Human Happiness Under Divine Government
IT WOULD be wonderful to live in health in a gardenlike environment. With clean, clear lakes and streams, wholesome food and pure air, life could really be enjoyable. If, in addition, all men cooperated in a common cause, to use earth’s resources for mankind’s benefit, work would be a delight. Earth would truly be a paradise.
Of course, it would take more than merely delightful surroundings and cooperative people to bring about such a desirable condition. It would require a clean, incorruptible government. For it is readily acknowledged that “when the righteous are in power the people rejoice, but they groan when the wicked hold office.” (Prov. 29:2, New English Bible) Governments devised by men have failed to bring the desired conditions. Does that mean such a desirable government is impossible?
The Creator tells us, in the Bible, that he purposes a righteous government for the earth. He is “the happy God” and, being man’s Creator, he knows the kind of government people need in order to be happy. (1 Tim. 1:11) Through his prophet Ezekiel he has revealed the design of that government.
As Owner of the earth, Jehovah has assigned this planet to man as his home. As Sovereign Ruler, he will locate individuals in the earth as he chooses, not merely for his own satisfaction, but for the greatest happiness of all concerned.—Ex. 19:5; Ps. 115:16.
As an illustration of this, Jehovah gave a vision to the prophet Ezekiel in which He designated the place of each one of the twelve tribes of Israel, with its boundaries marked. On the accompanying map you will see that there was an administrative strip of land, marked “The Chieftain,” with seven sections north of the strip and parallel to it. To the south were the assignments of Israel’s other five tribes. The territorial strips ran eastward from the Mediterranean Sea toward the Jordan River or toward the Dead Sea.—Ezek. 47:15-20.
The tribe of Levi had no assigned inheritance because it served at Jehovah’s sanctuary, which was located within the administrative strip of land, inside a section 25,000 cubits (about 42,500 feet [8 miles]) square. (The cubit used in measuring was “a cubit and a handbreadth” [about 20.4 inches].) This square portion, called “the contribution that you people should contribute,” was around the neighborhood of Mount Moriah.—Ezek. 43:13; 48:8, 9.
This land “contribution,” in turn, was to be divided into three strips of land, each 25,000 cubits long. The northern and middle strips were 10,000 cubits wide; the southern one, 5,000 cubits wide. The northern strip was assigned to the nonpriestly Levites. (Ezek. 48:13, 14) The middle 10,000-cubit section of the “contribution” contained Jehovah’s sanctuary and was called a “holy contribution for the priests” and “something most holy, on the boundary of the Levites.”—Ezek. 48:10-12.
The southernmost land strip, 5,000 cubits (1.61 miles) in width, contained in its center the “city,” 5,000 cubits square. The wall around the city was 4,500 cubits on a side, with 250 cubits all around as pasture ground. (Ezek. 48:15-17) On each side of the city (east and west) was an area 10,000 cubits long by 5,000 cubits wide. This open land was to be cultivated to produce food for all those working in the city. These composed an intertribal staff of workers, persons from all twelve non-Levite tribes.—Ezek. 48:18, 19.
VISIBLE REPRESENTATIVES OF HEAVENLY GOVERNMENT
The visible head of this visionary city government was the “chieftain.” His assigned territory was quite large, consisting of the land on each side of the 25,000-cubit-square land “contribution.” This strip, 25,000 cubits wide, stretched all the way to the Mediterranean Sea on the west of the “contribution” and to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea on the east.—Ezek. 47:18, 20.
It is noteworthy that in Ezekiel’s vision the city did not contain the temple, though the temple was close by in the special “contribution” of land. The priests and Levites did not dwell or work in this city. Therefore, in the fulfillment of the vision under Messiah’s thousand-year reign, the visionary city would not picture the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, made up of Christ’s congregation of spiritual Israelites, his Bride. (Rev. 20:3, 4, 6; 21:1, 2, 9-21) For they are priests, “a royal priesthood,” their names being enrolled in the heavens. (1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 12:23) Accordingly, the “city” pictures, not the heavenly government of Jesus Christ and his 144,000 associate kings and priests, but, instead, an earthly, visible seat of administration over the affairs of redeemed mankind.
The “chieftain” in the vision is therefore not a symbolic figure of Jesus Christ. The chieftain served in the “profane” section, not at the temple, whereas Jesus Christ is the great High Priest, serving in the heavenly area of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. (Heb. 3:1; 8:1) True, Jehovah called the Messiah “a chieftain” in an earlier chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy. But there God speaks of that chieftain as “my servant David,” whereas no such reference is made to the chieftain in this vision of the “city.” David was the king of Israel from whose line the Messiah came, as regards his fleshly descent. (Ezek. 34:24; 37:25; Acts 2:29-36) Jesus Christ is, as the foretold Messiah, the heavenly King as well as High Priest.
Whom, then, does the “chieftain” in the temple vision symbolically portray? Just as the term “servant” often had a collective meaning, as where Jehovah called the nation of Israel his “servant,” so the “chieftain” takes on a collective meaning. It stands for those whom the heavenly Messiah Jesus appoints as his visible representatives in the “new earth,” under the direction of the “new heaven.”—Isa. 43:10; Rev. 21:1, 2.
