The Peace That Follows War from Heaven
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:1, 4, NW.
1. What is Jehovah’s purpose for the earth?
“THE earth abideth for ever.” This inspired utterance proves false the religious claim that the earth is to be destroyed. Jehovah created the earth not to be a wasteland but “formed it to be inhabited.” This announced divine purpose routs the contention that fire is to reduce the earth to a cinder. Jehovah’s purpose is not to ruin the earth but to save it. Armageddon will not ruin it, but instead will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Eccl. 1:4; Isa. 45:18; Rev. 11:18, NW.
2, 3. What does the Bible say about the destruction of heavens and earth, and why could it not mean the literal heavens and earth?
2 But is it not true that the Bible says the earth is reserved for fire in the day of judgment? Yes, it does, and some might hastily conclude that this contradicts the other text stating that the earth abides forever. Not so, however, for by reading in its setting the statement about fire it becomes obvious that the literal planet is not the thing meant by “earth”: “There were heavens in ancient times and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God, and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men. Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:5-7, 10-13, NW.
3 First this statement refers to the flood of Noah’s time, when an ancient world consisting of heavens and earth was destroyed by water. Did the floodwaters destroy the literal planet Earth? Certainly not, for Noah and his household survived the flood in an ark, emerged from it when the waters subsided, and set foot on the same earth they had stood on before the flood. The literal earth survived the flood and abides to this day, carrying the scars of its experience with the watery deluge. And certainly the flood of Noah’s day did not destroy the literal heavens poised many light-years above earth’s surface! Yet a heavens and earth did pass away and were replaced by another heavens and earth, “the heavens and the earth that are now,” and which are the ones to be destroyed by fire. And to replace them are “new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” Just as the starry heavens and this planet survived the Noachian flood, so they will endure through Armageddon’s fiery destruction, continuing on and abiding forever. And incidentally, how can these religionists who insist on such a literal view be taken to heaven when the earth is burned up, inasmuch as even “the heavens being on fire will be dissolved”?
4. What were the heavens and earth ended by the flood, and what heavens and earth will Armageddon end?
4 What, then, were the ancient heavens and earth removed by the flood? “Heavens” referred to invisible spirit creatures that had joined Satan in rebellion and materialized to cohabit with women. This arrangement was ended by the flood. “Earth” meant the wicked human creatures living on this planet, and who were destroyed by the flood. This view is not an arbitrary, private interpretation, for very frequently the Bible uses the designation of a place or realm to mean the inhabitants thereof, just as men today speak of Russia or Egypt or Mexico and can mean either the place or the people, depending on the context. Consider: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth.” “All the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom.” “Sing unto Jehovah, all the earth.” The physical heavens and earth are not being told to listen. They have no ears with which to hear. But the angels dwelling in heaven can listen, and the people inhabiting earth could go hear Solomon and they could sing Jehovah’s praise. Satan and his demons still exist, though not in the same arrangement as prior to the flood, and they are the heavens that will be downed at Armageddon. Peoples organized into nations opposed to Jehovah constitute the earth that will be consumed by Armageddon’s fiery judgments.—Isa. 1:2; 1 Ki. 10:24; Ps. 96:1, AS; Gen. 6:1, 2; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 12:9, 12; 20:1, 2.
