Human Happiness in Paradise under Divine Government
1. What is the purpose of the “happy God” concerning his human creatures, and where will the redeemed members thereof be located?
“THE happy God”—that is what Jehovah is called. (1 Timothy 1:11) His loving purpose is to make all his human creatures eternally happy. In the twenty-fifth year of the exile of his prophet Ezekiel, he set out the boundaries of the territory that his chosen people were to occupy. This He did by means of His angel after he had inspired Ezekiel to prophesy concerning the downfall of the devilish Gog of Magog. This closing part of the vision given to Ezekiel evidently hints at how Jehovah through his Messiah Jesus will locate the members of redeemed humankind all over the earth in His new order. The whole earth, in a Paradise state, is the assigned home of mankind, just as it is written under divine inspiration in Psalm 115:16: “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” He will locate individuals on earth where He, as earth’s Creator and Owner, chooses to place them.
2. How was Jehovah’s locating of members of redeemed mankind according to His designation illustrated in Ezekiel’s vision in connection with the twelve tribes of Israel?
2 As an illustration of this, in Ezekiel’s vision, Jehovah himself designated the place of each one of the twelve tribes of Israel, with its boundaries marked. Assigned to the north of an administrative strip of land were seven tribes with their respective land portions running parallel to one another from east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, each one of equal width from north to south, namely, Dan at the top, then Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben and Judah. South of the administrative strip of land were the land portions of the remaining five tribes, running parallelwise from east to west, namely, first Benjamin, then Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad at the bottom. (Ezekiel 47:13 to 48:8, 23-29) As regards the tribe of Levi, it was given no such land portion as its inheritance, for it had been selected out of the twelve original tribes of Israel to serve Jehovah at his sanctuary. So the members of this tribe were located around Jehovah’s sanctuary in the administrative strip.
3. In the administrative strip of land, where was the special “contribution” of land to be located, and in this, where was the sanctuary of Jehovah to be situated?
3 The administrative strip ran from the eastern border at the Jordan River and the Dead Sea to the Western or Mediterranean Sea. It was to have around the neighborhood of Mount Moriah a special donation of land, a “contribution that you people should contribute.” It was to be 25,000 cubits square, or about 42,500 feet (8 miles) square. This, in fact, was the width from north to south of the administrative strip. At the center of this square “contribution” of land was where Jehovah’s sanctuary was to be located, or four miles from each side. (Ezekiel 48:8) This square “contribution” was to be divided into three sections, running from east to west, each section being thus 25,000 cubits long.
4. The nonpriestly Levites were assigned to what strip of land, and its being holy to Jehovah did not allow for what?
4 The top or northern section was to be ten thousand cubits wide from north to south. This was assigned to the nonpriestly Levites. None of this assignment of land was to be sold or exchanged, “for it is something holy to Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 48:13, 14) This holy strip of land did not contain Jehovah’s sanctuary.
5. The priests were assigned to what strip of land, what building did it contain, and what was it called as to its sanctity?
5 Immediately south of this Levitical strip of land was the section reserved for the priests. It too was ten thousand cubits wide from north to south, or about 3.22 miles. (Ezekiel 48:9-12) This priestly section did contain Jehovah’s sanctuary or temple. It was a “holy contribution for the priests,” and was called “something most holy, on the boundary of the Levites.”
6. What were the dimensions of the third or bottom strip of the special “contribution” of land, and what were the features of the land area for the city?
6 The third or bottom section of the square “contribution” of land was to be therefore only five thousand cubits wide from north to south, or 1.61 miles. In the center of this section was to be the city. As Ezekiel 48:15 says, “it is something profane for the city, for a dwelling place and for pasture ground. And the city must come to be in the midst of it.” The city wall was to be 4,500 cubits square. Thus it had a perimeter of 18,000 cubits, and was about one mile and a half square. All around the city there was a strip of pasture ground two hundred and fifty cubits wide, or about one twelfth of a mile. This made the whole city area 1.61 miles square, or 5,000 cubits square, so that its northern side bordered on the holy section of the priests.—Ezekiel 48:15-17.
7. Where was the food produced for those working in the city, and from whom was this staff of city workers taken?
7 As the “profane” section for the city was 25,000 cubits long from east to west, this meant that on each side of this 5,000-cubit-square city there was an area 10,000 cubits long. This open land must be cultivated; its produce must be for food for all those working in the city. It was an intertribal staff of city workers. Persons from all twelve non-Levite tribes of Israel served in the city and so had a common interest in it.—Ezekiel 48:18, 19.
