After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation, glory, and power belong to our God: — Revelation 19:1.
Does this mean that the “great multitude” spoken of in Revelation 19:1 are being pictured in heaven where God’s throne is, and where the angels are always able to “see” the fact of God? (Psalm 11:14; Matthew 18:10) No, for the word “heaven” in the Bible does not always mean such. The context of Revelation 19:1 shows that this “great multitude”, whoever they are, are in this “heaven” when Babylon the Great is destroyed, thus before or at the full end of this age. If “heaven” here refers to the heavens where God’s throne is, then to fit this scenario the great multitude would need to be resurrected to a spirit life sometime before or immediately after the destruction of Babylon the Great, before Satan is abyssed, and also that Babylon the Great would evidently have to be in heaven where God’s throne is before the end of the age, and where the angels see the face of Yahweh. We find no scriptural support for such ideas. Therefore the conclusion is that the words “in heaven” refer to their religious standing in the figurative ecclesiastical heavens, not the heavens where God’s throne is.
The present “heaven” that now is, which relates to the authoritarian religious elements of mankind, however, is to pass away. (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:7,12) This heaven that is to pass away is not the heaven where God’s throne is, since God’s dwelling place will never pass away; thus the heavens that passes away is evidently the sectarian religious elements amongst mankind here on earth that seek to control mankind with their religious authority. While this great multitude is yet among the sectarianism of Babylon the Great, they have consecrated themselves to God. In this position, many Christians today of many diferent denominations, nations and tribes, are now proclaiming their salvation in Christ, although as yet they are still being hindered by mankind’s sectarian influences. Thus, they are still to a great degree being deceived by the sectarianism that exists all around them (Revelation 13:14); it is only after this sectarianism is destroyed in the great tribulation and Satan is abyssed, that they will be able to see beyond the deceptions of Satan (Revelation 12:9; 13:14), and then the Lamb will lead them to the waters of life, which Isaiah 25 shows will be on the earth, not in heaven where God’s throne is. — Isaiah 25:6-8; Revelation 7:14-17; 20:1-3.
The Great Multitude
Many Bible Students believe that the “great multitude” will receive spiritual bodies in heaven in the resurrection. We do not agree with them on this, since we believe the scriptural evidence is overwhelming that the great multitude is depicted as being on earth, not in heaven. The symbolic temple (tabernacle, dwelling) of God comes down to earth and dwells with mankind (Revelation 7:15; 21:1-4), thus the “great multitude”, having come out of the great tribulation, are symbolized as serving God in that symbolic temple day and night. The tears are wiped from their eyes, which takes place on the earth, not in heaven. (Revelation 7:17; 21:1-4; Isaiah 25:7,8) Before the throne of God is the earth, God’s footstool. — Isaiah 66:1.
Some point to Revelation 19:1 as proof that the “great multitude” go to heaven. The Bible refers many times to a great multitude, but not every time does it mean the same great multitude mentioned in Revelation 7. However, we have no reason to believe that the great multitude spoken of here does not refer in a general way to the same “great multitude” that eventually comes out of the great tribulation.
Nevertheless, “heaven” itself is most often figurative in the book of Revelation. Bible Students should note that C.T. Russell applied the “great multitude” of Revelation 19:1 as speaking of when Babylon the Great falls, thus he applies the “great multitude” as being on the earth at that time. His words: “We think there is good reason to believe that a considerable number who have made a consecration are still in Babylon. We do not know this, however. We are near to the battle of Armageddon, near the time of the overthrow of Babylon; and we are seeking to give the Message of the truth as wide a circulation as possible, to the intent that this class may hear and come out, even though too late to win the great prize. That they are considerable in number is intimated in the 19th chapter of Revelation, where we are told that when Babylon falls, the number of those released at the time will be a great multitude, that the voices of these will be ‘as the voice of many waters’.” (Reprints 5411:6) We do not necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, as we do not expect the great multitude to be made manifest until after Satan is abyssed, nor before.