5. Who has forsaken whom, and how well has man managed his peace efforts?
5 Only thereafter will permanent peace come to earth, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of the majority of men. Many persons today think that God is not interested in the earth, that he has forsaken it. They reason as did many in Ezekiel’s day: “Jehovah seeth us not; Jehovah hath forsaken the land.” But Jehovah will forsake neither the earth nor obedient men on it. Actually, the peoples of Christendom have forsaken him: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Instead of drinking the life-giving waters of truth contained in Jehovah’s Word they turn to scientific philosophies and political schemes of men. Rather than look to Christ’s kingdom to establish peace they trust in human diplomacy and inhuman war. The former is stalemated by national selfishness and the latter only sows the seed for future conflicts. As they talk of peace they prepare for war. They say, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” Little wonder that “the ambassadors of peace weep bitterly,” for their negotiations end in chronic frustration and failure. And war, never a solution, is becoming an increasingly dangerous alternative in this atomic age, as pointed out by the head of the British Association for the Advancement of Science: “We must face the possibility that repeated atomic explosions will lead to a degree of general radioactivity which no one can tolerate or escape.” So Jehovah is not exaggerating, is he? when he says he must stop them from “ruining the earth.”—Ezek. 8:12; Jer. 2:13; 6:14; Isa. 33:7, AS.
PEACEFUL WORLD AFTER ARMAGEDDON
6. Why is it that Armageddon will not need to be fought again, later on?
6 The war from heaven sows no seed for future conflict, for it is a righteous battle that leaves no injustice in its wake. The prophecy states: “What do ye devise against Jehovah? he will make a full end; affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Jesus said this tribulation would not occur again. (Nah. 1:9, AS; Matt. 24:21) Why should it? All of the peace wreckers will have been removed from earth; only the peace lovers will remain. All of them will be devoted to the one true God, Jehovah, and guided by his principles. There will be unity of thought and action. Certainly there will be no revival of human warfare then, when even now in the midst of this fighting, bleeding, dying old world Jehovah’s New World society enjoys the fulfillment of this peaceful prophecy: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Mic. 4:3, AS.
7. How have men measured up to Jehovah’s original purposes for earth?
7 But the “new heavens and a new earth” that replaces “the heavens and the earth that are now,” the “present wicked system of things,” will go far beyond the mere elimination of human warfare. It will see the realization of all of Jehovah’s purposes concerning the earth: “I have spoken, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.” Jehovah’s original purpose was to have the earth not only populated with righteous persons but also beautified by them. They were to dress and keep and subdue the earth, seeing to it that it be clothed in green growth that would keep the soil from eroding and that would not be choked out of existence by unwanted weeds. They were to subdue the earth, make it subject to their control, keep it in a parklike state and even exercise a loving dominion over the lower animals. How far short men of this world have fallen! Because of commercial greed man has cut the forests from the hills and left the land exposed, to be eroded away by wind and rain. By plowing under the grasses of the plains man has turned these rolling green seas into worthless dust bowls. Some of his greedy mining methods wash away all the soil and leave a ruin of boulder-strewn fields. And what animal life he has not wastefully exploited for monetary gain he has wantonly slaughtered in selfish sport. What a mess man has made while flaunting Jehovah’s purpose for earth! Instead of dressing it he has stripped it, instead of keeping it he has lost it, instead of subduing it he has ruined it, and instead of lovingly dominating the animals he has selfishly exploited them or wantonly slain them.—Gal. 1:4, NW; Isa. 46:11, AS; Gen. 2:15; 1:28.
8. How have men shown a lack of appreciation for the earth as their home?
8 Men have shown no appreciation for their earthly home. In the grip of greed they have exploited its animal and vegetable and mineral resources, wholly oblivious of the needs of future generations. And even at the time the earth is being raided and plundered the gain goes to enrich the few, while the majority suffer want. The ruining of the earth accelerates in this atomic age. It does not stop with the looting of natural resources, but earth’s ability to sustain life itself is imperiled. The use of deadly rays in industry and medicine and the testing of atomic weapons are polluting land and sea and air, until many scientists fear contamination will reach the point where life of any kind will be impossible on earth. Though some religionists teach that Jehovah will destroy the earth, the facts declare that man is the one who threatens it. Instead of destroying it, Jehovah will come to its rescue. He must rescue it from depraved men, rising up at Armageddon to ruin those ruiners of the earth.
