QUESTION: The Watchtower has changed their position on this several times. I would like to know your opinion. Will the people of Sodom be resurrected or not?
Pondering the question of whether or not the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected is really peculiar to Jehovah’s Witnesses, since the mainstream churches do not really believe in any sort of earthly resurrection, much less a resurrection for notoriously wicked persons.
But Jesus indicated that there is to be a resurrection of persons who were not in any sense righteous before God. Here is what Jesus said: “Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man. Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”
The “dead” first began to hear the voice of the Son of God when Jesus was on earth. Those who listened and believed came to life spiritually and many will have life in themselves when the first resurrection begins during the parousia. But the hour is also coming when the literal dead, those lying in memorial tombs, will hear the powerful voice of the Son of God and come out. Among them will be even those who practiced vile things. That would certainly include the original Sodomites. Theirs, though, is not a resurrection to immortal life in the heavens, but a “resurrection of judgment.”
I liken it to a criminal being sentenced to a period of probation or parole, while they may be free from incarceration they are under restriction until they prove they have reformed themselves. It is the same with the “resurrection of judgement.” The masses of people who will be freed from death will have to mend their ways and develop godliness. They will have to prove that they will obey God —or to be more accurate, God’s Son when he rules the world for 1,000 years. If they do not then their probation is revoked and they experience what the Bible calls the second death. In their case they will literally die a second time. The second death is permanent —no resurrection being possible. The book of Revelation symbolizes the second death as a lake of fire.
Jesus specifically cited the men of Sodom and Gomorrah rising up in the judgment, that is to say in the “resurrection of judgment.” When giving instructions to his disciples as he sent them out on their first preaching campaign he told them not to be overly concerned about the Jews who rejected them, saying: “Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.”
Since Jesus assured us that the hour will come when even the ungodly will come out of their graves, and people of the land of Sodom will be on hand during Judgment Day, why is there any question about whether the people of Sodom will actually be included? The reason is because of what is stated in the letter of Jude, which states: “In the same manner, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them also gave themselves over to gross sexual immorality and pursued unnatural fleshly desires; they are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.”
“Everlasting fire” symbolizes the same thing as the lake of fire. Jesus similarly spoke of the city garbage dump called Gehenna, where the incinerating fires perpetually burned with sulphured brimstone to consume the refuse.
On the one hand Jesus spoke of Sodom being among the resurrected and on the other hand, Jude said Sodom and Gomorrah are set before us as examples by having undergone the judicial punishment of everlasting fire. Is there a contradiction?
Apparently the Watchtower has had a problem coming to terms with these seemingly contradictory passages; evidenced by the fact that over the years the Watchtower has reversed itself several times, saying they will be resurrected, then flip-flopping to say they will not, then back again. Since 1988 the official stance is they will not —although that might change.
Although Watchtower critics exploit this as an example of doctrinal changes, that is silly. The teaching that there is a heavenly resurrection and an earthly resurrection is a matter of doctrine. And that has never changed. But harmonizing two seemingly contradicting points of Scripture is a matter of interpretation. And for whatever it is worth, I believe that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected.
My reasoning is that the passage in Jude is saying that the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is placed as a warning example as the two cities experienced divine judgment and literally were burned with fire, which symbolizes eternal destruction.
The two notoriously wicked cities were never rebuilt. So, in that respect they underwent everlasting destruction and consequently stand as a warning example for those who are yet to stand before the judgment seat.
Jehovah made an interesting connection in that regard when foretelling the permanent destruction of Babylon, saying of that iniquitous city: “And Babylon, the most glorious of kingdoms, the beauty and the pride of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them. She will never be inhabited, nor will she be a place to reside in throughout all generations.” — Isaiah 13:19-20
There is no indication anywhere in the Scriptures that the Chaldeans will not be among those who come out of the memorial tombs. Yet, the kingdom of Babylon met the same inglorious fate as Sodom and Gomorrah.
Edom met the same fate too, as recorded in the 49th chapter of Jeremiah: “‘And Edom must become an object of horror. Everyone passing along by her will stare in horror and whistle on account of all her plagues. Just as in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and of their neighboring towns,” Jehovah says, “no one will dwell there, and no man will settle there.”’
Again, the comparison is, that like Sodom and Babylon, Edom was never again a nation.
Although Jerusalem was rebuilt the destruction of Jerusalem was considered worse then the punishment meted out to Sodom. Jeremiah lamented: “The punishment of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment for the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her.” —Lamentations 4:6
In what sense was Jerusalem’s punishment greater? Well, the end came for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah more or less instantaneously, whereas Jerusalem endured the horrors of a long, grinding siege.
But the point is, the Babylonians, Edomites and Jews will no doubt experience a resurrection of judgment. So, why not the Sodomites?
The point of the letter of Jude is to exhort Christians to put up a hard fight for the faith and resist those wicked men who have slipped into the congregations, who lurk like rocks below the waterline. They are elders, shepherds feasting with unsuspecting Christians. Jude made it clear that these unspiritual, animalistic men are not necessarily homosexuals, but they possess a similar brazen defiance of Jehovah on a different level.
Indeed, the letter of Jude shows the judgment is directed against those who slip in and assume leadership roles in Christ’s congregation and who present themselves as guiding lights. They are going to experience the same sort of judgment as the city of Sodom did 4,000 years ago —everlasting fire. That is why Jude wrote: “These are the rocks hidden below water at your love feasts while they feast with you, shepherds who feed themselves without fear; waterless clouds carried here and there by the wind; fruitless trees in late autumn, having died twice and having been uprooted; wild waves of the sea that cast up the foam of their own shame; stars with no set course, for which the blackest darkness stands reserved forever.”
Their “having died twice” means that they have already been sentenced to the everlasting fire of the second death. That is what the fiery end of Sodom and Gomorrah represents — everlasting death. At the coming of Christ they will then be thrown out of the congregation into the blackness of oblivion, where they will then experience much weeping and gnashing of teeth, knowing they are soon going to meet the same ignominious fate as Sodom on the day that Jehovah rained down fire and sulphur from heaven upon it.