Can You Enjoy a Paradise Now?
A PARADISE exists on earth today. It is extending farther and farther and is being enjoyed by millions of people. You, too, can be a part of it. Is this some idealistic dream? Not at all, for we are not speaking about a natural, earthly paradise but a spiritual one.a
“What do you mean by a spiritual paradise?” you ask. Put simply: An organization of Christians who have made over their personalities to conform to God’s requirements and who are united in his true worship may be said to be in a spiritual paradise.
Where does the Bible give indication of a wonderful spiritual situation like this? What evidence is there that such a condition exists today?
The Wolf With the Lamb
There are a number of Bible prophecies that describe conditions that call to mind a paradise. A delightful description of such a paradise is found at Isaiah 11:6-9, which reads as follows:
“The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
Just imagine how pleasant it would be to live in tranquil surroundings like those described here, with total peace existing in such a marvelous way! This would restore the Paradise conditions that existed in the garden of Eden when animals and humans lived in that garden in perfect harmony. (Genesis 1:30; 2:8, 9, 19, 20) True Christians eagerly look forward to enjoying these grand blessings on an earth-wide scale in the future under the rule of the Messianic King, Jesus Christ. His rulership is described in Isaiah 11:1-5, the verses immediately preceding the ones quoted above. But are these sure-to-be-realized future blessings under the Kingdom rule the only fulfillment of Isaiah’s words?
No, this prophecy might also be said to portray a transformation of human personalities. In what way? Answers 18th-century Bible scholar Matthew Henry: “Men of the most fierce and furious dispositions, who used to bite and devour all about them, shall have their temper so strangely altered . . . that they shall live in love even with the weakest, and such as formerly they would have made an easy prey of.”
And another Bible scholar, Joseph Benson, wrote during the last century: “Men of fierce, cruel, and ungovernable dispositions shall be so transformed by the preaching of the gospel, and by the grace of Christ, that they shall become most humble, gentle, and tractable, and shall no more vex and persecute those meek and poor ones, mentioned [in] Isa 11 verse 4.”
Imagine that! Humans discarding former aggressive traits and putting on, instead, personalities marked by peacefulness and love! Not that such persons lose their identity. Isaiah does not say that the wolf becomes a lamb, but, rather, that its disposition changes so that it dwells peacefully with the lamb.
Similarly, in keeping with Isaiah’s words, humans with beastlike traits—who perhaps killed, exploited or otherwise victimized their fellowman—make over their personalities, getting along with other people who are peacefully disposed like the lamb. When such a situation comes to exist among people, the grand consequences may be spoken of as a spiritual paradise. But are Isaiah’s words really being fulfilled today?
A Spiritual Paradise—When?
A corresponding prophecy in the book of Isaiah helps us to locate the time when this marvelous spiritual condition begins to be realized. We read at Isaiah 2:2-4:
“It must occur in the final part of the days that 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; and to it all the nations must stream. . . . And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
Notice that a similar transformation is described—people becoming peacefully disposed, ‘beating swords into plowshares.’ When would this happen? “In the final part of the days,” answers the Bible prophecy. As has been shown many times in The Watchtower, this system of things has been in the last days since the year 1914. Therefore, we must now be living in the time when Isaiah 11:6-9 is having an application. A grand spiritual situation must now exist! ‘But where?’ you ask.
Taming the Personality
The taming of personalities, as shown by Isaiah’s prophecy, is being repeated many times over among sincere persons who, upon learning Bible truth, have ‘made their minds over’ and ‘put on a new personality.’ (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23, 24) Consider the following example:
David is a big, brawny young man who grew up on a farm in Minnesota, in the United States. “My father always told me to settle my arguments with my fists,” explains David, who later became an amateur boxer. “I can always remember him saying, ‘Never start a fight, but be sure you finish it.’ As a result, it was fight first, never ask questions. I actually enjoyed doing bodily harm to others.”
For instance, one night a man pulling out of a parking spot blocked David’s car. He stubbornly refused to move. “I was so mad I wanted to kill him,” says David. So he dragged the man from his car and beat him to the point of unconsciousness. Could a person with such a violent disposition really change his ways?
One day, while he was unemployed, David was contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their message about a coming righteous New Order of things touched his heart. “I was convinced from the start that they had the truth,” says David. As he applied in his life what he was learning, David started making changes—he quit smoking and stopped taking drugs. He was even making progress in taming his violent disposition.
But several months later David had a disappointing setback. He was working on a construction job. One morning a co-worker started harassing him. David warned him to stop, but he did not. The result? David explains: “I hit him so hard I thought I had killed him. He was unconscious for about 20 minutes. I felt really ashamed of myself.”
