“Be Fruitful, Multiply, Fill the Earth”
TO THE first human pair, Adam and Eve, God stated, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the domestic animals, and all the living things that crawl on the earth!” (Gen. 1:28, AT) That this is God’s purpose regarding the earth is also made clear at Isaiah 45:18, where we are told that God formed the earth to be inhabited.
Since that is God’s purpose regarding the earth, it will be accomplished, for he further states: “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”—Isa. 46:11.
The command, “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth,” coming from Jehovah God himself, would therefore be an authoritative command, or a mandate; and he being the Divine One, it would be a divine mandate. When this divine mandate was given to our first parents they were perfect and righteous, for all God’s work is perfect. (Deut. 32:4) To assist them to continue in the way of righteousness and obedience and to protect them from evil, God provided them with a guardian angel. (Ezek. 28:13, 14) However, this guardian angel became filled with pride and selfishly ambitious. To further his ambitious scheme he lured our first parents into a course of disobedience resulting in their death. That cherub has since been known by the names Dragon, Serpent, Devil and Satan. (Rev. 20:2) Although at the time of his rebellion God decreed his destruction, he has been permitted to continue his nefarious activity up to the present time as “god of this world”. (Gen. 3:15; 2 Cor. 4:4) The purpose of that divine mandate being to have children brought forth in righteousness and unto life, it follows that under such unrighteous conditions and with Adam and Eve under the sentence of death the mandate could not be carried out as originally purposed by Jehovah God. Since God’s purposes do not change, we may confidently expect that divine mandate yet to be fulfilled.
Who will fulfill that divine mandate? Not Christians who hope to share heavenly glory with Christ Jesus, for the divine mandate is to be carried out on earth by human creatures. (See John 14:2, 3; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 20:5, 6.) Glorious spirit creatures in heaven could not carry out such a command.—1 Cor. 15:43, 44.
Neither will the resurrection of the dead be the fulfilling of that divine mandate. (John 5:28, 29) True, it will contribute to the filling of the earth, yet such would be done by the power of God and not by creatures in obedience to his mandate. Nor will the resurrected multitudes be privileged to do so, for Jesus plainly stated that such will not marry nor be given in marriage.—Matt. 22:30.
Who then will fulfill that divine mandate? The facts show that today God has bestowed his spirit upon many without awakening in them the hope of heavenly glory. These are described as a “great multitude” coming from all nations and are shown as standing before the throne of God ascribing salvation to him and to the Lamb. (Rev. 7:9-17) Seeking righteousness and meekness, they have the promise of being hidden in the day of God’s anger. (Zeph. 2:1-3) After that expression of wrath they will share in a fulfillment of that divine mandate.
THE FLOOD PROPHETIC
The events leading up to the flood of Noah’s day and those immediately following serve as a key to unlock these truths to us, picturing with remarkable accuracy what is now taking place and will shortly follow. That the time of Noah had prophetic significance Christ Jesus himself made clear, saying: “And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the presence of the Son of man.”—Matt. 24:37, AS, margin.
Regarding Noah’s day we read: “And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast . . . But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” Why? Because “Noah was a righteous man”.—Gen. 6:5, 7-9, AS.
Jehovah God therefore commanded Noah to build an ark or huge boat, into which he was to take his family and certain animals. Noah obeyed, thereby proving his faith by his works. And he further bore testimony to his faith by preaching, warning the wicked of the flood.—Heb. 11:7; 2 Pet. 2:5.
The ark served as a place of protection for Noah, his family and the animals he took therein. What did it picture? God’s provision for protecting his people at the present time from the catastrophe, the battle of Armageddon. (Rev. 16:16) And what is that provision? It is God’s organization, and it will serve as the place of protection from the expression of God’s wrath against his enemies, even as did the ark for Noah and his family.
