageddon, or will there be any survivors of this destruction?
Does Armageddon mean that the majority of earth's present billions will go down in eternal destruction with no hope of recovery? Are the millions of children being born into this world, blinded by Satan, many of whom are suffering beyond imagination, only to go through all of this suffering and torment so that they may be eternally destroyed at the battle of Armageddon, thus deriving no benefit from their experiences with sin, suffering and death?

Unless noted otherwise, all scripture quotations are provided by our own renderings based on various translations and Hebrew and Greek texts.

By Ronald R. Day, Sr., Restoration Light Bible Study Services

Survivors of the End of this Age

There are presently several billions of people on this earth and more people are being born each day. The Bible tells us that this "present evil age" is to end with the great tribulation, part of which is the "battle of the great day of God the Almighty" at Armageddon. What will this mean for earth's billions of people, the vast majority of whom do not profess Christ in any form whatsoever? Will billions be eternally destroyed, as many religious leaders would have us believe? Will all mankind be destroyed at Armageddon, or will there be any survivors of this destruction?

First let us see what position the majority of these billions of people have before Jehovah God. Approximately 1/3 of the earth's population professes to be Christian. Of these professing Christians we feel safe in saying that the majority of them are not true disciples of Christ who are giving of their lives in the witness and worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23,24) Most are merely nominal Christians, Christians in name only, the kind that Jesus likened to tares. (Matthew 13:24-30)  Most people on the earth, then, are still children of wrath, deserving destruction. (Matthew 7:13; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 1:3) Likewise, due the apostasy, most who profess Christ are confused concerning what they should be doing in their service of their master. (See our study on The Four Servants). Many seem to love this world and determined to "make this [present evil] world a better place in which to live." However noble their efforts may appear, the Bible tells us that all such efforts are in vain. --Ecclesiastes 6:11,12; 3:9,10.

In the most "advanced" nations, the Bible is printed in abundance, and may be found in all churches. Yet, due to the apostasy and its blinding influence, few come to an understanding God's purposes. Additionally, the forms of media are filled with misinformation, and appear to make forms of evil appear to be good, and obedience to Jesus and his God as something evil. Some forms of sin are being promoted as being an acceptable "lifestyle", while others are presented as socially acceptable.

On the other hand, many religious people pride themselves in the idolatry of "organization", creeds or church worship. Our friends associated with such groups, when confronted with Bible truths concerning the "ransom for all" or other matters, often begin preaching their organization, the works of their creed-makers, or their church leaders rather than Jesus. By this they indicate that they have placed their organization, chruch, etc., as a go-between to understanding the scriptures. Many are willing to accept whatever their leaders tell them - without question!

But who is guilty before God and who is not guilty? In truth, all of us, as descendants of Adam, are guilty and worthy of death. (Romans 3:23) It is only through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice (or in the case of the faithful of old, in the promise thereof) that we receive a reckoned (imputed, counted -- Greek, logizomai) justification [made straight, right] before God. (Romans 4:3-24; 6:11; Galatians 3:16; James 2:3) The Bible tells us that there are those living in the "last days" would see the culmination of God's anger [his indignation, his wrath] as he executes judgment upon the unwary world of mankind. (Zephaniah 3:8; Revelation 15:1) There are many scriptures which allude to this day of Jehovah's anger. One is in Psalm 110:5,6: "The Lord* is at your right hand. He will crush kings in the day of his wrath." -- World English Bible translation.
*"The Lord" in Psalm 110:5 is "Adonai" in the Masoretic Text. The vowel pointing provided by the Masoretes -- making this "Adonai" (The Lord) instead of "adoni", my Lord -- was added several centuries after Christ. The Masoretes added the vowel point everytime they thought the word was referring to Jehovah, but it is possible they may have been in error in this verse. Thus, this could have been originally referring David's Lord -- Jesus -- sitting at the right hand of Jehovah, as in Psalm 110:1. From this standpoint, Jesus would be the instrument used by Jehovah to crush the kings of the day of Jehovah's wrath, and by extension it would also the be day of Jesus' wrath. However, let us say that Psalm 110:5 has Jehovah at the right hand of Jesus, and that David refers to Adonai as being Jehovah at the right of David's lord. It would mean that David is saying that Adonai is Jehovah of Psalm 110:1 who would be at the right hand of Jesus, as in Psalm 16:8. In other words, Jehovah is always available at Jesus' right hand to give to Jesus all the aid needed for Jesus to carry out all Jehovah has given him to do; all things are from Jehovah through Jesus. -- Psalm 18:35; 20:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Jehovah speaks of that day through Zephaniah (1:2,3): "'I will utterly destroy all things from the ground,' says Jehovah. 'I will destroy man and beast. I will destroy the flying creatures of the sky, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from the earth,' says Jehovah." This sounds very bleak for poor humanity, doesn't it? Is there no hope then for the survival of the human race?

We must remember that no scripture should be taken in isolation from the rest of the Bible. This scripture alone could lead us to the conclusion that the entire human race will come to a complete end. But if we look at the wording of other scriptures we can get a better picture of what this means.

Did you know that everything was cut off the surface of the earth at one time many years ago? Let us read about this: "So Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abounding in the earth and every tendency of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all day long. And Jehovah regretted that he had made men in the earth, and he was pained at his heart. So Jehovah said 'I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground, from man to beast, to the moving animal and to the flying creature of the skies, because I regret that I have made them.'" (Genesis 6:5-8) Most of our readers will no doubt recognize that this is what God said before he destroyed the order or arrangement (Kosmos, often translated as "world") with a flood in days of Noah. (2 Peter 3:6) But not all humans were destroyed. The next verse says: "But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah."

Yet in verse 13 Jehovah said: "The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is filled with violence because of them; and take note that I will destroy them along with the earth." Since Jehovah had decreed that "all flesh" would be destroyed, did this include Noah? No, for Jehovah made provision for Noah's family to survive that destruction of "all flesh". We read: "Noah by faith prepared an ark for the saving of his household; through which he condemned the world, and became the heir of righteousness according to faith." (Hebrews 11:7) In the Bible, both the Hebrew and Greek words for "all" always looks to context and common evidence for what is included or excluded in the "all", as in the example given in 1 Corinthians 15:27. Thus, we conclude that "all flesh" is not used in the absolute sense that many often speak of as "all".

Noah's faith stirred him to obedience. Therefore he constructed an ark "for the saving of his household." Jesus said that the days of his return would find the earth similar to that of Noah's day: "But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the parousia [Greek meaning presence, especially royal presence, as in a visit] of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and took them away - so also will be the parousia of the Son of Man." (Matthew 24:38,39) Today the earth is again full of violence and the hearts of men are wicked continually. Is there no "ark" that will carry any through the culmination of God's wrath at "the great day of God the Almighty"? Is there no place we can go for protection today?

As we stated before, as descendants of Adam, we are all guilty of sin, therefore we are all worthy of death. If we are to look for an ark today, where can we go to find protection, to be saved in this day of his anger? Many quote the words of Zephaniah: "Seek Jehovah, all meek ones of the earth, who have practiced his justice. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of Jehovah's anger." (Zephaniah 2:3) This would seem to indicate that there are some believers who may live through Armageddon's battle. But who is genuinely 'practicing Jehovah's justice' since there is "not one righteous man, not even one"? (Romans 3:10) Evidently there is some special application to the practice of Jehovah's own "justice" here. What is this justice we must practice in order to that we might be considered one of the "meek of the earth"?

A clue regarding the justice of Jehovah is given for us in Romans 3:19-26. "Now we know that all the things the Law says it addresses to those under the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become liable to God for punishment. Therefore by works of law no flesh will be declared righteous before him, for by law is the accurate knowledge of sin. But now apart from law God's righteousness [justice] has been made manifest, as it is borne witness to by the Law and the Prophets; yes, God's righteousness through the faith in Jesus Christ, for all those having faith. For there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous [just] by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. God set him forth as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood. This was in order to exhibit his own righteousness, because he was forgiving the sins that occurred in the past while God was exercising forbearance; so as to exhibit his own righteousness in this present season, that he might be righteous [just] even when declaring righteous [just] the man that has faith in Jesus." Then those who keep Jehovah's justice are those who put their faith in Jesus. Through their faith they are justified, or made righteous in God's eyes.

How, though, does one practice this? Having faith in Jesus means more than just believing that Jesus died for our sins. The apostle John writes: "And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as He gave command to us. For one who keeps His commandments remains in union with him, and he in union with him. And by this we know that he remains in union with us, by the spirit which he gave to us." (1 John 3:23,24) Of course, such justification must be followed up with an actual practice of justice -- righteousness -- although in the flesh we will fall short of perfection in this regard. Nevertheless, there must be a continual day by day accordance with Jesus, contemplating his words and obeying his commands. "You are my friends if you do what I command you." (John 15:14) It is a mistake to believe that Jesus is a friend to everyone, no matter what that person may believe or practice. Only those who sincerely study his words and are making every possible effort to obey him are his friends. Thus, it is possible that there are those who are truly demonstrating faith in Jesus just before the culmination of God's anger who may live through the battle of Armageddon, and into the age to come.

So is there an ark that can safely carry one through the destruction of Satan's Empire? Peter wrote of Noah's days that "an ark having been prepared in which a few, that is, eight souls were saved through water, which figure now saves us, baptism; not a putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven." (1 Peter 3:20,21) Peter reminds his readers that all mankind perished in the flood save eight souls, who were preserved from a watery grave by means of the ark which God provided them. That ark, though submerged in water was their salvation in that particular instance. Peter declares that this is a 'like figure to baptism.' Jesus is the ark of salvation for the Christian, for all true Christians ever since the first century. Faith in Jesus has been carrying Christians through many forms of tribulation for hundreds of years. -- John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 825; 12:12.

