Part 6—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
The theme of the book that we are studying serially, namely, “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” was taken from the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, which prayer he addressed to the heavenly Father of both him and his faithful disciples. It is the will of the heavenly Father, Jehovah God, that Christians are instructed to pray to be done on earth as well as in heaven. “Why It Must Be Done on Earth” is the title of Chapter 2, in the midst of which we now find ourselves. One of the strong reasons why is that Jehovah God created the earth to exist forever as the habitation of humankind together with all the lower animal creatures subject to man. It is God’s purpose that the whole earth be made a paradise like the original garden or Paradise of Eden. When that purpose is fully realized and mankind in human perfection are doing the heavenly Father’s will, it would bring to nothing his divine purpose if he removed the inhabitants of Paradise to some place else.
26. What, however, has man been doing to earth, water and air, and what divine purpose must be realized to justify man’s creation?
26 Today, after almost six thousand years of human history, men in general are ruining the surface of the earth by their wars and commercial exploitation of the land. They are making a sewer of its atmosphere and are polluting and radioactivating its waters. They are filling the earth with imperfect children, illegitimate and legitimate, who are no more doing the will of God than their parents are doing. God’s will has never yet been done over all the earth by all humankind as God indicated to man in Eden was the divine purpose. That divine purpose must yet be realized in order to justify God’s creation of the first man. God must yet be vindicated in the matter of having his will done on earth as well as in heaven. Jesus prayed that God should be vindicated in that way.
27. By whom will God not let his purpose be blocked, and for what deliverance did Jesus teach us to pray, and by what means?
27 God has not changed his purpose in this regard, not even since his Son Jesus Christ came to earth. Regarding his stated purposes he says: “I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6, AS) He will not be obliged to consume all humankind off the face of the earth or to destroy the earth. He will not quit with his purpose unrealized in a confession of defeat. He will not let his purpose be blocked by an opposer, a Satan, or by a liar and slanderer, a Devil. For deliverance from that wicked one Jesus taught us to pray. He ended his model prayer for us, saying: “And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.” (Matt. 6:13) Almighty God will answer that part of his Son’s prayer too; and this means that the wicked “ruler of this world,” “the god of this system of things,” will have to go. The presence of the “wicked one,” Satan the Devil, and God’s will being done on earth as well as in heaven do not harmonize. So Satan the Devil and his invisible demons and his visible human agents will have to go. An everlasting earthly Paradise filled with perfect doers of his will is a future certainty. The kingdom of the heavenly Father, for the coming of which Jesus taught his disciples to pray, will see to that.—Rev. 20:1-3.
28, 29. For that reason, what did Jesus on the stake say to the sympathetic evildoer, and what vision did he later give to John on Patmos to show God’s purpose unchanged?
28 This was why, when the sympathetic evildoer was dying on a stake alongside Jesus and said to him: “Remember me, my Lord, when you come in your kingdom,” Jesus said to him: “Truly I say to you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”* On the third day after this Jesus was resurrected from the dead, but not the sympathetic evildoer. Forty days later, as his faithful apostles looked on, Jesus Christ ascended from the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem and disappeared into the heavens, to return to his Father above, the King of eternity. That was in the spring of 33 (A.D.). Years later, about A.D. 96, Jesus from heaven made known to the apostle John on the island of Patmos that the heavenly Father’s purpose concerning the earthly Paradise under the kingdom of God was still unchanged. Jesus gave John a prophetic vision of the coming of God’s kingdom to earth in a glorious way. Then John said:
29 “With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! the tent of God is with humankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. 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.’ And the one seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also he says: ‘Write, because these words are trustworthy and true.’”—Rev. 21:3-5.
30. How will it not be a strange thing then that God should dwell with men, and so how will that evildoer come to be with Jesus in Paradise?
30 In harmony with this vision of things that “must shortly take place” the tent of God will be with men. In a representative way God will dwell with men on earth, and not men with God up in heaven. This is not strange. Thousands of years ago Jehovah God dwelt representatively with the ancient Israelites by the sacred tent of worship that the prophet Moses constructed when they were encamped on the Sinai Peninsula on their way from Egypt to the land of Palestine. (2 Sam. 7:5-7) Because this symbolic “tent of God” comes down to be with men during the new world, Jesus Christ as God’s High Priest will be representatively at the earth. Our earth is then to be made a Paradise of pleasure, without tears, death, mourning, outcry or pain, with all former things of sin and death having passed away, and with God on his throne making all things new for humankind on earth. So it will come true that, when the sympathetic evildoer is resurrected from his centuries-long sleep of death to life on earth, he will be with Jesus in Paradise.