See our study:
The context of Revelation 19:1 shows that this “great multitude”, whoever they are, are in this “heaven” when Babylon the Great is destroyed, thus before or at the full end of this age. If “heaven” here refers to the heavens where God’s throne is, then to fit this scenario the great multitude would need to be resurrected to a spirit life sometime before the destruction of Babylon the Great, before Satan is abyssed, and Babylon the Great would also evidently have to be in heaven where God’s throne is before the end of the age, and where the angels see the face of Yahweh. We find no scriptural support for such ideas. Therefore we conclude that the words “in heaven” refer to their religious standing in the symbolic ecclesiastical heavens, not the heavens where God’s throne is.
We conclude that this “great multitude” is pictured as being in the ecclesiastical heavens attributing salvation to their God. This figurative “heaven” — the religous elements of this world that now is, however, is to pass away. (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:7,12) Brother Russell also said, referring to the great multitude as the “great company”: “In the 19th of Revelation this company are spoken of as rejoicing in the fall of Babylon and saying, ‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife hath made Herself ready.’ (Vs.7.)” (The Watch Tower, January 15, 1914, page 19) Nevertheless, these are not being depicted as being in the heavenly realm where God’s angels always see the face of God; they are depicted as being here on earth.
Brother Russell did, however, believe that the “great multitude” (the JWs refer to the great multitude as the “great crowd”) would eventually go to heaven, being a “left over” class who did not make it as one of the 144,000. He believed they would be taken to heaven early after or during the great tribulation.
But Brother Russell also believed in a another group that would be consecrating, as he put it, “between the ages”, for whom there would be no hope of being of the 144,000. This group he identified with those spoken of in Psalm 107:23-31. Yet, he also believed that there was a possibility that this group would go to heaven after the 1,000-year reign.
This last elect group, however, we believe, is identified as being the same group as the “great multitude” of Revelation 7. While we believe it may be that they may go to heaven after the 1,000 years rulership, we don’t see any scripture, however, that gives any real reason to believe this. Brother Russell presented the possibility that the “camp of the saints” spoken of in Revelation 20:9 represents a last group that will go to heaven after the 1,000 years. The idea is that this “camp” means that they do not have permanent residence on earth, so they must be taken to heaven. While we will say this is a possibility, we don’t see enough there to actually say that they will be taken to heaven.
Before the Throne – Revelation 7:9
Some claim that since the “great multitude” are pictured “before the throne”, that this means that they will go to heaven. Their being before the throne of God is the picture of their reward. The throne of God is pictured in heaven (Psalm 11:4; 66:1; 103:19; Matthew 5:34; 23:22; Acts 7:49; Hebrews 8:1), but being before the throne does not necessarily mean that those before the throne are in heaven. In Revelation 20:12, we read of dead, great and small standing before the throne; these dead are on the earth, not in heaven. “Before”, however, often signifies loyal/disloyal service, in harmony/disharmony with, in the sight of the One on the throne, in a place of judgment by the One on the throne, not an actual physical position. — Genesis 6:11; 17:1; Exodus 10:3; 23:17; Joshua 24:1; 1 Kings 8:25; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 16:1; 2 Chronicles 6:16; 1 Samuel 2:30; 2 Chronicles 7:17; Psalm 50:8; 68:3; Isaiah 66:2,23; Luke 1:6,8; 24:19; 8:21; Acts 10:4; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Revelation 8:4; 11:4.
We need to remember that the book of Revelation is given in signs — symbolism. “Heaven” in the book of Revelation is not necessarily speaking of being in the spirit realm, or of having what Paul speaks of as “spiritual bodies”. Thus, the great multitude are in the figurative religious heavens as depicted in the book of Revelation. Being “before the throne” does not mean that they have been raised from death with spiritual bodies as opposed to earthly bodies.We believe that the great multitude are indeed those spoken of in the symbolic heaven in Revelation 19:1,6. This “heaven” has been styled the “ecclesiastical” heavens as present here on earth. Thus, the great multitude, having become justified in the blood of Christ, are heard speaking from this heaven, but they are actually here on earth, in physical, not spiritual, bodies. Likewise, being ‘before the throne’ of God does not signify being with spiritual bodies in the spirit realm or celestial realm. Westcott & Hort’s Interlinear gives the expression of Revelation 7:9 in its word-for-word translation as: “having stood in sight [Strong’s #1799] of the throne and in sight of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14,15 tells us that the reason they have such a standing before the throne and the Lamb is because they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
One should note how Strong’s #1799 is used throughout the the New Testament.
