What God Has Promised
WHEN you read newspapers outlining the new problems and crises to be faced each day, do you have the feeling, ‘Oh, if I could only get some rest?’ Surely better times for us would have to include relief from the tensions, irritations and frustrations we now face.
And this is exactly what God has promised in his Word, the Bible. He knows the human frame and knows that humans need rest—they are literally wearing themselves out over the situation they are in. The psalmist said: “He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:14) He has promised relief for mankind by means of a righteous government, one that will replace all the failing systems of today and produce a healthful, peaceful human society on earth. That government is the Kingdom rule for which Christ Jesus taught his followers to pray.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
The head of that government is the one who said to people of his day who yearned for better times: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.”—Matt. 11:28, 29.
But how can we be sure of such hope of relief by this Kingdom government? How can we know that these are not like the mere promises of today’s world leaders?
Well, if a person promises something and we know that he has actually accomplished similar things in the past, we have faith that he will fulfill his promises for the present. And God, on his part, has given us a record of just such a thing. Centuries ago, he dealt with the nation of Israel in such a way as to give us a good idea of his ability to bring better times and what he means when he says he will give people peace and rest.—Isa. 32:17, 18.
Moreover, God specifically tells us that he had an account of these things written to provide examples, illustrations, of what he will do on a worldwide scale and in a permanent way for all the earth. Let us look at some of those illustrations.—1 Cor. 10:11; Rom. 15:4.
When a Nation Had Rest
Appreciating man’s need of rest from pressures and worries, God provided for the nation of ancient Israel a sabbath year every seventh year. No other nation has enjoyed such a restful provision. What benefits came from such an arrangement, and how does this compare with what we see now?
When Israel obeyed God by observing the appointed sabbath years, their enemies did not disturb them. The land benefited because it was allowed to restore itself, not being cultivated that year. Any poor people, who might not be employed that year, did not suffer, because they had full, free access to all the grains, vegetables and fruits that grew of themselves.
The owner of the land, who normally worked steadily during six years, now had extra time for his family, because in that agricultural society he was freed, to a large extent, from his work. Spiritual matters, teaching and training children and development of family life could receive greater attention, thereby strengthening the bonds of love and preventing division and delinquency such as now infect so many family units. Also, no pressures of economic worry plagued him, for no creditor could press for payment of a debt that year.—Lev. 25:2-7; Deut. 15:1-3.
Additionally, every fiftieth year was a “Jubilee” year. This was an even more complete rest, a ‘year of liberty.’ The Jubilee had the same provisions as did the seventh-year sabbath but went farther. Nations today could learn much from the Jubilee laws.
At the beginning of the Jubilee year, all debts were canceled. Every man who had sold his hereditary land possession returned to it. It was restored to him without charge. If he had sold himself to another person as a hired laborer to work out a debt, he was permanently freed from this servitude on the opening day of this ‘year of liberty.’—Lev. 25:8-22.
What rest, what security this arrangement brought to the people! It kept the land’s economy in perfect balance. It prevented the growth of extremely rich and extremely poor classes, as is the case in some nations today. Inflation was prevented. Land values remained stable, as did wages.—Lev. 27:16-19; 25:50.
What a contrast to today’s world situation! Spiraling costs bring spiraling prices to the consumer, in turn necessitating wage increases. This may seem good for a while, but there is a day of reckoning. Debts mount to high levels, along with inflation. The result? Individual, then national, bankruptcies. The country’s resources are overused and depleted. Besides this, the monotony of assembly-line jobs makes even high-wage earners unhappy.
But under God’s arrangement human dignity was recognized. A man was not a perpetual slave to some distasteful routine. Each was free to use his mind to contribute his talents and abilities toward the national welfare. The family was kept together. All received education, many in specific trades. Literacy was universal, and education in spiritual matters kept the moral level of the nation high. Adherence to God’s law brought his blessing and produced this happy state.
Rest for All the Earth
Someone may ask, ‘What connection does that have with our hope for better times today?’ Well, Jesus Christ, God’s appointed King for the earth, said that it does have a connection. Now, Jesus did not indicate that, in order to gain relief, people must return to ancient Israel’s style of living, or necessarily go back to a “horse-and-buggy” society, with no modern inventions or developments. Rather, the sabbaths back there were pictorial of greater, more permanent things.
Jesus pointed out to the people that the sabbath laws were not some mere ritual services laid upon man as a burden. He said: “The sabbath came into existence for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of the sabbath.” Then he made a very important statement. He said: “Hence the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath.”—Mark 2:27, 28.
