1, 2. What losses afflict the human family today, and how do these affect us?
A CHILD loses or breaks a beloved toy and lets out a plaintive cry. The sound is heartrending! Have you ever seen, though, how a child’s face lights up when a parent restores what was lost? To the parent, it may be a simple matter to find the toy or even to fix it. But the child is all smiles and full of wonder. What seemed to be gone forever has been restored!
2 Jehovah, the ultimate Parent, has the power to restore what his earthly children may view as hopelessly lost. Of course, we do not mean mere toys. In these “critical times hard to deal with,” we have to face losses that are far more serious. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Much of what people hold dear seems ever at risk—home, possessions, employment, even health. We may also feel dismayed when we contemplate the destruction of the environment and the resulting loss, by extinction, of many species of living things. However, nothing hits us as hard as the death of someone we love. The feelings of loss and powerlessness can be overwhelming.—2 Samuel 18:33.
3. What comforting prospect is outlined at Acts 3:21, and by what means will Jehovah fulfill it?
3 How comforting, then, to learn about Jehovah’s restorative power! As we will see, there is an amazing scope to what God can and will restore to his earthly children. In fact, the Bible shows that Jehovah purposes the “restoration of all things.” (Acts 3:21) To accomplish this, Jehovah will use the Messianic Kingdom, ruled by his Son, Jesus Christ. The evidence shows that this Kingdom began ruling in heaven in 1914.* (Matthew 24:3-14) What will be restored? Let us consider some of Jehovah’s grand acts of restoration. One of these we can already see and experience. Others will occur on a large scale in the future.
The Restoration of Pure Worship
4, 5. What happened to God’s people in 607 B.C.E., and what hope did Jehovah offer them?
4 One thing that Jehovah has already restored is pure worship. In order to grasp what this means, let us briefly examine the history of the kingdom of Judah. Doing so will give us thrilling insight into Jehovah’s restorative power at work.—Romans 15:4.
5 Just imagine how faithful Jews felt in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was destroyed. Their beloved city was shattered, its walls torn down. Worse still, the glorious temple that Solomon had built, the one center for pure worship of Jehovah in all the earth, was left in ruins. (Psalm 79:1) The survivors were taken into exile in Babylon, leaving their homeland a desolate haunt of wild animals. (Jeremiah 9:11) From a human standpoint, all seemed lost. (Psalm 137:1) But Jehovah, who had long foretold this destruction, provided hope that a time of restoration lay ahead.
6-8. (a) What recurring theme is found in the writings of the Hebrew prophets, and how did such prophecies see an initial fulfillment? (b) In modern times, how have God’s people experienced a fulfillment of the restoration prophecies?
6 In fact, restoration was a recurring theme in the writings of the Hebrew prophets.* Through them, Jehovah promised a land restored and repopulated, fertile, protected from wild beasts and enemy attack. He described their restored land as a veritable paradise! (Isaiah 65:25; Ezekiel 34:25; 36:35) Above all, pure worship would be reestablished, and the temple would be rebuilt. (Micah 4:1-5) These prophecies gave the exiled Jews hope, helping them to endure their 70-year captivity in Babylon.
7 At last, the time of restoration came. Freed from Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt Jehovah’s temple there. (Ezra 1:1, 2) As long as they adhered to pure worship, Jehovah blessed them and made their land fertile and prosperous. He protected them from enemies and from the wild beasts that had overrun their land for decades. How they must have rejoiced in Jehovah’s restorative power! But those events represented only an initial, limited fulfillment of many restoration prophecies. A greater fulfillment was to come “in the final part of the days,” our own time, when the long-promised Heir of King David would be enthroned.—Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6, 7.
8 Shortly after Jesus was enthroned in the heavenly Kingdom in 1914, he addressed the spiritual needs of God’s faithful people on earth. Just as the Persian conqueror Cyrus freed a remnant of Jews from Babylon in 537 B.C.E., Jesus freed a remnant of spiritual Jews—his own footstep followers—from the influence of a modern-day Babylon, the world empire of false religion. (Romans 2:29; Revelation 18:1-5) From 1919 onward, pure worship has been restored to its proper place in the lives of genuine Christians. (Malachi 3:1-5) Ever since then, Jehovah’s people have worshiped him in his cleansed spiritual temple—God’s arrangement for pure worship. Why is this important to us today?
Spiritual Restoration—Why It Matters
9. After the apostolic age, what did the churches of Christendom do to the worship of God, but what has Jehovah done in our day?
