Abound in Hope!
“May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your believing, that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.”—ROMANS 15:13.
1, 2. (a) What reason did Paul give for ‘abounding in hope’? (b) How does Isaiah’s prophecy point forward to this hope?
ABOUND in hope? In a world so dark as this, where crime and immorality stalk the streets, where famine or near-famine has engulfed more than a billion persons, and where nuclear weapons are poised like a sword of Damocles over all humankind, what reason is there to “abound in hope”? Just before he expressed the above prayer, the apostle Paul stated a reason, quoting the prophet Isaiah in these words: “There will be one arising to rule nations; on him nations will rest their hope.”—Romans 15:12.
2 Paul was here quoting from Isaiah 11:1-10. This foretells those of nations who hope in Jesus, typified by King David, son of Jesse. In describing this One, the Gospel-writer Matthew also quoted Isaiah, in these words: “Look! My servant whom I chose, my beloved, whom my soul approved! I will put my spirit upon him, and what justice is he will make clear to the nations. . . . Indeed, in his name nations will hope.”—Matthew 12:18-21; Isaiah 42:1, 4.
3, 4. (a) What “name” does Jesus now have, and why? (b) How are we to understand Revelation 19:10, 11?
3 Why should the nations hope in Jesus’ name? It is because of all that his name stands for. While he was here on earth as a man, Jesus made a “name” as a flawless integrity-keeper. Persecution, reproaches, tortures—nothing could swerve him from loyally doing God’s will down to the death. “For this very reason,” explains the apostle Paul, “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”—Philippians 2:9-11.
4 Jesus’ name now stands for the high office to which Jehovah has exalted him as High Priest and King “at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” He is the One called “Faithful and True,” on whose coming the entire prophetic word focuses, “for the bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying.”—Hebrews 8:1; Revelation 19:10, 11.
5. Why, especially today, should we “abound in hope”?
5 Why should we today “abound in hope”? It is because the prophetic word shows that this Jesus is about to undo all the harm that sinner Adam brought upon mankind. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners, likewise also through the obedience of the one person many will be constituted righteous.” (Romans 5:19) As God’s High Priest in the heavens, Jesus will apply the merit of his perfect human sacrifice in restoring all obedient mankind, including billions of the resurrected dead, to human perfection, with the prospect of living forever in happiness on a Paradise earth. Jesus will “rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” Then, all humans will delight in perfection of life in that peaceful Paradise.—1 Corinthians 15:25, 26; Psalm 72:3, 7; Isaiah 33:24.
Getting a Long-Range View
6. (a) How, only, can we get a long-range view of God’s purposes? (b) How may this benefit us?
6 Only through the Bible can we learn of the real purpose of life. Only God, through his Word, can explain where we came from, why we are here, and what the future holds for us. (Isaiah 46:9, 10; 2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible gives us a long-range view of the outworking of the purposes of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. It tells us how we can have an exhilarating part in doing his will, and that for all eternity ahead!—Psalm 37:31, 34.
7. How has Jesus’ prophetic “sign” been fulfilled?
7 The prophetic “sign” that Jesus spoke of at the conclusion of his earthly ministry has now come to remarkable fulfillment. Jesus now sits on his glorious heavenly throne, judging the nations of earth and separating the people “just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” This is done according to the way they respond to the message of the Kingdom as proclaimed by Christ’s “brothers,” the anointed witnesses of Jehovah still serving God here on earth. (Matthew 24:3-14; 25:31-40, 46) But does this make Jesus equal to Jehovah God, or even superior to him?
8. (a) Why did Jehovah make Jesus his associate King? (b) How will Jesus show his subjection to the Father?
8 No, for “the head of the Christ is God,” who is always “the King of eternity” and Sovereign over all of his creation. (1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 4:11) It was only when rebellion reared its ugly head in the Paradise of Eden that Jehovah declared he would raise up an associate King—the “seed” of promise—”to break up the works of the Devil.” (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8) However, after he has vindicated Jehovah’s name and sovereignty and raised mankind to perfection in the restored Paradise on earth, Christ “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father,” the Son also subjecting himself to God.—1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
9. (a) How does Isaiah describe Jehovah’s majesty? (b) What do the Scriptures show to be the channel for salvation?
9 Speaking of “the Majestic One, Jehovah,” the prophet Isaiah acknowledges: “Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Statute-giver, Jehovah is our King; he himself will save us.” Salvation comes from Jehovah, through Christ Jesus, a truth that all persons seeking life must accept. (Isaiah 33:21, 22; 12:2; Acts 2:21; 4:12; Romans 10:13; Revelation 7:10) After speaking of Jehovah as the Majestic One over all, the prophet Isaiah goes on to show how he saves those who love him, and for what purpose.
