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THE DEVALUATION AND RESTRICTION OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE III THE DISTINY OF 8 BILLION+ PEOPLE WHEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION COMES

By 4. July 2024July 16th, 2024Bible study

THE CHANCE OF THE PRESENT WORLD POPULATION OF ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE RANSOM SACRIFICE

Today, there are 8 billion people living on the earth, and each year, 140 million children are born. This means that when the great tribulation comes, there will be more than 8 billion+ humans on the earth. What will happen to these people when the great tribulation comes?

According to the 2022 “Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” 8,699,048 publishers were preaching the good news of the Kingdom in 239 lands. And they spent 1,501,797,703 hours in this preaching. This seems very impressive. However, what has this preaching achieved in connection with giving each living person a chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

Of the 8 billion inhabitants on the earth, 2 billion are children below 14 years and there are 800 million persons with mental health disorders. These constitute 35% of the world population, and most of them neither have the chance nor the capacity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.

When we look at the report of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we see that there are relatively few preachers in India, with 1.4 billion inhabitants, and in China, also with 1.4 billion inhabitants. In Asia, there are 4.6 billion inhabitants, most of whom have not heard the good news of the Kingdom. If we, to this number, add the 1 billion children and 400 million persons with mental health disorders from other parts of the earth, we get the number of 6,0 billion. This is 75% of the world’s population, and most of them have not had the chance or will get the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.

In Europe, Australia, and America, there has been much preaching of the Kingdom. But have most of those living there had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice? The words of Jesus that the members of the wicked and adulterous generation in his days that heard his preaching and saw his miracles but rejected him will get a resurrection, throw light on this issue.

A person who has the opportunity to learn about the ransom sacrifice but has not used this opportunity has not necessarily had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. A person who is a member of a religion whose doctrines contradict the Bible has not necessarily had this chance. And even a person to whom Jehovah’s Witnesses have have studied the Bible but who has not chosen to serve God, has not necessarily had his or her full chance.

This means that a great part of the 2 billion people who live in parts of the world with much preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses have not had a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. What Jehovah’s Witnesses have achieved with the worldwide preaching campaign, is the gathering millions of sincere people who worship Jehovah in spirit and truth. These people will survive the great tribulation and be the foundation of the new system of things. But the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses has not separated the inhabitants of the world into two groups, with the result that all the members of the group who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.

How will the situation develop toward the great tribulation? The world population increases by 140 million persons each year, and Jehovah’s Witnesses increase with about 300,000 persons. This means that the ratio between the Witnesses and the world population increases each year. Therefore, the number of those who today have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice will increase each year until the great tribulation comes because the ratio between the preachers of the Kingdom and the world population will all the time increase. Thus, more than 75% of the humans who live on the earth when the great tribulation comes will be ignorant regarding the ransom sacrifice and the way to get everlasting life.

What will happen with these 6 billion people who are ignorant when the great tribulation starts, and to the other living humans? We do not know the destiny of each human being. But what we know is that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants with his death. This means that 6 billion people cannot be eternally annihilated by God in the great tribulation. Claiming that all persons who are not true Christians will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation is, in reality, a rejection of the value of the ransom sacrifice.

THE VIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REGARDING THOSE WHO LIVE WHEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION  COMES 

What is the reason why the Governing Body will not take the words of Jesus regarding the resurrection at face value? The reason must be that the words of Jesus contradict the doctrine of the members of the Governing Body have held for many years that only baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses and their children will survive the great tribulation and all other living humans, will be eternally annihilated. If those who constituted what Jesus called “this wicked and adulterous generation” in his time, and the inhabitants of Chorazin, Capernaum, and Bethsaida, who rejected Jesus and his preaching, will get a resurrection, it is meaningless to claim that 8 billion+ humans that live when the great tribulation comes will be eternally annihilated. Magnifying the meaninglessness of the claim is the fact I have shown that more than 6 billion of those who live when the great tribulation comes have never had the chance to accept or reject the preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the ransom sacrifice.

The book Pure Worship of Jehovah Restored at Last! (2018), pages 178-180, claims that only baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses (and their children) will survive the great tribulation, and all others will be killed.

