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THE DEVALUATION AND RESTRICTION OF THE RANSOM SACRIFICE V THE NATIONS WILL GET A RESURRECTION ON THE NEW EARTH

By 6. July 2024Bible study

THE NATIONS THAT WILL BE PRESENT ON JUDGMENT DAY

When we are considering who will be present during the thousand-year-reign of Jesus Christ, we should start with Matthew 25:31, 32:

 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. 32 And 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.

For many years it was indicated that the sheep were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the goats were all the nations on the earth apart from Jehovah’s Witnesses. In recent years, the expressions have been a little more cautious. I quote from The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, page 26 (above) and The Watchtower of March 15, 2015, page 26 (below):

When the Son of man comes in the role of Judge, he will determine that many true Christians​—actually “a great crowd” of dedicated sheep—​will qualify to pass through the final part of “the great tribulation” into the new world. That prospect should now be a source of joy. (Revelation 7:9, 14) On the other hand, vast numbers out of “all the nations” will have proved themselves to be like stubborn goats. They “will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” What a relief for the earth!

The sheep” and “the goats” represent individuals from all nations. These ones are not anointed by holy spirit. What about the timing of the judgment? This judgment will occur toward the end of the great tribulation just ahead. And what of the reason why people will be judged as either sheep or goats? The outcome hinges on how they have treated the remaining ones of Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers on earth.

 The expressions are “vast numbers of all the nations” and “individuals from all nations” and not “all the nations.” However, the green text contradicts the mentioned expressions. The few spirit-anointed brothers of Christ that are on the earth are found among Jehovah’s Witnesses. And therefore, the green text contradicts the cautious words that I have quoted. It implies that all others except those who have contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses are goats. This is directly expressed in the book Pure Worship of Jehovah Restored at Last! (2018), pages 178-180:  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.

However, as I showed in part I, The Watchtower of May 2024 indicated that some more persons than previously believed may perhaps get a resurrection. But my analysis of this magazine shows that the belief of the members of the Governing Body still is that 8 billion+ will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation. This represents the nations of the world.

The word that I want to stress here is “nations.” Most of these nations will be eternally annihilated in the great tribulation is the claim. But this claim is wrong. It is quite ironic that the Holy Scriptures show that “the nations” will get a resurrection because several passages in Revelation show that “the nations” will be present on Judgment Day. Before I discuss this, I will consider who will survive the great tribulation.

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE GREAT TRIBULATION?

The great tribulation is mentioned in the great prophecy of the presence of Jesus in Matthew 24:21, 22. He says that if these days were not cut short, “no flesh would be saved.” But he shows that these days will be cut short, and these words show that some people will survive the great tribulation.

The great tribulation is also mentioned in Revelation 7:9-17:

9 After this I saw, and look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. 10 And they keep shouting with a loud voice, saying: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne,i and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Let the praise and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” 13 In response one of the elders said to me: “These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?” 14 So right away I said to him: “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And he said to me: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down on them nor any scorching heat, 17 because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them and will guide them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”

The phrase “come out of the great tribulation” means surviving the great tribulation. We can see this by comparing the Greek text of Revelation 7:14 above and Acts 7:10 below:

14 houtoi eisin hoi erkhomenoi (present middle participle) ek tēs thlipseōs tēs megalēs these are those coming out of the tribulation the great.

10 kai exeilato (aorist middle) auton ek pasōn tōn thlipseōn autouand taken out of he out of all the tribulations his.

The account in Acts chapter 7 tells about Joseph who was sold to Egyptian merchants. But God took him out of all of his tribulations. The verb exaireō in Acts 7:10 is aorist, which is the perfective aspect. According to Mounce the meaning of the verb is “take out; pluck out,” and the preposition ek has the meaning “out of.” So, both the verb and the preposition show that Joseph was taken out of all his tribulations, and this means that he survived these tribulations. In a similar way, “coming out of the great tribulation” means that the persons survive the great tribulation.

The verb erkhomai in Revelation 7:14 is present participle, which is the imperfective aspect. The meaning of the verb is “come; go; pass” according to Mounce. The NWT13 fails to convey the true nuance of the present participle of erkhomai by the rendering “come out of the great tribulation.” And I am surprised that NWT84, which takes great pains of rendering all the nuances of the verbs, has the same rendering.

