The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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The International Association Jehovah's Witnesses

Themes Archive

 
Activities of Subjects of the Thousand-Year Reign
 
    When Noah and his household emerged from the ark the year following the forty-day rainfall, the repopulating of the dried earth began, in obedience to God's commandment. We read: "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Gen. 9:1,7) Like Noah's sons and daughters-in-law, a numberless multitude of persons of good-will, consecrated to Jehovah God through Christ, will survive this world's end. We are not to suppose that human marriage and childbearing will at once cease, but the survivors will enjoy the same privilege of marriage and rearing children as Noah's sons and daughters-in-law did. God's utterance of a mandate to Noah's household to multiply doubtless pictures that He will issue a like mandate to the good-will survivors of this world's end. The "new earth" will start then, and from its start the increasing of earth's population in obedience to the divine mandate to multiply will go forward. The "new-heavens" will then pour down blessings.
    It is therefore clear that the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil for a thousand years to prevent him from deceiving the nations could not Scripturally mean the reducing of our terrestrial globe to a chaotic, shapeless mass and confining Satan to this uninhabited scorched earth with no one on it for him to seduce. As pointed out in our October 1,1948, issue, the abyss means a state of isolation for him and his demons in which they will be totally inactive, a state of suspended animation. As the Scriptures say that Jesus went into the abyss when he died and was buried, so, too, when Satan and his demons are put in the sealed-up abyss, it means lifelessness for them.—Rom. 10:7.
    These good-will survivors of the world's end become the first subjects of the millennial King. By beginning his reign over them Christ Jesus begins his reign of a thousand years over the cleansed earth. He will reign from heaven, just as Satan, "the prince of this world," ruled over this present evil world until he and his demons were cast out of heaven and down to this earth. (Rev. 12:9-13) The faithful members of the "body of Christ" will rule with him from heaven, which is God's throne; and regarding this Revelation 20:4-6 says: "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.".
    Note that verse four says as to those faithful Christians who sit on the throne with Christ during his reign: "And judgment was given unto them." This could not mean they would be judged after sitting upon thrones to reign with Christ, for they will have already overcome this Devil-ruled world and will have been accounted worthy to live and reign with Christ as they also suffered and died with him. So the giving of judgment to them means they are appointed to judge others. They were "empowered to act as judges". The apostle Paul pointed forward to this privilege, saying to his fellow Christians: "Do you not know that the Christians are to be the judges of the world? And if the world is to come before you for judgment, are you unfit to decide the most trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to be the judges of angels, to say nothing of ordinary matters!" (1 Cor. 6:2,3) So when Christ Jesus judges men and angels in the new world of righteousness, these faithful overcomers seated upon the throne with him will act as associate judges with him.
    Yes, too, they will be "priests of God and of Christ", says verse six. That means they will join with God's High Priest Christ Jesus in extending to mankind on earth the benefits of the ransom sacrifice which he provided when he offered up his human life. Christ Jesus was prefigured by Moses' brother, Aaron, who was made the high priest of the nation of Israel. Aaron had four sons, and these were made his assistants as underpriests. As such, they prefigured the members of the ''body of Christ" who are made priests of God and of Christ. On the yearly day of atonement High Priest Aaron offered up sacrifice first for his own sins and those of his house. After that he offered up sacrifice for the sins of the rest of the Israelites. (Lev. 16:11-17) This prefigured that the 144,000 members of the "body of Christ" are first in receiving the direct benefits of Christ's ransom sacrifice, yes, now during this world. For this reason they are justified now by faith and are granted the privilege of presenting themselves as "living sacrifices" to God through Christ, to suffer and die like him that they might also have a spiritual resurrection, the "first resurrection", and reign with him in the heavenly throne. Then, just as High Priest Aaron with the assistance of his priestly sons offered up sacrifice for Israel in general, so Christ's fellow priests will join him as High Priest in dispensing the benefits of his ransom sacrifice to mankind during his thousand-year reign. In no other way will men on earth in the new world be able to gain the gift of eternal life, being then fully justified to endless life as perfect humans.
    At present the imperfect political human rulers reign over all the earth, and all mankind suffers. But the prophecy says the time must come, and it is near, when "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." (Dan. 7:27) During the thousand years of Christ's reign this prophecy is fulfilled upon the 144,000 members of Christ's body, for then not only will they sit upon the throne and be priests of God and of Christ but they "shall reign with him a thousand years".
    No, they will not reign over a chaotic, shapeless charred earth with the Devil penned up alone in it. Kings must have subjects over whom to reign, and a depopulated earth would not provide them such subjects. So they will reign over mankind who need a perfect government, beginning with the good-will survivors of this world's end. Under their reign with Christ the entire earth will be subdued for the good of its inhabitants and will become a paradise like the garden of Eden; and the good-will survivors of this world's end will have a part in that transformation work from its very beginning. How long this will take when all the destroyers of the earth are out of the way and all of Christ's earthly subjects are his willing and devoted servants, we do not now know. But paradise should be here again when Christ Jesus awakens from the dead the penitent malefactor who died alongside of him. This malefactor said to him: "Jesus! remember me whensoever thou shalt come into thy kingdom." "And he said unto him—Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise." (Luke 23:42, 43) Such a global paradise will be one of the marvelous benefits to humankind of Christ's kingdom, and it will demonstrate the vast difference between his reign and that of Satan the Devil.