9. How will obedient men treat the earth after Armageddon?
9 Only obedient men will survive that battle of God Almighty. They will appreciate their earthly home, and prove it by caring for it in harmony with the divine will. They will cultivate it, beautify it, convert it into a global paradise, all under the direction of the invisible new heavens. Former conditions of famine will be forgotten as earth yields its increase, with never a drought or plant disease or insect plague to cause crop failures. (Ps. 67:6) Land not used to produce food will be carpeted with grass and flowers, shrubs and forests, providing places for relaxation and recreation for man and dwelling places for birds and animals of all kinds. Permanent peace will flourish between man and the animal realm as man exercises God-assigned dominion.
10. What change must come before human conduct will change?
10 God’s law will be in the hearts of men. His principles will be instilled in their minds. Consciences trained in righteousness will guide in paths of justice and love. Rules will fade in importance as words and deeds spring from hearts filled with righteousness. Goodness is not legislated, but comes from within, spontaneously, when hearts are filled with Jehovah’s spirit. In spite of many good laws and governmental principles, men today turn to what is immoral and evil, because out of imperfect and sick hearts men speak and act, and from such hearts there rise many wickednesses. (Prov. 23:7; Matt. 12:34; 15:19) Before there can be a real change of mind and conduct, there must be a change of heart. When hearts are filled with love for Jehovah and regard for his will and ways and thoughts, then, and then only, will righteousness and peace settle over the earth.
11. For what will there then be no more need?
11 Then there will be no more war, no more testing of weapons, no more conscripting and training of men to fight and kill. Resources now gorged by war will be used for mankind’s benefit and earth’s improvement. The need for international politics will be over, for all will be one people, Jehovah’s people, regardless of skin color or geographical location. There will be no need for doctors, for there will be no sick; no need for undertakers, for there will be no dead; no need for prisons, for there will be no criminals; no need for divorce courts, for there will be no divorce; no need for orphanages, for who would live there?
12, 13. What prophecy directly applies to earthly conditions after Armageddon, and what picture does it paint?
12 Revelation 21:1, 3, 4 (NW) testifies directly about New World conditions after the passing of “the heavens and the earth that are now.” Re 21 Verse one says: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more.” Not only will the invisible ruling heavens and the visible earthly rulers of this wicked world be gone, but also the masses of humanity alienated from God, pictured by the restless and agitated sea, will be removed. They cannot serve two masters; they cannot support God and also bear up Satan’s harlotrous system. (Isa. 17:12, 13; Matt. 6:24; Luke 21:25; Rev. 17:1, 15) Remaining on earth will be those who now, prior to Armageddon, seek meekness and righteousness, who study and obediently follow Jehovah’s Word. To them after Armageddon verses three and four of Revelation chapter twenty-one will apply: “And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”
13 Actually, this promise alone covers everything. If there will be no tears there will be no sadness, no depressing or oppressing conditions, nothing but contentment and happiness. If there is no pain there could hardly be any crippling accidents. There could be no sickness if there is to be no mourning, no disease if there is to be no outcry. And with no more death obedient mankind will live forever to enjoy forever the paradisaic conditions on the eternally abiding planet Earth. With worry, trouble, sorrow, sickness, pain, war and death gone, what could mar the sublime peace and contentment and satisfaction of Jehovah’s new world of righteousness? Surely every sane person would want to gain eternal life in it.
14. What objection do some raise, but with what inconsistency?
14 Oddly, however, some amazingly reply that they would not want to live in a troubleless world, arguing that it would be dull and uninteresting, contending that trouble constitutes a challenge that enlivens existence. But these persons are very inconsistent. At other times they bitterly complain that if God is all powerful why does he permit so much trouble on earth. Yet why this complaint? Why not thank God for allowing the trouble? Do they not say it is this trouble that makes their life interesting, that routs dullness? And they find unattractive a new world of righteousness free of trouble. So why should they now rail against God for permitting the trouble they contend makes them happy? Actually, they are being unreasonable and childish, refusing to be satisfied regardless of what Jehovah allows or does. Jesus likened his generation to children that did not want to play either a joyful game or a sad one. They did not like John because he did not eat or drink; they did not like Jesus because he did eat and drink. They just wanted to find fault, to be dissatisfied and critical. In the same foolish category are persons today who complain because there is trouble in this old world and who also complain because there will be none in the new world.—Matt. 11:16-19.