That “before” or “in the sight of” is depicting a symbolic standing can be seen from Revelation 3:2:
I have found no works of yours perfected before [in the sight of, Strong’s #1799] my God.
Was Jesus saying that those members of the church of Sardis had been rasied from the dead and standing in the presence of God in spirit realm? Absolutely not! Indeed, no one will attain the reward of the spiritual body in whom Jesus has “found no works … perfected.”
Revelation 16:19 – The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of [Strong’s #1799] God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
What can be said about this verse? Is Babylon the Great in heaven in the sight of God; it should be apparent that the usage is not speaking of a physical location.
Further, let us look at Luke 1:6:
They were both righteous before (Strong’s #1799) God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of [Yahweh].
Obviously, this is not saying that Zechariah and Elizabeth were in heaven in the sight of God, but that “in the sight of God” — from the perspective of God, who call things that are not as though they were — they were reckoned as “righteous.”
If one is still not satisfied, perhaps a study of the verses all through the New Testament might be beneficial.
The Greek word corresponds with the Hebrew Strong’s #6440, which also see:
In Revelation 20:12, the worldly are spoken of as being “before” God. Most Bible Students will tell you that these ones who stand before [in sight of] God in Revelation 20:12 are actually on earth, not before God in heaven. Likewise, we believe the same is true of the “great multitude”.
We, therefore, believe the standing of the great multitude before the throne and before the Lamb signifies their standing as having become justified in the blood of the Lamb. (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 10:22; 1 Peter 1:18,19; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5) Being typified by the mixed multitude that joined with Israel at the last moment, so to speak, the great multitude are depicted as coming out of the great tribulation at the end of this age. Being justified, they are sons of God as was Adam before Adam disobeyed (Luke 3:38), heirs of God (Romans 8:16,17), as Adam was to inherit the dominion given to him, that is, the earth. In Hebrews, we learn that man has not yet obtained this dominion; Paul tells us why in Romans 5:12-19. — Genesis 1:26,28; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:6-8.
In the Temple – Revelation 7:15
Nor does their service “in the temple” signify that they are in heaven anymore than Paul’s reference to the church as the “temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16,17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16) signifies that the first century believers were in heaven. (See also 2 Thessalonians 2:4.) Those worshiping in the temple in Revelation 11 are not generally thought to be “in heaven”, nor does the service of the great multitude “in the temple” give any reason to think that the great multitude are in heaven.
He who sits on the throne, Yahweh, dwells amongst them (Greek: skeenwsei ep autous, literally, tent upon them). This is similar to what is said in Revelation 21:1-4, which speaks of God’s dwelling with men on the earth. In Revelation 21:4, however, the Greek phrase is not completely the same as in Revelation 7:15. The phrase in Revelation 21:4, is “skeenwsei met autwn”, literally, he will tent with them. The Greek word “ep”, however, is sometimes used to mean among/with, as “in” or “into”, not upon, and this is probably what is meant in Revelation 7:15. It could be that the phrase in in Revelation 7:15 shows a closer relationship with Yahweh than the world of mankind in general as expressed in Revelation 21:4, and so they are indeed in closer relationship, since the “great multitude”, having been justified and consecrated during the days the great tribulation, deserve greater recognition than the world of mankind in general.
* See the King James Version at Matthew 13:7; Luke 18:7; Acts 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 12:7.
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore. This will be true of all who serve God, whether on earth, or in heaven. However, this is obviously a reference to Isaiah 49:10, which refers to the Millennial kingdom, and of conditions on earth, not in heaven.
Nevertheless, in this life, in this present evil age, it is true that he who fully believes on Jesus will never spiritually hunger or thirst, and yet each one’s hunger and thirst for truth is filled in varying degrees, according as he has grown in faith. — John 6:35.