The true force of the present participle of erkhomai can be found by reading Matthew 11:3, where NWT13 renders ho erkhomenos (the article and present participle of erkhomai) as “the Coming One.” Mounce uses this verse as an example of the force of the present participle of erkhomai, and has the rendering: “He who is coming, the expected Messiah.” It would be wrong to render the phrase with “He who Comes” or “The One who Comes.” The point is that the present participle in Greek should be rendered by the present participle in English and not by the simple present. Only the rendering “the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation” conveys the nuances of the Greek verb.

One interesting question in connection with Revelation 7:14 is the perspective of the words of the elder. What is the vantage point of the elder, the point from which he describes the action? The Watchtower of June 15, 1991, page 15, says:

8 All who hope to survive the impending “great tribulation” and to enjoy God’s blessings on a paradise earth depend on Jesus’ shed blood. Revelation 7:9-14 describes them and says retrospectively: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Note the language here. It does not say that these who are saved through the tribulation had ‘accepted Jesus’ or ‘put faith in him,’ though those certainly are vital aspects. It goes a step further and says that they “washed their robes and made them white in [Jesus’] blood.” That is because his blood has ransoming value.

The book, United in Worshhip of the Only True God (1983), page 106 says:

6 The description of the “great crowd” as found at Revelation 7:9-15 adds further important details. In telling us how those of the “great crowd” appear after the “great tribulation,” the Scriptures also draw attention to factors that led to their being preserved.

The use of the adverbial “retrospectively” in The Watchtower is correct, but the use of the preposition “after” in the book is a little imprecise. It is clear that the elder places himself at a point after the great tribulation, and this is his vantage point. So, what does he describe for John? The elder does not use a prospective perspective by using future, “will come out of.” Neither does he use the retrospective viewpoint of past tense, “they came out of.” This perspective would have qualified for the phrase “appear after ‘the great tribulation’.”

He describes the situation with focus on the end of the great tribulation, exactly in the moment when the great crowd “are coming out of” the great tribulation, the moment when they survive the great tribulation.

The important point in connection with the description of the elder is what the quotation from The Watchtower of June 15, 1991 says. The blood of Jesus “has ransoming value.” Because the verbs “wash” (plynō) and “whiten” (leukainō) are aorists, their actions make a contrast to the verb erkhomai (“come”) in the present in the phrase “coming out of.” The elder placed himself in a position immediately after the end of the great tribulation and was looking at the great crowd that was coming out of the great tribulation. Because of the contrast between two aorists and the present, the actions of washing and whitening must have occurred before the great tribulation. At this time, each member of the great crowd accepted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, and that is the reason for their survival. However, after the great tribulation, they are still imperfect, and they still need the ransom sacrifice. This is shown in Revelation 7:17 where we read that the Lamb “will guide them to springs of waters of life.”

The only group of persons on the earth who expect to survive the great tribulation, and who are ready to be used by God to work hard after the tribulation and make the earth ready for the resurrection are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Therefore, they are the only ones who will survive the great tribulation.

This means that 8 billion+ will die before or in the great tribulation. But contrary to the view of the members of the Governing Body, all these — except the few that have sinned against the holy spirit — will get a resurrection because of the ransom sacrifice. These will, together with the other humans who will get a resurrection, constitute “the nations” that will be present on the Judgment Day.

 “THE NATIONS” (ETHNOS) WHO ARE PRESENT DURING THE THOUSAND-YEAR-REIGN OF JESUS

The Devil will be bound for a period of a thousand years, and the reason is given in Revelation 20:3:

3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations (ethnos) anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.

These words alone indicate that the nations have not been eternally annihilated in the great tribulation. But they must be present during the period of a thousand year. This supports the view that the vast majority of Adam’s descendants will get a resurrection on Judgment Day. I have looked at the online Index of scriptures discussed in the Watchtower literature since 1930, and I have found no detailed discussion of the word “nation” in 20:3.

I count that the word “nations” (ethnos) is used 23 times in Revelation, and the 19 occurrences of the word “nations” in the first 19 chapters always refer to the political nations of the world that are in opposition to God’s Kingdom and its sovereignty.  The great prostitute Babylon the Great is mentioned in chapters 17 and 18, and 18:23 says that “by your spiritistic practices all the nations were misled.”

Will the nations be present from the beginning of the millennium? We find the answer in Revelation 19:15:

15 And out of his [Jesus Christ] mouth protrudes a sharp, long sword with which to strike (patassō) the nations (ethnos), and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. Moreover, he treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

The word patassō has the meaning, “to strike a heavy blow; to slay by means of a mortal blow or disease.” (Louw and Nida). The nations will be among those who will be killed in connection with the great tribulation. Their presence in the millennium means that their inhabitants have received a resurrection, and the earth must be made ready for the resurrection before hadēs will deliver its dead.

