Maintaining Our Spiritual Paradise
1. When will paradise be restored to the earth, and who will be with Jesus in it?
AFTER the battle of Armageddon the victorious kingdom of God will restore paradise to the earth. That was why, on the day that Jesus was dying as a faithful witness to God’s kingdom and the sympathetic evildoer asked Jesus to remember him when he got into his kingdom, Jesus spoke in harmony with the divine arrangement, saying: “You will be with me in Paradise.” By means of his heavenly power Jesus Christ the King will be invisibly present in the restored paradise. Abel, Enoch, and other faithful men of times prior to Pentecost of 33 (A.D.) will be raised from the dead to a “resurrection of life” in that earthly paradise. They will thus be with Jesus in Paradise. Later, when the evildoer, as one who did vile things, answers the King’s call to a “resurrection of judgment,” he will enter into the earthly paradise and will learn that Jesus, with whom he was impaled, is reigning as King over the “new earth.” The evildoer will then remember Jesus’ hope-giving words: “You will be with me in Paradise.” Forever he may stay there with Jesus by being always obedient.—John 5:28, 29.
2, 3. (a) When Jesus spoke to the evildoer, did a paradise exist? (b) Why did not even the spiritual paradise to which Paul was caught away then exist?
2 Nineteen hundred years ago, when Jesus spoke those words, no earthly paradise existed. Neither did there then exist the spiritual paradise to which Paul was later caught away to hear unutterable words which it was not lawful for a man to speak then.—2 Cor. 12:4.
3 When Jesus died like a criminal slave on a torture stake and his apostles and other disciples were scattered, nothing earthly or spiritual seemed to have a paradisaic beauty. The world organization of the “great dragon,” “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,” seemed to be flourishing in triumph over the Seed of God’s woman, who was to be bruised in the heel. (Rev. 12:9; Gen. 3:15) It was just as Jesus said to the enemies who arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane: “This is your hour and the authority of darkness.” (Luke 22:53) At that dark time Jehovah’s prophetic words were fulfilled: “‘Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘Strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.’” (Zech. 13:7, RS; Matt. 26:31) At that time Jesus’ disciples did as he said they would do: “You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice; you will be grieved, . . . you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone.” (John 16:20, 32) Hopes of God’s kingdom seemed to have been blasted even to the day of Jesus’ resurrection, for on that day two of his disciples dejectedly said: “We were hoping that this man was the one destined to deliver Israel; yes, and besides all these things, this makes the third day since these things occurred.” (Luke 24:21) With no kingdom there could be no paradise!
4. How did Zion rejoice at Jesus’ resurrection, and yet when, first, did Jesus’ apostles understand about the Kingdom?
4 Oh, how their grief was turned into joy and their hearts rejoiced when he saw them again, appearing to them in their secret meeting place and elsewhere! Even God’s symbolic wife in heaven, Zion, whose promised Seed the resurrected Jesus Christ was, exulted, like a child-bearing mother that, when she brought forth the young child, “remembers the tribulation no more because of the joy that a man has been born into the world.” (John 16:21, 22) Despite the apostles’ rejoicing, they did not rightly understand the grand purpose of God. So, forty days later, they were somewhat perplexed when Jesus ascended to heaven without having set up the Kingdom. As commanded, they waited in Jerusalem for ten days, till the festival of Pentecost. Then Jesus Christ, at the right hand of God, poured out the holy spirit upon them, in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29. With the spirit came revelation and enlightenment. Then came also their begetting and anointing with holy spirit. They became a “new creation,” spiritual sons of God, spiritual Israelites. They became members of God’s new “holy nation,” the nation to whom the Kingdom was given in order that they might produce its royal fruit.—Acts 2:1-36; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 21:43.
5, 6. What was then established for those disciples, and in fulfillment of what prophecy of Joel?