For the great multitude, however, it implies that before their coming out of the great tribulation, and although they had washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood (Revelation 7:14), they will still have things to learn in the age to come, for they had not yet been fully led by the Lamb to the living waters (Revelation 7:17) — full knowledge which fully quenches the thirst and hunger for truth. Before Satan’s empire is destroyed, indicates that they were still blinded to a great extent by the “sun” of this world, and the vain pursuits of the world. (Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:11; 4:7; Romans 8:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:10) Such appear to be of the two classes spoken of in Luke 12:47,48.
The sun shall not strike them, nor any heat. The sun of this world is the vain false hope that the crooked condition of man offers in this present evil age. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,3, 13-17; Galatians 1:4) Satan, of course, seeks to attract the consecrated with the cares of this world, and with the false glory of the world, even as he sought to attract Jesus. (Matthew 4:18; 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 21:34; Colossians 2:8; James 4:4; 2 Peter 2:20) After Satan is abyssed so that he cannot deceive the heathen (Revelation 20:1-3), this symbolic sun of vanity is darkened, and taken away, so that the great multitude (and also the world in general) is no longer struck by its symbolic rays and symbolic heat.
The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. This is similar to Revelation 21:6, which refers to those on the earth in the Millennial age. The shepherding of this great multitude after the great tribulation indicates that they did not completely come to the full perfection of faith before the end of Satan’s empire was accomplished. (1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 12:1,2) They will still need to be guided further into truth and perfection.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. This is a reference to Isaiah 25:8: The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces. Isaiah 25:8 is speaking of conditions on earth, not in heaven, for “the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth: for Yahweh has spoken it.” Likewise, this expression is also found in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes”, which is also speaking of on the earth, not in heaven.
We have been asked the question: “Are you suggesting that the 144,000 are not in heaven as spirit creatures, but on earth?”
If this is meant to ask if we believe that the 144,000 do not receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection, we do indeed believe that they will receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection. If it is meant to ask if we believe that the 144,000 are in heaven when they are sealed out of the twelve tribes, no we do not believe that they are heaven when they are sealed, but rather, that they are still on the earth, and do not receive spiritual bodies until they are raised in the first resurrection.
The question has been asked:
If the great multitude come out of the nations during this present evil age and are an earthly class, in what manner would they be then “called out?” in light of Ephesians 4:4-5?
First, let us note that the scripture does not state that the great multitude are “called out” of the great tribulation. Their calling is the of the same calling as all during the Gospel Age. Those who are called out are called out of, separated from, the world reckonenedly, being justified, and no longer reckoned with the world as “sons of disobedience”, “children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:2,3) The initial calling out, separation from the world, does not designate the one called out as already having attained the prize of joint-heirship with Jesus. All who are called out of the world are first placed on the level of being earthly, on the same plane of life as Adam had as a son of God before Adam sinned; afterwards, if they attain the mark of the prize of the high calling, then they are reckoned as being joint-heirs with Christ, and to receive a heavenly, spiritual body, in the resurrection.
There is nothing in Ephesians 4:4,5 that says that all who are called out will receive heavenly, spiritual bodies in the resurrection. Of course, all in this age are called in the one hope of the high calling, but not all attain that reward. It should be self-evident that not many of those who are called out will attain the “prize of our high calling,” that is, joint-heirship with Jesus. Paul surely did not intend for this to be read as to meaning that all will have the same reward. Nevertheless, all are being called to reach out for the mark of prize of our high calling, and in this sense one might say that we all have that one hope, regardless of which class they actually end up in. Nor do we mean that all will reach that mark so as to attain that hope; the hope is there, but only a few actually attain the highest reward. Strictly speaking, however, the “one hope of our calling” is in God through Jesus, and Jesus’ return, regardless of reward. — 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3,13.
We have been asked:
Would you be saying that the “church” would then be made up of both “spirit begotten” and also nominal believers?