Nevertheless, as the whole world (arrangement, order) in Noah's day perished in the flood (2 Peter 3:6), so the present world (order, arrangement) faces destruction in the day of Jehovah's anger. The true Christian, however, is no longer part of this world. He is no longer reckoned as other men. (John 17:16) Therefore we believe that there are many Christians who will not be accounted with all mankind who will be cut off. That some flesh will be saved during that time is indicated by Jesus' words recorded for us in Matthew 24:21,22: "For there will be great tribulation, such as has not happened from the beginning of the world until now; no nor ever will be. And except those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved, but on account of the chosen, those days will be shortened." Indeed, unless God cuts short these days man is now living in, man will completely destroy himself, including the true Christians. But he says that God will cut short the days because of his chosen ones on the earth at that time, thereby indicating that some flesh would be saved.

Many believe that Isaiah 24:6 will also have a fulfillment at that time: "For this the curse has devoured the earth; and they who live in it are held guilty. Therefore the inhabitants of earth are burned and few men are left." Many also point ot Jeremiah 25:33 as having a fulfillment in that calamitous day: "And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth." Therefore, we expect that the vast majority of earth's billions will suffer destruction during that time, so that only a "very few" men will remain. When the time of trouble comes to and end, we believe Satan will be abyssed, and it we expect that it will be then that there will be "few men left". How many is a "few"?  From standpoint of billions of people, this could be over a billion people. But evidently God will bring about, or permit, some event, that will indeed reduce the earth population drastically.

Further, we read in the book of Revelation 7:9-17 that John received a vision of a "great multitude" who would come out of the great tribulation. Some Christians have recognized this prophecy as applying to a class of true Christians who are living just before or during the great tribulation. Without being dogmatic, it does appear that this great multitude are to come out of the great tribulation so as to be alive after this great tribulation is over. Others believe that the "great multitude" is a secondary class that has existed throughout the Gospel Age that will be raised to life in heaven. There are those, however, who have misapplied its meaning so as to make the "great multitude" need another "ark" than Jesus. This false ark that they are asked to put their trust and faith in is an organization headed by a small group of men here on the earth.

Traditionally, Bible Students have believed that the great multitude is a secondary heavenly class who failed to keep their position as one of the 144,000 who sit upon the throne with the lamb. (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1) But we believe the context along with other scriptures indicate that they are a class of justified Christians living near the end of the age who will survive the "great tribulation" and live right into the new order under God's Kingdom. Those who inherit spirit bodies as Jesus will not need to be led to the waters of life, nor will they need to have all tears wiped from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17) Those who have tears wiped from their eyes are spoken of living one earth, not in heaven. (Isaiah 25:8) The water of life is offered to the nations here on the earth, the curse is here on the earth, etc. (Revelation 22:1-3) True, they have been reckoned alive by their faith in the blood of Jesus. (Revelation 7:14) We believe that Revelation 7 reveals three groups, all of whom are called in the "one hope", the "one calling" of this age, of the resurrection of life. But we believe the great multitude, like the 144,000 while upon this earth, are only reckonedly "made alive" but do not receive the same reward as does the 144,000. Their flesh will still need to be actually made alive and freed from the infirmities of sickness and suffering of today. After Armageddon, they will still need to develop and perfect their love and faith through obedience. Thus Jesus leads them to the waters of life. -- Revelation 7:17.
See our study:
The Great Multitude

Many scriptures seem to indicate that when God expresses his anger upon the nations, the various individuals under the influence of Satan, who are still children of wrath, undergo various plagues, which could result in destruction; such destruction, however. if applied to destruction of life, is the result of condemnation that they have inherited from Adam. Any destruction of the lives of the unregenerated is still counted in the sin of Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19) The "great multitude" are depicted as "coming out of the great tribulation." We believe this refers to their being saved through the great tribulation and remaining alive into the age to come, when Satan is abyssed. They are justified by their faith in Jesus' blood (Romans 3:26,26,30; 5:1,9; Galatians 3:24), having washed their robes in the blood of lamb before the passing away of the present heavens and earth. (Matthew 5:18; 24:35; Luke 16:17; 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 21:1) Thus, the scriptures indicate that, having been reckoned as dead and raised through faith from the death sentence that remains upon the world, they do not need to suffer death under God's wrath during the great day of his anger. Therefore, we believe that it is probable that many such justified will be spared to live through the great tribulation. (John 17:16; 15:19) Nevertheless, while Jehovah's anger is no longer reckoned as being upon them, God could still use the general time of trouble to chastise them as sons, preparing them for the kingdom rule to follow. Being sons of God, they have as their present-day ark, Christ, through their faith and baptism in him. Yet while Revelation describes them as a "great multitude", they will still only be a very few of these survivors when compared with earth's billions. (Isaiah 24:6) Should we prove to be of this class, and not of the cherished class that is raised to life in heaven, we should still be thankful for whatever we receive of life from God, whether in heaven or on this earth! None of the consecrated can know for a certainty what reward they will receive, whether in the glory of a celestial life or the glory of a terrestrial life.* (1 Corinthians 15:35-49) We all have the one hope of being raised to life in Christ, regardless of final reward. Nevertheless, it should be our goal to carry out the commands of Jesus! We should obey him as our King and Savior to the best of our ability, striving to enter into the narrow gate if at all possible. And yet, at the end of the age, those who are too late to enter into the gate can yet safely trust Jesus as the present-day "ark" to carry those whom he has chosen safely through the "days of tribulation", including the Battle of the Great Day of God.
*See our studies:
With What Kind of Body Will We be Raised?
The Manner of the Resurrection

But what about the rest of the world during this time? We are assured that God's wrath remains upon those who do not have proper faith in Jesus. (John 3:36) Nevertheless the Bible seems to indicate that many of those who are still children of wrath (heathen) may also live through the battle of Armageddon into the age to come. (Psalm 46:6-10; Zephaniah 3:8,9) Those who remain children of wrath will suffer a general destruction during what is often called "the Battle of Armageddon", although this does not necessarily mean the destruction of their lives. Nevertheless, if those who are still children of wrath due to the condemnation of Adam should die during the Armageddon struggle, does this mean that they depart into eternal destruction with no hope of recovery? Are the millions of children being born into this world, blinded by Satan, many of whom are suffering beyond imagination, only to go through all of this suffering and torment so that they may be eternally destroyed at the battle of Armageddon, thus deriving no benefit from their experiences with sin, suffering and death?

Destruction At Armageddon

There are those today that would like you to believe that all who do not join their religious organization will be eternally destroyed at Armageddon. That there will be a destructive work during the Armageddon struggle, there can be no denial. Here are some of the scriptures that describe the destruction at that time:

"A noise shall come even to the end of the earth, for Jehovah has a controversy with the nations; he will enter into judgment with all flesh; as for the wicked, he will give them to the sword. Thus says Jehovah: 'Look! Evil will go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest will be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth. And the slain of Jehovah will be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They will not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they will be as dung upon the face of the ground.' Howl, you shepherds, and cry; and wallow in ashes, you principal ones of the flock; for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions have fully come, and you will fall like a goodly vessel. And the shepherds will not have any way to flee, nor will the principals ones of the flock escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and the howling of the principal ones of the flock! For Jehovah is laying waste their pasture. And the peaceable folds are brought to silence because of the fierce anger of Jehovah. He has left his covert, as a lion; for their land is become an astonishment because of the fierceness of the oppressing sword, and because of his fierce anger." - Jeremiah 25:31-38.

'Therefore wait for me,' says Jehovah, 'until the day that I rise up to the prey. For my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them my indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.'" - Zephaniah 3:8.

"And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. And they say to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath is come, and who is able to stand?" - Revelation 6:15-17.

"For, look! Jehovah will come with fire, and his chariots will be like the whirlwind; to render his anger with fierceness, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will Jehovah execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh - and the slain of Jehovah will be many." - Isaiah 66:15,16.

"Look! Jehovah is making the earth empty, and is making it waste, and is turning it upside down, and is scattering abroad the inhabitants thereof. . . . The earth will be utterly emptied, and utterly laid waste - for Jehovah has spoken this word. The earth is mourning and fading away, the world is languishing and fading away, the lofty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is polluted under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statues, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, those who dwell therein are found guilty. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." - Isaiah 24:1,2-6.

"The Lord [not Jehovah, but our Savior] at your [Jehovah's] right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He will judge among the nations, he will fill the places with dead bodies. He will strike through the head in many countries." - Psalm 110:5,6.

"And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs." - Revelation 14:19,20.

"The great day of Jehovah is near, it is near and is hastening greatly, the voice of the day of Jehovah, the mighty man cries there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and the alarm, against the fortified cities, and against the high battlements. And I will bring distress among men, that they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against Jehovah; and their blood will be poured out as dust, and their flesh as dung. Neither their silver not their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah's wrath; but the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. For he will make and end, yes, a terrible end, of all them that dwell in the earth." - Zephaniah 1:14-18.

The Wrath of Jehovah

True, much of what is said in these scriptures is symbolic. Fire is used to represent the destructiveness of that day; clouds are used to picture the darkness of that day - and so on. Nevertheless, in general, the wrath of God that is expressed at that time is the culmination of the wrath of God which came upon mankind in the garden of Eden. There mankind was sentenced to death through the first man, Adam. This death would have been eternal had it not been for the ransom sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, for all sinned. So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came to all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one will the many be made righteous." (Romans 6:12,18,19) "Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, will we be saved from the wrath of God through him." (Romans 5:1,9) All who do not receive this justification through Christ remain "vessels of wrath fit for destruction." (Romans 9:22) Any death of any of the unregenerated will still be counted in God's wrath due to Adam's sin, not the second death. What is the purpose of this wrath? Is it simply to get rid of the wicked? Let us see.

In Psalm 83:13-18 we read: "O my God, make them [the wicked] like the whirling dust; as stubble before the wind. As the fire that burns the forest, and as the flame that sets the mountains on fire. So pursue them with your tempest, and terrify them with your storm. Fill their faces with confusion, that they may seek your name, O Jehovah. Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; yes, let them be confused and perish; that they may know that you alone, whose name is Jehovah, are the Most High over all the earth." Here we are given a key as to what purpose God's wrath serves, and especially his wrath as expressed at Armageddon. It is so that the wicked ones may know Jehovah, that 'they may seek his name'! But how will they come to know him or seek his name if they are eternally destroyed? The answer, of course, would be that they cannot if they are to be eternally destroyed.