The psalmist wrote prophetically addressing the King Jesus Christ and referring to his earthly children: “In place of your [earthly] forefathers there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.” (Ps. 45:16) Christ will see to it that these and others, having become his “sons” by reason of getting life through him, will, as righteous “princes” in the earth, justly administer the affairs of mankind and will keep them in security, for this is guaranteed in Isaiah chapter 32 in these grand words:
“Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.
“And in the wilderness justice will certainly reside, and in the orchard righteousness itself will dwell. And the work of the true righteousness must become peace; and the service of the true righteousness, quietness and security to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places.”—Isa. 32:1, 2, 16-18.
Jehovah did this for his people in a small-scale way when he restored them from exile in Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. How much more he will do this for the people of all the earth during Christ’s thousand-year reign! Then Christ’s words to his apostles will come true, that they will sit with him “judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” that is, all redeemed mankind, through the righteous visible princely representatives on earth.—Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30.
NAME OF THE CITY SIGNIFICANT
Volunteers from all parts of the earth and from all the ranks of ransomed mankind will then come in to cooperate actively with the “chieftain” class. This will be at the “city,” which stands for the visible official seat of the “chieftain” class for administering the affairs of all mankind. Ezekiel’s vision depicted three gates in each of the city’s four walls, open to all twelve tribes of Israel. (Ezek. 48:30-34) The city-like administration will perfectly reflect the heavenly New Jerusalem, which has twelve gates inscribed with the names of the “twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” (Rev. 21:12) So the approachableness and loving care of Christ and his underpriesthood will also be shown by the ‘princely’ administration on earth. There will be free and open access for all who wish to receive help on a vital matter.
Ezekiel’s prophecy closes giving the name of this city: “Round about [the city’s perimeter] there will be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day on will be Jehovah Himself Is There.” (Ezek. 48:35) It is just as Revelation 21:3 promises: “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.” Jehovah himself will manifest his divine presence by directing his loving, beneficent attention to the “city.” The fruitage of his spirit will abound there to his glory, namely, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.”—Gal. 5:22, 23.
With Jehovah’s spirit operating through those “princes,” we can then be sure of a righteous government that will have the glory of God, justice, righteousness, and the happiness of the people at heart. From Jesus Christ the great High Priest and his underpriesthood in the heavens will come the application of the sin-atoning value of Christ’s sacrifice, with all its benefits. Fully under the direction of the “new heaven,” the city-like visible administration will aid in the uplift of all obedient mankind to perfection of heart, mind and body in the earth’s reestablished Paradise. Revelation 21:4 goes on to say: “And [God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
A REAL HOPE TO SEIZE NOW
At this time, under the influence of this system of things, and because of the sin we have inherited from our forefather Adam, it is a constant fight for even the true Christian to overcome the bad, destructive tendencies of the imperfect flesh. (Rom. 7:19, 24, 25) Humans are helpless on their own, and the influence of Satan, “the god of this system of things,” and the lack of care on the part of earth’s governments for the welfare of the people, have left them in a pitiful state. (2 Cor. 4:4) But under the righteous ‘new heavens and new earth,’ with the administration of God-fearing princes in the earth, the prophecy will be fulfilled: “The earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.” (Hab. 2:14; 2 Pet. 3:13) Coming to know Jehovah God and his unsurpassed loving-kindness, his wisdom, his justice and his provisions for happiness of mankind, they will glorify him and imitate his ways. Then, as the psalmist prophetically sang: “As for loving-kindness and trueness, they have met each other; righteousness and peace—they have kissed each other. Trueness itself will sprout out of the very earth, and righteousness itself will look down from the very heavens. Also, Jehovah, for his part, will give what is good, and our own land will give its yield.”—Ps. 85:10-12.
If you are one who desires these good things, you undoubtedly see that they are not practiced in this present system of things. You may be vexed and upset by the things you see going on. (Ezek. 9:4) If so, show your love of righteousness now. God is setting before you the opportunity for deliverance, just as he did for righteous Lot in the midst of the corrupt city of Sodom. (2 Pet. 2:7-9) Do not sit complacently and wait, for Jehovah is going to destroy this corrupt world and all who hang onto it. (2 Pet. 3:7-9; 1 Pet. 4:17-19) Take steps to learn God’s will now and to make it your way of life.
[Diagram/Map on page 426]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
HOLY CONTRIBUTION and the TWELVE TRIBES
ENTERING INTO HAMATH
Sea of Galilee
T.V. of Egypt
SCALE OF MILES
Enlargement of Holy Contribution
a b c
D k E e D
m i h g
“A” indicates Levites’ portion; B, Sanctuary of Jehovah; C, Priests’ portion; D, City’s productive land; E, City: Jehovah Himself Is There (Jehovah-shammah).
Gates: a, of Reuben; b, of Judah; c, of Levi; d, of Joseph; e, of Benjamin; f, of Dan; g, of Simeon; h, of Issachar; i, of Zebulun; j, of Gad; k, of Asher; l, of Naphtali.
Pasture ground: m.