The Resurrection—Is It Real to You?
“There is going to be a resurrection.”—ACTS 24:15.
1. Why does death seem certain?
“IN THIS world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” That comment, penned in 1789 by American statesman Benjamin Franklin, has struck some as clever. However, many dishonest people cheat on their taxes. Death seems far more certain. On our own, none of us can avoid it in the long run. It pursues us all. With an insatiable hunger, Sheol—the common grave of mankind—devours people dear to us. (Proverbs 27:20) But consider a comforting thought.
2, 3. (a) Why is death less certain than many realize? (b) What will we consider in this article?
2 Jehovah’s Word gives the sure hope of the resurrection, of being raised to life once again. This is no mere dream, and no force in the universe can prevent Jehovah from making this hope a reality. For some, though, death is less certain than many today realize. Why? Because an unnumbered “great crowd” will survive “the great tribulation,” soon to come. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14) They will live on afterward, with eternity in view. Thus, death is no certainty for them. Moreover, “death is to be brought to nothing.”—1 Corinthians 15:26.
3 We need to feel as certain of the resurrection as did the apostle Paul, who said: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Let us consider three questions regarding the resurrection. First, what makes this hope so certain? Second, how can you personally take comfort in the resurrection hope? Third, how may this hope affect the way you live right now?
The Resurrection—A Certainty
4. How is the resurrection central to Jehovah’s purpose?
4 There are a number of factors that make the resurrection a certainty. Above all, it is central to Jehovah’s purpose. Remember, Satan led mankind into sin, with its inevitable consequence, death. Thus, Jesus said of Satan: “That one was a manslayer when he began.” (John 8:44) But Jehovah promised that his “woman,” or wifelike organization in heaven, would produce a “seed” who would bruise that “original serpent” in the head, crushing Satan out of existence. (Genesis 3:1-6, 15; Revelation 12:9, 10; 20:10) As Jehovah gradually revealed his purpose involving that Messianic Seed, it became apparent that the Seed would do more than destroy Satan. God’s Word says: “For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) Death caused by the sin we inherited from Adam is chief among Satan’s works that Jehovah purposes to see undone, or broken up, through Jesus Christ. In this regard, Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and the resurrection are vitally important.—Acts 2:22-24; Romans 6:23.
5. Why will the resurrection glorify Jehovah’s name?
5 Jehovah is determined to glorify his sacred name. Satan has maligned God’s name and has promoted lies. He lyingly said that Adam and Eve ‘positively would not die’ if they partook of the fruit forbidden by God. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:4) Ever since, Satan has fostered similar lies, such as the false teaching that a soul survives the death of the body. However, by means of the resurrection, Jehovah will expose all such lies for what they are. He will establish for all time that he alone is the Preserver and Restorer of life.
6, 7. How does Jehovah feel about resurrecting people, and how do we know of his feelings?
6 Jehovah yearns to carry out the resurrection. The Bible makes clear Jehovah’s feelings in this regard. For instance, consider these inspired words of the faithful man Job: “If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.” (Job 14:14, 15) What do those words mean?
7 Job knew that after he died, a time of waiting in the sleep of death lay ahead of him. He viewed that time as “compulsory service,” an enforced period of waiting for release. To him, that release was a certainty. Job realized that his relief would come. Why? Because he knew of Jehovah’s feelings. Jehovah would “have a yearning” to see his faithful servant again. Yes, God longs to bring back to life all righteous individuals. Jehovah will also give others an opportunity to live forever in Paradise on earth. (Luke 23:43; John 5:28, 29) Since it is God’s will to carry out that purpose, who can stop him?
8. How has Jehovah “furnished a guarantee” of our hope for the future?
8 Our hope for the future is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus. When Paul gave a speech in Athens, he declared: “[God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) Some in Paul’s audience mocked when they heard of a resurrection. A few, however, became believers. Perhaps the thought that this hope is guaranteed caught their attention. When Jehovah resurrected Jesus, He performed the greatest of miracles. He brought his Son forth from death to life as a mighty spirit. (1 Peter 3:18) The resurrected Jesus was even greater than he had been during his prehuman existence. Immortal and second only to Jehovah in power, Jesus is now in a position to take on wonderful assignments from his Father. Jesus is the means by which Jehovah performs all other resurrections—to life in heaven or to life on earth. Jesus himself said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 5:25; 11:25) By resurrecting his Son, Jehovah guaranteed such hopes for all faithful ones.
9. How does the Bible record establish the reality of the resurrection?
9 The resurrection has been demonstrated before eyewitnesses and recorded in God’s Word. The Bible record contains detailed descriptions of eight resurrections of people brought back to life as humans on earth. These miracles were performed not in secret but openly, often in front of eyewitnesses. Jesus resurrected Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, in front of a crowd of mourners—no doubt including the man’s family, friends, and neighbors. This evidence that Jesus was sent by God was so forceful that Jesus’ religious enemies never denied that it had happened. Instead, they plotted to kill not only Jesus but also Lazarus! (John 11:17-44, 53; 12:9-11) Yes, we can have confidence that the resurrection is a certainty. God has given us a record of past resurrections in order to comfort us and to build up our faith.
Finding Comfort in the Resurrection Hope
10. What will help us to draw comfort from the Bible’s resurrection accounts?
10 Do you long for comfort in the face of death? One sure source of comfort can be found in the Bible’s resurrection accounts. Reading such accounts, meditating on them, and visualizing the events can make the resurrection hope more real to you. (Romans 15:4) These are not just stories. They actually happened to real people like us, living at a real time and in a real place. Let us focus briefly on one example—the first resurrection in the Bible record.