Nations to Know Jehovah

How thankful we can be that the scriptures show that Jehovah's wrath is expressed upon the nations to discipline, not to eternally destroy them. It is so that they may learn a lesson from his wrath. The benefits from this lesson will come after Satan is abyssed, when all nations will be blessed with the knowledge of Jehovah. Any who die during the Armageddon struggle will be blessed by their resurrection from the destruction that Jehovah brings upon them. Like the ones of Jerusalem, Sodom and Samaria, Jehovah will bring forth the captives ones from death. (Our Jehovah's witnesses friends and neighbors may want to see The Watchtower, March 1, 1965, pages 137-138) Then, as he says to Jerusalem: "You will remember your ways, and be ashamed . . ., and you will know that I am Jehovah, that you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I have forgiven you all that you have done." (Ezekiel 16:61,63) Yes, God's wrath is revealed upon the "vessels of wrath" so that they might know that he is Jehovah, the only proper one to rule over mankind.

(33) Some say that to bring back earth's present billions of unjustified ones after Armageddon would mean to make the new earth just as wicked as the present evil age. However, we have the Bible's assurance that such is not the case. For one thing Satan, who is presently deceiving the entire earth, will then be abyssed, so that he will not be able to deceive the nations -- those who presently do not believe. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:2,3) During the thousand years when Jesus and his church are teaching the world to know Jehovah, Satan will not be around to blind their eyes to the truth. It was Satan who blinded the minds of the Jewish and Roman rulers who had Jesus put to death. Concerning this the apostle Paul states: "We speak God's wisdom in a secret, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the ages for our glory; which none of the rulers of this world has known, for had they known it, they would not have impaled the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:7,8 - Concerning this secretiveness related to the Bible message, see our study: Understanding Kingdom Mysteries) For those really desiring truth it should be plain to see that the rulers of this world would have acted differently had they only understood. And, likewise, those who oppose truth today are just like those rulers back in Jesus' day. The Bible indicates that as a whole, they will still be blinded right on up to the time that Satan is abyssed.

(34) What, then, will be the benefit of allowing any of the heathen to survive the end of this age and/or bringing earth's present billions of dead back to this earth after Armageddon? They will then be taught righteousness without the blinding influence of Satan. They are not brought back in the resurrection to life, but rather "the resurrection of judgment (Greek, krisis)." (John 5:28,29) They are part of the "resurrection of the unjust" (Acts 24:15), those who died without receiving justification to life through faith in the blood of Jesus. Of this the scriptures overwhelmingly testify.
See our studies on:
The Resurrection Hope.

All Families to Be Blessed

(35) When God stated to Abraham: "In you all families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3), did he mean that only a few of earth's present families would be blessed? Did he mean that by saving a few from each nation that "all families" would thus be represented? NO! It is true that sometimes the word "all" can mean "all sorts" or "all manner." But we notice that in 1 Corinthians 15:22 Paul tells us: "As by means of Adam all are dying, so by means of Christ all will be made alive." Here the "all" who benefit from Christ's sacrifice is laid in direct parallel with "all" who are dying in Adam. A similar statement is made in Romans 5:18. We have no reason then to doubt that when it says "all families" will be blessed through Abraham's seed, it means just that. Earth's present unjustified billions now on the road to destruction (Matthew 7:13) have not yet received this promised blessing. Thus, if they are destroyed in Armageddon, the only way that they could be blessed is through the resurrection of the dead sometime after Armageddon, during the time when Satan is bound.

(36) Consequently, the scriptures assure us that "as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22) Very few of earth's present billions are now reckoned as "made alive" through faith in Jesus. For the earth's present billions to suffer the second death, for which there is no ransom, they would have to first have been released from the death inherited from Adam, the first death. Are we to hope then, that the whole unjustified world of mankind will accept Jesus before Armageddon, and then turn away so as to be subject to the second death? Such is not reasonable nor scriptural. Nevertheless, if the scripture is true, then all the other billions who die without having been reckoned as justified will yet have to be "made alive" through a resurrection of the dead, so that they may receive the blessings of the coming day of judgment. The ransom sacrifice of Jesus guarantees this. - Acts 17:31; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

The World's Wait

(37) The apostle Paul tells us that the whole creation has been "waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." (Romans 8:13-23) The revealing of the sons of God will mean that the time of blessing for all families of the earth through Abraham's seed will have come. This can only happen after Satan is abyssed. This is what all mankind has been ignorantly waiting for. But is this just for past generations, not having any application to the present generation simply because they have been born at a time when Satan is employing more deceptions and allurements than ever before in history? No! Plain reason would tell us that the present evil generation is still part of the "whole creation" that is groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, and in just as much need of the enlightenment of God's Kingdom as previous generations.

(38) The scriptures tell us that Jesus is "the true light that enlightens every man that comes into the world." (John 1:9) The present-day witnessing being done by various religious groups cannot in any way be described as 'enlightening every man that comes into the world.' Even with their valiant but meager efforts over the half the world still only remotely knows anything about Jesus, much less having an understanding of the provision of life through faith in Jesus. Thousands, probably millions, still have never even heard of Jesus, the only name whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The time for the enlightenment of "every man" will have to be in the next age when Satan after Satan is abyssed. Therefore, since the peoples living at the end of the age who may lose their lives in the battle of the great day have not yet been enlightened, the only way they could be enlightened would be by a resurrection of the dead in the next age.

(39) The prophecy of Isaiah (25:6-7) informs us that in the next age Jehovah will "make for all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that covers all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations." The language is symbolic, and refers to a symbolic covering that is over all nations. The covering today still rests upon the nations. Paul also refers to people's mind being veiled, for they are still blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:3,4) Is the prophecy of Isaiah 25 to be fulfilled only toward past generations and not the present generation of evildoers? Today wickedness has increased rapidly, and with foretold increase of knowledge we have many things that God has stated to be wrong being openly paraded as being acceptable. As Adrian Rogers stated, "Sin that used to slink down the back alley now struts down Main Street." There is more confusion about what is right and what is wrong today than ever before in history. Our youth are being trained by school as well as the entertainment industry to accept sinful lifestyles as being not sinful. Certainly, which such intense mistraining of people, if any people living at any time needed the blinding veil of Satan's deceptions removed it would be the people living during this foretold "time of trouble".

(40) Let us compare the Jews living in Jesus' day with the people of today. Those in Jesus' day had the Son of God himself to instruct them. Especially the Jewish religious leaders had much responsibility for they studied the scriptures extensively. To them Jesus said: "You serpents, children of snakes! How will you escape the judgment of Gehenna?" (Matthew 23:33) In calling them "children of snakes" Jesus was pointing out that they were part of the seed of the serpent, and had not as yet cleansed themselves so as to become part of the seed of the woman, that is, children of God's promises. (Galatians 4:28) The wrath of God remained upon them and they did not see the life Jesus was offering at that time. (John 3: 36) They did not receive Jesus, and yet, contrary to what many have read into certain scriptures, Jesus did not condemn them to eternal destruction but said: "I am coming as a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me should not remain in darkness. And if any man hears my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that judges him - the words that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." - John 12:46-48.

(41) Does this mean that those wicked religious leaders will also return in "the last day" since they are part of those that rejected Jesus? Very evidently this is what it means. But Jesus did warn them that if they continued in the course they were taking against the light that was available to them they may not be able in the next age to escape Gehenna - eternal destruction, the second death. They could not be condemned to the second death in the present age, because they had not yet been 'made alive' from the first death. Their judgment would have to be delayed until the day of judgment, the day of the resurrection, after they had been released from the Adamic death.

(42) How do we know that their resurrection comes during the thousand years that Satan is bound? Because as Jesus said, they receive their judgment during the "last day." (John 12:48) The book of Revelation shows that the judgment will be taking place during the thousand years that Satan is bound. (Revelation 20:3,4 - Note: the phrase "the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished" in Revelation 20:5 does not appear in the oldest Greek manuscripts, and is thus many consider them to be spurious.) It is the same period of time in which Martha believed that Lazarus would be raised. (John 11:23,24) It is during this same "last day" that the unjust are to be raised for judgment. - John 5:28,29; 12:47,48.

(43) But some have asked, "Why should they be raised if they are only going to be eternally destroyed?" The question actually misses the point. Destruction is not the purpose of their resurrection. Rather the purpose of their being saved from Adamic death and being raised will, not only give them opportunity to "believe in that day," but this provision will fully vindicate God's Holy Name! They will come forth at a time when Satan will not be allowed to deceive them! The knowledge of Jehovah will be covering the earth. (Isaiah 11:9) They could, if they so desire at that time, repent from their sinful course and walk up the highway of Holiness that will then be opened for them. Those who walk up that highway, even though they may have been wayfaring men, will not err at that time. (Isaiah 35:8) As soon as they understand about God and his purposes, many will evidently outwardly obey him, but will still not develop the right heart attitude. With some, as they see the goodness of God and the happiness that righteousness brings, this feigned obedience will change to meekness and heart obedience. But others will refuse to obey at heart. "Show favor to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness, in the land of uprightness will he deal falsely." (Isaiah 26:10) Some will thus show that they willfully prefer wickedness in their heart. For such there will be no excuse. At that time, they will have all help they need to walk that highway, in the way of knowledge and the provision of God's spirit. 

