A world of human beings ruled by a family team of tens of thousands of spirit beings? That must be science fiction to nearly all of humanity, but that is precisely what is on the horizon—after the Messiah comes to rule the Earth.
Daniel said this world-ruling kingdom “shall not be left to other people” (Daniel 2:44). So who will it be left to? Daniel 7:18 says “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” Verse 22 says that when “the Ancient of days came,” that “judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” Then, “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him” (verse 27).
The Bible reveals that these ruling saints will be composed of incorruptible spirit—as born members of the God Family.
Micah 4, which describes this beautiful time in Earth’s future, states “all people will walk every one in the name of his god” (verse 5).
No human has ever experienced government like this—a time when multiple God beings will be ruling the World Tomorrow.
The Bible discusses specific men of the past who will be alive then. King David is mentioned as one who will be resurrected and alive at this time (see Jeremiah 30:8-9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-25). Matthew 17:1-4 contain a prophecy about this time showing that Moses and Elijah will be among these resurrected saints. Hebrews 11 is replete with names of men and women who “died in faith, not having received the promises,” meaning they will receive them at their resurrection.
In Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong puts these and other verses together to show a host of biblical personalities who will obviously also be alive during this time period—men and women, once dead, who will be members of this ruling spirit Family of God. Mr. Armstrong wrote: “There will then be two kinds of beings on Earth—humans, being ruled by those made divine.”
The proof that these beings will be composed of spirit can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:50: “[F]lesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” These “dead shall be raised incorruptible” (verse 52). Verses 18-23 prove that this resurrection is for those who died in Christ—all those termed “firstfruits.”
Revelation 20:4-6 confirm: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. … This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Those in this first resurrection will rule with Jesus Christ 1,000 years. Some were beheaded, like John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul and other martyrs in Church history. But at this time they will be ruling the world as “priests of God.” They are not resurrected headless, but in new, incorruptible, spirit bodies!
The world population will crave direction from this Spirit-born Family. “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:2).
God will educate the world through His Family of spirit beings. Isaiah says, “[Y]et shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21).
Isaiah says the human subjects will see and hear these teachers—people who, once flesh and blood, will then be composed of spirit. What an amazing, unprecedented time in history—human beings interacting with God beings!
How will this work? What will that be like?
Handling Eternal Life
As novel as this time will be, it will not be the first time that human beings have interacted with a human resurrected as a spirit being.
A once flesh-and-blood human being, who died and was resurrected to spirit, manifested Himself so that humans could interact intimately with Him. This Being was Jesus Christ who, after His resurrection to immortal life, was seen of the disciples 40 days (Acts 1:3). His appearances after His resurrection indicate how those of us born of God will be able to interact with the human beings over which we rule.
John wrote in his first epistle that “our hands have handled … the Word of life.” He wrote that “the life was manifested, and we have seen it, … and shew unto you that eternal life, which … was manifested unto us” (1 John 1:1-2) This refers to the disciples’ time with Christ both before and after His resurrection. But the time we will examine here is that 40-day period when “that eternal life” was literally manifested to the disciples. They were even able to “handle” Him during that period.
Consider Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus in the garden the day after His resurrection (He was resurrected at the end of the Sabbath). The next day, Mary went to the tomb only to find it empty. As she was weeping, Jesus appeared and began talking with her. She didn’t recognize Him at first, until “Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master” (John 20:16).
In this heartfelt reunion, Mary likely lunged to embrace Him. “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (verse 17).
Christ was not to be touched until He had ascended to His Father. Even though He was resurrected into spirit, He had manifested Himself in human form. He could be seen and heard. In fact, it was possible for Him to be touched by other humans—though He would not permit it at that time. If He were just in some fleshly shell, would it matter if she touched the body itself? Clearly this manifestation of His body was Him.
This was not Jesus Christ resurrected back into His mangled physical body. He had gained a new spirit body that He can manifest in human form similar to how He looked in the flesh.
In Matthew 28, the women who had come to the tomb departed to tell the other disciples of its emptiness. “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (verse 9). This also happened on the same day as Mary’s encounter. It obviously occurred later, since these women held Him by the feet.
Spirit beings manifested in the flesh can be touched by human beings. How important that will be for us in the World Tomorrow, to be able to interact with the material world. At the beginning of the Millennium, when humanity has just come through the worst suffering in human history, there may be a lot of embracing, carrying or even literal spoon-feeding.
This exchange also shows spirit beings can travel extremely fast. Jesus, earlier that day, had not yet ascended to the third heaven and God’s throne room, and therefore could not be touched. Later the same day, He was being touched by His disciples. This indicates He went to heaven and back within hours by Earth time. As spirit beings in the World Tomorrow, we will be able to serve humanity with this ability.
Appearing, Vanishing, Dining
Another event that same afternoon is recorded in Luke 24. Two of the disciples were walking to a village outside of Jerusalem (verse 13), when Jesus began walking with them (verse 15). “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him” (verse 16). Christ, who looked similar to when He was human, performed a miracle to prevent them from recognizing Him.
Their conversation was long and substantial (verses 17-29). Verse 27 states: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Yet still they didn’t recognize Him.