5 A spiritual paradise had then been established. They had entered it. The spiritual estate of theirs was not like the locust-plagued land described by the prophet Joel: “The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.” To the contrary, through the glorified Jesus Christ, Jehovah God had fulfilled his further words through the same prophet Joel:
6 “Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice; for Jehovah hath done great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in Jehovah your God; . . . I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the canker-worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and shall praise the name of Jehovah your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be put to shame. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel.”—Joel 2:3, 21-27, AS.
7. (a) Into what paradise was Saul of Tarsus brought on his conversion? (b) To what paradise was he caught away to hear unspeakable words?
7 In course of time, when Saul of Tarsus was converted from Judaism to Christianity to become the apostle Paul, he was brought out of barren Judaism, which was like a God-forsaken land that had been overrun and stripped of all its vegetation, into the Christian spiritual paradise, in the radiant beauty of the apostolic times. Evidently he proved to be the man, who, whether in the human body or out of the human body, was miraculously enabled to see more than the then blooming spiritual paradise of the Christian congregation on earth. By supernatural vision and revelation Paul was made to see with prophetic forevision the paradise condition of God’s woman, Zion, at the future time when God’s kingdom would actually be installed in the heavens. That time would be after 1914.
8. How did the Paradise of true Christianity abound in its first century?
8 The spiritual paradise of true Christianity in its first century continued during the days of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The holy spirit’s fruitage abounded among the Christian spiritual children of God. The first-century congregation was, symbolically speaking, “God’s field under cultivation.” It responded to the loving attention of the great Cultivator, Jehovah God. The symbolic vine, of which Jesus was the central stock and all his spirit-begotten disciples were the branches, was glorifying the heavenly Father by its bearing much fruitage, to prove that these “branches” were really Jesus’ disciples. The only true Christian nation was abundantly producing the fruitage of God’s kingdom. Spiritual prosperity reigned.—1 Cor. 3:9; John 15:1-8; Matt. 21:43.
9, 10. (a) Why did that spiritual paradise of God not continue on earth? (b) Drawing on the Paradise of Eden for an illustration, what warning did Paul give the Christians?
9 This spiritual paradise of God on earth did not continue. The majority of those claiming to be Christians did not “put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.” They did not “call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality. But you, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” (Jude 3, 17-21) Gradually there came the great religious “falling away” that the apostle Paul had foretold. Then the “man of lawlessness,” “the son of destruction,” got to be revealed.—2 Thess. 2:3, 6-12.
10 This brought about the loss of the spiritual paradise to those who claimed to be Christians with their mouths but not in their lives. With good reason, then, the apostle Paul, when warning Christians against the false apostles who would deceitfully cause this falling away, drew on the Paradise of Eden for an illustration. He said: “I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its craftiness, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ.”—2 Cor. 11:3, 13-15.
11. (a) By whom was the loss of the original earthly paradise and the Christians’ spiritual paradise brought about? (b) Where must Christendom of today die, and why?
11 Six thousand years ago through the use of the serpent in Eden the Devil caused the loss of the original earthly paradise to Adam and Eve and to all of us their offspring. Likewise, after the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” who were acting as a restraint got to be out of the way through death, Satan the Devil, that “original serpent,” brought about the loss of the Christians’ spiritual paradise. Today Christendom, which teems with more than 820 million members in more than a thousand religious sects, shows the effects of its two world wars and is no paradise. Though it was preceded by the spiritual paradise condition of the apostolic times, it is today a religious “desolate wilderness” ravaged by symbolic locusts, Jehovah’s “great army.” There is no fruitage of God’s kingdom, only an overload of the fruitage of the materialistic nations of this world. Christendom is spiritually starving because of a God-sent “famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah,” exactly as foretold. (Amos 8:11-13, AS) Like Adam and Eve and Cain outside the garden of Eden, Christendom must die outside a spiritual Paradise.
RESTORING THE SPIRITUAL PARADISE
12. How was Jehovah to restore the spiritual paradise on earth of Zion’s spiritual sons, and what restoration did this have to precede?
