A Time of Re-Creation
1. (a) What marvelous opportunity will await survivors into the “new earth”? (b) But what will that require?
SURVIVAL through the end of the present corrupt world is a grand prospect. We long to get away from the injustices, the greed and the violence of this world. But something else makes it even more desirable that we survive. What is it? The fact that all who become part of the “new earth” will also have opportunity to be liberated from their own imperfections, from sickness and a life of pain, yes, even from death. (Revelation 21:1-5) For this to take place, however, sin itself must be completely rooted out. How is that possible? It is associated with what Jesus Christ described as “the re-creation.”
2. What is “the re-creation” referred to at Matthew 19:28?
2 To his apostles, Jesus said: “In the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28) The re-creation will be a time of “regeneration,” a time “when all is made new,” as other Bible translations express it. (The Emphasised Bible, by Rotherham; The Jerusalem Bible) By means of this re-creation, it will be possible for humans to enjoy again the perfection that mankind had at the start.
3. (a) What has resulted from the sin of Adam? (b) Why have none of Adam’s offspring been able to free themselves of the effects of inherited sin?
3 Because of sin inherited from Adam, all of his offspring have had to die, and many have suffered grievous sickness leading to death. (Romans 5:12) No exemption from death could be bought with money. No works of which an imperfect human was capable could earn a release for himself or anyone else. Divine justice required that if mankind was to regain the opportunity to enjoy eternal life, a sacrifice must be offered equal in value to what Adam lost, namely, perfect human life. None of Adam’s offspring had such a life to offer.—Psalm 49:7-9; Ecclesiastes 7:20.
4. (a) How was the needed ransom provided? (b) How can we benefit from it?
4 Mercifully, Jehovah himself made the needed provision by sending his only-begotten Son, Jesus, to earth as a perfect human to lay down his life as “a corresponding ransom.” (1 Timothy 2:5, 6) What a magnificent demonstration of undeserved kindness and of God’s love for humankind! The life that is possible as a result is not something that we can earn like wages but is a gift from God. However, it is given only to those who genuinely recognize their need of this divine provision, exercise faith in it and demonstrate that faith by obedience to God’s Son. (Romans 6:23; John 3:16, 36) But when were benefits of that sacrifice to be experienced by mankind?
BENEFITS NOW FROM CHRIST’S SACRIFICE
5. (a) Who were first to benefit from Christ’s sacrifice? (b) What other group has benefited, and particularly since when?
5 Benefits began to affect human lives immediately after Jesus Christ (in the role of God’s great High Priest) presented the value of his sacrifice before God in heaven. First, starting at Pentecost of 33 C.E., these benefits began to be experienced by those who, called to be heirs with Christ, would serve as kings and priests with him in heaven. (Acts 2:32, 33; Colossians 1:13, 14) Then, outstandingly in 1935, persons who embraced the hope of eternal life on earth began to manifest themselves. Their hope, too, was made possible by Christ’s sacrifice. (1 John 2:1, 2) This progressive application of the value of that sacrifice was indicated by events that took place on ancient Israel’s Atonement Day.
6. Briefly outline what took place on Atonement Day.
6 Officiating at Israel’s sacred tabernacle, and later at the temple, was a high priest who was a member of the Levite house of Aaron. Other males of Aaron’s house were underpriests, and the rest of the males of the tribe of Levi served as assistants. To provide a covering for sins, the high priest sacrificed two animals, the blood of each of which was presented separately in the Most Holy, as prescribed by Jehovah. First was a young bull offered up by the Aaronic high priest for “himself and his house,” which included the entire tribe of Levi. (Leviticus 16:11, 14) Next was the goat that was presented as a sin offering “for the people,” the other twelve tribes. (Leviticus 16:15) Additionally, the sins of all Israel were confessed over the head of a live goat, and it was led away into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:21, 22) What did all of this mean?
7. (a) What one sacrifice was there foreshadowed? (b) Why was more than one sacrificial animal used?
7 The apostle Paul explains that its fulfillment centers on the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us . . . to put sin away through the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:24-26) Then why was the blood of more than one animal taken into the Most Holy on Israel’s Atonement Day? This was to draw attention to different aspects of what Jesus’ perfect human sacrifice accomplishes. And one more aspect was highlighted by the confessing of the sins of the nation over the head of a live goat and then leading it away into the wilderness.
8. (a) How did Atonement Day procedures indicate who would benefit first from Christ’s sacrifice? (b) What application of Jesus’ sacrifice was indicated by the sin offering “for the people”? (c) What further fact was illustrated by the leading away of a goat into the wilderness?