Certainly improved health would be needed for any true enjoyment of better times. Note, then, that Jesus proved his being ‘Lord of the sabbath’ by performing many of his most amazing works of healing on the Jewish sabbath day. The leaders among the Jews, not seeing the real purpose of the sabbath, bitterly opposed these works of mercy on this day of rest. Nevertheless, Jesus performed cures on the sabbath to foreshadow what would take place in the greater rest or sabbath “day” of the thousand years of his Kingdom rule over earth.
Now, Jesus knew that his sacrifice of himself on behalf of mankind would abolish the literal weekly and year sabbaths—the prophetic “shadows” of future good things. (Eph. 2:15; Col. 2:13, 14) Accordingly, his cures and resurrections were only temporary and for our encouragement today, as we look for the complete, permanent fulfillments during the Kingdom sabbath. The apostle Paul said about this to Christians: “Let no man judge you . . . in respect of a festival or of an observance of . . . a sabbath; for those things are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.”—Col. 2:16, 17.
Permanent Health and Life
Are we to understand from this that “killer” diseases such as heart failure and cancer will be eliminated in the better times God’s Kingdom government will bring? Yes, there is no need to fear that the people will be afflicted during that Kingdom rule with the diseases that baffle doctors today.
Nor should we think that humans cannot have perfect health everlastingly. For Jesus cured the most impossible maladies, all without charge. He healed the blind and speechless. (Matt. 9:27-34) He cured cripples and paralytics. (Luke 5:18-26; 13:11-17) He restored the worst kind of demoniacs to their full senses. (Matt. 8:28-34; Luke 8:26-39) He cured the most dreaded disease of that day—leprosy. (Mark 1:40-45) Using this power during his Kingdom rule over earth, he can bring all obedient persons to perfection of mind and body.
But what about those who are already dead? Jesus did not overlook this, but kindly gave a foretaste of the resurrection by bringing persons back from the dead, one from the grave itself.—Matt. 9:18-26; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:38-44.
Abundance of Life’s Necessities
Neither is there any reason to be afraid that there may be a food shortage during the time Christ rules as Lord of God’s great Kingdom sabbath. The King will know what his subjects need. (John 2:25; compare Matthew 6:7, 8.) Jesus demonstrated his ability and his compassion when, near the Sea of Galilee, “he felt pity” for a crowd of 5,000 (and on another occasion, 4,000) men, plus women and children, and fed them all. In both instances he did this by miraculously increasing only a few loaves of bread and a few fishes.—Matt. 14:14-21; Mark 8:19, 20.
Centuries before this, God himself gave a glimpse of the abundant food supply that he will provide during the Kingdom sabbath rest. How? By giving bumper crops, enough for two or even three years, during the year just prior to the sabbath and Jubilee years!—Lev. 25:20-22.
Peace and Security
Of course, material things, including good health, will not of themselves bring happiness. There has to be peace also—not a mere political peace between nations, but peace among all the earth’s population, without regard to race or background.
How restful it will be when you are able to walk out of your home in perfect security, leaving the doors unlocked! How enjoyable it will be to have neighbors who are really interested in your peace and welfare! How good to know that you or your children are not going to be taken away by war, crime or disease!
This condition of genuine peace and security was also foretold and foreshadowed by God long ago. It was in a prophecy concerning “new heavens and a new earth” (that is, the heavenly government of Jesus Christ, and the new earthly arrangement of things during the thousand-year Kingdom rule).
This prophecy was spoken by God’s prophet Isaiah to the Israelites before they went into exile to Babylon in 607 B.C.E. because of not observing God’s laws. God comforted them by showing that he would restore them to their land. He said:
“No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.”—Isa. 65:17, 20.
During the seventy years of exile the Israelites had turned from their idolatrous ways and again served God in truth. (Jer. 29:10) On their return, instead of being in constant fear of their enemies, they could feel secure. Gone was the feeling they had experienced seventy years previously when Nebuchadnezzar had come in and destroyed both young and old. (Lam. 2:21) In their restored state a child would live to maturity, and a man would live out his normal life-span, not being cut off by the sword, by famine or the scourge of pestilence.
Isaiah’s prophecy continues:
“And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. . . . They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the chosen ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.”—Isa. 65:21-24.
The Israelites restored from Babylonian exile, after being exhorted by Jehovah’s prophets to put spiritual interests first, were prospered in their building and planting, their property not being taken away by an invader, nor by economic distresses. They did not bring up their children to fall prey to war, delinquency and an early death. For many years they were thus blessed by Jehovah. But later they became disobedient again, and deteriorated as a nation. Why did God allow this?
It was not yet the time for God’s Messianic kingdom to rule; it was not the time for the installation of ‘new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell,’ of which the apostle Peter wrote. It was in only a miniature or typical fulfillment back there.—2 Pet. 3:13.