However, David slowly progressed in making over his personality. A real test came several years after he became a baptized witness of Jehovah. He was out preaching from house to house. At one door a man came out and started swearing at him. The man then grabbed hold of David’s coat and threw him off the steps. Without saying a word David started walking to the next house. Not satisfied with this, the man chased after him and, picking up a baseball bat, hit David across his lower back. Yet this formerly violent young man did not retaliate! He just walked away. What a remarkable change in personality! This “wolf” is now getting along peacefully with “lambs,” serving as an elder and as a full-time minister in the congregation.
Often people are so impressed upon seeing such changes in others that they, too, are prompted to change their lives for the better. Thus, another young man, also named David, after meeting an old friend whom he had not seen in a while, said: “He was different. He no longer had long hair, used abusive speech or cared to get involved in drugs. He had completely cleaned up his life. This shocked me so much that I had to find out what caused the change.” David’s friend had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And so did David, after first cleaning up his own life.
The above experiences can be multiplied over and over again in the 45,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. Perhaps you know of one or more of them who have made some remarkable changes in their lives.
When observers attend conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they often speak about the peaceful atmosphere. A columnist for the Journal de Montréal wrote: “I am not a Witness. But I am a witness to the fact that the Witnesses witness to efficiency and proper behaviour. . . . If they were the only people in the world, we would not at night have to bolt our doors shut and put on the burglar alarm.”
In Mexico two villages were feuding. There were frequent slayings. The police could do nothing to stop it. Then, one family started to study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other families sold their weapons, using the money to buy Bibles, so that they, too, could study. Soon, a spiritual paradise of true peace and unity was established among those villagers.
But it is not that Jehovah’s Witnesses take the credit for achieving the condition pointed to at Isaiah 11:6-9. No, there is only one force in the universe that can cause people to make such drastic changes in their disposition. That force is God’s holy spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) And God gladly grants that spirit to persons who sincerely seek it and conform to his requirements.—Luke 11:9-13; Acts 5:32.
Neither do Jehovah’s Witnesses claim perfection. No, they have problems like everybody else. But they have a sound guide for working out their problems—the Bible. (Psalm 119:105) They try hard to apply its principles in their lives, although at times they fall short. (Romans 3:23) You see, deeply ingrained personality traits are not easily uprooted. Yet, with the help of God’s spirit, even people with very hostile personalities can make progress in taming undesirable traits.
Nevertheless, one thing is certain: Rather than the strife, disunity and immorality that you see in the world today, love, peace of mind and unity, evident among Jehovah’s Witnesses earth wide, are being enjoyed in the spiritual paradise. This provides a foretaste of how peacefully humans will live together on this earth in a physical Paradise during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ Jesus.—Luke 23:43.
Why not learn more about paradise? See why Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy such comparative peace, contentment, happiness and unity—things you no doubt readily associate with paradise. Learn how you, too, can enjoy such a paradise right now!
a The English word “paradise” is derived from the Greek noun paraʹdeisos, which means “garden.”—Genesis 2:8, Douay Version; Greek Septuagint Version; Luke 23:43.
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PROPHECIES OF PARADISE
A number of prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures regarding paradise have already had fulfillment in our day. Consider as an example the prophecy at Isaiah chapter 35, which foretells that ‘the desert plain will blossom as the saffron.’ This prophecy proved true on a small scale when exiled Jews returned from Babylon in 537 B.C.E. Pleased with their return to his worship, God caused their desolate homeland, Judah, to blossom once again and produce abundantly so that it became a miniature paradise.
The prophecy of Isaiah 35 evidently also has a spiritual fulfillment. How do we know? For one thing, in Isa 35 verses 5 and 6 it promised that the blind, the deaf, the lame and the speechless would all be healed. There is no indication that those returning Jews in 537 B.C.E. were literally healed of such maladies. Evidently this is to be understood in a spiritual sense—their eyes, for instance, were opened to see the light of freedom in their homeland. Likewise a spiritual paradise is now flourishing among worshipers of Jehovah God, but this time it is earth wide.
In the near future after God has destroyed all wickedness on our globe, a surviving “great crowd” and the resurrected dead will experience a very real physical healing. On the basis of his ransom sacrifice, Christ Jesus will bring obedient ones to human perfection to live forever in the restored earthly Paradise. Thus what Isaiah 35 mentions will be extended very soon to embrace the entire earth as our globe is transformed into a peaceful parklike garden in which the literal Paradise becomes a reality.—Isaiah 25:6-8; Revelation 7:9; 21:3, 4.