Our understanding is that no one is of the church class except that they be spirit begotten. Those who are spirit-begotten in general during the centuries of Gospel Age are first made part of the Israel of faith, represented in Revelation 7 as the twelve tribes of Israel. Out of these twelve tribes of the Israel of faith are selected the joint-heirs, represented in Revelation 7 as the 144,000 who stand on the heavenly Zion with the Lamb. (Revelation 14:1) Added to the church toward the end of the age are the great multitude who eventually come out of the great tribulation, and finish their overcoming after the great tribulation. All three classes are the church; all three classes are spirit-begotten.
As far as “nominal” is concerned, it depends on what meaning one gives to the word. If by nominal one means “in name only,” none who are Christians “in name only” are part of the church. Such are tares, weeds, that have been planted amongst the wheat, the true Christians, by Satan. However, if by nominal one means “minimal,” then all the spirit-begotten who fail to attain the prize of the high calling can be called “nominal” Christians in this sense, in that they maintain a minimal acceptance, but do not “overcome” in this age.
How is that they can be spirit-begotten, if they do not receive spiritual bodies in the resurrection? It has been often assumed that spirit-begotten means to be begotten again as a spirit being rather than as a human being. To begotten again, however, signifies that, in this life, a “seed” has been planted by God, as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:35-37. God give (assigns) that seed a body according to what is sown, whether it be a celestial, spiritual body, or whether it be a terrestrial, physical body. However, that which is assigned to seed is first earthly, terrestrial, and only if the sowing reaches the point of being proven incorruptible in this age, is it assigned the celestial, or spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:45) All must eventually put on incorrution (1 Corinthians 15:53), whether in this age, or in the next age, but only a very few do so in this age. Too many are stuck on the idea that to be spirit-begotten means that one has been begotten to spiritual bodies; the Bible never says this. Indeed, when Jesus was spirit-begotten in the womb of Mary, he was not begotten into a spiritual body, but rather into a physical body. (Matthew 1:20) Jesus, of course, sacrificed his glorious physical body for our sins; he now no longer has a physical body, but is now with a glorious spiritual body.
No one becomes of the church class without being called and begotten of the spirit; such “begettal” does indeed give a new life to a new creation equal to what Adam lost, that is, on the earthly plane. The new creature in this life, however, is not the body that is to be, but rather a bare grain, a seed, that has to die. (1 Corinthians 15:36-38) It will be given a body in the resurrection according to what has been sown. It is up to the new creature then to be cultivated as the grain, so as to attain the prize. One only attains the resurrection of Jesus, attaining the mark, through full sacrifice of what has been initially reckoned, that is, the sinless earthly life, as reckoned through faith in the blood of Jesus. Such demands a full development of perfect love, faith and hope amidst a world of sin. If one does not complete that sacrifice before death, the scriptures seem to indicate that such a new creature simply remains on the earthly plane.
The following studies might be helpful:
Text: Joshua 3:7 – Yahweh said to Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.
ISRAEL spent thirty days in mourning for their great leader, Moses, yet with one accord accepted Joshua as their new leader by Divine appointment through Moses. Like other Bible heroes, Joshua was renowned for his faith and his loyalty to God. At the time of taking Moses’ place he was in his eighty-third year, yet full of vigor, and evidently the best qualified man for the position. He and Caleb only had been of mature years when the Israelites left Egypt. They only had been witnesses of God’s marvelous dealings with His people. They two had been the spies who brought an encouraging report of Canaan, which the people refused and on account of which refusal the adults died during the succeeding forty years of wilderness journeying.
(2) The fact that Moses was vigorous at one hundred and twenty, and Joshua at eighty-three, speaks loudly to us in confirmation of the Bible’s teaching that Adam was created perfect, and that the entire race has since been fallen in sin and death — sharing Adam’s penalty, “dying you shall die.” (Genesis 2:17 – Green’s Literal Translation) The intelligence of these men, as well as their vigor, quite contradict the evolution theory; for this same Joshua had been one of the slaves in Egypt.
ISRAEL’S REAL LEADER–YAHWEH
(3) Not for a moment are we to lose sight of the fact that God had adopted the nation of Israel and entered into a special covenant with them; and that, therefore, He was their real Captain and Leader — Moses, Joshua and others being merely His representatives and mouthpieces.