8 Even as blood from the bull offered for the house of Aaron was taken first into the Most Holy, so the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice were applied first on behalf of those who would be associated with Christ in the heavenly priesthood. This was done from 33 C.E. onward. Jesus Christ had no sins for which atonement must be made, as did Aaron, but those who would be underpriests with Christ did. These were pictured by the tribe of Levi. (1 Peter 2:4, 5) Presentation of blood from a second sacrifice, the goat of the sin offering “for the people,” indicated that others of mankind would benefit from Jesus’ sacrifice after the heavenly class. These would be persons who would gain life in the restored Paradise on earth. They were pictured by “the twelve [nonpriestly] tribes of Israel” on Atonement Day. (Matthew 19:28; Psalm 37:29) Not only did Jesus die on behalf of all of these, but he actually carries away the sins of those for whom he died sacrificially, bringing relief to them. This was indicated by the fact that, finally, after the sins of Israel were confessed over a live goat, it was led away into the wilderness, never to be seen again.—Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 53:4-6.
9. (a) What blessings do those who exercise faith in Christ’s sacrifice enjoy now? (b) What further benefits will come later?
9 For all who exercise faith in Jehovah’s loving provision through Christ, true forgiveness of sins, a clean standing before God, is possible now regardless of their former way of life. They can enjoy the priceless blessing of rendering sacred service to God with a clean conscience. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Hebrews 9:13, 14) But this does not mean that they are at present granted life free from all effects of sin. (1 John 1:8-10; Romans 7:21-25) For those who are to rule in heaven with Christ, such a life will be realized only when they have finished their earthly course and are raised to immortality in the heavens. For others of mankind, complete relief from sin will be made possible by means of the re-creation.
“IN THE RE-CREATION”
10. (a) When did the re-creation begin? (b) Have any yet been given thrones in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise?
10 As Jesus said, the re-creation is “when the Son of man [Jesus Christ] sits down upon his glorious throne.” (Matthew 19:28) Of course, not everything took place immediately when he was enthroned. After Jesus’ enthronement in 1914 C.E., he first cleansed the heavens, ousting Satan and his demons. Then he proceeded to resurrect his anointed followers to heavenly glory. (Revelation 12:5, 7-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) Not only were the faithful apostles of Christ given the “twelve thrones” promised to them, but progressively all the others of the 144,000 are enthroned in heaven on their resurrection from the dead.—Revelation 3:21.
11. In what way are the “other sheep” already feeling the effects of the re-creation?
11 As the selecting of persons to make up the heavenly class drew to its close, the gathering of the great crowd of “other sheep” began, especially from 1935 onward. These, too, began to enjoy benefits from Christ’s sacrifice, ‘washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ They are being helped to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; Ephesians 4:20-24) In ever-growing numbers they are benefiting from God’s provisions through Christ that can lead to their living forever in the restored Paradise.—Revelation 7:17; 22:17.
12. (a) Who were represented by “the twelve tribes of Israel” to which Jesus here referred? (b) Who besides survivors will benefit from the re-creation?
12 Soon, now, the wicked world will be destroyed. Satan and his demons will be abyssed. The millennial Judgment Day for mankind will begin. Jesus Christ will be the Presiding Judge, and he will see that all are given full opportunity and ample help so that they can learn Jehovah’s righteous ways and comply with them. Those anointed followers of Christ who proved themselves integrity keepers till death will share with him in the work, ‘judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ (Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 20:4, 6) This does not mean that they will judge only the natural offspring of Israel. Rather, they will judge all who were foreshadowed by “the twelve [nonpriestly] tribes of Israel” on Atonement Day. This includes the entire world of redeemed mankind. (1 Corinthians 6:2) Survivors of the great tribulation will be the first to benefit from this program to uplift mankind. But billions more will also share, because those to be judged include “the living and the dead.” (2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 24:15) How thrilling it will be when the dead who are covered by the ransom sacrifice of Christ return! What tears of joy as loved ones are reunited!
13. How will the effects of the millennial Judgment Day truly be a re-creation?
13 This will be the time when, at long last, mankind is relieved of the physical and mental disabilities produced by sin. When on earth, Jesus instantly healed persons who were paralytics, those who were blind or deaf or who could not speak, and persons whose flesh was disfigured or whose strength had been sapped by disease. Those powerful works were just a foretaste of what he will do for all mankind during his Millennial Reign. With good reason, any who witness or experience such marvelous evidence of Jehovah’s kindness and who then spurn his sovereignty will be destroyed forever. But by means of education in Jehovah’s righteous ways, the thinking and motivations of those who demonstrate sincere faith and obedience will gradually improve until they attain to full perfection. Such lovers of Jehovah will truly have experienced a regeneration, a re-creation. It will be as if they were given a new start in life with a new father, the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 26:9; 9:6.
14. What precious relationship will all who pass the final test be privileged to enjoy?
14 Then, after passing a final test at the end of the thousand years, they will be adopted by Jehovah God through Christ as God’s own sons, as part of His perfect universal family. What an encouraging prospect this is—not only for survivors of the great tribulation but also for all the dead who are brought forth to share in the joy of life in a Paradise earth!—Romans 8:20, 21.