Once they arrived at their destination, Christ “made as though he would have gone further,” but they urged Him to stay with them and eat (verses 28-29). He did so and “as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (verses 30-31).
Spirit beings, manifested in human form, can handle bread. Manifested spirit beings can vanish immediately. And they can decide whether or not they are recognized by others.
After this, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem, and were discussing recent events when Christ appeared suddenly in the middle of the room and said, “Peace be unto you” (verse 36). “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (verse 37). The reason they were frightened is because, as John’s account shows, the doors were shut and yet He could just appear in the room (John 20:19). No one let Him in. The door didn’t mysteriously open and then close. One second He was not in the room; the next second He was!
“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord” (verse 20).
Luke’s account shows that, when they thought Christ was an apparition or ghost, He calmed their fears by letting them touch Him. “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Luke 24:38-40).
You wouldn’t be able to touch and handle an apparition. A ghost doesn’t have tangible flesh and bones. Christ had manifested Himself in human form! Interestingly, He describes Himself as “flesh and bones,” not “flesh and blood.” Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50), but Christ had already shed His blood (Hebrews 9:14, 22); He had folded up the tabernacle of His physical life (2 Peter 1:13-14) and received life inherent.
Notice another astounding detail about this encounter: “And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:41-43).
Spirit beings manifested in human form can discern thoughts of the heart (verse 38); they can be touched by humans, appearing in the form of “flesh and bones” (verse 39); and they can partake of physical food (verse 43).
This will be important for us as ruling members of God’s Family in the World Tomorrow. How often do we learn things as we converse over a meal? How often do families catch up over the dinner table? How useful it will be for us to be able to teach human beings if we can sit in a physical chair over a physical meal and eat along with them as we discuss things with them. On the flip side, how intimidating would it be for them if we simply hovered over the table as they ate!
At this dinner on that first Sunday evening, Thomas was not present (John 20:24). Once the disciples told him about this unusual encounter, Thomas said: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (verse 25).
Eight days later, when once again Christ appeared in the middle of a closed room, He went straight to Thomas. “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing” (verse 27).
Spirit beings, in addition to being seen and touched when manifested in human form, can manifest themselves with wounds. Christ didn’t have all His wounds; His visage had been “marred more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14). He would be disfigured and impossible to look upon otherwise. But He retained some of those scars to help prove His resurrection to those who doubted.
Jesus Christ made another recorded appearance to His disciples in John 21. They all went fishing, but caught nothing that night. Jesus stood on the shore and told them to cast their nets on the other side. They caught so many, they couldn’t draw up the net “for the multitude of fishes” (verse 6). Once they recognized Jesus, they came to the shore, dragging the net.
Jesus already had fish cooking, and some bread. He asked them to add their fish to His stash (verses 9-10).
“Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise” (verses 12-13).
Manifested spirit beings are able to suspend laws of nature miraculously—given the fact that the disciples’ net did not break with that quantity of fish. In a world where each man walks in the name of his own God, as Gods we will be able to suspend the laws of nature and perform miracles if it will teach, build faith or strengthen those whom we serve.
A Forerunner for Us
These appearances by Christ were not just seen by a small number of men and women. The Apostle Paul introduced the “resurrection” chapter (1 Corinthians 15) by showing how many witnesses there were to Christ manifesting Himself after His death and resurrection. Paul wrote, “[H]e was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (verses 5-8).
Paul confirms Christ’s resurrection and the witnesses (including himself) to His manifestations!
That resurrection was a forerunner of ours! That is why we examine that one to get clues about how it will be for us when we are Spirit-born members of God’s Family. This is our hope (verses 17-19). We study the account of Christ’s resurrection and manifestations precisely because He was the first to go through this process (verses 20-23).
When we are resurrected, it will be a whole family or kingdom of spirit beings—either resurrected from graves where their physical bodies decomposed, or changed instantaneously at Christ’s return (verse 52)—ruling this Earth.
As we saw in Daniel 7, no human being has ever experienced a government of this nature—a kingdom of spirit beings ruling over mortals.
Spirit beings will manifest themselves in human form so they can lovingly guide mortals, interact with them, teach them, eat with them, and be in frequent physical contact with them.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23).
This is about those born into God’s spiritual Family—“spiritual” Jews. This verse says God—Hebrew Elohim, a word indicating God’s Family—is with them.
As our editor in chief wrote in his booklet on Zechariah: “What a beautiful picture this is for God’s very elect. Remember, we are spiritual Jews (Revelation 3:9). Think of the awesome demand for teachers there will be in a very few years. People will have had enough suffering and misery in this world. They will be hanging on these teachers, asking to be taught about the New Covenant, and about the blood of the covenant. Ten men—10 heads of household, 10 families—will be greatly impacted by coming up to one spiritual Jew.”
They will be able to take hold of our clothes! As with Christ’s post-resurrection appearances, they will be able to see us, touch us, hear us, eat with us! We will be able to disappear, reappear, travel quickly—not for our own glory, not so we can be superheroes puffed up on our own omnipotence, but so that we can serve those who are still human in the best way possible.
And they will grab hold of us and say, We will go with you, for you are part of the God Family! What an amazing time that will be!