    RESURRECTION

    The faithful members of Christ's body of footstep followers are sown at death a "natural body". But when they share in the "first resurrection" after Christ Jesus comes into the Kingdom power they are raised a "spiritual body". So 1 Corinthians 15:44 says. When they are resurrected thus as perfect immortal spirit creatures they at once become alive and enter into life, just as Christ Jesus did at his resurrection. No effects of their being born in sin and under death's condemnation as Adam's offspring carry over with them, for they forever sacrifice the human nature as their Leader Christ Jesus did. This is what distinguishes the "first resurrection", and a share in it makes them "blessed and holy".
    These facts must be borne in mind when we consider the words: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." (Rev. 20:5) The resurrection of these humans from the dead does not make them alive in the complete sense that those sharing in the first resurrection are made alive. Why not? Because many of the effects of their being born from the sinful dying Adam will still continue with them on coming out of the graves. Hence their not living again until the thousand years were finished does not mean they will not be raised from the grave or abode of death until the thousand years are finished and Satan is loosed again. Take that malefactor who lived a life of crime down till his death alongside of Jesus. What chance would he have if the King Christ Jesus first remembered him and brought him out of the grave at the end of his thousand-year kingdom to confront at once Satan then let loose to go forth to try to deceive mankind once more? In that case the malefactor would not have received any of the benefits toward reform and uplift to human perfection that Christ's kingdom is meant to afford its subjects. He would not have a real opportunity to be justified-to eternal life and thus 'live again'.
    Hence it must be at Jehovah's due time DURING the reign of Christ that the following vision of John is fulfilled: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." (Rev. 20:12,13) This giving up of the dead does not mean that those whom the sea and death and hell discharge get at once the gift of ever-lasting life. Their future works determine whether they will prove worthy of the right to eternal life through Christ and will thus 'live again'. Notice, please, that at the beginning of this judgment day of a thousand years the dead raised up are spoken of as "small and great", or high and low. This may mean that those thus brought back have a higher or lower place in God's arrangement. Some great or high ones may be made "princes in all the earth" to act among men as visible representatives of Christ. Psalm 45:16 includes the faithful forefathers of Christ Jesus the King among such princely representatives, who will become his children because he died for them and raises them from the dead.
    When this occurs the symbolic heaven and earth have fled away already. It is the time that John speaks of saying: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." (Rev. 21:1) The kingdom of Christ and his enthroned footstep followers constitute the new heaven, and the new visible arrangement on our planet for putting God's will into effect among men constitutes the new earth. The "sea" pictures that unsettled mass of mankind that has spumed up the dirt and mire of sin continually and out of whom the Devil's wicked visible organization has arisen in hurtful beastly forms. (Dan. 7:3; Rev. 13:1,2) Since that sec is dried up at this end of the world and will be no more, it is a sea different from the literal sea in which millions have drowned and which gives up its dead during the thousand-year reign of Christ. According to this, not all the dead are in "hell"; many are in the sea. If "hell" or "hades" were a fiery place of eternal torture, then Revelation shows not all the dead have been in such, a fiery place, but many dead have been in a wet place, the watery sea. However the Bible "hell" is no place as the religions of Christendom picture, a fiery sulphurous place for eternally tormenting human souls under the surveillance of the Devil and his fiendish demons. It is the abode of the dead, to which Jesus himself went when he died and was buried. God raised him from this ''hell" on the third day and committed the "keys of hell and of death" to him thenceforth.—Rev. 1:18.
    Thus Christ Jesus, as the Judicial Representative of Jehovah God, uses the keys and raises the dead from the sea and hell and from the general death state that resulted from Adam's sin before we were born. During Christ's millennial reign the divine will for that time will be made known to all mankind to the four corners of the earth, to the very limits of a paradise which is able to supply food for all of earth's population. This making of the divine will plain, with no one to hinder or deceive mankind, is what is pictured when the vision says: "And the books were opened."—Rev. 20:12.
    So the works according to which they will be judged are not their past works committed when Satan was deceiving the whole world and the vast majority of mankind died without ever hearing about the Bible. The works which form the basis for theii final judgment will be their future works after the "books" are opened. Only that way could they be judged "out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works". Those conforming their lives to the things written and then opened up to their understanding will get the blessings of the Kingdom. They will receive the priestly ministration of Christ's ransom sacrifice and will be healed from all the death-dealing effects of Adam's sin. Thus death due to him will be wiped out: "and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Rev. 21:4) "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15:25,26) This means that all obedient ones will attain to human perfection.
    But how will they be given a final determinative test of their full consecration to Jehovah God and the unbreakableness of their loyalty to his universal sovereignty? The devilish heavens and earth have fled from before the great Judge's face and have been non-existent for the thousand years. There is no "beast" or any "false prophet" to deceive with false miracles, for this "beast" and "false prophet" were flung into the "lake of fire and brimstone" at this world's end. Although paradise has been restored and extended all round the globe, yet there is in it no "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" with which to test mankind as back in Eden. How, then, does the decisive test come to prove anyone on earth worthy of getting his name written in the "book of life" and thus being justified to the gift of everlasting life through Christ Jesus?