All Mankind to be Made Alive

(44) Nevertheless, it is in this manner that Jehovah actually vindicates or sanctifies his holy name before all nations - that is, by giving everyone full knowledge of truth and a complete opportunity to come to him, without the hindrance of Satan. Had Jehovah eternally destroyed them while still under the blinding influences of Satan, such would have given reason for challenging God's love as well as the justice of God. God's justice has been satisfied through the sacrifice of Jesus. Does this mean that the world is now on trial for eternal life or eternal destruction, based upon whether they listen to some imperfect testimony of those are actually representing imperfect men, who, in turn, claim they are God's channel of communication? Does a person's rejection of the claims of these men mean he is rejecting Christ? Does the non-acceptance of Christ by those blinded by Satan mean that they have committed the unforgivable sin, and therefore must be eternally destroyed? If such were to be the case, how does such actually vindicate God's name, his justice, his love? The truth is that since his justice has been satisfied through the death of Jesus regarding man's disobedience, would not his love coupled with his sense of justice -- fairness -- now require him to release all who have come under the death sentence because of Adam's sin, before placing them on trial for their eternal destiny? That is exactly what the Bible says is to happen, for we read: "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22) "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." - Romans 5:18.

(45) Has now the whole world been made alive because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus? No! Jesus plainly said: "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36) By saying that those who disobey will not see life, is Jesus saying that those who disobeys the Son can never repent so that they may "see life"? No, for he is merely stating that as long as they remain in disobedience they will not see life. Saul of Tarsus certainly was in disobedience, and he could see life in Christ, and he remained under the wrath of God until he repented. This demonstrates that the application of ransom sacrifice of Jesus is as extensive as is the condemnation. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) As Paul stated, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15) Thus, he states that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:4-6, New King James Version) Not all understand at the present time, but all will, in due time, "come to a knowledge of the truth." If they repent and come to the obedience of Jesus, they also could have everlasting life. But at the present time, as long as they remain in disobedience, the wrath of God remains upon them. They remain under the death sentence of Adam. They are not "made alive" and then sentenced to the second death simply because someone may give them an imperfect "witness."

(46) So when will they be "made alive"? When will the free gift come upon all men to justification of life? We have already answered this earlier, for Jesus said that those who do not listen now will be judged in the "last day", the resurrection day, the day of judgment when Satan is bound so that he might not deceive the nations anymore. (John 12:46-48; 11:23,24; Revelation 20:2,3) It is during that time that the abundance of the sea, the children of wrath in discontent, (Luke 21:25; Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 17:15; Ephesians 2:3) will be converted to Jehovah. (Isaiah 60:5) With the converting of the abundance of the children of wrath to Jehovah, the sea will cease to be. (Revelation 21:1) While all will be "made alive", and all will receive a "justification to life," not all will use this justification to continue in eternal life. - Matthew 25:46. - See the Section on "The Sheep and Goats" for further details.

Prisoners in a Pit
"And it must occur in that day that Jehovah will turn his attention upon the army of the height in the height, and upon the kings of the ground upon the ground. And they will certainly be gathered as of prisoners into the pit [Hebrew, bowr], and be shut up in the dungeon; and after an abundance of days they will be given attention." -- Isaiah 24:21-22.

(47) The Bible tells of the great destruction that comes upon the earth at Armageddon. (Isaiah 24:1-22) Notice, however, that it speaks of those who are destroyed as being shut up in a "prison." Job refers to those in death as "prisoners" who "rest together". (Job 3:18) The Bible tells of the gathering of "captive ones" from many nations in the latter days, the days when God's kingdom will rule the whole earth. (Jeremiah 48:47; 49:6,34-39; Isaiah 2:2) Jehovah speaks of gathering the captive ones of Sodom and Samaria along with the captive ones of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 16:53) They are spoken of as returning to their 'former state', that is, they return from the prison house of death to their former state upon the earth. So with those who are thrown into this prison at Armageddon - after many days they will be "visited." To be visited by Jehovah can mean to visited with his anger, or to be visited with his blessings. (Isaiah 26:14; Psalm 65:9) Since Jehovah's anger had already been expressed upon those shut up in prison at Armageddon, their being "visited" after many days would have to signify that they would then be released from the prison and have the opportunity to respond to the blessings that will then be upon the earth during the thousand year reign of Christ. - Revelation 20:11-15;21:1-4.

(48) Will there be any, then, who will suffer eternal destruction at Armageddon? There may be some, though we cannot say with a definite certainty on this. If there be any living who have accepted of the favor of God though Jesus, and then willingly, totally reject that which they accepted, such as these would have been released from the wrath upon man through Adam, and but their willful and total rejection Jesus would condemn them to the second death. Therefore, if any of these should be upon the earth at Armageddon, they would die, but not the same kind of death that comes from the wrath of God because of inherited sin. No, these must suffer eternal destruction for their own willful sinful condition. They once knew God and the good news. They no longer know God and have not obeyed the Good News. Having already been "made alive" once, and having given up that new life up, they no longer can be made alive again, since there is no more sacrifice for sins. Such living at the time of Armageddon we would expect to suffer eternal destruction. But, this is a matter that God will judge through Jesus; nevertheless, we do not believe that there are many, if any, living at the present time who are of this "second death" class.

(49) The word "pit", used in Isaiah 24:22, is translated from the Hebrew often transliterated as bowr. Bowr can be seen to be a close synonym to the Hebrew word often transliterated as Sheol. Many scriptures use these terms in parallel, thus indicating that they refer to one and the same place: "For it is not Sheol that can laud you; death itself cannot praise you. Those going down into the pit [bowr]cannot look hopefully to your trueness." - Isaiah 38:18; See also Psalm 30:3,9; 88:3,4,6; 143:7.

(50) According to the scriptures, the king of Babylon is laid in the pit, Bowr-Sheol, with the other kings of the earth: "However, down to Sheol you will be brought, to the remotest parts of the pit [bowr]." (Isaiah 14:15) Tyre is also brought down to Bowr-Sheol: "I will also bring you down with those going down into the pit [bowr] to the people of long ago, and I will cause you to dwell in the lowest land, like places devastated for a long time, with those going down into the pit [bowr], in order that you may not be inhabited." (Ezekiel 26:20) Additionally, "Pharaoh and his crowd" are said to go there. (Ezekiel 31:2,14-18; 32:18) Assyria and all her crowd are also in Sheol-Bowr. (Ezekiel 32:21-23) Elam and all her crowd are there. (Ezekiel 32:24-25) Meschech and Tubal and all her crowd are there. (Ezekiel 32:26,27) Edom, her kings and all her chieftains are there. (Ezekiel 32:29) The Sidonians are there. - Ezekiel 32:30.

(51) Will these come back in the resurrection day? Yes! The Greek word corresponding to Sheol is Hades. The scriptures definitely tell us that all in Hades (Sheol-Bowr) will be raised for individual judgment in the judgment day. "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hades delivered up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every person according to their works."- Revelation 20:13.

(52) Some have claimed that Isaiah 24:21-22 refers to the lineage of kings that was destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebucadnezzar. However, these verses could not apply to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar: it speaks of the kings of the ground [the earth]. It has never been fulfilled. No reference at all is made to Jerusalem until the last verse of this chapter. There it shows that this is fulfilled at the time when Jehovah reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem. This can only refer to the end of this age when Jehovah takes his rule through the Lord Jesus, as Jesus begins his rule in the midst of his enemies. (Psalm 110:2; Revelation 11:15,17) It would take a lot of twisting of scripture to try to apply this to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

(53) Notice how Isaiah 24:21-22 corresponds to Revelation 19:17,18: I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: "Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, that you may eat the fleshly parts of kings and the fleshly parts of military commanders and the fleshly parts of strong mean and the fleshly parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and fleshly parts of all, of freemen as well as slaves and of small ones and great."

(54) Revelation 20:12 shows that the 'small and great' return for the day of judgment. While we should remember that the book of Revelation is highly symbolic, many often give the expressions used a literal interpretation, and it is from this standpoint that we address what is stated. With such in mind, we note that the expression used here, "small and great", is similar to that used in Revelation 19:17,18, indicating that the 'small ones and great' who die in Armageddon are brought back for judgment during the resurrection day: And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. (Isaiah 29:18;24) But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. - Revelation 20:12.

(55) The next scripture also corresponds: The nations have sunk down into the pit [Hebrew, shachath, trap] that they have made; In the net they hid, their own foot has been caught. Jehovah is known by the judgment he has executed. By the activity of his own hands the wicked one has been ensnared. Wicked people will turn back [retreat - Strong] to Sheol, even all the nations forgetting God. (Psalm 9:15-17) The wicked nations are still around, so this has not yet been fulfilled. Those in Sheol/Hades will return for judgment in the day of judgment: And the sea gave up those dead in them, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually, according to their deeds. - Revelation 20:13.

(56) And the scriptures also indicate that favorable conditions prevail when the peoples of nations are judged individually. "With my soul I have desired you in the night [the present night of darkness and sin]; yes, with my spirit within me I keep looking for you; because, when there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what [what is right] the inhabitants of the productive land [the earth - footnote] will certainly learn. Though the wicked one [those who prove to be wicked in the day of judgment] be shown favor [even though he has been given every opportunity in the day of judgment], he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness [when the vail of darkness covering the earth is lifted and there will be no misleadings from Satan - Isaiah 25:6; Revelation 20:3] he will act unjustly and will not see the eminence of Jehovah." - Isaiah 26:9,10, New World Translation.

(57) The world of mankind, including its rulers, being deceived and blinded by Satan, are not even permitted to see the truth at the present time. If they could actually understand, then most would probably be different than they are. The apostle Paul agrees with this: We speak God's wisdom in a sacred secret, the hidden wisdom, which God foreordained before the systems of things for our glory. This wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it they would not have impaled the glorious Lord. - 1 Corinthians 2:7,8.

(58) The time for the world to understand the truth is not yet, for Satan has not yet been abyssed. (Revelation 20:3) Satan is still the prince or ruler of this world condemned in Adam. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 2:2) Satan is still blinding the minds of people so that they cannot understand the true Gospel message. (1 Corinthians 4;3,4) At the present time, no one comes to Jesus except that the Father draws him. (John 6:44) The true kingdom message in this world is only to those who have ears to hear. (Matthew 13:10,11) The true purpose of the Armageddon destruction upon the wicked is so that they may know who Jehovah is. (Psalm 83:17-18) If they are gone forever they will never know who he is. The only way that they could know is through the resurrection of the dead in the day of Judgment. - John 5:28,29; Ezekiel 16:53-59: Matthew 11:24.