Because the nations will be stricken down in the great tribulation but they are present in the millennium according to Revelation 20:3, it means that the inhabitants of the nations will receive a resurrection.

The resurrection of the nations is confirmed by Revelation 20:7-9: (The rendering of NWT13 above and my literal translation below):

7 Now as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison. and he will go out to mislead those nations (ethnos) in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Maʹgog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea. And they advanced over the whole earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and consumed them.

7 And as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison. and he will go out to mislead the nations (neuter), those in the four corners of the earth, the Gog and Maʹgog (masculine), to gather them (masculine) for the war, they (masculine) being the number of them (masculine) like the sand of the sea. And they (masculine) went up upon the width of the earth and the surrounded the encampment of the holy ones and the beloved city. And came down fire out of heaven and devoured them (masculine).

Please note the rendering of verse 8: “and he will go out to mislead the nations, those in the four corners of the earth.” The verse shows explicitly that the nations (ethnos) are established and are existing in the four corners of the earth at the end of the millennium, as also is the case today. In order to show that “the nations” are not enemies of God, as some think, I will analyze the text.

The most important point is that the word “nations” (ethnos, plural, ethnē) is neuter, while those who are misled are referred to by the masculine pronoun “them,” and Gog and Magog are masculine as well. The grammatical situation here is similar to the grammatical situation in Matthew 25:32, where it is said that all the nations (neuter) are gathered before the King Jesus Christ, but those who are separated are referred to as “them” (masculine). This means that Jesus is not separating the nations as sheep and goats. But he is separating some persons from the nations as sheep and goats.

Revelation 20:8 says that the purpose of the Devil is to mislead the nations (ta ethne, neuter). But the text does not say that the nations are misled. Those who are misled are referred to by the personal pronoun “them/they” four times, and these pronouns are masculine plural. A masculine plural pronoun cannot refer back to a substantive that is neuter. This means that those who are misled are some of the inhabitants of these nations and not the whole nations.

Gog and Magog are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2, and Gog in the land of Magog would lead an attack on God’s people. The word “Gog” has the masculine article but “Magog” does not have any article. The rule is that when two names are connected with “and”, and the first have the masculine article, both are masculine and definite. This means that the masculine pronoun “them” that Satan gather for the war must refer to the dual expression “Gog and Magog.” So, Satan will not mislead the nations at the four corners of the earth. But he will mislead some on their inhabitants, and those who are misled are called “Gog and Magog.”

Today the 195 nations of the world are spread all over the earth; we could say that they are at the four corners of the earth. At the end of the millennium, there is a similar situation; nations are spread all over the world. The inhabitants of the nations today have inherited sin, and because of this, they are on the point of ruining the earth. But the inhabitants of the nations referred to in Revelation 20:8 will, at the end of the 1,000 years, have no inherited sin but “they have come to life.” (Revelation 20:5) The important point in our context is that the fact that nations live all over the earth at the end of the 1,000 years supports the view that most of the inhabitants of all the nations that have existed on the earth will have received a resurrection on Judgment Day.

The number of the rebels is said to be like “the sand of the sea.” This means that the number is unknown. However, the number needs not be higher that 144,000. Genesis 22:17 says that the seed of Abraham would be like the sand of the sea, and according to the Christian Greek Scriptures, this seed turns out to be 144,000 in number. So just as the number of those who get a resurrection are counted in billions, it is likely that those who pass the final test after the 1,000 years and support the sovereignty of Jehovah God are counted in billions as well.

I will now consider the tableau in Revelation chapter 21, where the heavenly government, New Jerusalem, “comes down” from heaven at the beginning of the millennium. Several blessings are mentioned, but let us look at blessings that the nations receive, according to 21:23-26:

23 And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp was the Lamb. 24 And the nations (ethnos) will walk by means of its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.25 Its gates will not be closed at all by day, for night will not exist there. 26 And they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations (ethnos) into it.

Several words in the quotation are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 60. That God will illuminate New Jerusalem is taken from Isaiah 60: 19, 20:

19 For you the sun will no longer be a light by day, Nor will the shining of the moon give you light, For Jehovah will become to you an eternal light, And your God will be your beauty. 20 No more will your sun set, Nor will your moon wane, For Jehovah will become for you an eternal light, And the days of your mourning will have ended.

