Peace and Security Earth Wide—A Reliable Hope
1, 2. What conditions, foretold in the Bible, would make this earth a most pleasant place to live?
THIS earth could be a most pleasant and interesting place in which to live—if truly peaceful, secure conditions prevailed earth wide. Though it is far from that now, the Bible foretells that the earth will yet become a splendid home for mankind, one in which the human family will be able to enjoy life to the full.
2 Just what are the blessings promised, and how can we be sure that they will be fulfilled?
SOLID BASIS FOR CONFIDENCE
3, 4. (a) What do we learn from the reliability of the basic laws that control the universe? (b) Who is the Maker of those laws, and so in what else do we have good reason to put our trust?
3 There are basic laws that control the universe. Many of them we take for granted. Sunrise, sunset, moon phases and seasons come and go in a manner that contributes to the stability of human living. Men draw up calendars and plan activities years ahead, knowing that the movements of the sun, moon and planets are reliable. What can we learn from this?
4 The Maker of those laws is reliable; what he says and does is dependable. It is over his name, as the Creator of heaven and earth, that the Bible’s promises concerning a righteous new order are made. (Isaiah 45:18, 19) In a person’s daily routine of life, it is the normal thing to rely in some measure on other people—on those who bring food to the market to sell, those who deliver the mail, and close friends. Should we not place far, far more confidence in God and in the certainty of the fulfillment of his promises?—Isaiah 55:10, 11.
5. Is there any selfish motivation in what God has promised so that we have reason to doubt that he will do what he has said?
5 It is true that men, for selfish reasons, often prove unreliable. But all of God’s promises contained in the Bible are clearly for our good, not to satisfy any selfishness on His part. He does not need anything from us; nor does our believing his Word work to the selfish gain of any men. But God does find delight in those who put faith in him due to their love for him and their appreciation of his ways.—Psalm 50:10-12, 14, 15 [49:10-12, 14, 15, Dy].
6. What kind of faith does the Bible help us to acquire?
6 Then, too, the Bible appeals to our powers of reason; it does not demand blind faith or credulity. In fact, it defines true faith as “the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) In the Bible, God gives us a sound basis for faith. That basis becomes more and more evident as we grow in knowledge of God’s Word and see how true it proves to be in our own lives and in the fulfillment of its prophecies. Psalm 34:8-10 [33:9-11, Dy].
7. As we examine the Bible’s promises of future blessings, what should we not expect belief in them to require of us?
7 The Bible’s promises of future blessings go far beyond what men dare to offer. Yet those promises do not require us to believe things that go against all human experience. Nor are they contrary to what it is normal for a human to desire. Consider some of these grand blessings and see how this is true.
EARTH TO BECOME A GARDEN HOME
8, 9. (a) What idea should be conveyed to our minds by the term “paradise”? (b) Has such a thing ever existed on earth? (c) What shows that it is God’s purpose for Paradise to prevail earth wide?
8 To many persons the word “paradise” conveys the idea of something unearthly, even unreal. But “paradise” comes from similar words used in ancient times (Hebrew, par·desʹ; Persian, pai·ri·daeʹza; Greek, pa·raʹdei·sos), words that were used to describe things then actually existing on earth. These words all have the basic idea of a ‘beautiful park’ or ‘parklike garden.’ As in ancient times, so today there are many such places, some of them parks of great size. And man has a natural yearning for their beauty. The Bible promises that the day will come when this whole planet will be such a parklike garden or paradise.
9 When God created the first human pair he gave them as a home the Garden of Eden, which name means Paradise of Pleasure. Paradise was not to be limited to that one location, however. As the Bible relates: “God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 9) This would involve spreading the boundaries of Paradise to the ends of the earth. The disobedient course of Adam and Eve did not bring to an end that divinely stated purpose. Showing that a Paradise earth was still God’s purpose, Christ Jesus promised a man who died alongside him, and who showed faith in Jesus as God’s Son, that he would have the opportunity to live in such earthly Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43) How will this come about?
10. At Revelation 11:18, what obstacles to Paradise does God promise to remove?
10 In the coming “great tribulation” God promises that he will clear away all obstacles to such a paradise by bringing to ruin those ruining the earth. (Revelation 11:18) God will thus do what human governments never could do. He will clear out all those who selfishly pollute and ravage the earth to satisfy commercial greed, all who wage devastating wars due to thirst for power, all who misuse the earth because they lack gratitude and respect for the bountiful gifts that God has provided.