(59) What would it mean if Jehovah did eternally destroy the billions of men, women and children who are now blinded by Satan and unable to see the truth? Billions of children would be eternally destroyed without ever having even a remote chance. And millions would be eternally destroyed who are still blinded by Satan, or who have never understood the truth. What a reproach such a teaching is to his name! And yet the claim made by the leaders of the "Jehovah's witnesses" organization that they and those who follow them are the only ones on earth truly honoring God's name! How well Isaiah speaks to his people concerning such leaders:

Hear the word of Jehovah, you men who are trembling at his word: "Your brothers that are hating you by reason of my name, said, 'May Jehovah be glorified!' He must also appear with rejoicing on your part, and they are the ones that will be put to shame." - Isaiah 66:5.

(60) If you are with the Watchtower organization, do you really believe that the billions of children, many of whom are starving and greatly suffering, will be eternally destroyed along with their parents simply because they are blinded at present, and thus they cannot understand? This teaching in no way honors God's name, but is rather a blasphemy against his name! It would be better to be alone in this world and rejoice in the truth about Jehovah than trade this truth for anything. (Proverbs 23:23; Matthew 10:24-27) The idea of an "organization" of millions of people is comforting to the flesh, but does very little for the spirit of truth. (Romans 8:14-18,9) Let each decide! If you wish to continue being men-pleasers, so be it. (Galatians 1:10) But as for us, we are taking our stand for Jehovah and his Son Jesus. - Joshua 24:14,15.

2 Thessalonians 1:7,8

(61) If the worldly people will not be eternally destroyed at Armageddon, how do we explain 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8? First of all, we must look at any scripture in connection both with its context and the Bible as a whole, and not as an isolated scripture. Earlier in this study, we presented much evidence that the destruction at Armageddon will be the culmination of God's wrath upon man inherited through Adam, and not the second death. Therefore the destruction of any unregenerated peoples during the Armageddon battle will not be the second death. With this thought, let us look at the scripture from its contextual setting and we can see that it is not referring to the eternal destruction of those who do not know God in the present age, but rather of the next age.

(62) We will quote 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 from Green's King James II Version (Green's Literal Translation), 4th edition, in order to see if we can get a clearer picture of what the apostle was speaking of here as he writes to the Christians at Thessalonica. "Brothers, we are bound to give thanks to God always concerning you, even as it is right, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all multiplies toward one another, so as for us to boast ourselves in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions, and the afflictions which you endure, a clear token of the just judgment of God, for you to be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you indeed suffer, since it is a just thing with God to repay affliction to the ones afflicting you; and to you, those being afflicted, rest with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven with angels of His power, in flaming fire giving full vengeance to those not knowing God, and to those not obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of His strength, when He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe in that Day, because our testimony to you was believed."

(63) We believe, with others, that the parousia or coming of our Lord is invisible, and that the parousia begins before the enlightenment of the world during the Millennial Kingdom. Those who use 2 Thessalonians 1:7,8 to prove that certain unregenerated ones who are blinded by Satan will suffer eternal destruction at Armageddon presuppose that the expression "when he comes (Greek, erkomai)" (verse 10) and "at the revelation (Greek, apokalupsis) of the Lord Jesus" (verse 7) as used in these verses are limited to the present age, or to a time before Satan is abyssed. (Revelation 20:3) However, the scriptures do not limit the term apokalupsis to the pre-Millennial era. The time of the final revealing of the sons of God is also referred to as the period of His revelation. In Romans 8:18-23 the revelation (apokalupsis) is very evidently referring to the Millennial revelation and the post-millennial revelation when the creation, the world of mankind who prove themselves faithful, will "be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. - Revelation 21:7.

(64) But let us suppose for a moment that the period of time spoken of here is before Satan is abyssed, and that the persecutors of the Church would be dealt everlasting destruction before the Millennial enlightenment begins. What would this mean? It would mean that those persecutors of the Church spoken of in verse 6 would have to be brought back to life either before or during the "great tribulation" so that they could be eternally destroyed at that time. This is the only logical conclusion that we could possibly reach from the way the scripture is written, if we view the eternal destruction to come upon those in opposition as occurring before the Millennium. The scriptures tell us however, that God will reserve the wicked under punishment [of death through Adam] until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (2 Peter 2:9) The day of judgment, as we have shown elsewhere, is the entire thousand year reign of Christ. It is not until after Satan is abyssed that the persecutors of the Church are brought back to life to face judgment and possible eternal destruction. The purpose of their reservation, we are told, is to give them all opportunity to believe "in that day." (2 Thessalonians 2:10) Thus in the day of judgment many will repent and believe, thus escaping the eternal destruction of the ungodly that comes after the day of judgment.

(65) Accordingly verse 10 tells explicitly what time period is referred to - "in that day." It also tells us that "in that day" many will believe. These believers are not those who come to believe in this present evil world for the present-day believers are set in contrast to those come to believe "in that day." Also the fact that it is in the time "when He [Jesus] comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all those who believe in that day" shows that this is the same time spoken of in Romans 8:19-21. This clearly identifies the Millennial era as the time period for the fulfillment of this prophecy.

(66) Jesus showed that for those who opposed him the day of judgment will be a period of tribulation. He told those who would not listen to him: "But I say to you, that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." (Matthew 11:24. See our publications: Hope of Life After Death and The Restoration of All Things; also see: The Divine Plan of the Ages, pages 108-112 ) The Millennium, though it will a time of blessing, will also be a time of purging. It will be easier for the people of Sodom to repent than for those who saw and heard Jesus, yet opposed him. These will find it hard to repent in the judgment day due to the hardness of their hearts.

(67) Many of these will be so hardened that they will refuse to repent, thus never coming to know God, in the sense of heart agreement with God, while others will refuse to obey the Good News, the books that will then be opened. Both unrepentant classes bring upon themselves, not the wrath of God as inherited from Adam, but rather the wrath of God that results in the second death. Thus, Jesus asks the religious Scribes and Pharisees who opposed him: "How shall you escape the judgment of Gehenna?" - the second death. (Matthew 23:33) In asking this, he was not saying that they were already under this condemnation and therefore could not escape from it, as many have supposed. Rather, he is just stating the difficulty they will have in the next age of overcoming their hypocrisy in the day of judgment. That some of this class can repent is shown to us by the apostle Paul, who at one time was Saul, a zealous Pharisee in opposing the early Christians. - Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-22; 22:3-17; 23:6.

(68) We conclude, then, that the eternal destruction of 2 Thessalonians applies to the Millennial era and not to the present era.

Psalm 92:7

(69) Another scripture often used to try to teach eternal destruction at Armageddon is Psalm 92:7. "Though the wicked spring up as the grass, And all the evil-doers flourish, They will be destroyed forever." Doesn't this definitely show that the wicked are eternally destroyed at Armageddon?

(70) No, because the Hebrew word translated forever -- often transliterated as gad -- does not always mean forever or everlastingly. It all depends on which way the Hebrew word gad is used. Many translations render this passage somewhat like the Jerusalem Bible: "The wicked may sprout as thick as weeds and every evildoer flourish, but only to be everlastingly destroyed." Here the word gad is translated "everlastingly," as an adverb modifying destroyed. Other translations, including the New World Translation, translates gad as "forever" - 'be destroyed forever.' From this it would make it appear that this scripture supports the claim of some that all outside their organization will be eternally destroyed at Armageddon. But a closer examination of the text will show that it does not support the claim.

(71) "Forever" is only one of the meanings that the Hebrew word has. According to Strong gad means: "a (peremptory) terminus, i.e., (by impl.) duration, in the sense of advance or perpetuity (substantially as a noun, either with or without a prep.)" The word "terminus" means: "the final point or goal." (Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, 1984 edition) Thus we find that gad is translated various ways, depending on the circumstances and/or the translator's understanding of how it should be translated. For instance, in Job 20:4 the word gad is used, not in the sense of forever, but only to a certain point. "Knowest thou not this of old [gad], since man was placed upon earth." Here the King James Version translates gad as "old," not "forever." The point to which the term reaches is explained in the next phrase: "since man was placed upon earth." The New World Translation renders it this way: "Have you at all times [gad] known this very thing, since man was put upon the earth." This gives it the sense of ongoing, but not of eternity.

(72) Another rendering of gad is found in Numbers 24:24, the latter part: "They will lay waste Assyria; they will lay Eber waste; he too shall perish utterly [gad]." (New English Bible) The New World Translation renders this sentence: "An they will certainly afflict Assyria, and they will indeed afflict Eber. But he too will eventually [gad] perish."

(73) So we see that it depends upon the translator's understanding many times that will influence how this word is translated. We would, therefore, want to translate it in accord with the rest of the Bible and in harmony with Jehovah's attributes. Since Jehovah's justice has been satisfied through the ransom of our Lord Jesus, then it would not be in harmony with his justice to destroy the wicked without first bringing them out of their estranged condition. Nor would it be in harmony with Jehovah's love. Or else it would deny his power to do so.

(74) Our rendering, therefore, of Psalm 92:6,7 is as follows: "A brutish man does not know, a fool does not understand this: the wicked flourish like grass; and all the evildoers blossom. But eventually [gad] they will be destroyed." This agrees with Psalm 90:3 which tells us that though Jehovah has turned man to destruction, he will also have mankind to return from destruction. Additionally, it agrees with 1 Corinthians 15:22 which tells us that "in Adam all are dying." All mankind has been on the broad road to destruction ever since Adam disobeyed Jehovah. This destruction would have been eternal had it not been for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Consequently, "as in Adam all are dying, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Accordingly the scripture in Psalm 92:7 should not be rendered so as to make it appear that the wicked who have been released from this condemnation will suffer eternal destruction.

