The Bridegroom and Bride Turn Attention to Family-rearing
TO BRING up children is a happy but heavy responsibility. It requires tender care, constant attention, the expression of much love, discipline, correction, family togetherness, association and participation in recreation. Therefore, when a man is at war it is hardly the time for him to give attention to raising a family. Nations generally recognize this and exempt men with families from military service unless the national situation becomes extreme. When a newly married man returns from war he is so happy to be with his bride and she with him. Their happiness is greatest because now they can work together, they can plan a home and begin carrying out the primary purpose of marriage—the bringing up of a family. It is something that God has provided. We of the human race are thankful that God has arranged things this way, for through it we have come to have life.
In order that we might understand Jehovah’s purposes toward us God has used this very circumstance to illustrate for us what he is going to do for the human race. He loves the human family and wants us to have life, not just for a few short years with a good part of these years filled with troubles and suffering, but life forever under a condition where there will be no lack of constant happiness. He has repeatedly told us through his Word that he has provided the Messiah, his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, as the means for life for humankind. How he will bring these benefits to us here on the earth he makes plain by using the very understandable illustration of a bridegroom and bride giving attention to the rearing of a family.
Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom. (John 3:28, 29) He is spiritual, immortal, in heaven. (1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Tim. 6:14-16) Who is his bride and what kind of person is she? Well, the Bible says that the Christian congregation is his bride. (Col. 1:18) Of course, she is no individual woman but is a composite bride, an organization made up of people. A bride who is to marry a spiritual bridegroom must be spiritual, and she is such, being the Israel of God, or spiritual Israel, spirit-begotten sons of God. This composite bride is also spoken of as the “little flock” to whom God will give the Kingdom (Luke 12:32), and who are to be kings and priests with Christ. (Rev. 20:4, 6) In harmony with their being a “little flock” the Bible indicates that they number only 144,000. (Rev. 14:1) The Bridegroom and bride belong to the family of the great heavenly Father, Jehovah God. Having married the Son, each member of the composite bride has on the forehead the name of Christ as the Husband and also the name of his Father.
A FIGHT TO PROTECT BRIDE AND FAMILY NAME
Now, the concern of the Bridegroom and his bride is to bring up a family worthy of the illustrious name of the Father Jehovah, obedient and fully respectful of the family name. It is in behalf of this family name and also in protection of his bride that the Bridegroom must fight a war before he can enjoy full peace and give undivided attention to family-rearing. This war is against the enemies of his Father, led by God’s chief opponent, Satan the Devil. Satan has used men on earth opposed to true Christianity to attempt to destroy the bride or contaminate her morally or spiritually so that she will not be fit to marry the heavenly Bridegroom. For this reason the Bridegroom fights the battle of Armageddon, thoroughly crushing out all earthly enemies and then defeating Satan and his wicked demons. What results from this action is described in the Bible as the fleeing away of the earth and the heavens, so that no place is found for them. (Rev. 20:11) Thereby every obstacle is removed to complete peace, so that there remains no threat to the bride. The Bridegroom has now established completely favorable conditions for his bride: “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.”—Rev. 21:1.
With the old heaven of Satan and his demons gone, along with the spirit of Satan, which is the spirit of the world that exerts its wicked force to turn people’s minds toward wickedness, a new administrative body has full sway, namely, Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associate kings and priests. The Bible helps us to locate the time that the Bridegroom and his bride turn attention toward bringing forth a family, when it tells us that this administration is to rule for a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4) This happy time is at the beginning of Christ’s thousand-year reign. The “new earth” over which this administration rules is not a new earthly globe traveling in space, anymore than the “new heaven” replaces the heaven of God. It is that which permanently replaces the old, corrupt, earthly human arrangement of Satan, just as the new heavens permanently replaces the old Satanic heavens that has corrupted and dominated human society. The “new earth” is a completely righteous new earthly human society. The symbolic “sea” of the restless, rebellious, ungodly peoples out of whom the symbolic wild beast ascended long ago for the Devil’s use will be gone. (Rev. 13:1, 2; Isa. 57:20) Our literal seas will remain. But how will such a righteous new earthly society come about? The apostle John saw how in his vision:
NEW JERUSALEM COMES DOWN
“I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Rev. 21:2) This is a most happy time for the Bridegroom, a time for him to begin his glorious reign of a thousand years with his bride. It is, naturally, a happy time for her too, and she is described as beautifully adorned for the occasion. She is likened to a city, Jerusalem, which in the time of the glorious reign of King Solomon was a place of awe-inspiring beauty, high on Zion’s hill with its magnificent temple seen from afar, glistening in the sunlight and exalting the true worship of Jehovah God. A city is often used in the Scriptures to represent an organization. This bride is an organization bound together in complete unity in the love of the Bridegroom and of his Father Jehovah and completely equipped for service, “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” and ready to do her husband’s bidding. Together now they joyfully turn attention toward the earth, for they serve as the new capital organization, the new administration. They are the complete seed of Abraham by means of whom “all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.”—Gen. 22:18; Rev. 3:12.
