Paradise—Only a Fantasy?
By “Awake!” correspondent in Hawaii
CLEAR blue skies, warm sandy beaches, rolling surf—is this your idea of paradise? Palm trees gently swaying in warm tropical breezes, emerald-green mountains rising into the clouds, thunderous waterfalls plunging into cool and secluded pools, colorful rainbows, spectacular sunsets—visions of paradise are often made of these things.
Of course, a tropical isle may not be everyone’s idea of paradise. A young lady who relocated to a Pacific island said longingly: “I miss the cool, crisp fall days when the trees are flaming in their fall foliage. I miss, too, the still winter nights when everything is muffled under a blanket of fresh snow.”
Though visions of paradise vary, there are certain things everyone would want. One is to have your loved ones there along with you. Another is to enjoy a sense of peace and security, yes, to have the troubles of our present life removed.
But is it realistic to believe that a paradise can be found today? Is moving to an area where one can enjoy the beauty of nature in unspoiled surroundings the answer?
Even though many beauty spots around the world are justly admired by visitors as paradisaic, Hawaii is an enduring favorite on most people’s list. Today Hawaii is visited by more than four million tourists a year and has earned for herself the fair name “Pacific Paradise.”
Most visitors are impressed by what they see here—the breathtakingly beautiful mountains, cliffs, and waterfalls; the crystal-clear, blue ocean waters and white sandy beaches; the profusion of flowers and fruit trees; the temperate climate; and the friendly local people.
Each of the islands in the Hawaiian group has its distinctive attractions. For example, on Kauai, the “Garden Isle,” visitors can marvel at the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” otherwise known as Waimea Canyon. Oahu has its world-famous Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. The eerie yet beautiful Haleakala Crater, a favorite sunrise observation point, is on Maui. The island of Hawaii, or the Big Island, is where two of the world’s largest active volcanoes—Kilauea and Mauna Loa—put on their fiery displays from time to time. Here you will also find the exotic black sand beaches. Everywhere you turn, amazing and beautiful things assail your senses.
But wait! Before you pull up stakes and move your family and belongings here, consider: Is Hawaii truly all that you would expect in a paradise? Granted that it has natural beauty and spectacular scenery, yet is Hawaii really what you would consider a paradise?
A Real Paradise?
“Maybe so in the past,” notes a second-generation native of Japanese descent. “Now, though, we have the same problems everyone else has—traffic jams, congestion, pollution, and crime.” As a family head and father of three, he observes: “Unemployment problems and the high cost of living make it difficult to provide for your family. Thefts and break-ins add to your concern.”
“Sure, compared to many of the places I’ve been to,” says a Hawaiian-Chinese businessman who has traveled extensively throughout the Orient, the United States, and the Pacific. “However, much of the simpler, trouble-free, uncomplicated life of Old Hawaii is gone.” Reminiscing, he continues: “As a boy, I used to visit freely with my neighbors. Everyone shared what he had, and no one locked his doors. But not any longer. People today are very apprehensive.” Then, touching on a subject that is not often discussed, he says: “One of the real banes of modern Hawaii is a flourishing drug culture. Perhaps this is due to the climate and also the problems of modern society that support the desire for escapism.”
Comments such as these point out what is happening to Hawaii and other “paradisaic” spots around the world. People, in their eagerness to enjoy life in an ‘ideal location,’ have flocked to these fair islands. The result is not only an unprecedented growth and expansion in Hawaii’s population and economy—along with its share of social problems—but also a devastating impact on its natural environment.
Actually, pollution of natural resources, as well as other environmental problems, mars every corner of the earth. Crime, drug abuse, and crowded living conditions plague cities around the world. Sickness, old age, and death afflict people everywhere.
Clearly, a true paradise is more than just a beautiful place in which to live. It is the people and the way they live that make a beautiful place a paradise. You may live in the most gorgeous spot in the world, but if crime, unemployment, high prices, and other such problems exist, you are not living in a true paradise.
Does this mean that living in a true paradise is only a dream, a fantasy? Will an earthly paradise—a global paradise—ever be a reality?
