An Earth Free from Sickness and Death
WHAT grand relief an earth forever free from sickness and death would mean for us humans! It would put an end to the bitter tears shed in expression of grief and suffering. Gone would be the excruciating pain and horrible deformities that sickness can bring. No longer would the ravages of old age weaken humans, often bringing them to a state of hopeless despair and helplessness. People everywhere would be enjoying youthful strength and vigor. Not a single mournful sound would ever come forth from their lips!
This is not based on idle imagination. It is what Jehovah God has purposed. He has far more in mind for mankind than just a few years of life filled with problems and suffering.—Revelation 21:3, 4.
COULD IT LEAD TO TREMENDOUS PROBLEMS?
But would an earth free from sickness and death give rise to other serious problems? Do you wonder: Where would all the people live? Would not the end of sickness and death quickly bring about crowded conditions, making life unpleasant, and leading to great food shortage?
It was never God’s purpose to overpopulate the earth. To the perfect Adam and Eve, God said: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) There is quite a difference between ‘filling’ the earth and overpopulating it. If someone asked you to fill a glass with juice, you would not keep on pouring until the glass overflowed. Once the glass was sufficiently filled, you would stop pouring. Similarly, once the earth was comfortably filled with humankind, God would see to it that further population growth stopped on this planet.
Moreover, we should not, on the basis of what we see or hear today, misjudge earth’s ability to provide a home for us and to sustain human and animal life. While large populations are jammed together in cities, vast regions of the earth are sparsely populated. If the present population were evenly distributed, there would be about six acres of fertile land for every man, woman and child. This would be more than ample room indeed!
The hunger that so many humans must endure in various parts of the earth is not because the full capability of the soil to produce has been reached. Rather, widespread food shortage stems mainly from an unequal distribution of food supplies. Whereas much is produced in certain areas and surpluses exist, in other places there are extreme shortages. Actually, the earth could produce much more than it does at present. Back in 1970 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated the world’s agricultural potential to be great enough to feed about forty-two times as many people as the present world population.
What man has already done in some regions of the earth gives some indication of what great possibilities there are for increasing earth’s productivity.
The Imperial Valley of California was once an inhospitable, uncultivated desert. But irrigation of the mineral-rich desert soil has made this valley one of the richest agricultural regions in the United States.
With about half the farmland, Europe, through more intensive cultivation, produces about as much food as North America.
Truly there can be no question that more land could be brought under more intensive cultivation, and that without spoiling the beauty of forests and meadows.
There is yet another factor that will assure an ample food supply for an earth comfortably filled with animal and human life. What is that? It is the divine help and direction that will then be given to mankind under the administration of God’s kingdom by his Son Jesus Christ. No one knows the earth better than does God, for he is its Creator. And under the wise administration of his kingdom the land will yield abundantly. As was the experience of ancient Israel when faithful, so it will be then: “The earth itself will certainly give its produce; God, our God, will bless us.”—Psalm 67:6.
Dry deserts and other unproductive areas, occupying millions of acres, will doubtless be reclaimed on a large scale. Receiving divine help in getting needed water is not without historical parallel. Back in the sixth century B.C.E., in fulfillment of God’s prophetic promises, thousands of Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. (Ezra 2:64-70) They evidently took a direct route through the inhospitable Syrian Desert. Yet God provided what they needed to keep alive. Even regarding their homeland he had predicted: “In the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain.”—Isaiah 35:6.
Since God did this in the past, we have good reason to expect that under the administration of his kingdom by Christ this will be done on a far grander scale.
We need not fear that the ushering in of an earth free from sickness and death will give rise to unpleasant conditions. Not only will there be no overcrowding, but everyone will be able to eat food to satisfaction.
The administration in the hands of God’s appointed King, Jesus Christ, and his 144,000 fellow rulers will see to it that earth’s inhabitants are well cared for. Pointing to the abundance of wholesome food to be enjoyed, the prophecy of Isaiah states: “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain, a banquet . . . of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”—Isaiah 25:6.
We can have confidence in Jehovah God, the One of whom the Bible declares: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16) Never has he failed to fulfill his promises. As the Scriptures say of ancient Israel: “Not a promise failed out of all the good promise that Jehovah had made to the house of Israel; it all came true.”—Joshua 21:45.
HOW SICKNESS AND DEATH WILL PASS AWAY
Besides promising to provide the material things that humans need in order to enjoy life, Jehovah God has promised something worth much more. What is that? Relief from sickness and death. His declared purpose about the grand banquet mentioned in Isaiah is, in fact, followed up by the promise: “He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.”—Isaiah 25:8.
In harmony with God’s promise here expressed, the Kingdom administration in the hands of Jesus Christ and his associate rulers will be working toward bringing about the liberation of humankind from death. As sickness and death have come about through our being born imperfect sinners due to inheritance from the first man Adam, the death-dealing effects of sin must be counteracted. How?
The basis for doing so must be an arrangement that satisfies justice. Logically it must be an arrangement that offsets the damage caused by the rebellion of Adam. What Adam lost must be regained. The price would have to be a ransom having the exact value of what Adam lost, namely, perfect human life with all its rights and prospects.
None of Adam’s sinful descendants could provide such a ransom. This is made clear at Psalm 49:7: “Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” But Christ Jesus could do so, for he was a perfect man, and he willingly laid down his life, thereby giving “his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matthew 20:28.