How can those then on the earth, having at least a measure of life by being of Adamic stock, become children of the Bridegroom and his bride? Or, who are the children brought forth? Well, those then on earth are living alright, having survived the battle of Armageddon, but they are not perfect; they still have the Adamic inheritance of sin; they would die in time. Armageddon has not changed their bodies, although it has vanquished their enemies. So they need real life infused into them. They need to become, instead of the children of sinful Adam, the children of the “Eternal Father” Jesus Christ. (Isa. 9:6) This means that there is much work for the bride and the Bridegroom to do, for a great deal of love and tender care and the infusing of real life into these persons is their responsibility. Besides this there are millions who have no life at all. They have died and are out of existence. These are part of the nations and families of the earth that the Abrahamic seed must also bless, and so they must be brought back, must stand again on this earth for an opportunity to become the posterity of the bride and Bridegroom, permanent members of the family. (Gen. 12:3) How will the bride and Bridegroom accomplish this work? John had that question answered next in his vision:
THE BRIDEGROOM’S FAMILY
“With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them.”’ (Rev. 21:3) That is how it comes about. God the great Source of life does not personally tent or reside with mankind on earth, in direct contact with them, because even those Who compose the bride, while they were yet on earth, did not have God personally dwelling with them. Jesus Christ was serving as Mediator between God and men in behalf of the 144,000, the bride. So the time has come for the rest of mankind to be fully reconciled to God. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6; 2 Cor. 5:20) During their becoming reconciled God dwells with them only representatively, in anticipation of the time when the thousand years of the millennial reign are ended. At that time all those obedient on earth will have been taken into the family of the Bridegroom, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” and by then will have had cultivated into them his own righteous qualities. They will demonstrate the family traits of Jesus Christ the “last Adam,” instead of the degrading, deteriorating traits of their original father the “first man Adam.” (1 Cor. 15:45) Through their faith in the shed blood of the Lamb of God, through their obedience to Christ as the Eternal Father, the benefits of his perfect sacrifice will operate upon them to bring them life, in contrast with the sin inherited from Adam, which has worked toward their death.—John 1:29, 36; Rom. 5:12.
In ancient Israel the tent in the wilderness had an inner compartment called the Most Holy in which God representatively dwelt with his people. The light between the cherubs over the ark of the covenant and the cloud that stood above the tabernacle were evidence of Jehovah’s favorable attention toward them. The bride class of 144,000 members, we recall, is a spiritual house, a spiritual temple for which Jesus Christ is the foundation cornerstone, the place for Jehovah God to inhabit by spirit. (1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 2:19-22) As the husband is really the foundation of the family, so Christ is toward his bride. When they come down out of heaven, meaning that they turn their attention and activities and power toward this earth and those living on it, God takes up residence with men by means of this temple class. It is the center of worship to which all people must come, just as in ancient Israel the tabernacle (and later the temple) was the center of worship. They will thereby become reconciled to God and become truly “his peoples.”
What will be the result to his peoples as they come closer and closer to complete reconciliation to God? John tells us: “And [God] 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. 21:4) What a wonderful, refreshing, invigorating, life-giving arrangement for mankind! As they express obedience and as Christ and his bride lovingly assist them in making progress spiritually and apply the ransom benefits to them to the healing of their bodies, there will be less and less pain, less and less reason for tears. Death will come to be no more. The death inherited from Adam will cease to spread any farther when children cease to be born. Those living on earth, when they come to perfection, will cease to have any of the Adamic sin working in them. The death that was received as an inheritance from Adam will be completely wiped out, to be nonexistent.—Rom. 5:12, 18, 19.
Graveyards have brought much sorrow to humankind. It is a disturbing thing even to view a graveyard. Hades, the common grave of all mankind, will likewise become no more when the resurrection of those in the graves occurs and when none will thereafter go down into the grave as a result of Adam’s sin. Then it will indeed be true: “The former things have passed away.”
ASSURANCE FROM THE UNFAILING PURPOSER
Jehovah realizes that it is hard for humans on earth under the conditions we observe today to visualize such a desirable condition. It seems too good to be true, but, then, on the other hand, does not the situation at the present time under Satan the great enemy of God seem too bad to be true? And did not God’s Word foretell this day? God himself tells us that he will cause these good things to come to pass. It is impossible for him to lie. (Heb. 6:18) John writes: “And the one seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: Write, because these words are faithful and true.’” (Rev. 21:5) Jehovah kindly and understandingly gives us this added assurance over his own name. He is the faithful and true God, and his Son the Bridegroom gave his life that man might live. The Son is concerned, above all things, with carrying out and bringing to truth and reality these promises of God.