THE NEW LEADER’S NAME
(4) The name, Joshua, is a variant of the same name that we know as “Jesus.” These are not actually two different “names”, but are linguistical variations of the same name. From the Hebrew, the name has been transliterated as “Yahowshuwa'”, and sometimes is transliterated as “Yehoshua” or “Yahoshua”. The name means more than just “Savior”, as some have often given for the meaning of the name. It means “Jehovah (Yahweh) is salvation” or “Jehovah (Yahweh) is savior.” Nor does the name mean, as many would have it, “the Lord saves”, nor does it mean, as some would have it, “God saves.” The name includes the holy name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:15), and not just a title, such as “Lord” or “God”. Indeed, the name — Joshua, Jesus — does not have any form of the Hebrew words for Lord (baal, adon) nor any form of the Hebrews words for God (El).
Focus on the Holy Name
(5) Originally, Joshua’s name was “Hoshea” (also rendered as Hosea), which means simply, “salvation” or “savior”. From Numbers 13:16, we read that Moses changed the son of Nun’s name from Hoshea to Joshua. While Hoshea simply means “savior”, we can see the importance of including the holy name so that one can recognize that Yahweh is the One behind the deliverer, and that is part of what our text focuses on. Joshua did not deliver Israel into the promised land of his own power and strength, but we read that Yahweh was with Joshua, reminding us of the name of the greater Deliverer, Jesus of Nazareth, who also bore the titular name “Immanuel”, that is “God is with us”.
(6) For twenty-seven years Joshua was the leader of Israel, faithful to God and to the people. He not only led them through Jordan and directed in the conquering of city after city, but he divided the land amongst the tribes and governed the people with great acceptance, dying at the age of one hundred and ten.
(7) It would not do for us to contrast Joshua with Moses as a leader; for they were men of totally different types. Indeed, most leaders spoken of in the Bible, when contrasted with Moses, would be disadvantaged, so high did that great statesman tower above the average of humanity then or since. But while Joshua could not be Moses, the leader, commander, law-giver, he was faithful in the sense of following the example of Moses, as one who served the Divine Law, and whose faith and influence with the people were helpful to them. He was just what God wished him to be, and whoever is worthy of such a testimony is truly great.
(8) Yahweh’s command to Joshua was, “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you, and all this people, to the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2) “There shall not any man be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you, nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5) “Be strong and of good courage; don’t be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) And finally, our text relates that Yahweh promised Joshua that He would be with him.
THE LAND OF PROMISE
(9) That Joshua and Israel in conquering Canaan should forcible take possession of it is called into question by some. They ask, ‘By what right might one branch of the human family destroy another and seize their land? Where is the justice of such a course, not to mention the absence of love? How could the Golden Rule be applied to such a course — do unto others as you would be done by?’
(10) There is but one answer to this query; and, rightfully seen, it is a satisfactory answer. Yahweh declares that the earth is His, that He gave it to the children of men, as represented by Father Adam. (Psalm 115:16.) But the gift was conditioned upon obedience and loyalty — disobedience, disloyalty, being punishable by death. Adam incurred this penalty; and his children, under the laws of heredity, shared it with him, because brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. (Job 14:4; 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Ecclesiastes 1:13-15; 7:13; Romans 5:19) Thus all human right in the earth was abrogated by the death sentence upon the sinner. (Romans 3:23) Thus, Yahweh has the right to inflict, or have others inflict, that penalty of death upon any whom he wishes and by any means that he wishes. The problem, however, is that most do not understand why Yahweh is permitting death and suffering upon the groaning creation.
(11) God purposed in Himself the recovery of Adam and his family from the curse of death — through Messiah — through His death and by the power of His Messianic Kingdom, soon to rule the earth. In preparation for these blessings to come, God laid hold upon the nation of Israel and blessed them by making a Covenant with them. Although they could not fulfill the terms of the Covenant (Romans 3:20; 8:3; Galatians 2:16; 3:10,11,21) and thus could not obtain the choicest blessing of God through obedience to that Covenant; nevertheless, the Israelites were greatly blessed by their Law Covenant, and many of them were fitted and prepared by it for cooperation with Messiah in His Kingdom in due time. Meantime, the experiences of Israel were overruled by the Almighty, to make of them types and symbols illustrative of the Divine Plan as it will be finally outworked on a higher plane. — 1 Corinthians 10:11.