12 Jehovah’s Word foretold that he would restore on earth the spiritual paradise among his spiritual sons of Zion, his wifelike organization. He would do so by means of his kingdom, when it would be established at his unchangeably marked time, A.D. 1914. About forty years before the year 1914 Jehovah began to prepare a remnant of the spiritual children of Zion for the renewal of this spiritual paradise. As early as in its issue of July, 1883, page 4, the magazine Zion’s Watch Tower said, under the title heading “The Thief”: “When the Lord has established his kingdom, the thief will be remembered and be in Paradise. . . . in Christ or on his account shall all be made alive and be privileged to come back to that Edenic condition forfeited by the first man’s sin, redeemed for men by Christ’s righteous sacrifice.” However, the spiritual paradise had to be restored for the remnant of Zion’s spiritual children before the earthly paradise could be restored for mankind.
13. Down till what year was a measure of spiritual prosperity enjoyed, and how did Jehovah’s witnesses become like the disciples when Jesus lay dead in the tomb?
13 Down till the year 1914 this remnant of the spiritual seed of God’s woman Zion enjoyed an increasing measure of spiritual prosperity. But then came World War I. Along with it the religious and political and military powers of Christendom almost ruined this spiritual prosperity of Jehovah’s witnesses. They became like the “two witnesses” whom Revelation 11:3 described as prophesying in sackcloth, finally meeting a public death in this old world, particularly so in Christendom where they had been most active. It became with them as with the apostles and other disciples during the days that the Lord Jesus Christ lay dead in the tomb.
14, 15. (a) Like what desolate situation of old did their earthly condition become? (b) In that ancient time what words of Ezekiel held great importance for those concerned?
14 Their earthly condition, religiously speaking, became like the land of Judah when it lay desolate with Jerusalem and its temple in ruins and with thousands of survivors exiled mostly in the idolatrous land of Babylon. Under those ancient conditions Jehovah’s Word held great importance as it came through the prophet Ezekiel, who was already an exile in Babylon before the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple and the desolating of all the land of Judah:
15 “I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them. Not for your sake do I this, saith the Lord Jehovah, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, whereas it was a desolation in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, Jehovah, have builded the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate: I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and I will do it.”—Ezek. 36:23, 24, 27, 32-36, AS.
16. How was that prophecy actually fulfilled upon ancient Israel, and the certainty of what was thereby strengthened?
16 That prophecy was actually fulfilled upon ancient natural Israel. This strengthened the certainty that it would be fulfilled in a final complete way upon spiritual Israel in our day. Back there Jehovah empowered the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, to overthrow mighty Babylon. He guided Cyrus to issue a decree freeing the Jews to return to their desolate homeland and to rebuild the temple to Jehovah. Exactly at the end of seventy years of desolation the land of Judah was reoccupied by Jehovah’s people; Israel was reborn as a nation, and the temple altar was rebuilt and Jehovah’s worship was renewed at it. The next year the foundation of the temple was laid. After years of opposition by Jehovah’s enemies this temple was completed in the sixth year of the reign of the Persian king, Darius I. Because enemies were still in neighboring lands and kept threatening, there was need of fortifying Jerusalem; and King Artaxerxes sent his Jewish cupbearer Nehemiah to Judah as its governor to rewall the city of Jerusalem. This was done. A remarkable transformation swept over the face of the land of Judah. Whereas it had been a frightful desolation for seventy years, it became like the garden of Eden, like the “garden of Jehovah.”
17. In heaven, what announcement rang out in 1914, but what happened to the earthly estate of Jehovah’s spiritual remnant?
17 Correspondingly in our times, Jehovah brought forth the Seed of his woman, Jesus Christ, making him King of the heavenly government born in 1914. In heaven the announcement rang out: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and of his Christ, and he will rule as king for ever and ever.” On earth, however, the nations of Christendom raged. They reduced the earthly estate of the spiritual remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses to a desolation like that of ancient Judah and Jerusalem. The revival of Jehovah’s worship in the earth was halted and was in danger of being crushed.—Rev. 11:15-18, 3-10.
