A Way of Life Opened to Mankind
“THE spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—Rev. 22:17.
These words near the close of the Bible give an optimistic hope. They give promise of a life that is better than the short, troubled life-span that we have today. Is there an opportunity to begin to get a hold on that kind of life now?
There is. Jesus Christ said that he came that people might have life in abundance. What, then, is this water of life, and how can it be obtained?—John 10:10.
It was the sacrifice of Jesus’ own life that opened up the way for eternal life for mankind. So, Jesus showed that life-giving water is connected with his sacrifice when he told a Samaritan woman: “Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.”—John 4:14.
Does this everlasting life that Jesus gives mean that all who live everlastingly must go to heaven? By no means. For the prophecy at Revelation says of the crystal-clear water of the river of life: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’” Now, the bride is the Christian congregation of which Christ is husbandly Head. (Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23; 2 Cor. 11:2) These who share heavenly life with Jesus Christ number 144,000 persons. (Rev. 14:1, 3) The ‘water of life’ is offered by the spirit and the bride to yet others. It therefore symbolizes God’s provision for earthly life, everlasting human life in perfection on an earth transformed into a paradise, suitable for perfect humans.
The ‘water of life’ represents all the provisions for life through Jesus Christ. Is all this available now? No, for God must first remove the present wicked system of things with its invisible ruler Gog, who is Satan the Devil since being cast out of heaven (as discussed in the two preceding issues of this magazine). But we can take what is available of this “water” now by hearing and obeying the good news of the Kingdom and conforming our lives thereto.—John 3:16; Rom. 12:2.
THE TEMPLE FROM WHICH WATER OF LIFE FLOWS
God’s prophet Ezekiel was given a vision that complements the apostle John’s vision in the book of Revelation. Therein Ezekiel saw a temple. It was not any temple built by humans, such as those of Solomon or Zerubbabel, for at the time there was no temple at all in Jerusalem, it having been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon about fourteen years previously, and Jerusalem itself lay desolate. This temple was different in design from Solomon’s temple. The vision pictures it as already put up, ready for inspection and measurement. It was prophetic, however, of something actually to be set up later. It pictured the “true tent, which Jehovah put up, and not man.”—Heb. 8:2.
The Christian writer of the letter to the Hebrews discusses this tent or temple in detail, showing that it replaced the former temples, the last of which was Zerubbabel’s temple, rebuilt by King Herod. This “true tent” came into existence in 29 C.E., when Jesus made himself available to be offered on the “altar” of God’s will for him as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” After Jesus’ resurrection he entered into the Most Holy compartment of that temple, heaven itself, to present to God the merit of his perfect human sacrifice that he had offered on earth upon Jehovah’s spiritual altar, God’s “will.”—Heb. 9:23, 24; John 1:29.
In Ezekiel’s vision he saw the temple “upon a very high mountain,” which would locate the time of the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision far down the stream of time, when, as prophesied by Isaiah, “the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills.” Ezekiel was conducted on a tour of the temple by an angel, represented in the vision by a man. “His appearance was like the appearance of copper, and there was a flax cord in his hand, and a measuring reed.”—Ezek. 40:2, 3; Isa. 2:2.
At the present time Jehovah has restored to his people on earth a ‘spiritual paradise.’ They are enjoying the understanding of God’s purposes and are prosperous in proclaiming these purposes world wide. Jehovah’s worship is “firmly established” and “lifted up” today. Many hundreds of thousands are beginning to drink of “life’s water free.” They, in turn, say to others: “Come!” and the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses flourish in peace and good order, constantly increasing in numbers.
LIFE FOR HAR–MAGEDON SURVIVORS
But Ezekiel saw something beyond this. He had been shown the defeat of Satan’s earthly forces and the wiping out of the “land of Magog,” the invisible realm from which Satan now troubles the earth. (Ezek. 39:6) Then Ezekiel was given a clear picture of what will take place on earth during the righteous thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, when there will be no “Gog,” Satan the Devil, nor any of his demons, to interfere. The angel guiding Ezekiel in the vision took him on an inspection tour of the temple. Then Ezekiel says:
“Gradually he brought me back to the entrance of the House, and, look! there was water going forth from under the threshold of the House eastward, for the front of the House was east. And the water was going down from under, from the right-hand side of the House, south of the altar.”—Ezek. 47:1.