11. (a) What historical event shows that restoration of the earth to a paradise state is not contrary to human experience? (b) In what promised blessing does this strengthen our faith?
11 The whole earth will then blossom forth with beauty; freshness and cleanness will then come to its air, water and land. This restoration of Paradise is not something beyond believing or contrary to human experience. Many centuries ago, when the nation of Israel came out of captivity in Babylon, Jehovah God restored them to their homeland. When they returned, the land was a desolate waste. Yet, because of God’s blessing on them and their work, the land soon changed so that neighboring peoples exclaimed: ‘It has become like the garden of Eden!’ Where thickets of thorns and stinging nettles had grown, now juniper and myrtle trees flourished. The land became bountifully productive, removing any threat of hunger and famine. (Ezekiel 36:29, 30, 35; Isaiah 35:1, 2; 55:13) What God did then in that small area of Palestine he promises to do on a global scale, so that all persons living will enjoy the divinely provided pleasures of life in Paradise.—Psalm 67:6, 7 [66:7, 8, Dy]; Isaiah 25:6.
END OF POVERTY AND ECONOMIC SLAVERY
12. What economic and working conditions must be remedied if we are to have real enjoyment in life?
12 It is well known that poverty and bondage to the economic system are found earth wide. There could be no real enjoyment of life in God’s new order if this condition were not-remedied, if millions went on doing labor that provided just the bare means of living, or doing work that is monotonous and makes a man an impersonal cog in a huge machine.
13-15. (a) Where do we find a historical example that shows us what God’s will for man is in this regard? (b) How did that arrangement contribute to the security and enjoyment of life of each individual and family?
13 God’s will for man in this regard is seen in the way he directed matters with ancient Israel. There, each family received a hereditary possession of land. (Judges 2:6) Even though this could be sold and even though individuals also could sell themselves into servitude if they fell into debt, Jehovah still made provisions to guard against the building up of huge landholdings or any long-term enslavement of people. How?
14 By means of the provisions in the Law he gave his people. The seventh year of servitude was a ‘year of release’ when any Israelite thus in bondage must be set free. Also, every fiftieth year was a “Jubilee” year for the whole nation, a year in which to “proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-9; Leviticus 25:10) Then any hereditary possession sold was returned to its original owner, and all in servitude were released, even though seven years had not elapsed. It was a joyful time of happy family reunion and a ‘new start’ in life economically. Thus, no land could be sold for all time, but its sale was, in effect, just a ‘lease’ that would end, at the latest, in the Jubilee year.—Leviticus 25:8-24.
15 All this contributed splendidly to the economic stability of the nation and the security and peace of each family. When observed, it kept the nation from falling into the sad picture we see today in so many lands where only two classes exist, the extremely rich and the extremely poor. The benefits to the individual strengthened the nation, for none needed to be underprivileged and crushed by bad economic conditions. As reported during the reign of King Solomon, who looked to Jehovah for wisdom: “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree.” (1 Kings 4:25 [3 Kings 4:25, Dy]) Today many persons cannot really employ their talents and initiative, because they are trapped in an economic system that locks them in, making them serve the desires of one person or a small group of persons. Under God’s law the industrious person was aided to contribute his full abilities to the welfare and enjoyment of all. This gives us at least a small-scale idea of the measure of personal freedom and the sense of personal worth and dignity that those gaining life in God’s new order will enjoy.
16. As to living conditions and one’s economic situation, what will God’s kingdom provide for all of us who are its subjects?
16 Earth wide the prophecy of Micah 4:3, 4 will see major fulfillment. Peace-loving persons living under God’s righteous rule will “sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.” None of the subjects of God’s kingdom will live in squalid slums or crowded tenements. They will have land and homes that are their own. (Isaiah 65:21, 22) The king, Christ Jesus, long ago promised that the ‘mild-tempered ones will inherit the earth,’ and he has ‘all authority in heaven and earth’ to see that this is the case.—Matthew 5:5; 28:18.
ENDURING HEALTH AND LIFE
17-19. (a) What shows that good health and long life are natural desires of mankind? (b) What facts about human life and about vegetation make man’s short life-span seem strange? (c) What is there about the human brain that shows it is very reasonable to believe that man was designed to live forever?