18, 19. (a) With God’s kingdom established in heaven, what was now necessary on earth? (b) How did the King Jesus Christ act like a modern Cyrus, and what then proceeded on the earth for a reorganization?
18 Jehovah could not permit it to be crushed out and also fulfill his own prophetic Word. His kingdom of One greater than Cyrus the Great was in power and action. The reigning of his kingdom and the desolating of the spiritual estate of his people on earth at the same time were not harmonious with each other. The established kingdom had to be advertised to all the nations that were blaspheming his name. There had to be a spiritual paradise on earth for his remnant, that these might have a proper basis and a worthy background for advertising the King and the Kingdom.
19 In 1919 the war in heaven was over. It had ousted Satan and his demons and had hurled them down to the earth. So Jehovah’s victorious King, Jesus Christ, performed the part of a modern Cyrus the Great. He freed the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses from their Babylonish captivity, restored them to their acceptable relationship with God, and set them to courageous work at a constructive temple service. In that same year the Watch Tower Society’s president and its secretary-treasurer and six other consecrated fellow Christians were freed from an unjust imprisonment imposed by a war-crazed world. Within six months after that, or on September 1-8, 1919, the spiritual remnant were holding their first international assembly at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. The work was reorganized, and Jehovah’s witnesses were proclaiming the “golden age,” the age of Paradise, the earth’s future paradise.
20. Into what did the remnant then enter, and with what did they begin to fill the face of the earth, and how?
20 Little did the spiritual remnant then realize that they were entering into a spiritual paradise in fulfillment of Jehovah’s unbreakable promises. He poured out his spirit in greater measure upon them. By his spirit he not only empowered them for a bold work but also revealed to them their commission. What? “In all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10) Bubbling over with the enthusiasm of a liberated, restored spiritual nation, the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses zealously undertook the final work that was to precede the universal war of Armageddon. They became luxuriant with the fruitage of the holy spirit. They produced the fruitage of the Kingdom, namely, the activities and works of preaching the good news of God’s kingdom of the new world. They began to fill the face of the whole earth with this fruitage. In more and more places congregations were established and were fortified like strong cities, fortifications that will not be needed in the earthly paradise after Armageddon. Their spiritual recovery and prosperity excited the wonder of the nations of Christendom.
21. How were the spiritual remnant affected emotionally by this, and the fulfillment of what prophecy of Isaiah did they thus experience?
21 At this visible proof of Jehovah’s renewed favor the spiritual remnant of Zion’s children on earth were unspeakably comforted. For them it was oh so wonderful to experience the fulfillment of the divine promise: “Jehovah will certainly comfort Zion. 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. Then the redeemed ones of Jehovah themselves will return and must come to Zion with a joyful outcry, and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain. Grief and sighing will certainly flee away. I—I myself am the One that is comforting you people.”—Isa. 51:3, 11, 12.
22, 23. What, therefore, explains the overflowing happiness of Jehovah’s witnesses now, and how did Isaiah paint the situation prophetically in Isaiah, chapter 35?
22 It is the flourishing of the spiritual paradise that explains the overflowing happiness of Jehovah’s witnesses of his New World society. The grandeur of this spiritual garden of Jehovah is painted in prophetic language that draws upon the restored land of Judah for its figures of speech: “The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. Without fail it will blossom, and it will really be joyful with joyousness and with glad crying out. The glory of Lebanon itself will actually be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and of Sharon. There will be those who will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God. At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness. For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain. And the heat-parched ground will have become as a reedy pool, and the arid land as springs of water. In the abiding place of jackals, a resting place for them, there will be green grass with reeds and papyrus plants.