The words that “nations will walk by means of its light” are taken from Isaiah 60:2, 3:

 2 For look! darkness will cover the earth And thick gloom the nations; But on you Jehovah will shine, And on you his glory will be seen. 3 Nations will go to your light And kings to your shining splendor.

In the prophecy of Isaiah 60, Jehovah speaks through the prophet to Jerusalem, which represents Jehovah’s people. The nations in Isaiah’s prophecy refer to different political nations that will support Jerusalem, and therefore, “the nations” in the fulfillment in the millennium must also be the nations of this world with their inhabitants. The perspective of chapters 21 and 22 is the millennium. When it is said that the nations “walk by means of the light of New Jerusalem,” this means that during the millennium they have a part in the great program of teaching the truth of Jehovah, including the contents of the new books with Jehovah’s instructions. The words that “They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it” are taken from Isaiah 60:5:

5 At that time you will see and become radiant, And your heart will throb and overflow, Because the wealth of the sea will be directed to you; The resources of the nations will come to you.

The words that “the glory and honor of the nations” are brought into New Jerusalem show that the inhabitants of the nations that are present in the millennium support the work of the heavenly government.

The most important point in our context is that the actions of the nations in relation to New Jerusalem show explicitly that the nations are present in the millennium after New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and the millennium begins.

Chapter 22 in Revelation continues the description of the millennium after New Jerusalem comes down from heaven. We read in 22:1, 2:

1 And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its main street. On both sides of the river were trees of life producing 12 crops of fruit, yielding their fruit each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations.

The members of the great crowd that survives the great tribulation have inherited sin and are imperfect. Therefore, they need the application of the ransom sacrifice, as seen by the words, “the Lamb…will guide them to springs of waters of life.” (Revelation 7:17) And the same is true with all those who will be resurrected. The members of the heavenly government, New Jerusalem, functions also as priests. This means that they will apply the ransom sacrifice for those who live on the earth, and all humans will gradually proceed toward human perfection. This is shown by the words that “the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations.” At the end of the 1,000 years the nations are completely healed, and their inhabitants are sinless and perfect as humans. I refer to a heart-warming comment in The Watchtower of November 1, 1992, page 7, regarding this situation:

Christ’s dying for the whole of mankind and balancing the scale upset by Adam is called the “ransom” arrangement. (Matthew 20:28) It may be likened to a medicine that works against the virus causing the fever. By applying the value of Jesus’ ransom to mankind, mankind’s sickly condition caused by sin​—including death itself—​can be cured. This healing process is described figuratively in the last book of the Bible: “On this side of the river and on that side there were trees of life producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2) Imagine! A figurative river of water of life flowing between trees of life with their leaves, all for the healing of mankind. These divinely inspired symbols represent God’s provision for restoring mankind to perfection on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.

Here is a beautiful picture of the application of the ransom sacrifice.  The river of water of life represents this sacrifice. And the leaves of the trees that were watered by the river “were for the healing of the nations.” This shows that the inhabitants of the nations were sick because of their inherited sin and their imperfection. That they must continue to use the leaves of the trees for healing illustrates the gradual process toward perfection that occurs during the 1,000 years.

That the nations used the leaves of the trees for healing show explicitly that the nations are present during the millennium after New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and the millennium begins. And this discussion of the presence of the nations, supports the view that the inhabitants of all the nations that have existed on the earth will get a resurrection during the millennium

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The main point of this study is that the view that Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive the great tribulation and all others will be eternally annihilated has no support in the Holy Scriptures whatsoever.

The Scriptures show that only persons who have sinned against the holy spirit will not get a resurrection.  Jesus bought all the descendants of Adam by his death. And because most persons of the between 20 and 27 billion who have lived on earth have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, they will get a resurrection during the thousand-year- reign of Jesus to have their chance.

The members of the present Governing Body believe that Jesus did not die for all Adam’s descendants but only for all sorts of these descendants, those who will be saved. Based on this view, the members of the Governing Body have devalued and restricted both the ransom sacrifice and the resurrection.

When the great tribulation comes, there will be 8 billion+ people on the earth. The great crowd will survive the great tribulation. Because most of the 8 billion+ have not had the chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice, they cannot be eternally annihilated, but neither can all of them survive the great tribulation. These will get a resurrection on Judgment Day, and we know that Jehovah will judge them in righteousness.[1]

[1]. A discussion of the resurrection of the nations on Judgment Day, where this is connected with the prophecy that Abraham’s seed would bless all the nations of the world is found in chapter 8 of my book The Atonement Between God and Man.

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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