17 None of these conditions, however, could make your life genuinely peaceful and secure as long as sickness, old age and death clouded the future. Is it unreasonable or contrary to human experience to hope for relief from these things? It certainly is not contrary to man’s nature to want this, for men have spent lifetimes and untold sums of money searching for the means to accomplish it.
18 Rather than the hope of enduring health and life being unreasonable, is it not the opposite that is unreasonable—that, just when humans reach an age where they begin to have a fine fund of knowledge, experience and ability to do worthwhile things, they then die? On the other hand, there are trees that live for thousands of years. Why should man, who is endowed with intelligence, live for only a fraction of the time that some unconscious, unintelligent vegetation does? Should he not reasonably live far, far longer?
19 The book Science Year of 1967 states that for specialists in the study of aging “the aging process is still largely a mystery.”32 Mystifying to scientists, too, is the fact that the human brain is obviously designed to take in virtually unlimited amounts of information. As biochemist Isaac Asimov points out, the brain’s “filing system” is “perfectly capable of handling any load of learning and memory which the human being is likely to put upon it—and a billion times more than that quantity, too.”33 That means that your brain is capable of handling not only any load you might put on it in a lifetime of seventy or eighty years, but a thousand million times more! No wonder man has such a thirst for knowledge, such desire to learn to do and accomplish things. Yet he is blocked by his shortness of life. Is it reasonable that man should have such a fantastic organ as the human brain is and then never get to use more than a tiny fraction of its potential? Is it not far more reasonable that, as the Bible shows, Jehovah God designed man to live forever on earth and gave him a brain admirably suited to that purpose?
20. Just what does the Bible say that God has promised to do for mankind in regard to the effects of sin, including death itself?
20 The Bible shows that originally man had the opportunity of living forever, but lost it through rebellion; that “through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Human experience agrees, for sin and death are universal among mankind. But the Bible also contains God’s promise that, in the restored Paradise, “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Revelation 21:3, 4; 7:16, 17) It clearly states that everlasting life, free from the effects of sin, is God’s purpose for mankind. (Romans 5:21; 6:23) More than this, it promises that the blessings of God’s new order will be opened up for the many millions who have died in the past. How? By a resurrection from death, yes, by the emptying of the common grave of all mankind. Concerning this, Jesus Christ confidently foretold: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
21, 22. Why is the prospect of restoration to full health not something that is too much to hope for?
21 Modern medical scientists today produce “miracle drugs” and perform surgical feats that would have seemed incredible centuries ago. Should we doubt that man’s Creator can do far grander and more astounding things to restore righteous-hearted persons to vibrant health, even reverse the aging process—all without resorting to hospitals, operating rooms and artificial organs? In his considerateness, God has provided us with the evidence that such blessings are not too much to hope for.
22 He empowered his Son while on earth to perform powerful works of healing. These works assure us that no weakness, defect or disease is beyond God’s power to heal. When a man whose flesh was filled with leprosy implored Jesus to heal him, Jesus compassionately touched the man and said: “Be made clean.” And, as the historical record says, “immediately his leprosy was cleansed away.” (Matthew 8:2, 3) Jesus did not do these things in some isolated place, out of public view. The historian Matthew Levi reports: “Great crowds approached him, having along with them people that were lame, maimed, blind,: dumb, and many otherwise, and they fairly threw them at his feet, and he cured them; so that the crowd felt amazement . . . and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matthew 15:30, 31) Read for yourself the account at John 9:1-21 as an example of how factual and true to life the historical report of such cures is. These events are testified to by many witnesses, including a doctor, the physician Luke.—Mark 7:32-37; Luke 5:12-14, 17-25; 6:6-11; Colossians 4:14.
23, 24. Why is it not unreasonable to believe that the dead actually can and will be restored to life under God’s kingdom?
23 For similar reasons we need not view as beyond belief the clear Bible promise that “there is going to be a resurrection” of the dead. (Acts 24:15) Humans today can record a person’s voice, appearance and actions on a small piece of film or videotape, so that even years after his death these can be reproduced. Should not the One who created man, who logically knows the precise atomic and molecular structure of man, be able to do far more? If man-made computers can store up and coordinate literally billions of pieces of data, should not God be able to remember precisely the personalities of individuals so as to restore these to life?—Job 14:13.
