QUESTION: I have a question for you. What is your understanding of Revelation 6:10,11? The Watchtower interprets it in a way so that they may support their 1918 resurrection dogma. In their Revelation Climax book and in W07 01/01 they say that the Christian martyrs’ receiving white robes represents their being resurrected in 1918 while the “resting” “a little while longer” takes place AFTER they are resurrected when “they must wait patiently for God’s day of vengeance”. In the Revelation book they quote Revelation 3:5 and 4:4 in support of the idea that being dressed in white garments represents resurrection. What is your explanation of this, especially in light of Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 where he says that both the living and the dead Christian will meet Christ TOGETHER?
Revelation 6:9-11 is the opening of the 5th seal and it says: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness they had given. They shouted with a loud voice, saying: ‘Until when, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ And a white robe was given to each of them, and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they had been.”
This is a paradox and an irony: On the one hand, the Watchtower shows great insight into unraveling the sacred mysteries. On the other hand, because of being driven to harmonize everything to 1914 the Watchtower comes up with some head-scratching nonsense.
As the Watchtower is aware, the apostle plainly taught that those who die in union with Christ before his second coming are resurrected before those who die during the parousia. In the verse cited by the questioner, Paul wrote: “Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who are sleeping in death, so that you may not sorrow as the rest do who have no hope. For if we have faith that Jesus died and rose again, so too God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in death through Jesus. For this is what we tell you by Jehovah’s word, that we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep in death; because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding call, with an archangel’s voice and with God’s trumpet, and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.”
If the parousia began in 1914, as the Watchtower teaches and as all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to believe, than yes, those who are destined to be among the first of the so-called first resurrection have already been resurrected.
But, alas, there are many reasons to believe that the whole 1914 thing is one massive delusion. Support for 1914 really comes down to a specious interpretation of the meaning and application of the so-called seven times of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness. There is no need to rehash all of that in this article, but I would point out the fallacious reasoning the Watchtower uses in the 2007 article, mentioned by the questioner. Specifically, paragraph nine states:
When does the first resurrection occur? There is strong evidence that it is now under way. For example, compare two chapters of Revelation. First, look at Revelation chapter 12. There we read that the newly enthroned Jesus Christ, along with his holy angels, wages war against Satan and his demons. (Revelation 12:7-9) As this journal has often shown, that battle began in 1914. Notice, though, that none of Christ’s anointed followers are said to be with Jesus in that heavenly war. Now look at chapter 17 of Revelation. We read there that after the destruction of “Babylon the Great,” the Lamb will conquer the nations. Then it adds: “Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.” (Revelation 17:5, 14) “Called and chosen and faithful” ones must already have been resurrected if they are to be with Jesus for the final defeat of Satan’s world. Reasonably, then, anointed ones who die before Armageddon are resurrected sometime between 1914 and Armageddon.
It is true, in the vision depicting Michael and his angels battling with the dragon and his angels, there is no mention of the holy ones being in the fray, as there is in the final scene leading into Armageddon. And their reasoning is sound also, that the resurrection takes place during the interval of Satan’s “short period of time” that commences with his ouster from heaven and concludes with the annihilation of this world and the complete removal of all the demons. However, that does not in anyway prove that the demons were hurled down in 1914. It is a fallacy of argument known as alleged certainty. The notion that the first resurrection has already begun is based entirely upon the highly questionable premise that Christ has already come and the Devil has been hurled down.
Upon closer examination of the verse in question, what are we to make of the fact that the resurrected holy ones are told to rest a little while longer until the number of their fellow slaves and brothers have been killed as they had been?
While not all of the saints were literally killed in the first century, many were. Thousands were apparently killed in the coliseums, thrown to lions or slaughtered by gladiators. Some had animal skins tied to them and were ripped apart by packs of wild dogs. Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that consumed Rome. As a result of the ensuing pogrom, anointed witnesses were killed in the most horrific ways; some being nailed to poles lining the streets and set ablaze to illuminate the night like human torches. (No doubt the demons were making a mockery of Jesus telling his followers they were the light of the world and are to serve as illuminators.)
Some were murdered by maddened mobs of zealot Jews, like Stephen was. The apostle James was executed by King Herod Agrippa. Paul was executed by the Roman emperor. The apostle John probably met the same fate when he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. Tradition has it Peter was killed too.
But how many anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses have been executed in modern times? I would venture to say none of the present generation have been. True, the Nazis horribly persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany and in the countries the Nazis invaded. But amazingly only a few hundred were killed or died from their ordeals in the concentration camps. No doubt some were anointed heirs of the Kingdom. But that was a generation ago.
But that leaves us with a dilemma. Revelation 12:11 indicates that the holy ones will be literally killed, and that “they did not love their souls even in the face of death.” But if the execution of God’s judgment depends upon the “rest being killed,” that is to say the “remaining ones of her offspring,” then there is no indication that the end of the system is anywhere in the future. Generations have come and gone since the resurrected martyrs were presumably given their white robes and told to wait for a little while and still there is no sign that anything is culminating.