17 To survive the coming destruction, individuals need to prove their faith now. As we saw earlier, those who survived Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. demonstrated beforehand their heartfelt rejection of wickedness and their devotion to pure worship. It is similar today. Before the destruction comes, individuals need to be “sighing and groaning”—deeply grieved at heart—over the wickedness of this world. And rather than hide their feelings, they must demonstrate by words and actions their devotion to pure worship. How can they do so? They need to react favorably to the preaching work that is being done today, to continue putting on a Christlike personality, to get baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah, and to support Christ’s brothers loyally. (Ezek. 9:4; Matt. 25:34-40; Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Pet. 3:21) Only those who pursue such a course now—and who enter the great tribulation as pure worshippers—will be in a position to be marked for survival.

19 The heavenly King, Jesus Christ, and his heavenly armies will execute judgment on this system of things. In Ezekiel’s vision, the six men with weapons for smashing did not begin the destruction until after the man in linen completed his marking work. (Ezek. 9:4-7) Likewise, the coming destruction will begin after Jesus judges people of all the nations and marks the sheep for survival. Then, during the war of Armageddon, Jesus will lead the heavenly executional forces, which will include the holy angels and all his 144,000 co-rulers, against this wicked world, destroying it utterly and delivering pure worshippers into a righteous new world.Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21.

The text says that one has to be baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in order to survive the great tribulation. Their children are not mentioned, but other publications say that they will follow their parents. The text speaks of “destroying utterly” all other persons. The Study Edition of The Watchtower of May 2022, article 21, paragraphs 8 and 10, uses even stronger words, namely, “the total annihilation”:

As mentioned in the preceding article, the political elements of this world will soon turn on Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. (Rev. 17:16, 17) This action will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. Will this result in a flood of new ones deciding to turn to worship Jehovah? No. To the contrary, Revelation chapter 6 shows that at that critical time, people who are not serving Jehovah will seek protection from the political and commercial systems of this world, which are compared to mountains. Since those people will not take a stand in favor of God’s Kingdom, Jehovah will consider them to be opposers.— Luke 11:23; Rev. 6:15-17. 9 Truly, Jehovah’s faithful servants will stand out as different during that desperate time of tribulation. They will still be the only group of people on earth serving Jehovah God and refusing to give their support to “the wild beast.” (Rev. 13:14-17) Their firm stand will provoke the rage of those who oppose Jehovah. As a result, a coalition of nations will attack God’s people all over the earth. This act of mad aggression is described prophetically as the attack of Gog of Magog.Ezek. 38:14-16. 10 What is the outcome of this war [Harmageddon]? The total annihilation of all humans and organization opposing Jehovah!Read Revelation 19:19-21.

There are several points in the quotations above that we must discuss. The setting in the quotations is clear. Jehovah’s Witnesses (20 million+) will survive the great tribulation but all others (8 billion+) will experience total annihilation. The viewpoint that so many billion people will not be resurrected must be seen in the light of the ransom sacrifice, that Jesus bought all Adam’s descendants, and therefore, each one must have a personal chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.

I will again quote the words of the the Awake! magazine of May 22, 1963, page 28, regarding those who will not get a resurrection. The article is entitled, “Resurrection — for whom?” Regarding those who will not get a resurrection, the article says:

There will not be a resurrection for the willfully, deliberately, incorrigibly wicked, those without the slightest spark remaining of conscience or love of righteousness.

This is a description of sin against the holy spirit, and of those who will be eternally annihilated. But does this description fit the 8 billion+ who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses when the great tribulation comes? Absolutely not! As I already have shown, when the great tribulation comes, more than 6 billion humans have not had the opportunity to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, so these people cannot be “willfully, deliberately wicked.” And therefore, they cannot be eternally annihilated.  But what will happen to those who are not serving God when the great tribulation comes?

THE NEW VIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY REGARDING THOSE WHO LIVE WHEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION COMES 

The Watchtower of May 2024 presented a new view of the situation that will occur when the great tribulation comes. At first glance, the two articles seemed to be a 180 degree turn of the previous viewpoints of the members of the Governing Body.