On the basis of his sacrificing his own perfect human life, Jesus Christ is in position to apply the benefits of his atoning sacrifice for the uplift of mankind from enslavement to sin. As sinful tendencies have become part of the human makeup, it will take time and help to overcome these. Under the Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ, all its human subjects will receive training in the way of righteousness.—Revelation 20:12; Isaiah 26:9.
However, this does not necessarily mean that those suffering from a serious physical disability or deformity are going to have to wait a long period of time during which they will finally recover from their affliction. When Jesus Christ was here on the earth, he healed the sick and afflicted instantly, miraculously. A number of cures he performed from a distance, while he was unseen by the afflicted ones and not in immediate touch with them. (Matthew 8:5-13; 15:21-28; Luke 7:1-10) Therefore any seriously handicapped persons, like a person with one leg or one arm, living when the Kingdom begins administering all of earth’s affairs can hope for miraculous, instantaneous healing at God’s appointed time. Marvelous indeed it will be to see sight restored to the blind, hearing to the deaf and soundness of body to the disfigured, maimed and deformed!
The bringing of humans to full perfection in body and mind, however, will be a gradual process, requiring the application of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and obedience to the direction of the Kingdom administration. What will take place might be compared to rehabilitating a disabled person under the guidance of a skilled therapist. During the course of his training the disabled person may make many mistakes but eventually he may come to the point where he is able to live a useful life without having to depend on others. The progress he makes depends on his response to the help given.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THOSE REHABILITATING IMPERFECT HUMANS
In rehabilitating the human race, Jesus Christ has all the needed qualifications. Having lived as a man on earth, he has personal acquaintance with the problems of imperfect humans. Though perfect, he, nevertheless, experienced suffering and sorrow, to the point of shedding tears. The Bible record tells us: “In the days of his flesh Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.”—Hebrews 5:7, 8.
As a result of what Jesus Christ experienced on earth, we can have confidence that he will be an understanding ruler. He will not deal harshly with his subjects, for he willingly laid down his life for mankind. (1 John 3:16) Then, too, since he is also the High Priest, Jesus will deal compassionately in freeing from sin those who respect his direction. He will not become impatient with them nor make them feel crushed because of their slipping into an act that does not perfectly reflect the personality of God. With reference to Jesus’ priestly service, Hebrews 4:15, 16 says: “We have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin. Let us, therefore, approach with freeness of speech to the throne of undeserved kindness, that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.”
While growing to perfection, humans will still be committing sins unintentionally. But by repenting and asking for forgiveness of God through their High Priest Jesus Christ, they will be forgiven and will continue to receive help in overcoming their weaknesses. Depicting the divine provisions for life and healing, Revelation 22:1, 2 speaks of “a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its broad way. And on this side of the river and on that side there were trees of life producing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruits each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the curing of the nations.”
Those associated with Jesus Christ in rulership are likewise well qualified to help humankind. These fellow rulers include both men and women from a great variety of walks of life. (Galatians 3:28) Some of them came from backgrounds that had involved them in such conduct as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, drunkenness, extortion and the like. But they repented, turned around and began living a clean life, to the praise and honor of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) At the time of their death all who become associate king-priests of Jesus Christ must be found to be lovers and practicers of righteousness, haters of bad, and persons who unselfishly devoted themselves to further the welfare of fellowmen.—Romans 12:9; James 1:27; 1 John 3:15-17; Jude 23.
Maintaining a clean standing before God has not been easy for them. They have been subjected to tremendous pressures to adopt the world’s selfish ways. Many have had to face external pressures in the form of reproach, physical abuse and general dislike and scorn. As to what they should expect, Jesus Christ told them: “People will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations.” (Matthew 24:9) Additionally, all during the course of their life they have had to struggle to combat their own sinful tendencies. One of them, the apostle Paul, said of himself: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.”—1 Corinthians 9:27.
Truly, then, this body of 144,000 king-priests can sympathize with the problems of the Kingdom’s human subjects. They themselves had to contend with them and proved themselves loyal to God despite great difficulties.
IDEAL CONDITIONS ON EARTH
On earth, too, everything will be just right for assisting humans to grow to perfection. Only those who have shown themselves to be desirous of doing the divine will with a complete heart will remain after the Kingdom destroys its enemies. This means that the human greed and selfishness that have largely been responsible for polluting the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe will be things of the past. The survivors will not be plagued by divisive racial and national barriers. United in the worship of Jehovah God, all will act as brothers and pursue peace. Even the wild animals will do no harm to man or his domestic animals. The prophetic words of Isaiah 11:6-9 will then go beyond a spiritual fulfillment and witness a physical fulfillment:
“The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
Through the Kingdom administration Jehovah God will be turning his attention to humans in a special way. This is portrayed in a prophetic vision recorded in the Bible book of Revelation. After comparing the extension of the Kingdom’s power to the coming down of New Jerusalem out of heaven, the account tells us: “[God] 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 have passed away.”—Revelation 21:2-4.
Think of what that means. This present life with its pains and sorrows is definitely not all there is. Humankind will be freed from all mental, emotional and physical pain resulting from imperfection. Mental anguish over uncertainties or grave calamities and dangers will be a thing of the past. The depression, emptiness and loneliness associated with emotional pain will be no more. Never again will people cry out or groan due to severe physical pain. Bitter tears will no longer fill their eyes and stream down their cheeks. There will be no reason for anyone to give way to expressions of grief. Restored to perfection of mind and body, humans will find real pleasure in life for all eternity. Would you not want to be among those to enjoy these blessings from God?