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 everywhere. Though it is far from that now, the Bible foretells that the earth will yet become a splendid home where the human family will enjoy life to the full.
2 Just what does the Bible promise? How can we be sure that it 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 Certain basic laws 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. They know that the movements of the sun, moon, and planets are reliable. What can we learn from this?
4 The Maker of those laws is completely reliable. We can depend on what he says and does. It is in his name, as Creator of heaven and earth, that the Bible promises a righteous new order. (Isaiah 45:18, 19) In our daily routine of life, we normally rely in some measure on other people—those who bring food to the market, those who deliver the mail, and close friends. Is it not reasonable, then, to place far, far more confidence in God and in the certain fulfillment of his promises?—Isaiah 55:10, 11.
5. How does the lack of any selfish motive in what God has promised give us faith?
5 Though the promises of men are often unreliable, God’s promises are completely reliable and are for our advantage, not his own. Though God does not need anything from us, he does find delight in those who put faith in him because they love him and his righteous ways.—Psalm 50:10-12, 14.
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. The soundness of that basis becomes more and more evident as we grow in knowledge of God’s Word and see its truth at work in our own lives and in the fulfillment of its prophecies.—Psalm 34:8-10.
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 normal human desires. 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 The word “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, a name meaning “Paradise of Pleasure.” But Paradise was not to be limited to that one location. 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, a divinely stated purpose not ended by the disobedient course of Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ himself showed confidence in this purpose when he promised a man who died alongside him that he would have an opportunity to live in such an earthly Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43) How will this come about?
10. According to Revelation 11:18, what obstacles to Paradise does God promise to remove?
10 In the coming “great tribulation” God will clear away all obstacles to his incoming earthly Paradise by ‘bringing to ruin those ruining the earth.’ (Revelation 11:18) God will thus do what human governments could never do. He will clear out all those who selfishly pollute the earth to satisfy commercial greed, all who wage devastating wars, and all who misuse the earth because they lack respect for the bountiful gifts that God has provided.
11. (a) What historical event shows that restoring Paradise to the earth 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, nor is it contrary to human experience. Many centuries ago, when the nation of Israel came out of exile in Babylon, Jehovah God restored them to their homeland, which was then a desolate waste. Yet, because of God’s blessing on them and their work, the land soon became so beautiful that neighboring peoples could exclaim: ‘It has become like the garden of Eden!’ It also became very productive, removing any threat of hunger and famine. (Ezekiel 36:29, 30, 35; Isaiah 35:1, 2; 55:13) What God did back then illustrated on a small scale what he will yet do on a global scale to fulfill his promises. All persons counted worthy to live then will enjoy the divinely provided pleasures of life in Paradise.—Psalm 67:6, 7; 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 Poverty and bondage to national economic systems are common earth wide. There could be no real enjoyment of Paradise if millions went on laboring for just bare subsistence or doing monotonous work that makes a person 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 such matters with ancient Israel. There, each family received a hereditary possession of land. (Judges 2:6) Although this could be sold, and individuals could even 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 economic provisions in the Law he gave his people. The seventh year of servitude was a ‘year of release’ when any Israelite in bondage must be set free. Also, every 50th year was “a Jubilee” year for the whole nation, a year to “proclaim liberty” to all its inhabitants. (Deuteronomy 15:1-9; Leviticus 25:10) Then any hereditary possession that had been sold was returned to its original owner. All in servitude were released, even though seven years might not have 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. Its sale was, in effect, just a lease that would end, at the latest, in the Jubilee year.—Leviticus 25:8-24.
15 All of this contributed to the economic stability of the nation and to the security and peace of each family. When these laws were observed, the nation was kept from falling into the sad picture we see today in so many lands where extremes of wealth and poverty exist side by side. 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, “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree.” (1 Kings 4:25) Today many cannot employ all their talents and initiative because they are trapped in economic systems that force them to serve the desires of a few or of even just one. Under God’s laws the industrious person was helped to contribute his abilities to the welfare and enjoyment of all. This gives us an indication of 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 its subjects?
16 Earth wide the prophecy of Micah 4:3, 4 will have a wonderful 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 on earth’ to see that this happens.—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 reasonable to believe that man was designed to live forever?
17 None of these very fine conditions, however, could make life genuinely peaceful and secure as long as sickness, old age, and death cloud the future. Is it irrational or contrary to human experience to hope for relief from these distressing things? It certainly is not contrary to man’s nature to want this, for men have spent lifetimes and untold sums of money trying to accomplish it.
18 So the hope of lasting health and life is not at all unreasonable. Indeed, what really is unreasonable is this: Just when humans reach an age where they begin to have the knowledge, experience, and ability to do worthwhile things, they begin to grow old and then eventually die. Yet, there are trees that live for thousands of years! Why should man, who was made in God’s likeness, live for only a fraction of the time that some unintelligent vegetation does? Reasonably, should he not live far, far longer?
19 For specialists who study aging, the process is still largely a mystery. Mystifying, too, is the fact that the human brain is designed to take in virtually unlimited amounts of information. As a science writer said, the brain 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.”55 That means that your brain is capable of handling not only any load you might put on it in a lifetime of 70 or 80 years but also a thousand million times more! No wonder man has such a thirst for knowledge, such a desire to learn to do and accomplish things. Yet he is blocked by the shortness of his life. Does it make sense that the prodigious capacity of the human brain should be there and yet no more than a tiny fraction of its potential be used? Is it not far more reasonable to conclude, as the Bible does, that Jehovah designed man to live forever on earth and gave him a brain admirably suited to that purpose?