Basis for Hope
The fact is, the hope of many people for a global paradise is very strong. To them, the words of Jesus Christ, spoken centuries ago, still sound as attractive as when they were first uttered: “You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:43.
Is this mere wishful thinking, or hope against all hope, on their part? What is the Paradise Jesus promised? And how is it to be realized?
Jesus made that promise to an apparently repentant criminal who was condemned to die on a torture stake. Out of a contrite heart, the criminal said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” In answer, Jesus said to him: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:40-43.
Did you notice in this dialogue what the key to Paradise is? Jesus did not tell the evildoer that he had an immortal soul that would depart into a paradise in another world that day. Even Jesus himself had to wait and be resurrected by God three days later. Rather, Jesus was pointing to a future paradise to be established on earth when he comes into Kingdom power. Yes, the key to Paradise is God’s Kingdom, the one for which Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come.”—Matthew 6:10.
But how will God’s Kingdom bring about a global paradise? Is it realistic to believe that it will succeed when all other kingdoms, as well as governments of any sort, have failed?
God’s Kingdom to the Rescue
The Bible clearly outlines the steps that God’s Kingdom will take to restore Paradise to earth. Looking forward to that time, the Bible book of Revelation tells us what must first take place, saying: “The nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Revelation 11:17, 18.
When Jehovah God looks at the way the nations have fouled the air, water, and land by their selfish exploitation of earth’s resources and their bloody and destructive warfare, there is ample reason for him to feel wrathful and to take action to put a stop to their mindless course. That is why he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth” before it is too late. This will then allow the natural healing power of the earth to reverse the damage done and to bring the earth back to a paradisaic state.
The Kingdom will also deal with the crime and criminals that rob one of security and happiness so essential to Paradise. “For evildoers themselves will be cut off,” wrote the psalmist, “but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.” Under the Kingdom rule, everyone will be a friend and a true neighbor. There will be no more need for locks, security systems, and policemen. “They will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace,” the Bible promises.—Psalm 37:9, 11.
Old age, sickness, and death—those great detractors from joy—will also be things of the past. “No resident will say: ‘I am sick,’” the prophet Isaiah tells us. “And death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Isaiah 33:24; Revelation 21:4.
What about the basic human needs for food, shelter, and rewarding work? Today, food shortage and famine afflict millions. Large segments of humanity live in substandard conditions and are desperately unemployed or unemployable. For a global paradise to be realized, these problems must be eliminated. Will the Kingdom be up to the task? Listen to this marvelous description of what life will be like under the Kingdom rule:
“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. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah.”—Isaiah 65:21-23.
Is that not what you would envision Paradise to be? These and the many other wonderful things written in the Bible are no mere fantasies or dreams! In speaking of such Kingdom blessings, the Bible frequently adds the expression “the very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” (Isaiah 9:7; 37:32) This assures us that Jehovah God, who has the ability and power to ‘satisfy the desire of every living thing,’ is also willing and eager to do so. (Psalm 145:16) Yes, by Jehovah’s will, the hope for a global paradise will soon be realized.
Reaching Out for Paradise
The marvelous prospect of a future paradise on earth may be hard for you to believe. You may even feel it is too good to be true. But our natural desire for peace and happiness tells us that it is not unrealistic to hope for Paradise. Our Creator, who built into us the desire for these things, has shown us how that hope can and will be realized.
World events and fulfilled Bible prophecies indicate that the time for God to restore Paradise to the whole earth is not far off. So, rather than merely fantasizing about living in paradise or spending your time and resources in a fruitless pursuit of a life in paradise by your own means, take the time and effort to see what the Bible has to say on the matter.
Jesus Christ revealed the basis for enjoying life in a true paradise when he said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Gaining accurate knowledge of God’s will and living according to it is the only way of realizing one’s hope of Paradise. Are you reaching out for it?
[Pictures on page 19]
An island paradise marred by a devastating impact on its environment
[Picture Credit Line on page 17]
Hawaiian Visitors Bureau photos