24 Again, Jehovah God has kindly given us the means for strengthening our faith in such a tremendous hope. He granted his Son power to demonstrate on a small scale what he will do on a massive scale during his righteous rule over earth. Christ Jesus resurrected dead persons, often doing so in full view of onlookers. The man Lazarus, whom he resurrected near Jerusalem, had even been dead long enough for his body to begin to decompose. Thus the resurrection hope is seen to have a solid basis.—Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-42, 49-56; John 11:38-44.
THE EARTH’S ABILITY TO CONTAIN SUCH POPULATION
25, 26. When the dead are resurrected, where will there be room for everyone to live?
25 Can this planet provide comfortable living space for such a population as would result from the resurrection of the dead? In 1960, Dr. Albert L. Elder, as president of the American Chemical Society, stated:
“It took over 5000 years of human history up to about 1820 to reach a world population of 1.1 billion. Within the following century, population doubled. Now, it stands at about 2.8 billion and could reach 3 billion early in the 1960’s [as it did]. Thus, in less than 50 years there has been an increase in population equivalent to that which occurred during the first 50 centuries.”34
26 Those alive today, therefore, represent a sizable portion of the total that has ever lived on earth. In fact, in 1966 it was stated: “It is now estimated that 25 per cent of all the people who have ever lived are alive today.”35 On this basis the total population throughout all human history could be estimated at some 14,000,000,000 persons. The earth’s land area is more than 36,000,000,000 acres. That would allow more than two and a half acres per person. Not only would this provide space for food production, but also it would allow for forests, mountains and so forth with no undue crowding in the paradise earth. Then, too, it must be remembered that the Bible shows that by no means all those now living will survive and live in that new order.
27. Could the earth produce enough food for all those people?
27 But could the earth produce enough food for so many people? Scientists today claim that it could do so even under present-day conditions. Time magazine (July 13, 1970) reported that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization “now maintains that the world’s agricultural potential is great enough to feed 157 billion people.” That is far, far more than the total number estimated of those who have ever lived on earth.
28. Why is there no danger that, with people living forever, the earth would in time become overcrowded?
28 We should note that God’s purpose originally stated to the first, human pair was that they should “fill the earth and subdue it,” extending Eden’s limits to the farthest reaches of earth. (Genesis 1:28) This would mean, not overrunning the earth with people, but filling it to a comfortable extent, to an extent that would still permit the ‘subdued’ earth to be a global park like man’s original parklike home. So, this divine command indicates that, in God’s due time and way, reproduction would eventually cease among mankind. To God, who endowed man with reproductive abilities, that presents no big problem.
A SURE FOUNDATION ENDURING HAPPINESS
29, 30. (a) What effect do relationships with other people have on a person’s happiness? (b) How do we know that those who gain eternal life in God’s new order will be only persons who truly contribute, to the peace and security of their fellowmen?
29 Even though you could live in beautiful surroundings, have material prosperity, do interesting work and enjoy relatively good health, this would still not guarantee your lasting happiness. There are persons today who have these things and yet are unhappy. Why? Because of their relationships with the people around them, people who may be selfish, quarrelsome, hypocritical or hateful. Enduring happiness in God’s new order will come in large measure from the changed attitude of people, all over the earth. Their love and respect for God and their seeking to carry out his purposes will bring spiritual prosperity. Without that, material prosperity becomes vain, unsatisfying and empty.
30 Even more than having material things, pleasure comes from being around people who are kind, humble, friendly, people you can really love and trust, and who feel that way about you. (Psalm 133:1 [132:1, Dy]; Proverbs 15:17) Love of God is what ensures true love of neighbor, which will make life so pleasant in His righteous new order. Those whom God will favor with eternal life will all be persons who have proved their love for him and for their fellowman. With such persons for your neighbors, friends and work companions, you will be able to enjoy real peace and security and enduring happiness.—1 John 4:7, 8, 20, 21.
31. If we really want life in God’s new order, what should we do now?
31 Inasmuch as such a grand prospect is open to you, the course of practical wisdom is to find out what is required to lay hold of it. Now is the time to bring your life into harmony with the righteous requirements that God has set out in his Word for those who will be spared through the coming “great tribulation.”—2 Peter 3:11-13.