20. 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 to live forever but lost it through rebellion: “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) 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; compare 7:16, 17.) It 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 to the billions who have died in the past. How? By a resurrection that empties mankind’s common grave. Jesus 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 Medical science today is able to produce “miracle drugs” and perform surgical feats that would have seemed incredible even a few decades ago. Should we doubt that the One who created humans can do far more astounding feats of healing? Surely the Creator has the ability to restore righteoushearted persons to vibrant health, even reversing the aging process. And he can do this without resorting to drugs, surgery, or artificial organs. Considerately, God has provided evidence that such blessings are not too much to hope for.
22 God 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 things like this in full view of many witnesses, as the historian Matthew 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 to see how factual and true to life the historical report of such cures is. The truthfulness of these events is 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 will be restored to life under God’s Kingdom?
23 For similar reasons we need not view as beyond belief the Bible promise that “there is going to be a resurrection” of the dead. (Acts 24:15) Even years after death, a person’s voice, appearance, and actions can be restored from film or videotape. Should not the One who created man, who knows the precise atomic and molecular structure of man, be able to do far more than that? Man-made computers can store and coordinate literally billions of pieces of data. But God created the awesome universe with its billions (thousands of millions) of galaxies, each galaxy containing billions of stars. That totals trillions, quadrillions, and even more! Yet, Psalm 147:4 says: “He is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names”! Surely it would be simple for God, who has such enormous memory capacity, to remember the personalities of individuals in order to restore them to life.—Job 14:13.
24 Again, Jehovah provided historical examples to strengthen our faith in such a marvelous hope. He granted his Son power to demonstrate on a small scale what he will do on a large scale during his righteous rule over earth. Jesus resurrected a number of dead persons, often in full view of onlookers. Lazarus, whom he resurrected near Jerusalem, had even been dead long enough for his body to begin to decompose. Certainly the resurrection hope has a sound 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? It took over 5,000 years for the earth’s population to reach one billion in the early 1800’s. Today, it is about five billion.
26 Therefore, those alive today represent a sizable portion of the total number of people who have ever lived. Some have estimated the total population throughout all human history at about 15,000,000,000 persons. The earth’s land area is more than 36,000,000,000 acres (15,000,000,000 ha). That would allow more than two acres (1 ha) per person. Not only would this provide space for food production but it would also allow for forests, mountains, and other scenic areas—with no undue crowding in Paradise. Then, too, the Bible shows that not all those now living will survive and live in that New Order. Indeed, Jesus said, “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it.” He also noted that when world destruction comes, those not doing Jehovah’s will are to “depart into everlasting cutting-off.”—Matthew 7:13; 25:46.
27. Could the earth produce enough food for all those people?
27 But could the earth produce enough food for so many people? Scientists claim that it could, even under present conditions. A Toronto Star report noted: “According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) there is already enough grain grown globally to feed everyone on earth with 3,000 calories per day, which is . . . about 50 per cent above the minimum acceptable level.”56 As for the future, it explained that even under today’s conditions, there could be enough food to satisfy the needs of double the present world population. Also, we must remember that Jehovah will direct his people to utilize the earth’s agricultural potential properly, for Psalm 72:16 assures us: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”
28. Why is there no danger that with people living forever, the earth would in time become overcrowded?
28 We should note what God’s purpose is, as originally stated to the first human pair. They were told to “fill the earth and subdue it,” extending Eden’s limits to the farthest reaches of earth. (Genesis 1:28) Clearly, this means filling the earth to a comfortable extent, not overfilling it with people. That would still allow for the ‘subdued’ earth to be a global park in the pattern of man’s original parklike home. So, this divine command indicates that in God’s due time and way, population growth would be controlled.
A Sure Foundation for Enduring Happiness
29. What effect do relationships with other people have on a person’s happiness?
29 However, even beautiful surroundings, material prosperity, interesting work, and good health would not guarantee your lasting happiness. Many today have these things and yet are unhappy. Why? Because of people around them who may be selfish, quarrelsome, hypocritical, or hateful. Enduring happiness in God’s New Order will come in large measure from an earth wide change in the attitude of people. Their love and respect for God and their desire to carry out his purposes will bring spiritual prosperity. Without that, material prosperity becomes unsatisfying and empty.
30. How do we know that those who live in God’s New Order will be only persons who contribute to the peace and security of others?
30 Yes, it is a real pleasure to be around people who are kind, humble, friendly—people you can really love and trust, who feel the same way about you. (Psalm 133:1; Proverbs 15:17) Love of God is what ensures true love of neighbor, which will make life so pleasant in His righteous New Order. All those whom God will favor with eternal life will have proved their love for him and for their fellowman. With such 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 Truly, such a grand prospect is open to you! So the course of practical wisdom is to find out what is required to receive it. Now is the time to bring your life into harmony with God’s requirements for those who will be spared through the coming “great tribulation.”—2 Peter 3:11-13.
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The day will soon come when the entire earth will be transformed into a paradise