Focus on the Atonement
(12) In carrying out this arrangement with Israel, God promised them and gave them land called Canaan. He explained to them, nevertheless, that this gift was not because of their worthiness, but because of His favor toward them in pursuit of His own great plans previously outlined to Abraham. He further explained that the people of Canaan were not making progress, and that their further continuance would be neither for their good nor for Yahweh’s glory — as with the Sodomites, whom God took away as He saw good. — Ezekiel 16:49,50.
TO SHEOL, NOT TO TORMENT
(13) It is well that we should remember that the Bible hell, to which the Canaanites went when they were slaughtered, is not the hell of torment pictured to us in the traditional teaching of men. Their destruction by the Israelites sent them to sheol, to hades, to the tomb, where “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) There they sleep with their forefathers — just as we read of all the good as well as of all the evil ones of that time. Abraham slept with his fathers, who were heathen men. — Genesis 15:15; 47:30; Deuteronomy 31:16; Psalm 13:3.
(14) Several times in the Bible we read that both good and bad, dying, were gathered to their fathers — slept with their fathers. (Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:10; 2 Kings 22:20; 2 Chronicles 34:28; Psalm 13:3) There they are still waiting for the glorious resurrection morning, when Messiah’s Kingdom, having inaugurated a reign of righteousness, will bring the earth to its Edenic condition and bring back eventually every man in his own order — all that sleep in Hades, in Sheol, in the tomb. — 1 Corinthians 15:21-29; Revelation 20:6,13.
Life Now and Hereafter
(15) Death with humanity would have been eternal had it not been for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. Because of his sacrifice, we have the divine promise that there will be a resurrection of the human dead, the just and the unjust (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15) in the “last day” (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24: 12:47,48), and to guarantee the fulfillment of that promise God has already sent His Son, who is the antitype of Joshua of Nun. The Son of God bore the same name as the son of Nun, only we know that name as “Jesus”. Jesus’ name, being actually the same as that of Joshua, also reflects the Holy Name of the One who sent Jesus, that is, Yahweh (Jehovah). (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Isaiah 61:1; John 3:16,17; 17:3) In other words, in the same manner that Yahweh is the Savior who sent Joshua as the savior, deliverer, of Israel from the wilderness into the promised land, so Jesus was sent by Yahweh, the ultimate Savior, not to deliver Israel into the land of Canaan, but to deliver all mankind from the condemnation of death, the death in Adam, into a new life. (1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Romans 5:12) To do this, he died for human sin (Matthew 20:28; 26:28; Mark 10:45; John 1:29,36; 6:51; Romans 3:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:7; 5:2; Hebrews 10:12; 1 Timothy 2:5,6; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 1:5; 5:6), thus opening up the way for the resurrection — that Yahweh might be just and yet be the justifier of those accepting Jesus. — Deuteronomy 32:4; Zephaniah 3:5; Romans 3:26.
(16) True, few have accepted Him as yet, because most are still blinded to a knowledge of the truth. The great masses of the world are still blind and deaf, and do not understand. (Isaiah 60:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9) The glorious promise is that in that coming day not only will all be awakened from the tomb, but the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh (Jehovah) will fill the whole earth (Isaiah 6:3; 11:9; 40:5; Habakkuk 2:14; Revelation 21:1-5), and no more deceptions will be allowed during that judgment day. (Revelation 20:3) Then all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5) All will have the opportunity of returning to Divine favor under Messiah’s Kingdom. (Isaiah 2:2-4) Those refusing to come into harmony will be classed as willful rebels, and will die the Second Death. — Revelation 20:11-15; 21:7,8.
(17) Those of the nation of Canaan, like all other nations, will have a share in that glorious time when Jesus, the Light of the world, will enlighten every man, that they might see the glory of Yahweh. — John 1:9.