23 And there will certainly come to be a highway there, even a way; and the Way of Holiness it will be called. The unclean one will not pass over it. And it will be for the one walking on the way, and the foolish themselves will not wander about in it. No lion will prove to be there, and the rapacious sort of wild beasts will not come up on it. None will be found there; and the repurchased ones must walk there. And these very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.”—Isa. 35:1, 2, 5-10.
24, 25. (a) Who have trooped after the returned remnant, and what features of the organization have attracted these? (b) What transformation did Isaiah foretell concerning its earthly estate?
24 The ransomed spiritual remnant have returned to Zion, Jehovah’s theocratic organization. Behind them there have trooped hundreds of thousands who want to worship this God of the remnant, this Creator of an organization that is filled with such paradisaic admirableness. It is an organization that resounds with joyfulness and with praises to the adorable God. It is an organization of spiritual health and strength and activity. It is an organization that is free from what is foolish in God’s sight, free from God-denying fools, and free from fear of any fierce beastliness in its membership. It is walking on the Way of Holiness, keeping itself free from partnership with this unholy world and unsoiled by any spots from it. Spiritual barrenness is not found there, neither the spiny, injurious growths of cursed ground. Jehovah said:
25 “With rejoicing you people will go forth, and with peace you will be brought in. The mountains and the hills themselves will become cheerful before you with a joyful outcry, and the very trees of the field will all clap their hands. Instead of the thicket of thorns the juniper tree will come up. Instead of the stinging nettle the myrtle tree will come up. And it must become for Jehovah something famous, a sign to time indefinite that will not be cut off.”—Isa. 55:12, 13.
26. Of what does this growth of trees in the spiritual paradise serve as a sign, and how about cutting it off?
26 This growth of true Christians like “trees of righteousness” is in our earthly estate that was once desolated by Babylonish enemies. It has become something famous for Jehovah, whose name has been called upon these spiritual trees. This growth of such strong, fruitful, beautiful trees in the spiritual paradise must serve as an unfailing sign. It is a sign of the Kingdom, that God’s kingdom is reigning and is pouring down its blessings upon those who submit to it even now before the battle of Armageddon. Yes, this restored spiritual paradise that is flourishing before Armageddon is a sign in the midst of all the enemy nations that Jehovah God has taken his great power and has begun ruling as king by his enthroned, anointed Son Jesus Christ. This sign, Jehovah declares, “will not be cut off.” How strengthening this assurance is!
27. What, then, is it the responsibility of the remnant to do, and, by doing so, of what paradise privilege will they prove worthy?
27 God has confidence in us. It is our responsibility to do what we can by the help of his spirit to see that this sign is not cut off, that his will may come to pass on earth. This we must do by maintaining our spiritual paradise according to the divine will. Only by doing so will those of the remnant prove worthy to “eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”—Rev. 2:7.
28. How were the spirit-begotten Christians who died prior to 1918 granted to eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God, and what does eating of it really mean to the eaters?
28 Since the setting up of the heavenly kingdom in 1914 and since the coming of Jehovah and his Messenger of the covenant, Jesus Christ, to the spiritual temple in 1918, the dead apostles and other spirit-begotten Christians who died faithful prior to those events have been resurrected. Jesus was used to resurrect these world conquerors from the dead. (John 6:54-57) Thus Jesus granted to these victorious Christians to “eat of the tree of life” in the heavenly paradise of God. In their resurrection they were clothed with immortality and incorruption. The great Source of such immortality and incorruption is Jehovah God; and thus, by Jesus Christ who is “the way,” they have come to the great figurative “Tree of Life,” Jehovah, and from him they have received the reward of heavenly immortality and incorruption. In the garden of Eden, if Adam had stayed faithful and been permitted to eat of the earthly tree of life in the middle of the garden, it would have meant his receiving from God the grant of the right to eternal human life, along with the guarantee that such right would be protected and preserved. So too with regard to eating of the heavenly Tree of Life in the paradise of God. It means partaking of the reward of heavenly, spiritual immortality and incorruption from the only source of “life and incorruption,” Jehovah, the “King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God.”—1 Cor. 15:50-54; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 1:10.
