From the very founding of Christianity in the first century the heavenly hope has been the only hope of every Christian. Did any writer of the Greek scriptures hold out any other hope? If this has been the hope of Christians, when did it change to a hope of living on earth forever? Even Jehovah’s Witnesses from the beginning of the movement until 1935 taught that every faithful Christian had the heavenly hope. Before 1935 JWs taught the great crowd was a group that would be in heaven. It was taught that many millions of other non-JWs would survive Armageddon and live during the 1000 yr. reign of Jesus.
This changed only 76 yrs. ago in 1935. The “one hope” (Eph. 4:4) was changed to two hopes, one earthly and one heavenly. The great crowd was taken from heaven and placed on the earth. Survival of Armageddon was severely narrowed to only JWs. Because of the arbitrary decision of one man, Rutherford, the hope of many JWs of being in heaven with Jesus was taken away and replaced with a different hope from one that any Christian up to that point had ever held. The hope given was an earthly one.
Many JWs state that this has to be the case since the bible states that those who go to heaven will be kings and priests, and if that is so, over whom will they rule?
To answer this question one must first rid oneself of the false modern teaching of the JWs that everyone not a JW will be annihilated. As previously stated this was not always the teaching of the Society. This teaching that 99.9% of mankind will be eternally destroyed in Armageddon is not a biblical teaching. The Society would have us believe that basically 1/2 the earth would be without any survivors at all, that whole countries, peoples, and tongues would be wiped out entirely. Few if any Arabs, Chinese, Afghans, Indians or a myriad of other cultures would survive. The mere fact of being born in certain countries where few if any JWs preach would all but guarantee eternal destruction. Thankfully this is not what the bible teaches.
Chap. 14 of Zechariah is an interesting chapter especially since it deals with things that have not happened yet. I would encourage all to read the entire chapter. After describing Armageddon, notice what verses 16-19 say (NWT) – ” 16 “And it must occur [that], as regards everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem, they must also go up from year to year to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, and to celebrate the festival of the booths. 17 And it must occur that, as regards anyone that does not come up out of the families of the earth to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, even upon them no pouring rain will occur. 18 And if the family of Egypt itself does not come up and does not actually enter, upon them also there shall be none. The scourge will occur with which Jehovah scourges the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths. 19 This itself will prove to be the [punishment for the] sin of Egypt and the sin of all the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths.”
Not only is God’s war of Armageddon not against every person on the face of the earth but only against the gathered armies in opposition to New Jerusalem but even some of those who do go up against New Jerusalem will appear to survive. Notice also how Isaiah 66:18-24 agrees with this (HCSB) – ” 19 I will establish a sign among them, and I will send survivors from them to the nations-to Tarshish, Put, Lud (who are archers), Tubal, Javan, and the islands far away-who have not heard of My fame or seen My glory. And they will proclaim My glory among the nations. 20 They will bring all your brothers from all the nations as a gift to the Lord on horses and chariots, in litters, and on mules and camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring an offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 I will also take some of them as priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will endure before Me”- the Lord’s declaration- “so will your offspring and your name endure. 23 All mankind will come to worship Me, from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another,” says the Lord. 24 “As they leave, they will see the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against Me (those killed in Armageddon) for their maggots will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.”
This also agrees with Revelation 21:24 (NWT) – ” 24 And the nations will walk by means of its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it (New Jerusalem).”
Let us also read Rev. 20:3 (NWT) – “3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”
Who are these nations? It certainly could not be a class of true Christians, Satan has not misled these faithful ones. However he has misled the world in general. “19 We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) ” 4 among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Cor. 4:4) These nations that have been misled are people in general, non-Christians and perhaps nominal Christians who did not endure until the end. These people will learn the truth about God without interference from Satan. Perhaps these “nations” heeded the call in Rev. 14:6,7 – ” 6 And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, 7 saying in a loud voice: “FEAR God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.”
Yes, those “nations” no longer deceived by Satan who live during the 1000 yr. reign were former non-believers. Although the destruction of the gathered armies in opposition to Jesus’ rule will be great, the “nations” in general will not be slaughtered wholesale.
Now we can begin to see over who will faithful Christians rule.
For more information on why the great crowd should be placed in heaven see the post “What is a Christians Hope? Heaven or Earth?”
Is 144000 a literal number? See this link www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/144000.php