(18) From this viewpoint, the taking of Palestine from the people who were using it to no profit themselves, and the giving of it to Israel for the enactment of types of good things to come, was not injustice, but wisdom. And taking away by the sword the people already condemned to death was just as proper as if they had been taken away by famine and pestilence. In any event, the Divine provision for them, all through Christ, is a blessing which will reach them in Messiah’s Day, when the earth shall be free from the curse. (Revelation 22:3) Then the curse will be rolled away and the blessing of Yahweh shall be rolled upon them (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; Psalm 72:11; 86:9; Isaiah 2:2; 25:6-8; Galatians 3:8), when the enlightened will learn to love righteousness and hate iniquity. To all such there will be no more sighing, no more dying, no more crying. (Revelation 21:1-3) Willful evil-doers will be destroyed (Psalm 37:9,10); and all the earth having been brought to perfection (Isaiah 60:13; 66:1; Ezekiel 36:35), God’s will shall be done on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven. — Matthew 6:10.
See the study on “Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment“
(19) In the context our text, we find that the people of Israel were all ready to enter the land of promise in hope of which they had left Egypt forty years before. The time selected for the entrance was the tenth day of the first month, Nisan (April), originally Abib. It was on this date the Israelites under Moses set out from Egypt for Palestine forty years before.
(20) Viewed from the human standpoint it was a most unfavorable time of the year, because, although it was the harvest time and favorable as respecting the crop of the land into which they were entering, nevertheless it was flood time in the Jordan, when the melting of the snows in the Lebanon mountains caused the river Jordan, ordinarily about one hundred feet wide at this place, to overflow its banks for sometimes several hundred feet. And of course its current was swift and dangerous. However, the Israelites had evidently learned something in the forty years of God’s dealings with them, and they were therefore prepared for Joshua’s announcement that a great miracle was to be wrought, which would demonstrate to them that God was with them and would drive away all fear from their hearts and impress the fear of them upon their enemies.
JOSHUA SAID, SANCTIFY YOURSELVES
(21) We are reminded of a similar instruction given to the Israelites when they approached Mount Sinai at the time of the giving of the Law Covenant. The word “sanctify” is well known to mean “set apart,” and the specific directions given at Mount Sinai show that this meant that they should purify themselves from sin, and especially from the idolatrous ways and sinful practices of the heathen around them, with a view to being in the heart condition which would enable them to best appreciate their dealings with Yahweh and his personal interest in them. Thus, they were prepared to realize that the mercies and favors coming to them were not of accident but of divine providence, and to be strengthened in heart and in faith accordingly.
(22) Profitable lessons may be drawn by followers of Jesus from this narrative. For instance, we might think of the entrance into Canaan under the leadership of Joshua as corresponding to the entrance of all who love Yahweh into the blessings and privileges of the Millennial Age. In this illustration we might think of Joshua as representing the Lord Jesus, the priests bearing the Ark as representing the little flock, and the passing over of the Israelites as representing the passing of mankind into the new dispensation, where indeed there will be enemies still to be conquered, weaknesses of the flesh still to be overcome, and full possession is to be granted only at the close of the Millennial Kingdom. In this view the Jordan might represent Adamic death, and its being dried up picture the cessation of Adamic death to all those desiring to be Yahweh’s people and to enter into his favor, while the return of the waters of the Jordan behind the Israelites, shutting them within the land of promise, might represent the second Death, which would be the portion of any who would renounce the goodly heritage which Yahweh will provide through the antitypical Joshua for the redeemed world.
(23) Additionally, as Israel in passing through the Jordan had nothing to fear because the ark of Yahweh, the symbol of the divine presence stood in the midst of the threatening danger, so the Christian has nothing to fear so long as he realizes the divine presence and approval. Through rivers and seas of trouble he may wade, and through fiery furnaces of affliction he may pass, but none of these things can harm him while Yahweh is with him.
(24) Yahweh’s presence and love realized under such circumstances as they cannot be under ordinary conditions give such strength to faith and hope and love as could not otherwise be gained. And thus all things are made to work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28.