VISIBLE REPRESENTATIVES OF HEAVENLY GOVERNMENT
8. Who was the visible head of this city government, and where was his domain located?
8 Who was the visible head of the city government? It was the “chieftain” or Nasi, who had a special territory or domain assigned to him. Where? In the administrative strip of land, where the 25,000-cubit-square “contribution” of land lay. What was left of this administrative strip on the east side and on the west side of this land “contribution” was the domain of the “chieftain.” The part to the west ran from the western boundary of the land “contribution” all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The part to the east ran from the eastern boundary of the land “contribution” eastward to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea or Eastern Sea. (Ezekiel 47:18) The tribe of Judah bordered his domain on the north, and the tribe of Benjamin bordered his domain on the south.—Ezekiel 48:20-22.
9. How many and where were the outlets through the city wall, how were they named, and how are those gates reflected in those of the heavenly New Jerusalem?
9 The 4,500-cubit-square city in the midst of the “profane” section of the land “contribution” had twelve outlets through its walls, three on each side of the city. These gates were named after the twelve original tribes of Israel. On the north, from right to left, were the gates named for the tribes of Reuben, Judah and Levi. In the east wall were the gates for Joseph (who represented Manasseh and Ephraim), Benjamin and Dan. In the south wall were the gates for Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun. In the western wall were the gates for Gad, Asher and Naphtali. (Ezekiel 48:30-34) The city’s having twelve gates named after the tribes of Israel is reflected in the heavenly New Jerusalem, the congregational Bride of Christ, concerning which we read:
“It had a great and lofty wall and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names were inscribed which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. On the east were three gates, and on the north three gates, and on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The wall of the city also had twelve foundation stones, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Also, the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was made of one pearl. And the broad way of the city was pure gold, as transparent glass.”—Revelation 21:12-14, 21.
Out of this heavenly city and down its broad way proceeded the crystal-clear “river of water of life.”—Revelation 22:1, 2.
10. How did the relationship of the visionary city and temple differ from that of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, and what therefore did the city of Ezekiel’s vision picture?
10 In the case of ancient Israel Jehovah’s temple as built by Solomon was inside the city of Jerusalem. But in Ezekiel’s vision the city is separate from the holy temple, even though both city and temple are in the special “contribution” of land. This separateness is emphasized by the fact that the city is said to be in “something profane for the city, for a dwelling place and for pasture ground.” (Ezekiel 48:15) The priests and Levites did not live or work in the city. So in the fulfillment of the vision under Messiah’s thousand-year reign, the city with its pasture ground would not picture the heavenly New Jerusalem, which is the Messiah’s faithful congregation of spiritual Israelites or his Bride. (Revelation 21:1, 2, 9-21) It pictures an earthly, visible seat of administration over the affairs of redeemed mankind.
11. Whom do the Levites picture as a whole, and whom do the priests together with their high priest picture, for service where?
11 Inasmuch as Jehovah took all the males of the tribe of Levi in exchange for the firstborn sons of Israel that had been spared from death on that Passover night in Egypt, the Levites and the Levitical priests picture what Hebrews 12:23 calls “the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens.” The high priest of those priests and Levites typifies, of course, the one named in Hebrews 3:1. That verse is addressed to this congregation of the firstborn ones and says: “Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.” The congregation of the firstborn ones supplies his underpriests. To these 1 Peter 2:5, 9 says: “You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood . . . But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” These are the ones that, after their resurrection from the dead to spiritual life in heaven, serve Jehovah in his sanctuary.
12. What is indicated in the fact that the “chieftain” or Nasi is not spoken of as “my servant David,” and the title is used to apply how, and by this arrangement what kind of administration will be given to redeemed mankind?