(75) Nevertheless, if one insists that gad here means eternal, the scripture can only be viewed as applying to the entire period of man's two judgments, beginning with the judgment in Adam and ending final destruction of the wicked at the end of the millennial age. (Revelation 20:7-10) Otherwise, if this scripture should be applied to the idea that the wicked are not raised in the last day, then there would be no resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28,29; Acts 17:31) There would be no further judgment of the unbeliever in the last day, as Jesus spoke of. (John 12:47,48) It would additionally mean that Jesus' sacrifice was for the saints only, and not for the world. (1 John 2:2) Indeed, it would mean that there has been no offsetting price for all who are dying in Adam at all, but rather that Jesus only died for a few who are dying in Adam. -- 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Timothy 2:5,6.

The Sheep and Goats
Matthew 25:31-46

(76) Christian people have held various views of the parable of the sheep and goats, some claiming that the parable has been in process of fulfillment ever since Christ was on the earth and that it will be finished at the second coming of Christ. This view is shown to be erroneous by the first verse of the parable, which definitely locates the time of its fulfillment. It begins during the time of the second advent of Christ, as is clearly intimated by the words: "When the Son of man will come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne; and all nations will be gathered before him." These momentous events have not yet occurred, and consequently the parable still belongs to the future.

(77) Another interpretation given to the parable by some is that at the second advent of Christ, on the very day of his arrival, all the billions of the dead will come forth and, together with the living, will all arrange themselves before Jesus, and that during that 24-hour day he, as the great King, will separate the sheep class from the goat class, gathering all the sheep to the right hand and all the goats to the left hand.

(78) This interpretation is not very satisfactory to anybody because, first, it implies that Jesus will not have already made any determination as respects those who are his and those who are not. (John 10:14) If we fit this interpretation to the usual but erroneous teaching that all the dead are either in heaven with God and the angels or in some nether world with demons and flames, it would imply that they were dealt with before they were judged. It further implies that some who had gone to heaven and been there for centuries should have been in the other place, and other who had possibly gone to the other place by mistake should have gone to heaven, and this parable shows the time and manner in which Jesus will finally determine as to whether or not any serious mistakes had occurred and endeavor to rectify them. Moreover this view supposes God to be fallible, or else supposes a gathering of millions from heaven and hell to this earth again for no particular purpose, merely for a spectacular display which could alter nothing. This view as a whole is farcical, for it would be absurd to think of any kind of a judgment of the whole world or a separative gathering into two companies all over the earth in a 24-hour day. True, this is the prevailing view, but that proves nothing as respects its truthfulness or its reasonableness. It is to the discredit of theologians in general that any could entertain such a thought for a moment, or suppose that the Almighty and his glorified Son would participate in such a useless sham.

(79) A more recent view has been presented by some. In the latter 1800s and early 1900s, a small group of Bible students associated with Charles T. Russell taught very similar to what we are here presenting. However, in the 1920s, after the death of Russell, "Judge" Rutherford began to form an authoritarian organization, basically with himself as its head. To induce others to submit to this "organization," he brought forth a new teaching to cause fear in all in the "Bible Students" fellowship. A great many of the "old-time" Bible students, wanting to hold on the "ransom for all", found themselves "disfellowshiped" by Rutherford and his agents. Basically, the new idea was that all who oppose Judge Rutherford's new teachings would be of the "evil slave" class. All Bible Students, then, who would not bow to his teachings, would be eternally destroyed in the second death. Thus he set up a "golden calf" (organization) for all under his influence to worship.

(80) The Watchtower leaders little by little left the teaching that the sheep in this parable are the Millennial sheep. In time the Watchtower began to teach that these sheep are the "great multitude" who pass through Armageddon and that the goats are all others who are eternally destroyed at Armageddon. However, this interpretation cannot follow through. Why not? Because, as we have shown, the individual judgment of the world is not yet, not as long as Satan is still blinding the minds of the people. The time when the nations (Gentiles - Hebrew gowy, Greek, ethnos) are gathered for individual judgment is during the Millennial reign of Jesus. All who belong to Christ in this age come "out of" the nations (Gentiles). Remember that Jesus said: "I am coming as a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me should not remain in darkness. And if any man hears my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that judges him - the words that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 12:46-48) To say that God is judging individuals of the nations - the nonbelievers - now for eternal life or eternal death when, according to his own words,  he wasn't when Jesus was here on the earth is beyond reason. Today the world is filled with more deceptions, more corruptions, and more confusion than ever before. Of all generations, the present generation should be considered the foremost generation in need of being liberated from its darkness and receiving the light of truth. Yet the present stand of the Watchtower would deny this. In the Watchtower book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, we find this statement: "After Armageddon no part of this wicked world will remain. Only persons who serve God will continue to live." (page 155) While we could agree all elements of this wicked world will not remain, the application of the sheep and goats to the present age would mean that all who fail to understand, believe, or obey the Watchtower teachings are going off into eternal destruction, which we deny. On page 183 of the same Watchtower book we read:

(81) "Will you be there to enjoy the good things that Jehovah God has in store? This will depend on whether you survive an earlier judgment day, namely the present 'day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.' - 2 Peter 3:7.

(82) "Yes, since Christ returned and sat down on his heavenly throne, all humankind has been on judgment. This present 'day of judgment' comes before the 1,000-year Judgment Day as 'goats' will be destroyed because they fail to help Christ's anointed 'brothers' in their service to God. In time, these 'goats' show themselves to be unrepentant sinners, wicked, hardened in their practice of unrighteousness. The 'sheep,' on the other hand, will be blessed with life under the Kingdom rule because they support Christ's 'brothers' in every way. - Matthew 25:31-46."

(83) Thus is laid the groundwork for obtaining the absolute obedience of unwary newcomers to their organization. On page 193 of the same book it is claimed that their organization is headed by a few of Christ's "brothers" who have been appointed as the "faithful and discreet slave class." (Matthew 24:45-47)

(84) And the book continues: "On his return in Kingdom power in the year 1914, did Christ find a 'faithful and discreet slave' class providing spiritual 'food,' or information? Yes, he found such a 'slave' made up of the remaining ones on earth of his 144,000 'brothers.' (Revelation 12:10; 14:1,3) And since 1914 millions of persons have accepted the 'food' they provide, and have begun practicing true religion with them. This organization of God's servants is known as Jehovah's witnesses."

(85) Imagine now how those who know nothing, or very little, of the truth about the ransom could easily become frightened into obedience to these religious leaders! In reality, there was no one in 1914 preaching the JW doctrine. In 1914, Russell did not permit his Watch Tower to be used for such purposes. After Russell died in 1916, Rutherford deceitfully had new by-laws passed that viturlly destroyed the Watch Tower Society as Russell had created it, and Rutherford then began to use his new WTS as a basis for the creation of an authoritarian organization. By 1928, most of the Bible Students had rejected Rutherford's new "organization" gospel.* But does the Watchtower present the correct understanding of the parable of the "sheep and goats?" No. The gathering of the nations (Gentiles) to be judged individually takes place by restoring them to life so that they may be judged individually without hindrance from Satan's deceptions, not by their past works, but by their works as related to the books that will then be opened to them. (Revelation 20:11-13). It is not the gathering of nations that takes place at Armageddon for the executing of God's judgment as begun upon man through Adam. "'Therefore wait for me,' says Jehovah, 'until the day I rise up for plunder, my determination is to gather the nations, to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger. All the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." (Zephaniah 3:8) This same period is when the day of Jehovah comes as a thief upon the world. The execution of judgment at that time is to convince the people of the nations of their sins, thus indicating that their destruction is not eternal but rather for the purpose of disciplining. (Jude 1:15; 2 Peter 3:7,10)** It is during this transition period that Satan's rulership of the world is destroyed. It is not until after the passing away of this present evil age that Jehovah 'turns to the peoples a pure language.' (Zephaniah 3:9) The Watchtower leaders have to admit that the nations of the world are still being blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) It is not until after Satan is bound and the veil of blindness is removed that it can truly be said that the nations have received a pure language. (Isaiah 25:6-7; Revelation 20:3) And the method of gathering the nations at that time will be through the awakening of the dead, in the day when many will be turned to righteousness. - Revelation 20:11-13; Daniel 12:2,3.
*See our study:
Bible Students Did Not Become Jehovah's Witnesses
**See our study:
The Repentance in 2 Peter 3:9

(86) And thus we have the proper setting for the judgment of the sheep and the goats. The "sheep" of the parable are not the sheep of the present age, whom the Master knows and who know the Master. (John 10:14) Rather these are the "other sheep" who are not of the fold that recognize the Master in the present age. They are brought forth out of death. These become the sheep of the next age. These do not inherit a place in the ruling house of God, but do inherit the kingdom prepared from the founding of the world, the kingdom that was prepared for Adam and which he lost. (Matthew 25:34; Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:3-8; Hebrews 2:6-8) These sheep inherit these promises, not after Armageddon, but after the final eternal destruction of the wicked which takes place after the thousand-year reign of Christ, the day which God has appointed "in which he will judge the world in righteousness." - Revelation 20:7-9; Psalm 37:9-11; Acts 17:31.

(87) The work of individual judgment here described is upon those of the nations -- the heathen, that is, those presently outside of Jehovah's favor. Thus Jesus describes the work of the Millennial Age: "All nations will be gathered before him." (Matthew 25:32) The "great multitude" of Revelation 7 cannot be included in the parable of the sheep and goats. Why not? Because they come "out of" (Greek ek) the nations (Gentiles) and become part of God's people during the present evil world. They are part of God's "called-out" class, who become part of his church during the great tribulation. The people of the nations who do not become part of the "great multitude" simply remain under God's wrath as placed upon them through Adam. (John 3:36) After Armageddon's destruction, the light will then shine upon all nations (Gentiles) as they are gathered from the grave. (John 5:28,19) Then all the blind eyes will be opened, all the deaf ears will be unstopped, and the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah will fill the whole earth. - Isaiah 35; 11:9.