Jehovah’s “Day of Vengeance”
10. What judgment is pronounced at Isaiah 34:1-4, and why?
10 The worldly nations have a shocking record of misrule, and they have rejected God’s righteous Kingdom by his Christ. Therefore the prophet Isaiah addresses them, saying: “Come up close, you nations, to hear; and you national groups, pay attention. Let the earth and that which fills it listen, the productive land and all its produce. For Jehovah has indignation against all the nations, and rage against all their army. He must devote them to destruction; he must give them to the slaughter. And their slain ones will be thrown out; and as for their carcasses, their stink will ascend; and the mountains must melt because of their blood. And all those of the army of the heavens must rot away. And the heavens [ineffectual human governments] must be rolled up, just like a book scroll; and their army will all shrivel away, just as the leafage shrivels off the vine and like a shriveled fig off the fig tree.”—Isaiah 34:1-4.*
11. (a) At Isaiah 34:5-7, what does Jehovah declare concerning Edom? (b) What was Edom, and what is its modern counterpart?
11 Strong words those! And awesome, too, is the judgment that Jehovah himself next pronounces against the people of Edom: “For in the heavens my sword will certainly be drenched. Look! Upon Edom it will descend, and upon the people devoted by me to destruction in justice.” (Isaiah 34:5-7) Edom, descended from Jacob’s brother Esau (surnamed Edom), was a longtime enemy of the nation of Israel, fathered by Jacob. And it has its modern-day counterpart. What is that? Well, who has taken the lead in reviling and persecuting the 20th-century spiritual Israel? Has it not been apostate Christendom, through its proud clergy class? Not only did the clergy of both sides give wholehearted support to the two world wars of our century but they added to their bloodguilt by causing worldly governments to ban and even to kill Jehovah’s Witnesses, who on earth represent the heavenly Jerusalem, or Zion.
12. (a) How does Jehovah bring retribution on “Edom”? (b) In what ways have Jehovah’s Witnesses separated from Christendom’s religions?
12 God’s prophet therefore declares: “Jehovah has a day of vengeance, a year of retributions for the legal case over Zion.” (Isaiah 34:8) How does this affect the modern “Edom”? In a devastation, as the following verses at Isaiah 34:9-17 show. Indeed, in a spiritual way since the postwar year of 1919, Christendom’s religions have become a dead thing, a desolation, from the viewpoint of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. They are the dominant part of “Babylon the Great,” the bloodguilty world empire of false religion, which suffered a great fall spiritually following the first world war, being condemned by Jehovah. Jehovah’s Witnesses have separated from the spiritually defunct modern-day “Edom.” They have no part in its interfaith movements, its political agitating or its sectarian showmanship. Very soon this apostate system will be devastated in its entirety, as Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” comes in upon all the earth.—Revelation 14:8; 18:2, 4, 24; 19:11-21.
Protection in “Paradise”
13. How does Isaiah describe the return from modern “Babylon”?
13 In beautiful poetic phrasing, Isaiah chapter 35 next describes the return of a remnant of spiritual Israel from captivity in “Babylon the Great,” climaxing it with these words: “The very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.” Truly, this is a spiritual paradise, reminding us of the words of Isaiah 51:3: “Jehovah will certainly comfort Zion. He will for certain comfort all her devastated places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert plain like the garden [paradeison (paradise), Septuagint Version] of Jehovah.”
14. (a) What paradise did Paul describe? (b) How is this paradise depicted at Isaiah 35:1-7, and who may share therein?
14 Jehovah’s anointed people today have entered a spiritual paradise indeed! How well this is described in Isaiah 35:1-7! It is comparable to what the apostle Paul describes at 2 Corinthians 12:3, 4, referring apparently to his own experience: “Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows—that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.” But it is lawful, today, to speak of the spiritual paradise that now exists among God’s anointed remnant, and in which a ‘great crowd out of all nations’ has also come to share! There thrives among them a delightfully prosperous organization, the global society of Jehovah’s Witnesses, united in the bond of love and in oneness of purpose and action. A spiritual paradise indeed!
15. (a) What does Psalm 91 indicate as to the spiritual paradise? (b) What question is raised with regard to the “great crowd,” and why?