12 The “chieftain” or Nasi, who has his domain on the east and west sides of the 25,000-cubit-square “contribution” of land, is not spoken of as being the one whom Jehovah calls “my servant David,” whom He raises up as a royal Shepherd over Jehovah’s flock. (Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:24, 25) Thus he is not used in an individual sense to picture the heavenly Messiah Jesus, concerning whom Jehovah foretold: “I myself, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain in the midst of them.” (Ezekiel 34:24; 37:25) In the temple vision the “chieftain” or Nasi takes on a collective meaning and stands for those whom the heavenly Messiah Jesus appoints as his visible representatives in the “new earth.” These would include those whom Psalm 45:16 mentions. That verse is addressed to the King Jesus Christ and refers to his earthly children, saying: “In place of your [earthly] forefathers, there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes [sarím] in all the earth.” These and all other appointed “princes” will give mankind a just administration and will keep them in security, for this is guaranteed in Isaiah chapter 32, in these grand words:
“Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.
“And in the wilderness justice will certainly reside, and in the orchard righteousness itself will dwell. And the work of the true righteousness must become peace; and the service of the true righteousness, quietness and security to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places.”—Isaiah 32:1, 2, 16-18.
13. From where will those who cooperate with the “chieftain” class come, and how open to access by persons with vital matters will the seat of administration be, as pictured in Ezekiel’s vision?
13 From all parts of the land and from all the ranks of ransomed mankind there will voluntarily come those who will actively cooperate with the “chieftain” class. Where? As it were, at the “city,” which is the visible official seat of the “chieftain” class for administering the affairs of all mankind. In this way these volunteers show a Christlike spirit toward them as true representatives of the reigning Messiah Jesus. The seat of administration will be open to access from all sides by persons who want to approach with any vital matter, just as the foursquare city of Ezekiel’s vision had twelve gates, three on each side, open to all twelve tribes of Israel.
14. Through such visible representatives, who will act as judges and toward whom?
14 Through such visible princely representatives on earth the Messiah Jesus and his glorified congregation, enthroned with him in the invisible heavens, will sit “judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” all redeemed mankind.—Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30.
15. With what will that seat of administration be pervaded, how will Jehovah’s presence be there, and what will its new name be?
15 This citylike seat of administration under Messiah’s reign will be pervaded with Jehovah’s spirit. The fruitage of his spirit will abound there to his glory, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) This fruitful spirit of Jehovah will operate there to guide in all judicial matters of mankind. It will aid in the uplift of all obedient mankind to perfection of heart, mind, and body in the earth’s reestablished Paradise. Jehovah, enthroned in his heavenly sanctuary, will approve of this symbolic city and shower his favor upon it. His divine presence will be there by directing his loving, beneficent attention to it. Therefore, in assurance of this, the prophecy that He inspired in Ezekiel closes with giving to this symbolic foursquare city a new name, saying: “Round about there [the perimeter] will be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day on will be Jehovah Himself Is There.” (NW; Yg; AS) “And the city’s name for ever after shall be Jehovah-shammah.”—Ezekiel 48:35, NEB.
16. What is the earthly situation today as regards the knowledge or acknowledgment of the divine name, but what will it be in the day that is already dawning?
16 When the future earthly seat of worldwide administration bears such a glorious name as Jehovah-shammah, how could any of the redeemed ones of mankind anywhere throughout this Paradise earth fail to know what is the name of the one living and true God? Only for a little while longer now will this earth, with its religious confusion and darkness, continue to be the only place in all the realm of intelligent creation where God the Creator is unknown by name to countless numbers of persons or else his name is ignored or even profaned by self-centered persons. For, look! a new day is dawning, the long-looked-for day! Already the early rays of its aurora are brightening the faces of God-fearing persons who see the prophecies of the Holy Bible coming true. Soon now, when the sun of that incoming day rises and ascends to its zenith overhead, not a place on earth will be left in darkness and not know God’s matchless name and fame. That will be the day for the fulfillment of the divine words:
“The earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.”—Habakkuk 2:14.
17. Therefore, to what knowledge should all peoples arise in this opportune time, and why?
17 Awake, therefore, O people of all races and nationalities! Arise now from your slumbering to a lifesaving knowledge of Jehovah in this fleeting time of opportunity! Read his inspired Word and call upon His name for salvation through Jesus Christ. In this peaceful way, with eternal blessing to yourselves, spare yourselves from being forced to acknowledge His name against your will, for that would mean your endless destruction. Embrace the hope now of finding yourselves among the everlastingly happy survivors at the time when the Sovereign Lord God fulfills his own repeatedly declared prophecy, “The nations shall know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 36:23; 39:7, AS.
NOTE: For a map illustrating the foregoing division of the land, see the rear endsheet of this book on the right-hand page.