29. After the resurrection of those into the heavenly paradise of God, how was Isaiah 66:8 fulfilled in the remnant on earth?
29 Shortly after those faithful dead Christians were resurrected into the heavenly “paradise of God,” the faithful remnant of spiritual Israelites were liberated from symbolic Babylon and brought into a spiritual paradise. In them the foundation of the “new earth” was laid; a theocratic “land” was brought forth and it was built up into a spiritual paradise. (Isa. 66:8, AS) Into it a “great crowd” of sheeplike adherents of spiritual Israel has already been brought.
30. What do we want to do regarding this spiritual paradise, and, as in Adam’s case in Eden, what does this call for?
30 This spiritual paradise reflects the glory of God and testifies to the establishment of his kingdom. In loving appreciation toward God and with real enjoyment of this spiritual paradise we sincerely want to maintain it. How? We remember that Adam was put into the original garden of Eden, or Paradise of pleasure, “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15) As he had to maintain that paradise in obedience to God’s will, so we have to do toward the spiritual “garden of Jehovah” today. This means work, with an aim at spiritual beauty and orderliness. We must remember that this spiritual paradise is a holy place, for it is the place of Jehovah’s sanctuary class, a building “for God to inhabit by spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22) It must be kept holy and clean by our living in holiness and purity, because its Creator and Owner is holy.
31. What did Israel’s remnant and their companions of ancient time illustrate must be put first, and so what must we put away from us that all nations may continue streaming to God’s mountain?
31 We must also put temple interests first, that is to say, the interests of Jehovah’s worship. Without that, no blessing of spiritual prosperity can continue. This fact was illustrated in the case of Israel’s remnant and their companions of long ago. In 537 B.C. they were released from Babylon specifically to return to Jerusalem and rebuild Jehovah’s temple. When they yielded to enemy interference and neglected the building of the temple, the God of the temple quit blessing them, just as his prophet Haggai pointed out to them. (Hag. 1:1-11; 2:15-19, AS) So out with all fear of worldly opposers! Out with selfish, animalistic materialism! Let the fear of the God of the temple prevail in this place of his sanctuary. Then all nations from all quarters of the earth will continue to stream to the “mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob [Israel].” (Isa. 2:2, 3) Then he will keep on blessing us.
32. How must the trees in the spiritual paradise be like those in the garden of Eden, and what must the great crowd of other inhabitants of the paradise also do?
32 Paradise in Eden was planted not only with trees beautiful to human sight but also with trees bearing fruit as food for human bodies. The great forest of spiritual trees in the paradise of the New World society must be not only beautiful in spirituality but also productive of life-sustaining fruit. The remnant, who are branches in the Christ vine, must remain in union with him and keep bearing much fruit, that our heavenly Father may be glorified. (John 15:1-8) As a “faithful and discreet slave” class they must serve spiritual food at the proper time. (Matt. 24:45-47) The “great crowd” of other inhabitants of the spiritual paradise must grow up into mature plantings of Jehovah God and bear fruit to God’s praise, passing on the spiritual food to others. It is in the strength of the spiritual food that we do the will of God on earth. The all-embracing work that He has willed for us to do is the preaching of the good news of his kingdom, always, everywhere.—Matt. 24:14.
33. Like Adam and Eve, what must we do as to the extent of the spiritual paradise, and, like them, what must we do as to the occupying of it?
33 Adam and Eve were instructed to make Paradise earth-wide, by subduing all the rest of the earth. Similarly, today, the inhabitants of the spiritual paradise are under orders to extend it earth-wide for a witness, serving as bringers of good news and as cultivators of paradisaic spirituality where the need is great. Adam and Eve were also instructed to fill the earthwide paradise, to people it with holy creatures like themselves. Likewise, we today must not only extend the spiritual paradise earth-wide but also populate it with Jehovah’s witnesses. We must work for God to raise up more of his preaching witnesses!