But a study of the articles reveal that the members of the Governing Body still reject the Bible’s presentation of the ransom sacrifice and of the resurrection. The basic side of the new view is that they plead ignorance — they do not know the destiny of many people. Another side is the view that more people may get the chance to serve God, even after the beginning of the great tribulation. The change of views in The Watchtower of May 2024, that seem to be so comprehensive, in reality, are only cosmetic.

I will now consider the new points in detail.

THE POSSIBILITY OF SALVATION AFTER THE GREAT TRIBULATION HAS STARTED

The viewpoint has been that the gathering of sincere people who want to serve God will end when the great tribulation begins.

The viewpoint has been that the gathering of sincere people who want to serve God will end when the great tribulation begins. The Watchtower of May 2022, article 21, paragraph 8 said:

As mentioned in the preceding article, the political elements of this world will soon turn on Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. (Rev. 17:16, 17) This action will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. Will this result in a flood of new ones deciding to turn to worship Jehovah? No. To the contrary.

This viewpoint has been changed. I quote The Watchtower of May 2024, pages 9, 11-12, says:

3 In the past, we said that once the great tribulation begins, no unbelievers will be able to take their stand for Jehovah and survive Armageddon.

11 As long as the brothers of Christ are still on earth, it is possible that honesthearted individuals will have the opportunity to support them and the work they are doing. (Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 12:17) Why are those facts significant?

12 Even after the great tribulation starts, it is possible that some who see the destruction of “Babylon the Great” will recall that Jehovah’s Witnesses had long spoken of this event. Might some who see these events have a change of heart?Rev. 17:5; Ezek. 33:33.

The viewpoints presented in the quotations represent a reversal of the viewpoints that earlier have been expressed in the Watchtower literature. We note that the quotations only express the possibility that people can start serving God after the beginning of the great tribulation. There are not given any biblical reasons for these new viewpoints. So, the reasons are simply that the members of the Governing Body have changed their minds.

EIGHT BILLION+ PEOPLE WILL BE ETERNALLY ANNIHILATED IN ARMAGEDDON

The members of the Governing Body double-speak and speak with forked tongues. On the one hand, they say that they do not know how many of those who live when Jesus Christ judges the world in the great tribulation who will be eternally annihilated. On the other hand, their interpretation of the illustration of the sheep and the goats shows that they stick to their old view that all who live when Armageddon starts (not when the great tribulation starts) will be eternally annihilated. The number of these will be 8 billion+.

It is very important to know whether it is God’s purpose that billions of humans will be eternally annihilated or not.

THE NEW VIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY  

The new view is found in The Watchtower of May 2024, and I quote from pages 8 and 10:

8 Thus, a question arises: What about those who may not have a chance to hear the good news before the great tribulation strikes? How will Jehovah and his Son, whom he has entrusted to do the judging, deal with them? (John 5:19, 22, 27; Acts 17:31) The theme text of this article states that Jehovah “does not desire anyone to be destroyed.” Instead, he wants “all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4) That said, we must acknowledge that Jehovah has not yet revealed to us what he will do in answer to this question. Of course, he is not obligated to tell us anything about what he has done or will do.

10 Will all who die during the events of the great tribulation be destroyed forever with no hope of a resurrection? The Scriptures make it clear that outright opposers whom Jehovah and his forces will destroy at Armageddon will not be resurrected. (2 Thess. 1:6-10) But what about others, for example, who may die from natural causes, from accidents, or at the hand of other humans? (Eccl. 9:11; Zech. 14:13) Could some of these people be among the “unrighteous” who will be resurrected in the new world? We simply do not know.

11 We do know several things about future events. For example, we know that at Armageddon, people will be dealt with on the basis of how they have treated Christ’s brothers. (Matt. 25:40) Those judged as sheep will have shown their support for the anointed and for Christ. We also know that some of Christ’s brothers will still be on earth after the great tribulation starts and will not be taken to heaven until shortly before the outbreak of Armageddon. As long as the brothers of Christ are still on earth, it is possible that honesthearted individuals will have the opportunity to support them and the work they are doing. (Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 12:17) Why are those facts significant?