15. What will keep the new world from being dull?
15 The new world will not be dull. It does not need trouble and sickness and death to keep it from being so. There will be work to do, and the promise is that men will “long enjoy the work of their hands.” There will be an abundance of work, both mental and physical. To dress and keep and subdue the earth will be an absorbing project, and to exercise loving dominion over the lower animals will give thrilling pleasure. Some minds will invent things, others will produce things, and still others will use things. There will be wide varieties of work, each with its problems to challenge the mental faculties and manual skills. Idleness and monotony will not exist and give birth to dullness.
FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS NOW!
16. Instead of accusing Jehovah of being slow, why should we be grateful for his patience?
16 Nor should we let idleness exist in our lives now, for it would bring on our destruction. Some think Jehovah is slow in fighting Armageddon and establishing the new world. But he is not being slow, he is being patient, and that for our salvation: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” Now is a special period of time allowed for men to flee from the doomed old world under Satan and come under the new system of things under Christ, to flow with the stream of men from all nations that are coming to Jehovah’s mountain.—2 Pet. 3:9, NW; Ezek. 33:11, AS.
17. Why is this old world blind and comparable to a drunk man?
17 This old world is blind to this message, deaf to it, failing to discern the perilousness of these times. Why? Because of the veil its god spreads over it: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” Have you ever seen a drunk man? Remember the veiled, hazy, filmy look of his eyes? He cannot see clearly, think lucidly or act surely. Yet ask him and he will say he is sober and can do anything or everything at peak performance. His condition is beclouded, but he does not know it. So Satan has spread a beclouding, stupefying veil over the nations of this system of things and blinded them without their knowing it. They think they can see clearly and hear plainly and think lucidly, but actually they are drunk on Satan’s wine, his religious and political propaganda. He has woven a tissue of lies and imposed it on the minds of men and spread it like a veil over the eyes of the nations, and blindly they are led to the slaughter of Armageddon. Satan’s propagandas and “expressions inspired by demons . . . go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—2 Cor. 4:3, 4; Rev. 16:14, NW; Jer. 51:7; Rev. 17:2; 18:3.
18. How do blind ones view the message we preach, but what is its wisdom?
18 But do you think these multitudes duped and blinded by the Devil will admit it? No more than the drunk will admit his drunkenness! Preach the truth to them, tell them about Christ’s sacrifice, point out that his kingdom is here, show the evidence that we are in the last days of this old world, warn them of the approach of Armageddon and explain how they can escape perishing in it; and what is their evaluation of it all? It “is foolishness to those who are perishing.” This conceited world is blinded by its own supposed wisdom, as the Bible says: “The world through its wisdom did not get to know God.” Since to know God means everlasting life, and it is the world’s wisdom that prevents acquiring this life-giving knowledge, truly “the wisdom of this world is foolishness.” To escape the shrouds of this foolishness and gain sight and discernment in the light of Jehovah’s Word men must come out from behind the veil Satan has bound over their eyes.—1 Cor. 1:18, 21; 3:19; John 17:3, NW.
19. Where only can we escape Satan’s blinding veil?
19 And where can they go to be free of this blinding veil? There is only one place where it has been destroyed: “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that covereth all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations.” (Isa. 25:7, AS) In the mountain of Jehovah, the Kingdom territory under Christ, the veil of Satan does not exist, and it is to its protection that men and women and children from all nations are told to flee now, and hundreds of thousands have already done so, and many more thousands are in the process of fleeing, and still other thousands will yet wake up and flee, and all together they will survive the war from heaven to enjoy everlastingly the peace it brings to earth.