34, 35. (a) As to the population of the spiritual paradise, what did the attendance figures show in 1919? (b) Since then, what happened to the population till 1932, the year of a cleansing?
34 How marvelous the increase of the population of the spiritual paradise till now! Back in 1919, on March 26, the Watch Tower Society’s officers were released from literal imprisonment, to begin working toward a spiritual paradise for Jehovah’s witnesses. On Sunday, April 13, or just eighteen days later, there were only upward of 17,961 throughout the earth that gathered to celebrate the annual Lord’s evening meal. Less than five months later, on September 1-7, the first Cedar Point convention was held, at which nearly 300 were baptized. About 7,000 attended the public lecture by the Society’s then president. On September 5 at this convention he announced the coming publication of the magazine The Golden Age. “Like a voice in the wilderness of confusion, its mission is to announce the incoming of the Golden Age,” said its opening article in its first issue, that of October 1, 1919.
35 From then onward the population of the spiritual paradise increased year after year, first of all by the gathering in of the rest of the members of the spiritual remnant from many lands. (Matt. 24:31) The Society’s Yearbooks from 1927 forward showed the increases of the population, all of these being set to work at cultivating and taking care of the spiritual paradise. Particularly from 1932 onward, the leading obstructors of our work of ingathering were put out by doing away with the system of “elders” democratically elected. There was a cleansing of Jehovah’s sanctuary class for the sake of a theocratic paradise.
36, 37. (a) Since that year, how has the populating work gone forward, and in that behalf what command of the Right Shepherd is still in effect? (b) How does Revelation, chapter 22, describe this spiritual paradise, and what gracious invitation keeps going forth through it?
36 Since then the work of populating the spiritual paradise with the great crowd of the Right Shepherd’s “other sheep” has gone ahead grandly with notable increases, until in April of 1958 there was a rise in the population to 798,326, diligently at work in the “garden of Jehovah.” The desirable ones of all nations are being helped to come to Jehovah’s house to fill it with added glory. (John 10:16; Hag. 2:7, AS) The Right Shepherd’s command is still in effect: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) In obedience, we must work toward increasing Paradise’s international population earth-wide.
37 With beautiful symbols Revelation 22:1-3 describes the spiritual paradise that now exists, on which there rests no curse. Out through it the gracious invitation of the “spirit and the bride” keeps on going forth, saying, “Come!” Yes, “let anyone hearing say, ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Rev. 22:17) Let them come to the spiritual paradise, drink of the “river of water of life, clear as crystal,” eat of the leafy fruit-bearing trees, and become part of the happy, godly, hard-working population. Let them be today with our King Jesus Christ in this spiritual paradise under his kingdom.
38. What will be the experience of this spiritual paradise at Armageddon, and after Armageddon what will it become the right time for building up?
38 By our thus carrying out the divine will until the universal war of Armageddon, our spiritual paradise will continue flourishing right on to the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. The battle of Armageddon will not wipe out this spiritual “garden of Jehovah” as the flood of Noah’s day wiped out the garden of Eden. According to the divine will and under the divine protection our spiritual paradise will pass through Armageddon and move into the righteous new world of new heavens and a new earth, there to glorify this earth forever. After Armageddon it will become the right time to build up the earthly paradise for redeemed mankind’s everlasting home.
39. (a) With whom will the survivors of Armageddon come to be, and where? (b) Whom will they be on hand to welcome?
39 In this miraculous way all you survivors of Armageddon will be with the King Jesus Christ in the earthly Paradise, yes, ahead of the evildoer who will be resurrected from the memorial tomb in which he awaits the fulfillment of Jesus’ dying promise. By walking in your integrity and worshiping and serving God within the spiritual paradise of his witnesses you will enter into the New World paradise without going down into Sheol or Hades. You will be on hand to welcome all those whom the King calls forth from the memorial tombs into this everlasting earthly paradise of human life in perfection.