(88) We might be inclined to think that, with all the blessed favors, privileges, opportunities and knowledge which the Millennial Age will bring to the world, the whole human family would develop into sheep. But the parable teaches to the contrary. There will be some who, even after their eyes and ears will have been opened to see and have a knowledge of Jehovah's goodness, will still fail to develop that measure of loving obedience and accord with righteousness which would have his approval. Such prove their heart is still not in accord with righteousness, and thus they do not receive the mark as sheep which would entitle them under the divine arrangement at the close of the Millennial Age to be ushered into the everlasting kingdom as was prepared for them from the founding of the world.

(89) It is our conclusion that the gathering to judgment will be a gradual one, not all at the same moment, definitely not all on the same 24-hour day, nor even in the same year. All nations will be gathered, however, including the nations destroyed in Armageddon's battle. Gradually, more and more they will be gathered from the tomb, until all the race will be assembled excepting those who have been favored in advance during this Gospel (Good News) Age. All will see the King in his beauty. All will discern that they are living under the reign of Immanuel. All will realize that the clouds and darkness of this present time of evil, of sin, of Satan, have rolled away and a new dispensation has been inaugurated. Then it will no longer be necessary to suffer for righteousness' sake but only for evil doing. The work of separating will be a gradual one, and will not be fully completed until sometime near the close of the Millennial Age. Each member of Adam's race will have a full opportunity for not only receiving instruction in righteousness, but for making his personal decision as respects the same. In other words, each will have an full opportunity with the full ability for the development of personal attributes in God-likeness. Those who refuse or neglect the opportunity for formation into God-likeness prove themselves unworthy of everlasting life and will be among the goats, while all who will develop true God-like attributes will be among the sheep.

(90) It will be the work of almost the entire Millennial Age to bring this about. Righteousness will reign then, as sin reigns now. That is to say, it will be in control, in the ascendancy; and whosoever would want to sin then will suffer promptly. Hence all the nations will be seeking to avoid sin. Then the world in general will be a grand place, where "nothing will hurt or destroy"; where "the inhabitant will not say: 'I am sick'"; where the curse will be gradually rolled away, and there will be no more crying, no more sighing, no more dying; and where the blessing of God, bring perfection, will prevail. "Oh happy day!" we exclaim. And surely it will be such; for all who live through those thousand years will have a great blessing. - Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 11:9; 33:24; 65:25; Revelation 22:3; 21:4.
See our study:
The Time Frame of Matthew 25:31-46

The Law of Retribution

(91) But, some inquire, what about the sins of the world? Will there be no chastisements, no punishments, for these? We answer that it will be equally just for God to forgive the sins of the world for Christ's sake as it has been just for him to forgive the sins of the disciples of this age for Christ's sake. If the one is just, so will be the other. God is no respecter of persons, and is equally as willing to forgive the sins of the world as the sins of the disciples of Jesus, when the those of the world, repenting from sin, will turn from it, and accept Christ as their Redeemer.

(92) This does not mean, however, that justice is to be ignored. In the case of the disciples of Jesus today, note how the sins of youth may leave their scar and sting to the end of life. The disciples of Jesus in this age may have to continue to fight against tendencies he has acquired or inherited until the day he dies. And so we may reasonably assume that certain stripes, or punishments, will be permitted to follow the world in just the same manner. They will return with the same traits, tendencies, etc., with which they died. The liar will still be prone to lie; the thief will still have a desire to steal; etc. It will be from these weaknesses and frailties that they will be gradually raised up to perfection during these blessed thousand years of Christ's kingdom, when Satan will be bound and not permitted to deceive any during that period. - Isaiah 26:9; Revelation 20:3.

(93) But what about the heart condition? If conformity to the divine law in an outward way will bring blessings to all, will there not still be a difference between the people - some coming heartily into accord with the Father, and others merely outwardly into harmony, because this outward harmony will be the way to restoration, perfection?

(94) Undoubtedly many will only outwardly submit themselves to Christ during the 1,000 years, but whose hearts will not be harmony with the Kingdom. It is along this line that the parable before us teaches; namely, that outwardly the "sheep" and the "goats" will have much the same appearance and demeanor, except to the Judge, the King, who will read the heart and ultimately will manifest to all that there has been a real heart difference between the two classes, all of whom will have been on trial during the thousand years, receiving blessings from the kingdom.

The Basis of Judgment

(95) All the while each individual will be more and more learning how to obey God's law, some ingraining this law in their hearts while others only learn to refrain from sins of violation toward others. Their true character will be fully appreciated by the great Judge, and the individual will be rated as a "sheep" or as a "goat." All the sheeplike ones will thus be received at the right hand of Jesus. All the goatlike ones will be rated as out of favor with Jehovah, even though all the while they will be receiving the blessings of the Millennial kingdom and outwardly rendering obedience to its laws.

(96) Not until the conclusion of the Millennium will the decision of the Judge be manifested. To the "sheep" at his right hand he will say: "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34) When God laid the foundation of the earth it was his design to have it inhabited with perfect, happy humans. (Isaiah 45:12,18) This is not the same kingdom as the Messianic kingdom. On the contrary, it is the kingdom which God gave to Adam, which Adam lost through his disobedience and which Christ redeemed by the sacrifice of himself. (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:7-9) It will be given to those who will have developed complete Godlikeness - those who have become the Lord's "other sheep" during the Millennium. - John 10:16.

(97) Then the other class, the goats of the parable, will be sentenced: "Depart, you cursed ones, into everlasting punishment." Granted all the privileges, blessings and experiences during the thousand years of contact with righteousness, truth and the spirit of God, these, though they had rendered an outward obedience in refraining from sins of violation, but at heart they had not come into harmony with God. They will, therefore, not be recognized as "sheep." Failing in developing pure Godlikeness they cannot be presented to the Father as blameless and incorruptible. They will have to be destroyed. This punishment, however, the final vengeance of God, is the second death, "everlasting destruction." (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9) Their penalty is an everlasting one because there will be no further provision made for their redemption or for a resurrection from the second death. They will have failed utterly to appreciate the goodness of God and to develop into his likeness. Eternal life is only for those who have God's likeness and God's spirit. 'The Father is seeking such to worship him in spirit and truth.' - John 4:23.

(98) Both classes, the "sheep" and the "goats," are told the basis of his judgment. To the sheep he will say: "I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me." To the goat class he says: "I was hungry, and you did not give me food. I was thirsty, and you did not give me drink. I was a stranger, and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me." - Matthew 25:35,36,42,43.

(99) Both the "sheep" and "goats" will claim that they had no knowledge of any such experiences. Each asked: When did we do these things, or not do these things? Exactly how this has a fulfillment we will have to wait and see. However, Jesus' reply will be: "Inasmuch as you have done [or have not done] it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done [or not done] it unto me." - Matthew 25:40,45.

The "Brothers" Of Christ

(100) Who are these "brothers" respecting whom there will be a test upon the sheep class and upon the goat class? Will there be people sick, hungry and in prison during the Millennium? Does the Lord wish us to understand that there will be such things then? We have, on the contrary, always assumed that sickness, poverty, hunger and prisons will then be gone forever. What does it all mean?

(101)  With the establishment of the kingdom all who come into harmony with it will have the great privilege of doing something to help others. The world is blind and starved now, for lack of spiritual food and the anointing eye-salve of truth. While the Millennial blessings will be showered upon those who accept Jehovah's terms, there will be others who will need assistance. Those who develop within themselves true love will be glad to carry the heavenly message of reconciliation to all humanity, glad to apply the eye-salve to the blind, glad to unstop the ears of the deaf, glad to help the sin-sick back into harmony with God - helping them to cover their nakedness with the merit of Christ.

(102) All who will take pleasure in this work will thus be manifesting that they have God's spirit and are co-laborers with him. All these will be the sheep. On the other hand, those who will be careless in respect to their vow, and merely enjoy the Millennial blessings themselves, will be of the goat class and will thus be marking themselves as a "goat." Correspondingly they will be out of favor with the great King of kings, their Judge, the Lord of glory.

(103) Those now sitting in darkness will then be invited to come out of the prison house of darkness. (Isaiah 42:7) When those of the world are awakened from death, they will not automatically be enlightened; they will still be sitting in darkness. They will need to be "visited" while yet in this prison so that they may be enlightened so as to be fully released from their blindness. We believe that those of the "great multitude", who come out of the great tribulation, will already be sheep of Christ, and will be led to the waters of life soon after Satan is abyssed, and thus be fully englightened before the resurrection of the world begins. Thus, these sheep of Christ will be ready to help others as they come forth from the grave to be enlightened. We believe that many of those coming forth from the grave will welcome such enlightenment and will become of the "sheep" class, who will be happy to "visit" other new ones coming forth from the graves in order to assist them. On the other hand, those whose hearts of show themselves to be of the "goat" class will not be interested in helping others.
See our studies:
The Great Multitude

The 144,000 and the Great Multitude
The Great Multitude in the Temple
A Great Multitude in Heaven

(104) But how are these ones coming out of the graves Christ's "brothers?" Are not the 144,000 the only "brothers" of Christ? It is true that in a special way the 144,000 become "brothers" to Jesus. But we note also that the apostles Peter and Paul as well as Stephen referred to the Jewish people of their day as their "brothers." (Acts 3:12,17; 7:2; 13:16,26,38; 22:1; 23:1,5,6; 28:17; Romans 9:3) Additionally, Paul included the men of Athens as "offspring of God." (Acts 22:28,29) But more importantly, since the whole creation is to share in the glorious liberty of the children of God, Jesus shared in the same as the children, that is, "man" referred to in Hebrews 2:6-8, to whom was subjected all things. Man, as represented in Adam, was given dominion over all things in the beginning, but it was lost to him through Adam's disobedience. Thus Hebrews 2:8 tells us that now we do not see all things put under him, that is, mankind. Verses 9 and 14 tell us that Jesus shared the same as the children - the offspring of God - mankind. Thus he is not ashamed to also call them his "brothers," (verse 11) "because the creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) To be released from this bondage would indicate they will be led by God's spirit, thus becoming sons of God. (Romans 8:14,15) Thus in a broad sense all mankind could be called his brothers, since he partook of the same humanity. But it is especially in the restoration of man that the creation now subjected to vanity is recognized as children of God.