Here is the real problem. It is not something that Jehovah’s Witnesses are even capable of coming to terms with presently, but it is true — None of the seals of the scroll have been unsealed. That is most apparent and provable when we consider the ramifications of the opening of the six seal, which betokens the utter collapse of the present system, even the great tribulation.
The Watchtower recognizes this and shrugs it off by claiming that, yes the sixth seal was opened back in 1914, but we have only experienced the preliminary tremors of the coming seismic shaking. What utter nonsense!
How can all of this be reconciled? It is actually fairly simple. Shift the coming of the Kingdom and the ouster of Satan to a point in the immediate future. The opening of the seven seals will bring about war, famine, earthquakes and pestilence on a scale far surpassing anything that has ever occurred. These events will unfold over a short period of time, certainly not years and decades. The present, relatively benign governments will become a monster after the beast revives from the crash. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be outlawed. Just as the insane Nero falsely accused the Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses could easily be vilified and set upon as enemies of the state, with no legal recourse possible in the aftermath of the collapse of democratic institutions.
Indeed, as Jesus forewarned, brothers will hate and betray one another. Fathers will have their Christian sons put to death. Sons will have their Christian fathers put to death, etc.
After the final sealing all of the chosen ones will be killed during the 1,260 day interval. That is how God’s purpose is ultimately accomplished. Their deaths will result in the “living” holy ones being transferred in the twinkling of an eye to join the holy ones who had already been resurrected, together the entire 144,000 will be united with Christ in heaven. And that is when the nations will find themselves confronted by an army of holy immortals led by Jesus Christ himself.
LEVIATHAN, THE GLIDING SERPENT
Interestingly, with the opening of the fifth seal the martyred souls are depicted as being underneath the altar, as if they had been previously sacrificed upon the altar. The 27th chapter of Isaiah is really an amazing bit of prophecy that brings the symbolic characters of the dragon and the woman and her seed into focus. However, in this prophecy the original serpent is depicted as a leviathan — or a dragon. The opening verse states: “In that day Jehovah, with his harsh and great and strong sword, will turn his attention to Leviathan, the gliding serpent, to Leviathan, the twisting serpent, and he will kill the monster that is in the sea.”
In the 13th chapter of Revelation a seven-headed wild beast empowered by the dragon emerges from the sea and conquers and kills the holy ones. Next the prophecy in Isaiah speaks to the woman, the woman being the same woman who gives birth to the seed in the 12th chapter of Revelation and who is persecuted by the dragon, saying “In that day sing to her: ‘A vineyard of foaming wine! I, Jehovah, am safeguarding her. Every moment I water her. I safeguard her night and day, so that no one may harm her. There is no wrath in me. Who will confront me with thornbushes and weeds in the battle? I will trample them and set them on fire all together.'”
Speaking of the offspring of the woman as “Jacob” and “he” and the covenanted woman with the pronoun “her,” Jehovah addresses the gliding serpent and asks: “Must he be struck with the stroke of the one striking him? Or must he be killed as with the slaughter of his slain? With a startling cry you will contend with her when sending her away. He will expel her with his fierce blast in the day of the east wind.”
The woman will be expelled? From where? From the earth. By executing all of the woman’s seed, that is to say all of Christ’s brothers, she is sent away from the earth —having no physical presence any more on the entirety of God’s earth. Ironically, her expulsion from the earth is a result of the dragon’s expulsion from heaven. They trade places, basically. Her desolation results in the final ingathering of all the children of the “Israel of God” to heavenly Mount Zion. That is evident in the concluding verse of the 27th chapter of Isaiah, which reads: “In that day Jehovah will beat out the fruit from the flowing stream of the River to the Wadi of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one after the other, O people of Israel. In that day a great horn will be blown, and those who are perishing in the land of Assyria and those dispersed in the land of Egypt will come and bow down to Jehovah in the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”
Jesus referred to this same event when he said: “And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.”
But as regards the altar of God, verse nine states: “So in this way the error of Jacob will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruitage when his sin is taken away: He will make all the stones of the altar like chalkstones that have been pulverized, and no sacred poles or incense stands will be left.”
The “error of Jacob” refers to the sinful state of the holy ones being remedied by the full application of the ransoming power of Christ’s sacrifice. Their atonement means that the new covenant is concluded. There is no longer any need for Christ to mediate for them. The altar upon which they were sacrificed to God, and all the trappings of the earthly organization, like sacred poles and incense stands, will be left behind. The spiritual altar that had been used to present the sacrifice of Christ to God and subsequently the living sacrifices of those who follow the Lamb no matter where he goes, including to their own slaughter, is then dismantled —pulverized. Christianity is thus concluded.
But the point is, Jehovah enters into judgment with Leviathan for his having killed the offspring of the woman, who are God’s sons, and nothing like that has occurred in modern times yet.