After the ark had served God’s purpose in keeping alive the righteous ones and the flood waters had fully subsided and the earth was dried, God commanded Noah to come out of the ark, together with his family and all the animals. (Gen. 6:18; 7:2-11; 8:14-16) Noah and his family were the only human creatures alive at that time and all of them were considered righteous by God. To these he restated the divine mandate: “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.” (Gen. 9:2, AT) However, not being actually righteous and perfect but merely accounted so because of faith and obedience, they could fulfill that command in only a pictorial way.
In contrast to the sons of Noah, the great multitude who survive Armageddon will be able to carry out that divine mandate in actuality because they will receive the benefits of the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. (Matt. 20:28; Rom. 5:18, 19) Having been accounted worthy of being preserved through the destruction of this evil system of things because of their faith and obedience, continuing in such way they will gradually be lifted to perfection and actual and complete righteousness. (Isa. 26:9) Satan and his demon horde will no longer exert any evil influence over mankind, but will be abyssed for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:1-3) In their stead Christ Jesus and his bride will shower blessings upon obedient mankind.—Rev. 21:4, 5.
The question then arises: Since those who will comprise the great multitude are now being gathered, is the marriage of any of them now and their bringing forth children now the beginning of fulfilling the divine mandate? The fact that none of Noah’s sons had any children born to them before or during the flood would indicate that the answer to that question should be No. Only eight humans entered the ark and only eight came forth. (Gen. 7:13; 8:16; 1 Pet. 3:20) In harmony with the fact that the divine mandate was first restated after the flood, the first child mentioned was born two years after the flood. (Gen. 11:10) The conclusion is therefore inevitable that the time for the fulfillment of the divine mandate is after Armageddon.
Since the carrying out of the command to “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth” waits until after Armageddon, does that mean that those who now marry and rear children are violating God’s laws? No, for the Scriptures show that “marriage is honourable in all”.—Heb. 13:4.
The question then presents itself: What about those who now marry or who were married at the time they heeded the call of warning to flee into the antitypical ark by associating themselves with God’s organization? Will they have the same mates after Armageddon? If both mates are preserved through that catastrophe they will continue as man and wife. The end of the old world will not dissolve such marriage ties. The Scriptures show that only the death or the unfaithfulness of one’s mate frees one from the covenant entered into at the time of marriage. This latter fact should have a sobering effect upon all those contemplating marriage now.
The fulfilling of the command “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth” by the great multitude surviving Armageddon and the complete filling of the earth by the resurrected millions will be in vindication of Jehovah’s supremacy. How so? Because this was the original purpose of Jehovah God as announced to the first human pair in the garden of Eden, and the rebellious cherub who became Satan the Devil staked everything on his ability to thwart that purpose to fill the earth with God-fearing people and thus demonstrate that God was not supreme. Having turned aside Adam and Eve, he boasted that he could do the same with all of their offspring. (Job 1 and 2) It was for the purpose of giving him time to prove that boast that God permitted him to remain.—Ex. 9:16, AT.
To maintain his supremacy Jehovah God must exercise his justice and power in the destruction of the wicked. Could he do so and still realize his purpose regarding the earth? That was the issue. The facts show that he has been and is able to do so, for, even as he had faithful men and women on the earth before the flood whom he preserved during that catastrophe, so he has men and women on the earth now whom he is justified in preserving through the expression of his wrath against all unrighteousness at Armageddon, because of their faith and obedience. These who thus prove Satan’s boast that he can turn all men away from Jehovah God to be a lie will be rewarded with the blessings of the new world, including the fulfillment of the command “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth”. Also, thereby they will have a still greater share in vindicating Jehovah’s supremacy by making his purpose regarding the earth come true; namely, the earth filled with a righteous race of human creatures living in an earth-wide Paradise, who will have dominion over the lower animals and who will serve God in spirit and in truth.
“And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for destruction; for they are a race of the LORD’S blessed ones, and their offspring shall remain with them. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”—Isa. 65:21, 23, 25, AT.