The water came out from where Jehovah resided in the sanctuary and flowed eastward past the altar in the courtyard showing that the Life-Giver, Jehovah God, recognizes the ransom sacrifice of his Son and High Priest Jesus Christ. The water ran on outside the courtyard and was directed to where life was needed.—Compare 1 John 1:7; 5:11, 12.
Now Jehovah’s angel used his measuring line made of flax. Says Ezekiel: “When the man went forth eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he also proceeded to measure a thousand in cubits and to make me pass through the water, water up to the ankles.”—Ezek. 47:3.
It is significant to note that the angel measured eastward in thousand-cubit distances, repeatedly reminding us that all the things pictured as accomplished by the stream take place during Christ’s thousand-year reign. On the first measurement, the water was not very deep, coming just to the ankles. ‘Ankle-deep’ will be enough life-giving water immediately after the war of Har–Magedon, in which Gog’s earthly forces are defeated. Why? Because only those who take a firm stand for God’s kingdom before the “great tribulation” that culminates in that war will survive. These, though designated as a “great crowd,” will be few compared to earth’s present population, and certainly so as compared to the thousands of millions who have lived on earth. (Rev. 7:9) They will be like Noah and his family, who survived the global flood. The “great crowd” will give a righteous start to human society. They will be the foundation of the “new earth,” that is, of human society as organized under the heavenly Messianic kingdom.—2 Pet. 2:5; 3:5-13.
LIFE FOR THOUSANDS OF MILLIONS NOW DEAD
However, God does not leave his purposes uncompleted, neither is he partial. (Isa. 46:9, 10; Acts 10:34, 35) The life-giving benefits of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ are for mankind in general. Of its application to many others, we read: “We behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9) Also: “He is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:2) “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
On the basis of this, Jesus Christ said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Ah, yes, as the apostle Paul declared: “There is going to be a resurrection [of the dead] of both the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Acts 24:15.
As the dead are resurrected, there will be enough of life’s water to heal and restore them to fullness of life. This is assured as we see the stream increasing in depth: “And he [the angel] continued measuring a thousand [cubits] and then made me pass through the water, water up to the knees.”—Ezek. 47:4.
But here the stream did not stop deepening. From this we may assume that not all the thousands of millions of dead will be resurrected at once, which would cause the survivors of Har–Magedon to have a great population explosion on their hands. How, then, could the necessary material provisions be made for the resurrected ones, not to mention their teaching and training in Jehovah’s way of life?
The next measurement found the stream much greater in volume: “And he continued measuring a thousand [cubits] and now made me pass through—water up to the hips.” (Ezek. 47:4) As the thousand years progress, the numbers resurrected will increase, for there will be more loyal subjects of the Kingdom to take care of them. Some among the resurrected ones, however, will not appreciate Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and will not be obedient, as we shall see in the further development of the prophecy, to be discussed in a later issue of The Watchtower. But the obedient thousands of millions will become co-workers in paradise restoration and in assisting the later-resurrected ones to come to know Jehovah the Life-Giver and his Son, the King, receiving his life-restoring ministrations as God’s High Priest.
Finally, the angel “continued measuring a thousand [cubits]. It was a torrent that I was not able to pass through, for the water had got high, water permitting swimming, a torrent that could not be passed through.”—Ezek. 47:5.
Before the thousand years of Messiah’s reign are ended the common earthly grave of mankind (Haʹdes) and the sea of watery graves for many humans must be emptied of those held in them in death. (Rev. 20:13, 14) The symbolic ‘water of life’ must be extended to the very last one of the ransomed dead of mankind. Nothing can prevent the torrent of the ‘water of life’ from coming to mankind to bring them life in abundance.
Jehovah gives this advance knowledge of his grand arrangements for mankind with a purpose in mind. First, it gives hope in a world without hope. (1 Thess. 4:13) Also, it motivates appreciative-hearted ones to invite everyone they can reach to begin drinking of this life-giving water now, for people are so much in need of it. All who hear, and really understand, gladly join with the spirit and the bride in saying, ‘Come! Take life’s water free.’
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Ezekiel’s Vision of the SANCTUARY OF JEHOVAH Perspective View