Freedom from Want—Is It Impossible?
THE earth has the potential for providing delightful living conditions and a wholesome, well-balanced diet for every man, woman and child alive today. Yet millions of people have never known what it means to have enough food and a comfortable home. Many live in shacks that provide only limited shelter from cold and rain. Whole families may be squeezed into one small room in some dilapidated apartment building. Is there any hope that such conditions will change?
Man’s Maker, Jehovah God, has in mind putting an end to all the corrupt systems existing in the earth, replacing them with a righteous new order. “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) This promise is a guarantee that a world free from want will become a reality. Were even just a few people to continue suffering from want, the new governmental “heavens” and the “new earth” composed of loyal subjects would be marred by unrighteousness. But this will not be. The “new heavens” and the “new earth” will be completely righteous.
Because of God’s view of the poor and afflicted, we can look forward with confidence to a world free from want. The Scriptures speak of Jehovah as a “father of fatherless boys and a judge of widows.” (Ps. 68:5) His law to ancient Israel confirms this. That Law protected the poor and was designed to prevent any Israelite from plunging into hopeless poverty.
With the exception of the Levites, who received a tenth of the produce of the land for their service at the sanctuary, all Israelite families were granted a land inheritance and, therefore, had a means of supporting themselves. Even if a man suffered adversity or perhaps squandered his resources, plunging his family into poverty, the land inheritance could not be lost for all time. The Law stipulated that only the use of the land (with its produce) could be sold, and that for just the number of years remaining until the Jubilee year. The Jubilee year came every fifty years and was marked by the return of all landholdings to the original owner or his heirs. (Lev. 25:13, 23-27) During the years that poor Israelites had no land inheritance, they did not have to beg for life’s necessities nor in other ways degrade themselves to procure what they needed. They had the legal right to glean in the harvested fields, orchards and vineyards.—Lev. 19:9, 10; 23:22; Deut. 24:19-21.
God’s purpose to bring freedom from want to the poor is revealed in what was spoken prophetically regarding the rule of King Solomon. At Psalm 72:12-14 we read: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.”
This loving attitude toward the afflicted will characterize the rule of the new governmental heavens over mankind. How do we know this? Because the principal ruler of that new order is one greater than Solomon, namely, Jesus Christ, the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”—Rev. 19:16; Luke 11:31.
But someone may ask, ‘Why, after so many centuries have passed, do we not see Jesus Christ bringing relief to the poor?’ The Bible reveals that this will take place at a time determined upon by Jehovah God. While on earth, even Jesus Christ did not know exactly when the present system of things would be destroyed and replaced by the righteous new order. (Mark 13:32) However, he did point out that relief from the present troubles would be experienced by a particular generation—a generation that would first witness great wars, earthquakes, pestilences, famines and unprecedented fears about world developments. (Luke 21:10, 11, 25, 26, 31, 32) Are these not things that we have seen in this century? So, then, we may be sure that a righteous new order is at hand.
The fact that Jehovah God has not taken action against the ungodly world as yet is actually of benefit to humankind. Calling attention to this, the apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Pet. 3:9.
God’s patience has enabled people to demonstrate whether they really want life in a righteous new system where hardship from want will be a thing of the past. Regardless of what their economic circumstances may be, they can show where they stand in this matter. If they really want to live in a righteous new order, they need to learn what God expects of those whom he approves, repent over their past violations of his requirements and conform their ways to his will as loyal disciples of Jesus Christ.
But what of the many millions now dead? Though they may have suffered injustices and oppression, they did not experience permanent hurt. Why not? Because Jehovah God can and will see to it that the dead are brought back to life and have set before them the prospect of everlasting life. (Acts 24:15) In the case of those resurrected ones, what will a few years of suffering amount to when compared with everlasting life free from pain? Nothing really. They will feel as did the Christian apostle Paul: “The tribulation is momentary and light.”—2 Cor. 4:17.
Freedom from want will indeed become a reality in God’s new order. Have you taken steps to show that you desire to experience that freedom? Are you presently studying the Bible and seeking to apply it in your daily life? If so, you may be among those to witness the approaching time when all persons will rejoice in having freedom from want.
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“He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save.”—Ps. 72:12, 13.