9 Consider the historical perspective. Christians back in the first century enjoyed many spiritual blessings. But Jesus and the apostles foretold that true worship would be corrupted and lost. (Matthew 13:24-30; Acts 20:29, 30) After the apostolic age, Christendom arose. Her clergymen adopted pagan teachings and practices. They also made approach to God all but impossible, painting him as an incomprehensible Trinity and teaching people to confess to priests and to pray to Mary and various “saints” instead of to Jehovah. Now, after many centuries of such corruption, what has Jehovah done? In the midst of today’s world—a world that is choked with religious falsehood and befouled with ungodly practices—he has stepped in and restored pure worship! Without exaggerating, we can say that this restoration is one of the most important developments in modern times.
10, 11. (a) What two elements does the spiritual paradise involve, and how are you affected? (b) Jehovah has gathered into the spiritual paradise what type of people, and what will they be privileged to witness?
10 True Christians today therefore enjoy a spiritual paradise. What does this paradise involve? Primarily, two elements. The first is the pure worship of the true God, Jehovah. He has blessed us with a way of worship that is free of lies and distortions. He has blessed us with spiritual food. This enables us to learn about our heavenly Father, to please him, and to draw close to him. (John 4:24) The second aspect of the spiritual paradise involves people. As Isaiah foretold, “in the final part of the days,” Jehovah has taught his worshipers the ways of peace. He has abolished warfare among us. Despite our imperfections, he helps us to put on “the new personality.” He blesses our efforts with his holy spirit, which produces beautiful fruitage in us. (Ephesians 4:22-24; Galatians 5:22, 23) When you work in harmony with God’s spirit, you are truly part of the spiritual paradise.
11 Jehovah has gathered into this spiritual paradise the type of people that he loves—those who love him, who love peace, and who are “conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) Such are the people who will be privileged to witness an even more spectacular restoration—that of mankind and of the entire earth.
“Look! I Am Making All Things New”
12, 13. (a) Why must the restoration prophecies see still another fulfillment? (b) What is Jehovah’s purpose for the earth as stated in Eden, and why does this give us hope for the future?
12 Many of the restoration prophecies call for more than a spiritual restoration. Isaiah, for example, wrote of a time when the sick, the lame, the blind, and the deaf would be healed and even death itself would be swallowed up forever. (Isaiah 25:8; 35:1-7) Such promises did not see a literal fulfillment in ancient Israel. And while we have seen a spiritual fulfillment of these promises in our day, there is every reason to believe that in the future, there will be a literal, full-scale fulfillment. How do we know that?
13 Back in Eden, Jehovah made clear his purpose for the earth: It was to be inhabited by a happy, healthy, united family of mankind. Man and woman were to care for the earth and all of its creatures, to turn the entire planet into a paradise. (Genesis 1:28) That is a far cry from the present state of affairs. Rest assured, though, that Jehovah’s purposes are never thwarted. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) Jesus, as the Messianic King appointed by Jehovah, will bring about this global Paradise.—Luke 23:43.
14, 15. (a) How will Jehovah make “all things new”? (b) What will life be like in Paradise, and which aspect is most appealing to you?
14 Imagine seeing the whole earth turned into Paradise! Jehovah says of that time: “Look! I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Consider what that will mean. When Jehovah has finished wielding his destructive power against this wicked old system, there will remain “new heavens and a new earth.” This means that a new government will reign from heaven over a new earthly society composed of those who love Jehovah and who do his will. (2 Peter 3:13) Satan, along with his demons, will be put out of commission. (Revelation 20:3) For the first time in thousands of years, mankind will be free of that corrupt, hateful, negative influence. The sense of relief will no doubt be overwhelming.
15 At last, we will be able to take care of this beautiful planet as we were originally meant to do. The earth has natural restorative powers. Polluted lakes and rivers can cleanse themselves if the source of the pollution is eliminated; battle-scarred landscapes can heal if the wars cease. What a pleasure it will be to work in harmony with the earth, helping to turn it into a gardenlike park, a global Eden of endless variety! Instead of wantonly wiping out animal and plant species, man will be at peace with all creation on earth. Even children will have nothing to fear from wild animals.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-9.
16. In Paradise, what restoration will affect each faithful individual?
16 We will also experience restoration on a personal level. After Armageddon, the survivors will see miraculous healings on a global scale. As he did while on earth, Jesus will use his God-given power to restore sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, soundness of body to the lame and infirm. (Matthew 15:30) The aged will delight in renewed youthful strength, health, and vigor. (Job 33:25) Wrinkles will vanish, limbs will straighten, and muscles will flex with renewed power. All of faithful mankind will sense that the effects of sin and imperfection are gradually diminishing, dropping away. How we will thank Jehovah God for his marvelous restorative power! Let us now focus on one especially heartwarming aspect of this thrilling time of restoration.