    THE FINAL TEST OF KINGDOM SUBJECTS

    The vision answers our question: "And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall come forth to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city."—Rev. 20: 7-9.
    It is not definitely stated that anyone else is loosed from the prison with Satan the Devil, anymore than it is stated that his demons are cast into the abyss with him. But, consistently, if it is understood that they are abyssed with him, then they are likewise loosed with him from this prison. So as to settle the great issue with regard to mankind on earth, Christ Jesus as Jehovah's great angel breaks the. seal of the abyss and restores Satan the Devil and his demons to activity. Remember Pharaoh of Egypt, how God reserved him, wicked though he was, as a dishonorable vessel fit for destruction after God had showed all his power over him. So, too, Almighty God has reserved Satan the Devil for this final use of him to test men at the end of the thousand-year reign. (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17-22) Releasing the Devil upon mankind does not mean a restoring of the old wicked heavens, for Christ Jesus and his glorified followers in heaven still have the Devil under their feet, and after they let him go far enough for a full test of mankind they squelch his attempt to restore the devilish heaven over the new earth. Neither does loosing the Devil mean the restoring of the "beast" and the deceptive "false prophet" of the present time, for these were put, not into the abyss, but into the lake of fire from which no condemned victim ever gets out alive. In great wrath the Devil again defies Jehovah's universal sovereignty and assaults it as in the days of the original Gog and Magog.
    Ezekiel's prophecy, chapters 38 and 39, locates the original assault of Gog and Magog as happening at this end of the world, when lying spirits come out of the mouths of Satan the Dragon and the beast and the false prophet to gather the kings of the whole world to the war of Armageddon with which this world ends. (Rev. 16:14-16; 19:18-21) Ezekiel's prophecy further pictures Gog and the land of Magog as being far distant from God's approved people and as being evil-minded and covetous and opposed to the faithful worshipers of Jehovah as God. They fight on Satan's side of the great issue, Who is to rule the world? They prove to be on the losing side and are utterly destroyed at the battle of Armageddon by an "overflowing shower, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone". (Ezek. 38:22; 39:6) Those who let themselves be led astray by Satan loosed from his prison are likened to such people as Gog and Magog, whom they imitate. Like Satan, who leads them astray, they are willful in their rebellion against Jehovah God and his kingdom by Christ. Just how many there will be of this "Gog and Magog" class the expression "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea" does not indicate. It need not be the majority of mankind who have experienced the blessings of Christ's millennial reign. For example, when the number of Christ's body-members was unrevealed, they were compared with the sands of the sea for multitude, but the exact number was finally disclosed to John to be just 144,000 together with the Head One, Christ Jesus. (Gen. 22:17; Rev. 14:1; 7:4-8) Thus the multitude of "Gog and Magog" is left just as indefinite in number as the "sand of the sea" and may be a minority of mankind. —See Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 2 Samuel 17:11; 1 Kings 4: 20.