15 It is also reasonable to conclude that a person’s eternal future does not depend on where he happens to live. It is unthinkable that Jehovah would automatically label as “goats” millions of people who live in lands where they never had an opportunity to respond to the Kingdom message. (Matt. 25:46) The righteous Judge of all the earth cares even more about these individuals than we ever could. We do not know how Jehovah will maneuver events during the great tribulation. Perhaps some of these people will have an opportunity to learn about Jehovah, put faith in him, and take their stand on Jehovah’s side when he sanctifies himself before all nations. —Ezek. 38:16.

I will now list the main points of the quotations above:

  • We do not know what will happen to those who have not heard the good news. (Yellow text, 8)
  • Outright opposers will be destroyed in Armageddon, and will not get a resurrection. (Blue text, 10)
  • We do not know the destiny of persons who die in the great tribulation before Armageddon. (Brown text, 10)
  • At Armageddon, people will be dealt with in relation to whether they have supported Christ’s brothers or not. (Red text, 11)
  • Christ’s brothers will be on the earth until shortly before Armageddon. It is possible to support them and become a sheep until shortly before Armageddon.

There is a timeline in the quotations, namely, from the start of the great tribulation until Armageddon is over. The brothers of Christ will be on the earth until shortly before Armageddon, and during this time, it is possible that persons can support the brothers of Christ and get God’s approval. When Christ’s brothers have been taken to heaven, there is no longer any possibility to be saved. Then Armageddon comes.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GREAT TRIBULATION AND ARMAGEDDON IS THE KEY TO WHAT THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY BELIEVE

As shown above, the possibility of salvation ends shortly before Armageddon. I will now focus on this time shortly before Armageddon by pointing out the interpretation of the illustration of the sheep and the goats by the members of the Governing Body.

When the possibility of salvation ends shortly before Armageddon, Judge Jesus Christ will separate all living humans into two groups, sheep and goats, according to the members of the Governing Body. The sheep will survive the great tribulation, and the goats will experience eternal annihilation without any hope of a resurrection. I quote Matthew 25:31-33, 45, 46:

31 “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

45 Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did not do it to one of these least ones, YOU did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.

The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, pages 23, 24, 27 presents this interpretation:

23 If we analyze Jesus’ activity in the parable, we observe him finally judging all the nations. The parable does not show that such judging would continue over an extended period of many years, as if every person dying during these past decades were judged worthy of everlasting death or everlasting life. It seems that the majority who have died in recent decades have gone to mankind’s common grave. (Revelation 6:8; 20:13) The parable, though, depicts the time when Jesus judges the people of “all the nations” who are then alive and facing the execution of his judicial sentence. (“all the nations in italics in the source)

26 Understanding the parable of the sheep and the goats in this way indicates that the rendering of judgment on the sheep and the goats is future. It will take place after “the tribulation” mentioned at Matthew 24:29, 30 breaks out and the Son of man ‘arrives in his glory.’ (Compare Mark 13:24-26.) Then, with the entire wicked system at its end, Jesus will hold court and render and execute judgment.​—John 5:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

19 Bible students know that this cannot mean that immortal souls of goatlike ones will suffer in an eternal fire. No, for humans are souls; they do not possess immortal souls. (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Ezekiel 18:4) By sentencing the goats to “everlasting fire,” the Judge means destruction devoid of a future hope, which will also be the permanent end for the Devil and his demons. (Revelation 20:10, 14) Hence, Jehovah’s Judge sets out opposites. He tells the sheep, “Come”; the goats, “Be on your way from me.” The sheep will inherit “everlasting life.” The goats will receive “everlasting cutting-off.”​—Matthew 25:46.

 

Paragraph 10 in the Watchtower of May 2024, which is quoted above, says that “outright opposers” will be destroyed in Armageddon without any hope of a resurrection.  It is not directly said that the goats will experience everlasting annihilation. But both the ways the sheep and goats are discussed and the quotation in paragraph 15 of Matthew 25:46 with the words “everlasting cutting-off” supports this. The Watchtower of September 2024, page 20, discusses this illustration and shows that when Armageddon comes, two groups have been separated, and all who are not sheep are goats:

3 In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus described the judgment of people who have the opportunity to respond to the good news and to support his anointed brothers. (Matt. 25:31-46) During the “great tribulation,” he will render this judgment right before Armageddon. (Matt. 24:21) Just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, Jesus will separate those who loyally support his anointed followers from those who do not.