Past Acts of God Assure Paradise Conditions for Earth
But what about the reality under God’s Messianic government? God did those good things for his people back there when they listened to him. He will do them on a much larger, permanent scale for those who hear and believe his promises today, for he purposes to have a paradise earth, a real new set of conditions that will last forever.
Jesus spoke to an evildoer dying next to him about this paradise into which the evildoer would be resurrected. This man, though being justly executed for some crime, expressed faith in Christ’s coming kingdom, and this prompted Jesus Christ to promise that he would have opportunity for life there.—Luke 23:39-43.
Note also some of the other promises of God, many of which he already fulfilled in a typical or miniature way in the sixth century B.C.E., for our faith, hope and comfort:
“The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. Without fail it will blossom, and it will really be joyful with joyousness and with glad crying out. . . . For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain.”—Isa. 35:1, 2, 6.
These promises proved true in a small-scale way when Israel returned from Babylon. Their land had been utterly desolate, no humans or domestic animals, only wild beasts, having inhabited it for seventy years. Most of the land was like a desert wilderness. Yet God, pleased with their return to true worship, caused waters to break out, and in a short while the land began to blossom and to produce abundantly.
Jehovah promises permanent blessings for those who obey him under Kingdom rule, blessings like those he provided repatriated Israelites:
“For them I shall certainly conclude a covenant in that day in connection with the wild beast of the field and with the flying creature of the heavens and the creeping thing of the ground, and the bow and the sword and war I shall break out of the land, and I will make them lie down in security.”—Hos. 2:18.
If Israel had remained faithful, their peace would have endured. But they were rebellious toward God. Under Christ’s heavenly rule, such rebellion will not take place. Why not? Because, on the basis of his atonement sacrifice for mankind, he will gradually bring obedient ones to perfection, wiping out selfishness and greed from the earth. This is the great difference between the basis for peace that his Kingdom rule brings as compared with that which the worldly leaders attempt to establish.
Now, by applying Bible principles, we can partially overcome bad traits and hold them generally under control. But with the full application of the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, obedient ones will achieve full spiritual, mental and physical healing, with full control of all their faculties, completely overcoming all their imperfections.—Compare Romans 7:18-25.
See how God assures us of permanent peace, health and security in the last book of the Bible:
“‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things [of this present old system] have passed away.’ And the One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’”—Rev. 21:3-5.
The Promiser a God of Truth
Yes, these words are faithful and true. They are not mere political promises of men seeking to hold on to positions of power and prominence. God went to all the pains to prepare these things long beforehand and to record them centuries ago for our instruction. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) In the foregoing we have seen that he has already brought to pass fulfillments of his promises in a small-scale and temporary way. Many other promises he made he has already fulfilled, and these should give us strong confidence in the reliability of his word. Note a few:
When God promised centuries ago to clean up the earth by a flood, the flood came. (Gen. 6:17; 7:11-24) When he promised more than 400 years ahead to bring Israel out of Egypt, that occurred on time. (Gen. 15:13, 14; 50:25; Ex. 12:37-42) When he promised nearly two hundred years beforehand to cause a man named Cyrus the Persian to overthrow Babylon so that Israel could be released, it came to pass.—Isa. 45:1, 2; 2 Chron. 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-4.
Moreover, hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah were accurately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the promised Deliverer and King—the place and manner of his birth, the time of his appearance as the Messiah, his betrayal, his death, his resurrection, and other things too numerous to mention here.—Mic. 5:2; Isa. 7:14; Dan. 9:25, 26; Ps. 41:9; Isa. 53:12; Ps. 16:10.
The reasonable conclusion for us to reach, then, is that what God has promised will take place just as he said. We cannot ignore the testimony of faithful men who had no selfish gain to make when, toward the end of their lives, they exalted God as the Fulfiller of his promises, rather than taking the glory to themselves. As Joshua, who had led Israel in conquering the Promised Land, told them: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed.”—Josh. 23:14.
There is no source other than the Bible that promises what people really want and need. Where else do we find a promise of genuine peace, freedom from crime, health, security and abundance, along with everlasting life? Are not these the things you really desire? Are not these unique promises worthy of your full investigation?
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God’s provision of a sabbath year for the nation of ancient Israel promoted spiritual welfare and education
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Jesus instantly healed a woman who had been bent double for eighteen years, illustrating the marvelous healing he will accomplish during his Kingdom rule
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Jesus brought back to life the dead son of the widow of Nain, giving an assurance of resurrection under his Kingdom rule
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Jehovah provided superabundant crops when his people were obedient, giving us a glimpse of the abundant food supply during Christ’s Kingdom rule
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Jesus’ promise to an evildoer dying next to him was that he would be resurrected and have an opportunity for life on a paradise earth
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Nearly 200 years beforehand, God foretold that he would cause a man named Cyrus to overthrow Babylon and release the Israelites