    In unnumbered multitude Satan's hordes on earth, symbolized by Gog and Magog, advance to a fight against the thousand-year-old Government of the righteous new world. They are spoken of as surrounding the "encampment of God's people, and the beloved city". (Rev. 20:9) Those of uplifted, perfected mankind who resist Satan's seductions show they are God's earthly people, his "saints" or "holy ones". Their taking the field in support of His rightful sovereignty and in unswerving opposition to Satan's final assault causes them to be compared to an encampment. The "beloved city" in support of which they muster is the New Jerusalem. It is the Heavenly Jerusalem, made up of the members of Christ's body of footstep followers now united to their Head, the King of kings. It is God's capital organization over all the universe, and it has controlled the earth for the thousand years. The assault upon it does not mean that Satan the Devil invades the high heavens. No; for when the newly enthroned Christ cast him out of heaven and down to earth, this made it impossible for Satan and his angels ever to get back up there again: "neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Rev. 12: 7,8) Hence the assault against the ""beloved city" really means a rebellious movement against the principal representatives on earth of the invisible heavenly kingdom, namely, Christ's "princes in all the earth". What does this disclose I Why, that then the final test of integrity toward God will touch all people on earth, even the "princes". All those desiring to gain the great Judge's approval and then to prove worthy of the gift of eternal life in the new world must then show unbreakable devotion.
    The final assault takes place. Almighty God protects his devoted people of integrity upon earth, but Satan the Devil sees the hosts whom he has led astray destroyed: "and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they shall be tormented [Greek: basanidzo] day and night forever and ever." (Rev. 20:9,10) This means the utter destruction forever of Satan the Devil and his demons as well as of the "beast" and the "false prophet", for the fiery sulphurous lake symbolizes the second death. It corresponds with Gehenna, in which Jesus said God Almighty is able to "destroy both soul and body". (Matt. 10: 28) In Bible times jailers were called "tormentors" (Matt. 18:34) Satan's being tormented with the "beast" and "false prophet" in the lake of fire and brimstone forever and ever means the jailers will never release him from this state of destruction. He suffers the "second death" at the hands of Christ Jesus. (Heb. 2:14) Thus the final judgment of the wicked angels takes place, and Christ's body-members share with him in that judgment work.—1 Cor. 6: 3.
    Certainly, then, those of mankind who side with Satan in assaulting the encampment of God's holy people on earth and the visible princely representatives of the "beloved city" will not have their names inscribed in the "book of life". As to this we read: "And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death, the pool of fire. And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the pool of fire." (Rev. 20:14,15) Whereas the death state due to Adam's sin and "hell" (the earthly abode of those dying in Adam) are destroyed, yet the second death symbolized by the lake or pool of fire is not destroyed. It continues for all time as the penalty enforced upon those who refuse to submit to Jehovah's kingdom by Christ Jesus. Of course, any of mankind who prove willfully unreformable during the millennial reign can be flung into the second death before the millennium ends and Satan is loosed. But those who then join him in his wicked final assault, "Gog and Magog," will with him be annihilated in the pool of fire, the second death.
    Since the easting of Satan and his demons out of heaven after God's kingdom was born in 1914 (A.D.), as pictured at Revelation 12, all sin and wickedness in the universe have been confined to our earth and its vicinity. God never again allows place for it in the heavens. So, at the end of Christ's thousand-year reign, when all the wicked,-both demonic and human, are destroyed, it will result in not only a clean earth but also a clean universe. The new heavens over the new earth will rule forever, and God's will is certain to be done on the paradise earth for all time, even as it is done up in heaven. God's favor through Christ will evermore extend to the earth, and its inhabitants will be justified to eternal life. By ever worshiping and faithfully serving Him as Most High God and Universal Sovereign they will never have their names expunged from the "book of life".