How God Will Free Mankind from Sickness and Death
THE initial program of the Kingdom will cover a period of one thousand years. During that time Jesus Christ and the members of his heavenly government will serve not only as kings but also as priests of God on behalf of all their human subjects. (Rev. 20:6) Why?
Because all persons on earth will need to be “set free from enslavement to corruption” in order to have “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21) Even after the wicked have been destroyed, the earthly survivors will still be imperfect due to sin inherited from Adam. The wrong desires of their imperfect flesh will still be warring against the right desires of mind and heart. (Rom. 7:21-23) So, to be accepted fully in God’s family of sons, they first need the services of the heavenly priests of God. What will these do?
They will have a power that has been lacking in all human governments till now: the power to cleanse persons of sin and imperfection. This power rests in God’s heavenly priesthood by means of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. God’s Son and his associate priests will then apply the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice directly to all obedient ones. (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) This provision is pictured in the Bible by the symbolic “river of water of life” that flows from the “throne of God and of the Lamb” and “the leaves of the trees . . . for the curing of the nations.”—Rev. 22:1, 2.
By making continual progress in righteousness and with the help of the heavenly priesthood, the subjects of God’s kingdom will then progressively grow young and strong, until they reach perfection of health in mind and body. They will be set completely free from the bondage to sin and death inherited from Adam. At that time the words of Jesus to Martha will be fulfilled: “Everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all. Do you believe this?”—John 11:26.
Yes, in this way, 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) How marvelous it will be to enjoy perfect health! Even as God’s Son cured lepers and healed the lame and blind when on earth, so his righteous rule will bring an end to all disease and suffering. (Mark 1:40-42; John 5:5-9; Matt. 9:35) Gone then will be the need for hospitals and health insurance! With sickness and death removed, a worldwide cause for tears will be gone. (1 Cor. 15:25, 26) How wonderful it will be to enjoy full freedom from sin and to be able to measure up perfectly to God’s righteous standards in speech, thought and conduct!
WELCOMING PERSONS BACK FROM THE DEAD
There is also the happy prospect that your loved ones who have died will be able to enjoy the blessings of the righteous rule of God’s Son over the earth. Jesus revealed the hope for the countless millions who have died, saying: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) What a time of thrilling joy it will be when first the news is flashed around the earth: “The dead are being raised up!”
We can have full confidence that this will be a reality. Keep in mind that, while on earth, Jesus not only cured the sick and crippled; he also brought dead persons back to life. (Matt. 11:2-6) This demonstrated God’s wonderful power of resurrecting the dead, a power he has granted to Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you recall the occasion when Jesus came to the house of a man whose twelve-year-old daughter had died. Addressing himself to the dead girl, Jesus said: “Maiden, I say to you, Get up!” What was the result? The Bible tells us: “Immediately the maiden rose and began walking.” How did her parents and the other observers react to this miracle? “At once they were beside themselves with great ecstasy.” They could hardly contain their happiness.—Mark 5:35, 38-42; see also John 11:38-44; Luke 7:11-16.
When paradise is restored to earth, Jesus will again use his power to raise the dead. For the Bible assures us that “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) What joy there will be earth wide when group after group of dead persons come back to life! Imagine what happy reunions of loved relatives there will be! Instead of obituary columns that bring sadness, there may well be announcements of newly resurrected ones to bring joy to their loved ones.
Many millions of persons have died, but that poses no problem for God. He can remember them all. Why, the Bible tells us that God “is counting the number of the stars; all of them he calls by their names.” (Ps. 147:4) Consider what that means.
There are said to be hundreds of millions of galaxies, each galaxy containing hundreds of millions of individual stars, and yet God knows each star by name. The number of all the humans that have ever lived is small by comparison. So it will not be difficult for God to remember all who have died and who come under Christ’s ransom provision. (Matt. 19:26) They will be restored to life right here on earth. What a thrilling privilege to be on hand to welcome them back from the dead!
When they come back will they be the same persons? Will we know them? Yes! Even man can indefinitely preserve pictures and voices on magnetic tape for later use on television. God can do even more than that. At resurrection time he can provide each one with a suitable body, just as he did in creating the first man, and then reimplant in the brain the exact memories of all that the person leaned and experienced during his former life. Thus in the resurrection that person will come forth with the same personality that he had at death, just as the resurrected Jesus retained his own personality. (Heb. 13:8) You will recognize those you knew before. What a wonderful prospect!—Job 14:13-15.
The apostle John was given a vision of these thrilling events that will take place during Christ’s reign, and it is found in the book of Revelation. His vision shows that death and Hades (mankind’s common grave) will ‘give up those dead in them.’ None will be left there. Then death due to inherited sin will be gone forever. “He will actually swallow up death forever,” the Bible promises, “and the Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” (Rev. 20:13, 14; Isa. 25:8) Gone will be funeral parlors and tombstones! No graveyards will remain.
Those resurrected to life on earth will come forth to the opportunity of gaining eternal life. It will be a time of education for them. “Scrolls” containing instruction from God will be opened, and they will need to follow these in making their minds over in harmony with God’s will. They will be “judged individually according to their deeds”; that is, the deeds they do after being resurrected and after learning the contents of the “scrolls.” (Rev. 20:11-13) By responding to the education provided, even those who were once as dangerous as wild animals will change their ways, just as many have already done upon coming into association with the Christian congregation.—Isa. 11:9; 26:9; 35:8, 9.