The Rewarding of the Sheep

(105) Evidently, the rewarding of the sheep and the punishing of the goats will come after the close of the Millennial Age, towards the end of the little season, or short period of time, during which Satan will be loosed.  (Revelation 20:3,7-10) True, great blessings will be upon all during the Millennial Age, upon each in proportion to his obedience to the divine standards, but only at the close of the age will the full reward be granted. The reward to be granted to those "other sheep" will be the kingdom which God prepared from the foundation of the world, from the time of Adam's creation. That kingdom was given to Adam originally; he was the first king of earth while in the image of his Creator. As it is written of him: "You [Jehovah] have made him a little lower than the gods [angels - Hebrews 2:7] and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands, you have put all things under his feet." - Psalm 8:5,6.

(106) By disobedience father Adam lost the rulership and power in his kingdom, and the entire kingdom of God's earthly creation has suffered as a consequence. The reign of Christ during the Millennium will be for the purpose of lifting up as many of mankind as will then desire to come back into full harmony with Jehovah, lifting them up out of the mire of sin and out the miry clay and horrible pit of sin and death, lifting them up to all that Adam was before he sinned - to the image and likeness of their Creator. This the apostle Paul designates This as the times of "restoration" (Acts 3:20,21), which he tells us takes place during Christ's return.

(107) But even the obedient of mankind will not be fit to be entrusted with the kingdom of the world until absolute perfection will have been reached, and the perfection of the race will not be attained, as we have seen, until the end of the thousand-year "day" appointed for the purpose. Then the worthy will be granted the kingdom of earth, the dominion under the whole heavens. With this transfer of the earthly control to the perfect man at that time, Christ's Millennial Kingdom for the restoration of man will end. In delivering the Kingdom up to the perfect and worthy members of the race he will be delivering it up to the Father, in full harmony with the Father's original arrangement, interfered with by original sin. What marvelous wonders will fill this earth once man, the king of the earth, will be restored to the image of his Creator, and when the earth itself will be filled with the glory of God, we cannot begin to completely comprehend in our present state. We can only wonder and praise and adore the loving God, whose provision has been so bountiful for every creature, every member of the fallen race.

The Punishment of the Goats

(108) After the millennial age for restoring man, Satan will be loosed from his bonds for a short period of time. (Revelation 20:7) It appears that then those of the goat class will show their true colors as they follow Satan at that time. (Revelation 20:8) It is at this time that both goats and sheep will come face-to-face with Jehovah, for at that time Jesus turns the Kingdom over to the Father. (Revelation 20:8; 1 Corinthians 15:24) It is evidently at the end of this short intermediate period that the goats receive their punishment of "everlasting destruction." In Revelation 20:8 they are pictured as being destroyed by fire that comes down from God out of heaven. Revelation 21:8 speaks of them as 'cowardly and unbelieving, having become foul, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, liars,' etc. These have their portion in the second death represented by the "lake of fire." We do not believe that during this short period of time when Satan is released that the goat class will actually be permitted to enter into murder. But our thought is that by their hatred for their fellow-man they show that they have murder in their hearts. (1 John 3:15) Exactly how all this will be fulfilled toward the goat class during the short period of time Satan is let loose we do not presently know. All we can see is that somehow Satan gets the goat class to follow him against God.

(109) We should note that while any sins they commit during the time of Satan's release are added to their guilt, it is not for these sins that they sentenced to eternal destruction. Their sentence to eternal destruction evidently occurs just at the close of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. It appears to be delayed for only a short time as they depart into the everlasting fire made ready for the devil and his angels. The eternal fire is the fire of God's jealousy or anger, which burns against and destroys everything antagonistic to his righteousness. (Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8) It is, of course, merely a figurative expression representing the destructiveness of God's eternal jealousy for righteousness. At the end of the Millennium it is made ready or prepared to destroy all in opposition to God. But they are allowed a short period of time to prove their opposition. Therefore they are sentenced sometime before they receive their punishment. They receive the sentence of eternal destruction because of failure to develop the spirit of love, for love is the fulfilling of the law. None can meet the divine approval except those whose sentiments will attain to the degree of loving Jehovah with all their hearts, minds, being and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. (Matthew 23:37-40; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14; 6:2) The sheep of the Millennial Age, we may be sure, will attain to this love which God's law marks as the proper measure of God-likeness. The goats of the Millennial Age, we may be equally sure, will be the ones who will not have this God-likeness.
See our Study:
Example of Eternal Fire

"Into Everlasting Punishment"

(110) The Greek word rendered "everlasting" is not as strong as our English word which represents it. Its having the meaning of time without end depends on the context. Thus, on this point we raise no question, since it is the same word that is used in referring to everlasting life which will be granted the sheep. It may be well, however, to notice that life, being Jehovah's gift to the sheep, implies that no life will be given to the goats - it thus implies the kind of punishment which the Scriptures describe, namely, a death punishment, an extinction of life; and this will continue forever, as we have seen. Hence while the punishment is everlasting, the second death itself occurs only once and is over with - it is not a continuance of punishment after punishment after punishment on and on throughout eternity. Such would be eternal punishing, not an everlasting punishment.
See our studies:

The Second Death, the Lake of Fire, Gehenna

Everlasting Punishment

Spirits in Prison, Lake of Fire, Tormented Day and Night Forever

All Creation Praises Jehovah

(111) With Satan and his demons as well as all the goat class destroyed, what a joyous time all creation will then have! This final victory results in the exaltation of Jehovah as described in Psalm 145:10: "All your works will praise you, O Jehovah!" The whole universe will then be cleansed, so one could diligently seek to find a wicked person, and there would be none. (Psalm 37:10) For "the meek will inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:11) "Let everything that has breath praise Jehovah!" (Psalm 150:6) What a happy time that will be then!

(112) Let us rejoice, then, in the Good News of God's Kingdom for the blessing of all families of the earth, including the families now on the earth who are yet blinded by Satan. If we want Jehovah's blessings now, we have to be obedient to Jesus and the Good News. If we want Jehovah's favor during Armageddon, we have to actively believe upon Jesus. Jesus has said: "Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you all the days until the completion of the age." Are you observing this command to make disciples [students]? Jesus said: "This Good News of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14) Are you sharing in preaching the true good news of God's kingdom?

Who Will Preach the Good News
To All the World?
"The Good News of the Kingdom will be preached in all the earth, for a witness to all nations; and then the end will come." -- Matthew 24:14
(113) Jesus told his disciples to preach and teach in all the world all that Jesus had taught, so that others may become disciples of Jesus. That included his command to preach the word. Thus, every consecrated child of God is under command to preach, and should be doing so to the best his/her knowledge and ability. Nevertheless, most of God's children are as babes in Christ, being bound by sectarian dogma that hinders them from understanding the full meaning of God's Kingdom, and its coming blessings for all. Paul spoke of such sectarian blindness in his words written at 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Thus, many Christians live their whole life being bound by sectarianism, and thus remain as babes in Christ until they die. Many of these, however, have been very zealous in spreading the Bible, which has the Kingdom Good News in it. Thus, we can find various translations of the Bible in almost every nation and island of the world. The Bible does contain that Good News. The Good News is being preached in the words of the Bible itself, but alas, it is not being preached with clarity of understanding. For the most part, even those preaching by personal testimony lack the full understanding of that Gospel, since they are hindered by sectarian bonds. On the other hand, sectarian bondage often means that the oral presentation of the Kingdom falls far short of the true Good News of God's Kingdom that will bless all the families of the earth, and most often ends up being a message of eternal doom for all who do not accept their particular brand of the Gospel. (See our studies: Understanding Kingdom Mysteries and The Restoration of All Things).

(114) The Watchtower leaders claim that their "organization" is fulfilling this prophecy. But in general are those associated with this organization really preaching the "good news"? No! While there may be a few associated with the organization who might be trying to preach the truth, most just echo what their leaders preach: which is to the effect that those who continue in rejection of their message will be eternally destroyed during the "great tribulation" or at the battle of Armageddon. This is not the Good News of the Kingdom! It is a false "good news" that actually dishonors Jehovah's name. It makes Jehovah appear to be unwilling to honor the satisfaction of justice that his Son died for, therefore making him seem to be not trustworthy. He is made to appear similar to the gods that have been worshiped in the past, and are still be worshiped (although not so outwardly). However, the true Good News, as we have already shown, declares the excellency of Jehovah's name and word.

(115) Indeed, the Watchtower adherents are greatly involved in preaching. They are very zealous for their message, for they feel that it is up to them to "save" as many as possible from eternal destruction at Armageddon. But this is not the true Good News of the Kingdom. What they are proclaiming is actually a profanation of God's holy name.

(116) It is up to those who know the actual Good News of the coming Kingdom to preach this message. Most of the Restoration Light publications may be printed, and copies can be made locally, that could be distributed to others, whether on street corners, door to door, or while riding a train or bus, or whereever. The Dawn Bible Students Association provides free tracts and also many booklets that can be distributed (the Dawn, however, still hangs onto usually presenting the Holy Name as "the LORD", or as "GOD", etc., but that is another topic. -- See our studies on the Holy Name.) Other groups also provide tracts that can be distributed. There needs to be a general encouragement for each one who is able to enter into some form of preaching, whether the house-to-house work or other public preaching work. We all need to take seriously our stewardship to Jesus, in obeying his commission, not to preach an organization, a movement, or a sect, but to preach Christ and his ransom sacrifice, and the blessings that comes to the world due to that sacrifice.

Some Related Studies:
End of the World in 1914? -- Was Charles Taze Russell expecting the "end of the world" in 1914?
Jehovah's Witnesses and Charles Taze Russell
Preaching the Gospel A Necessity

The Ransom and the JWs

Above edited and links updated - completed 3/12/18.