On the basis of the points above, I ask some questions: Right before Armageddon when Jehovah separates the sheep from the goats, will there be 8 billion+ humans who live on the earth? The answer is Yes. Will these people be separated into two or more groups? The answer is two groups. What will be the destiny of the goats? The answer is that they will experience everlasting cutting-off, which means everlasting annihilation. What will be the destiny of the sheep? The sheep will survive the great tribulation and continue to live on the new earth.

The discussion above has shown that The Watchtower of May 2024 has not changed the view of the members of the Governing Body regarding what will happen in Armageddon: 20 million+ Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive Armageddon and 8 billion+ humans will be everlastingly annihilated without any hope of a resurrection.

But when the text says that the goats will go away into the everlasting fire (verse 41) and experience everlasting cutting off (verse 46), will not these words show that they will be everlastingly annihilated without any hope of a resurrection? This is the correct understanding. However, the members of the Governing Body apply the words about the goats to the wrong group. In article IV in this series, I show that the goats refer to persons who have been Christians with the hope to live forever on the earth and to persons who have been closely connected with these but who have rejected the ransom sacrifice. These have sinned against the holy spirit and will be everlastingly annihilated.

[1]. Please note that those who die from the causes mentioned by the blue script, are not said to have died in the great tribulation due to Jehovah’s Judgment.

THE MOTIVE BEHIND THE ARTICLES IN THE WATCHTOWER OF MAY 2024

What is the reason why such articles with contradictory statements were written in the first place? The members of the Governing Body have been criticized for different interpretations, such as those in The Watchtower of May 2022 and in the book Pure Worship of Jehovah Restored at Last!, interpretations showing that 8 billion+ people will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation.

The claim that 8 billion+ people, most of whom have not had any chance to hear the good news of the Kingdom, will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation, contradicts people’s sense of rightfulness and justice. In order to avoid these criticisms, the members of the Governing Body published The Watchtower of May 2024. To achieve this, they used the card of pleading ignorance of the destiny of some people. When they say that they do not know something, they cannot be criticized for a particular viewpoint. However, the author of the articles fell back on the old view of the members of the Governing Body that the purpose of the preaching is to separate all people into two groups, sheep and goats. And because of the expression of this viewpoint, the article contradicts itself in several places, as I have shown above.

The members of the Governing Body have pleaded ignorance. But that is clearly wrong because we know what the destiny of all Adam’s descendants is. God has revealed this in the Christian Greek Scriptures. We know that Jesus died for all Adam’s descendants and bought them all. Therefore, we know that the only those who die before or in the great tribulation who will be eternally annihilated, are the few who have sinned against the holy spirit. All other people, including those who die in the great tribulation, will get a resurrection on Judgment Day with the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.

EVEN THOUGH THE TEACHING TO SOME EXTENT IS COVERED UP, THE WATCHTOWER OF MAY 2024 SHOWS THAT THE VIEW OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNING BODY IS THAT 8 BILLION+ HUMANS WILL BE EVERLASTINGLY ANNIHILATED IN ARMAGEDDON WITHOUT ANY HOPE OF A RESURRECTION.

[1]. Please note that those who die from the causes mentioned by the blue script, are not said to have died in the great tribulation due to Jehovah’s Judgment.

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

In the first article of this study, I showed that the members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice by claiming that Jesus did not die for all Adam’s descendants, but only for those who take the required steps to serve God.

In the second article of this study, I showed that the members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted the ransom sacrifice by rejecting the words of the Christian Greek Scriptures that all who die because of inherited sin will get a resurrection.

In this third article I have shown that even though they have plead ignorance in order to avoid criticism, the words of the members of the Governing Body show that they still believe that 8 billion+ people will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation, even though more than 75% of these have not had any possibility to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice.

These three articles show that the members of the Governing Body are guilty of a systematic rejection of what the Christian Greek Scriptures say about Jesus Christ and his ransom sacrifice. In article IV, I discuss passages in the Christian Greek Scriptures that are used by the members of the Governing Body to show that so many billions of people will be eternally annihilated.

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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