The things that God purposes are so sure to take place that he calls himself “the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done.” Even of his servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he could say, even though they were dead, that he was their God, for “he is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” Before he commanded John to write down the vision given him he said further to John: “They have come to pass!” because they are sure to be accomplished.—Isa. 46:10; Matt. 22:32; Rev. 21:6; Rom. 4:17.
Do you believe that these things will take place? God, further showing us how he can consider things that are not as though they are, patiently says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” In the Greek language, in which the apostle John wrote, the letter alpha begins the alphabet and the letter omega ends it. Jehovah here tells us, therefore, that when he begins a thing, being the Almighty and the Purposer, he brings it to a successful end. No hindrance or interference can cause him to leave it unfinished.—Rev. 21:6; 1:8; 22:13.
His promise being based on such a solid foundation, we can be confident in accepting his invitation: “To anyone thirsting I will give from the fountain of the water of life free.” (Rev. 21:6) Psalm 36:9, addressed to Jehovah, says: “With you is the source [or, fountain] of life.” (NW, AV, AS) Any human creature that thirsts for perfect, happy life throughout eternity will have to get it from the great Source or Fountain of life Jehovah God, who is the Alpha with whom all good things start. The thirsty one cannot buy this life-imparting, life-sustaining water with gold, silver or material things. Jehovah God gives it free, but only on his own terms. Hence the water of life must be accepted through his Son Jesus Christ.
God then speaks to the remnant yet on earth of the 144,000 spiritual heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. In his eighth and last exhortation to faithfulness in the Revelation, Jehovah says: “Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son.” (Rev. 21:7; 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) To make this heavenly inheritance sure for themselves the remnant of the 144,000 must conquer this wicked world just as Jesus Christ the chief Son of God did. (John 16:33; Rev. 3:21) They must keep conquering the world by keeping integrity toward God and maintaining spiritual and moral chastity as an espoused bride until shortly this wicked system’s fiery end removes it from existence and they enter the new order victoriously.
NOT ALL WILL BECOME THE BRIDEGROOM’S CHILDREN
Will all mankind on earth automatically become the children of the bride and Bridegroom, eventually taken into the great, everlasting family of Jehovah God? No. John next describes those who will not: “But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” (Rev. 21:8) Persons practicing these things are not conquerors of the world, for they are carrying on the very things of the world, the works of the flesh. They are carrying out the works of the sinful forefather of the human race, Adam, and following the pattern of Babylon the Great, “the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” The murderers, the fornicators or sexually immoral, those who follow Babylon the Great in practicing spiritism, sorcery and magic, the idolaters, including those who worship the symbolic “wild beast” and its modern-day “image,” and the liars who imitate the Devil “the father of the lie”—this kind do not conquer the world and will be destroyed at Armageddon. In the new earth these qualities will be equally detestable and persons practicing them will not be permitted to continue living.—John 8:44; Rev. 17:5, 6; 18:23, 24.
The fountain of the water of life, although open to such persons, is turned down by them and therefore they do not drink from it, losing their own lives. The death they die will be, not the Adamic death, but a death due to their own willful rebellion and wickedness. It will be eternal death, symbolized by the “lake that burns with fire and sulphur,” the second death. (Rev. 21:8) It is no so-called “conscious living death,” to be suffered by an imaginary immortal human soul that is tormented with fire and brimstone for eternity. It is a death from which there is no resurrection. There is no key for the second death, though Jesus has the key for the Adamic death. (Rev. 1:18) The second death is absolutely distinct from Adamic death, for the Dragon, the Original Serpent, Satan the Devil, never died in Adamic death but he is hurled into the “second death,” the symbolic lake of fire, and so, too, are the “wild beast” and the “false prophet.” Even the Adamic death itself and Hades or Sheol are hurled into the “second death.” So the “lake of fire” symbolizes everlasting destruction of a person or thing. It is Adamic death that will be no more, not the “second death.” Those hurled into second death will remain in it forever, unredeemed.
There will be no sorrow to the Bridegroom and bride over the death of such persons, for these will have shown the same wicked spirit as Satan and no tears will be shed because of their passing off the face of the earth. During the thousand-year reign, when the bride and Bridegroom are concentrating on the rearing of a family, they will also be directing their children in the construction of the most beautiful of homes, namely, an earthly paradise, so that by the end of the thousand years and after the destruction of the unworthy in the “lake of fire” there will be a tremendous family of thousands of millions, all living happily with everlasting life on the beautified earth. (Ps. 37:10, 11; Rom. 8:21) God’s purpose in this blessed marriage of his beloved, faithful Son will be carried out to a glorious conclusion, bringing mankind into the family of the heavenly Father as “sons of God.”