31. Why is this hope of an earthly Paradise not a materialistic one, and what was the God-given hope of men from Abel to the dying evildoer on the stake?
31 This hope of an earthly Paradise restored and made earth-wide is not a materialistic hope, to turn men away from the joys of heaven, which many religious leaders of Christendom say is the destiny of members of their religious systems. This hope is no more materialistic than Adam’s obeying God for a time in Eden in order to remain alive in the first paradise was selfishly materialistic in its aim. “‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The first man is out of the earth and made of dust.” (1 Cor. 15:45, 47) Adam’s God-given hope could be no more than an earthly hope, the same hope that all the holy men of God entertained, from the first martyr Abel down to John the Baptist, yes, and down to that sympathetic evildoer dying alongside Jesus.—Heb. 11:3-40.
32, 33. Why does this not contradict with the heavenly hope that God puts into the hearts of followers of Jesus Christ?
32 This does not conflict with the heavenly hope that God puts in the hearts of the followers of Jesus Christ. These God makes his spiritual children by the use of his holy spirit or active force, to start them in a new way of life, a heavenly life. These comparatively few Christians, pictured by the twenty-four “elders” in the vision to John, are said to be begotten or engendered by God through the means of his life-giving spirit. So they set their affections and keep their minds fixed on the things above. In the resurrection from the dead they expect to be born like Jesus Christ into the fullness of spirit life in heaven, changed, transformed indeed.—1 Cor. 15:42-54.
33 The heavenly hope of these 144,000 faithful ones of the true Christian congregation does not leave the rest of mankind with nothing to hope for. That gleaming hope of an earthly Paradise, where God’s will is to be done on earth as well as in heaven, is the blessed hope reserved for them according to God’s unchanged loving purpose. The realizing of the heavenly hope by the faithful, world-conquering congregation of Christ takes place before the realizing of the earthly hope by faithful men of pre-Christian times and by faithful men of good will toward Jehovah God today. The realizing of the heavenly hope by the Christian congregation also works for the realizing of the earthly hope by believers of mankind.
34. Why will God’s will in being done on earth mean more than endless happiness for righteous mankind, and why should men now rejoice?
34 All the above is why God’s fatherly will needs to be done on earth as well as in heaven. This will mean more than an unending happiness for the righteous ones of mankind in their earthly Paradise home. It will also show forth God’s holiness, his respect for his name, his changelessness in his perfect will, his faithfulness to his word, and his invincible power and ability expressed in his kingdom, his heavenly government through his Son Jesus Christ. The saving and preserving of the human race on earth under God’s kingdom is therefore made sure and certain. Let men rejoice! God’s all-powerful kingdom will take complete control over the earthly home of man regardless of the long-permitted interference and opposition of all man’s enemies under Satan the Devil. The events of our day are being controlled in that direction in fulfillment of God’s prophecy. This we shall see as we read on.
THE NEED OF A SANCTUARY
1. How have buildings regarded by men as sanctuaries not been saved from desecration, robbery or destruction, and what questions does this fact raise?
DOWN through thousands of years of time men have felt the need of sanctuaries, sacred places or holy buildings at which to worship the gods of their religions. But any holiness claimed for such things has not saved them from desecration, robbery or destruction. Invading conquerors have plundered them for their treasures; worshipers of rival gods have polluted them in disgust; wars have brought on their destruction by fire and bombs; earthquakes have shaken them to their foundations and sent their walls and pillars crashing to the ground. At Baalbek in the valley between the Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon Mountains stand today the gigantic ruins of the greatest temple to Jupiter in all antiquity, the havoc upon it being climaxed by an earthquake of twenty-seven days in 1759. The magnificent temples to Jehovah that once crowned Mount Moriah in Jerusalem are no more. They suffered destruction by Gentile hands, and for years pious Jews were accustomed to use what is said to be the outside western wall of the ancient temple area as a wailing wall. Nothing has seemed to have a permanent holiness or sanctity. Why has this been so? Is there no real sanctuary?
2. By whom did Jeremiah show that Jehovah’s temple was being profaned, and when will God’s great footstool be treated as holy?