Restoring Life to the Dead
17, 18. (a) Why did Jesus reprimand the Sadducees? (b) What circumstances led Elijah to ask Jehovah to perform a resurrection?
17 In the first century C.E., some religious leaders, called Sadducees, did not believe in the resurrection. Jesus reprimanded them with the words: “You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) Yes, the Scriptures reveal that Jehovah has such restorative power. How so?
18 Picture what happened in Elijah’s day. A widow was holding the limp body of her only child in her arms. The boy was dead. The prophet Elijah, who had been the widow’s guest for some time, must have been shocked. Earlier, he helped rescue this child from starvation. Elijah may well have grown attached to the little fellow. The mother was just heartbroken. This boy had been her only living reminder of her dead husband. She may have hoped that her son would care for her in her old age. Distraught, the widow feared that she was being punished for some past error. Elijah could not bear to see this tragedy thus compounded. He gently took the corpse from the mother’s bosom, carried it up to his room, and asked Jehovah God to restore the child’s soul, or life.—1 Kings 17:8-21.
19, 20. (a) How did Abraham show that he had faith in Jehovah’s restorative power, and what was the basis for such faith? (b) How did Jehovah reward Elijah’s faith?
19 Elijah was not the first person to believe in the resurrection. Centuries earlier, Abraham believed that Jehovah has such restorative power—and for good reason. When Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, Jehovah restored their deadened reproductive powers, miraculously enabling Sarah to bear a son. (Genesis 17:17; 21:2, 3) Later, when the boy was fully grown, Jehovah asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham showed faith, reckoning that Jehovah could restore his beloved Isaac to life. (Hebrews 11:17-19) Such intense faith may explain why Abraham, before ascending the mountain to offer up his son, assured his servants that he and Isaac would return together.—Genesis 22:5.
20 Jehovah spared Isaac, so there was no need for a resurrection at that time. In Elijah’s case, however, the widow’s son was already dead—but not for long. Jehovah rewarded the prophet’s faith by resurrecting the child! Elijah then handed the boy over to his mother, with these unforgettable words: “See, your son is alive”!—1 Kings 17:22-24.
21, 22. (a) What was the purpose of the resurrections recorded in the Scriptures? (b) In Paradise, how extensive will the resurrection be, and who will carry it out?
21 Thus for the first time in the Bible record, we see Jehovah using his power to restore a human life. Later, Jehovah also empowered Elisha, Jesus, Paul, and Peter to restore the dead to life. Of course, those who were resurrected eventually died again. Nonetheless, such Bible accounts give us a wonderful preview of things to come.
22 In Paradise, Jesus will fulfill his role as “the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) He will resurrect countless millions, giving them an opportunity to live forever in Paradise on earth. (John 5:28, 29) Imagine the reunions as beloved friends and relatives, long separated by death, embrace one another, quite beside themselves with joy! All mankind will praise Jehovah for his restorative power.
23. What was the greatest of all demonstrations of Jehovah’s power, and how does this guarantee our hope for the future?
23 Jehovah has furnished a rock-solid guarantee that such hopes are secure. In the greatest of all demonstrations of his power, he resurrected his Son, Jesus, as a mighty spirit creature, making him second only to Jehovah. The resurrected Jesus appeared to hundreds of eyewitnesses. (1 Corinthians 15:5, 6) Even for skeptics, such evidence should be ample. Jehovah has the power to restore life.
24. Why can we be confident that Jehovah will resurrect the dead, and what hope may each of us cherish?
24 Not only does Jehovah have the power to restore the dead but he also has the desire to do so. The faithful man Job was inspired to say that Jehovah actually yearns to bring back the dead. (Job 14:15) Are you not drawn to our God, who is eager to use his restorative power in such a loving way? Remember, though, that the resurrection is but one aspect of Jehovah’s great restoration work ahead. As you draw ever closer to him, always cherish the precious hope that you can be there to see Jehovah “making all things new.”—Revelation 21:5.
“The times of restoration of all things” began when the Messianic Kingdom was established with an heir of faithful King David on the throne. Jehovah had promised David that an heir of his would rule forever. (Psalm 89:35-37) But after Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., no human descendant of David sat on God’s throne. Jesus, who was born on earth as an heir of David, became the long-promised King when he was enthroned in heaven.
For example, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, and Zephaniah all developed this theme.