11, 12. (a) What tragedy befell the widow of Zarephath, and how did she respond at first? (b) Describe what Jehovah empowered his prophet Elijah to do for the widow.
11 Picture the scene. For some weeks, the prophet Elijah has been a guest of the widow of Zarephath, living in a chamber on her roof. It is a dark era. The region is stricken by drought and famine. Many are dying. Jehovah has already used Elijah to perform a prolonged miracle to reward the faith of this humble widow. She and her young son were on the brink of starvation, down to their last meal, when God empowered Elijah to perform a miracle so that her supply of flour and oil was miraculously sustained. Now, though, tragedy befalls her. Illness suddenly strikes the child, and soon he stops breathing. How devastated the widow is! It is bad enough to live without the strength and support of a husband, but now she has lost her only child. In her grief, she even blames Elijah and his God, Jehovah! What will the prophet do?
12 Elijah does not reprove the widow for her false accusation. Instead, he says: “Give me your son.” After carrying the dead child to the roof chamber, Elijah prays repeatedly for the child’s life to be returned. Finally, Jehovah acts! Imagine the joy spreading over Elijah’s face as he sees the boy’s chest heave with the intake of air. The child’s eyelids open, and his eyes glisten with life. Elijah brings the boy down to his mother and says: “See, your son is alive.” Her joy is beyond description. She says: “Now, indeed, I do know that you are a man of God and that Jehovah’s word in your mouth is true.” (1 Kings 17:8-24) Her faith in Jehovah and in his representative is stronger than ever.
13. Why does the account about Elijah resurrecting a widow’s son bring comfort to us today?
13 Meditating on such an account surely brings you great comfort. How clear it is that Jehovah is able to defeat our enemy death! Just imagine the day when that widow’s joy is multiplied thousands of times over in the general resurrection of the dead! The joy in heaven will also be great as Jehovah delights in directing his Son to carry out resurrections on a global scale. (John 5:28, 29) Has death taken someone dear to you? How wonderful it is to know that Jehovah can and will restore the dead to life!
Your Hope and Your Life Now
14. How can the resurrection hope affect your life?
14 How can the resurrection hope affect the way you live right now? You can draw strength from this hope when facing hardships, challenges, persecution, or danger. Satan wants you to be so terrified of death that you would willingly barter your integrity for some hollow promise of safety. Remember that Satan said to Jehovah: “Everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul.” (Job 2:4) In making such a statement, Satan maligned all of us, including you. Is it true that you will quit serving God if you face danger? By contemplating the hope of the resurrection, you can make firm your determination to keep on doing the will of your heavenly Father.
15. How might Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 10:28 bring us comfort in the face of danger?
15 Jesus said: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10:28) We need not be in dread of Satan or his human agents. True, some may have the power to cause harm, even death. However, the worst they can do is still only temporary. Jehovah can and will undo any damage done to his faithful servants, even resurrecting them. It is Jehovah alone who is worthy of our fear, our profound awe and respect. He alone has the power to take away life and all prospects for future life, destroying both body and soul in Gehenna. Happily, Jehovah does not want that to happen to you. (2 Peter 3:9) Because of the resurrection hope, we as God’s servants can always be sure that we are safe. Everlasting life lies ahead of us as long as we are faithful, and there is nothing that Satan or his minions can do about that.—Psalm 118:6; Hebrews 13:6.
16. How does our viewpoint affect the priorities that we set?
16 If the resurrection hope is real to us, it can shape our attitude about life. We realize that ‘whether we live or we die, we belong to Jehovah.’ (Romans 14:7, 8) In setting priorities, we therefore apply Paul’s counsel: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) Many people are in a frantic rush to gratify every desire, every ambition, every impulse. Because they view life as being short, they seem almost desperate in their pursuit of pleasure, and if they have a form of worship, it certainly does not harmonize with the “perfect will of God.”
17, 18. (a) How does Jehovah’s Word acknowledge the shortness of human life, but what does God want for us? (b) Why are we moved to praise Jehovah daily?
17 True, life is short. “It must quickly pass by, and away we fly,” perhaps in some 70 or 80 years. (Psalm 90:10) Humans come and go like green grass, like a passing shadow, like an exhalation. (Psalm 103:15; 144:3, 4) But God did not purpose that we spend a few decades growing up and gaining some wisdom and experience, only to spend the next few decades breaking down and descending into illness and death. Jehovah created humans with the desire to live forever. “Time indefinite he has put in their heart,” the Bible tells us. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Is God cruel, giving us such a desire and then making it impossible to fulfill it? No, indeed, for “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) He will use the resurrection to make everlasting life possible for people who have died.
18 Thanks to the resurrection hope, we can have a secure future. We need not be frantic, driven to reach our full potential right now. We need not make use of this dying world “to the full.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 1 John 2:17) Unlike those with no real hope, we have the wonderful gift of knowing that if we remain faithful to Jehovah God, we will have all eternity to laud him and enjoy life. By all means, then, let us daily praise Jehovah, who makes the resurrection hope a certainty!
How Would You Answer?
• How should we feel about the resurrection?
• What factors make the resurrection hope a certainty?
• How may you draw comfort from the resurrection hope?
• What effect might the resurrection hope have on the way you live?
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Job knew that Jehovah yearns to resurrect the righteous
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“See, your son is alive”