2 In the days of the prophet Jeremiah the temple at Jerusalem was being profaned by the very ones that carried on religious services in it. Jeremiah tells of God’s indignation in these words to the hypocritical worshipers: “‘Has this house upon which my name has been called become a mere cave of robbers in your eyes? Here I myself also have seen it,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Jer. 7:11) For the purpose of correcting wrong ideas about his sanctuary, God inspired his prophet Isaiah to say: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where, then, is the house that you people can build for me, and where, then, is the place as a resting place for me?’” (Isa. 66:1; Acts 7:48-50) Compared with the heavens where Jehovah sits enthroned as universal King of eternity, the earth is his footstool. This place of his feet should be holy. It will be treated as such when his will is fully done on earth as well as in heaven.
3. Why was the garden of Eden, in fact, a sanctuary, and of what is the happiness of living in holiness in it used as a picture?
3 At the beginning of man’s existence this earthly footstool of Jehovah God was not defiled by sinful creatures. The garden or Paradise that the Creator planted in Eden was part of his footstool. It especially was a holy place, because there Jehovah God conversed with man and, as it were, went “walking in the garden about the breezy part of the day.” (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:8) Having been planted by him and being surpassingly beautiful, it was “the garden of Jehovah.” (Gen. 13:10) It was “Eden, the garden of God.” (Ezek. 28:13, AS) This made it in fact a sanctuary, a sacred, holy place, where what is sinful must not enter, where what is sinful could not dwell. In its holiness it was a place of happy, joyous living for the first human pair, Adam and Eve. They had pleasure in living in holiness, in obedience to the will of their God and heavenly Father. This is taken as an example of the happiness of Jehovah’s spiritual children when he transforms their earthly condition to one of overwhelming spiritual prosperity. Speaking of this transformation for his spiritual organization, he prophetically said: “He will for certain comfort all her devastated places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert plain like the garden of Jehovah. Exultation and rejoicing themselves will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”—Isa. 51:3.
4. What other sons of God were there then besides the perfect Adam, and so by whom did sin try to establish itself in the sanctuary in Eden?
4 However, it was not long before sin did try to establish itself and take up its dwelling in that Edenic sanctuary. How did such a thing ever start in God’s holy universe? By the fall of a son of God to selfish desire that this unfaithful son permitted to enter his heart and that he cultivated. True, the human family of today traces its line of descent back through Noah to the “son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38) Adam was an earthly son of God, because God was his Creator and Life-giver. But there were then other sons of God in existence, not on earth in the flesh, but in heaven; and these had watched the creating of our earth and of the first man. Jehovah God himself said so, when he asked the man Job: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you do know understanding. Into what have its socket pedestals been sunk down, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:1, 4, 6, 7) It was a self-enticed spirit son of God that became leader in sin in God’s holy universe and that speedily introduced it into the earth at God’s sanctuary in Eden.
5. What monarch did Ezekiel liken to that original sinner, and how did this sinner draw himself into sin?
5 Long afterward in human history a Middle Eastern king, the monarch of the Mediterranean seaport of Tyre, took a line of action similar to that of the unfaithful spirit son of God. So God likened the king to the original sinner and inspired his prophet Ezekiel to say to the symbolic king of Tyre: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; . . . You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, . . . Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. . . . By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries.” (Ezek. 28:12-18, RS) The spirit son had had an interest in the real Eden, man’s first Paradise home. He had the gift of freedom of will, but he willed in a selfish way as he began to see selfish opportunities there in Eden. His studying these selfish possibilities caused him to be tested. God was not to blame for this: “When under trial, let no one say: ‘I am being tried by God.’ No; for with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone. But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”—Jas. 1:13-15.
6. From what into what did he change himself, and how did he desecrate God’s Eden sanctuary?
6 By deciding to do wrong to God and thus to sin and then by taking the steps to satisfy the selfish desire by which he was enticed, this spirit son of God changed himself from a son of God into a disowner of God his Father, from a co-worker with God into an opposer of God, from a truthtelling praiser of God into a lying slanderer of God. He turned himself into Satan the Devil, whom God could not own as his son. He did this by trying to convert Adam and Eve from perfect, righteous, sinless children of God into bad persons such as he could now originate, sinners against their Creator. That is why John writes: “He who practices sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from when he began. For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil. . . . The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not practice righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. . . . we should have love for one another; not like [Adam’s son] Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother [Abel]. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.” (1 John 3:8-12) Through introducing sin, Satan desecrated God’s Eden sanctuary.
(To be continued)
Luke 23:42, 43, Lamsa’s The Gospels from Aramaic (1933) and The Modern New Testament (1940) and the marginal reading of The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts (1957) and Gospel Light (1939), pages 303, 304. Also Rotherham’s The Emphasised Bible; and the New World Translation.