15 As long as they continue to cultivate this spiritual paradise, Jehovah’s Witnesses will not be harmed by the weapons hurled at them by Satan. (Psalm 91:1-11) As to the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel, the grand restoration prophecies of Isaiah are now having a marvelous fulfillment. But the number of these anointed ones on earth has dwindled to fewer than 10,000—less than 0.4 percent of all Witnesses. The vast majority of the 45,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses today do not have any anointed ones in their midst. So what of the millions of the “great crowd”? True, they share with the anointed remnant in the joys of the spiritual paradise. But do we not see their marvelous hope of a Paradise earth illustrated in those same prophecies?
The Earth Made Glorious
16. (a) Where and how must God’s purpose be vindicated? (b) How, only, may man qualify for life in a Paradise? (c) How has this again been made possible?
16 Remember, it was here on earth, in Eden, that Paradise was lost. Therefore, it is here that Jehovah’s purpose toward the earth and man must be vindicated. Earth must be made into a global Paradise for mankind, in line with Jehovah’s original purpose. (Genesis 1:27, 28) There was more to the Edenic Paradise than peace among man and the animals, and the garden’s parklike beauty. Man made in God’s image was morally clean, and had to remain so, in order to continue to be a part of God’s grand organization. He had to obey his Creator if he was to remain perfect, free from sickness, death and any inclination toward wrongdoing. In this Adam failed. So in order for the earthly Paradise to be restored, sinful man must be lifted up again to perfection, this being made possible through Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Romans 5:12, 18.
17. (a) How do the “great crowd” find entry into the spiritual paradise? (b) According to the Scriptures, how are they being prepared for eternal life—where?
17 Today, the earth is far from being a paradise. Yet the “great crowd” of “other sheep” have come into a spiritual paradise. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) How? It is by dedicating their lives to Jehovah, conforming to his requirements and associating with the anointed remnant who have been brought into the spiritual paradise from 1919 onward. (Compare Ezekiel 38:8-16.) There they are being prepared and equipped for life in the earthly Paradise that will follow the tribulation at Armageddon. As far as this earth is concerned, Paradise restored to it will remain forever, to God’s glory. King David prophesied of it, saying: “But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” Yes, said Jesus, “happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5.
18. How will “the glory of Jehovah” be seen in the earthly Paradise?
18 In that earthly Paradise, all humans (including the resurrected ones on earth) who obediently avail themselves of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice will enjoy blessings like those described by Isaiah and other prophets concerning spiritual Israel. Happily, Jesus’ promise to the sympathetic thief on the tree at Calvary will have its marvelous fulfillment. (Luke 23:43) “The glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God,” will be seen literally in the blossoming of wilderness and desert, and in the healing of blind, deaf, lame and dumb persons. As that peaceful Paradise comes to extend earth wide, why, “even the lion will eat straw just like the bull,” as no doubt it did in Eden and in the ark of Noah’s day. No one will “do any harm or cause any ruin” in Paradise.—Genesis 1:29, 30; Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1-7; 65:25.
19. (a) How does Isaiah 25:6-8 undergo a prior fulfillment? (b) How will this be fulfilled also toward those who are to live on earth?
19 The priority of the spiritual paradise over the literal as to time is indicated by Isaiah 25:6-8. This prophecy is fulfilled spiritually today in the spiritual paradise, where Jehovah’s people have been raised up to enjoy a rich “banquet.” (Compare Ezekiel 37:1-6.) Because of their believing, they are filled with joy and peace, and abound in hope of Kingdom blessings. (Romans 15:13) Isaiah prophesied: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” This has had remarkable fulfillment toward the anointed remnant, restored from “Babylon the Great,” before Armageddon. And Revelation 7:17 applies these same words to the blessed condition of the “great crowd” today. Further, Isaiah’s words are quoted in connection with the “new earth,” at Revelation 21:3, 4, where we read: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind . . . And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” In the “new earth” this marvelous promise will be fulfilled in the restored Paradise on the cleansed earth.
20. Why do all of God’s servants now have every reason to “abound in hope”?
20 Surely, the anointed remnant, along with the “great crowd,” have every reason to “abound in hope” as glorious fulfillments of God’s prophetic word unfold before their eyes. Hope will not be disappointed, for all of Jehovah’s grand promises must at last become a reality. Let us, then, “have strong encouragement to lay hold on the hope set before us.”—Romans 15:13; Hebrews 6:18.
See the book Man’s Salvation out of World Distress at Hand! (published by the Watchtower Society), pages 205-241, for more detailed information on this prophecy.
Do you remember?
□ Because of what with regard to Jesus’ name may we “abound in hope”?
□ How does Jesus’ exalted position relate to that of Jehovah?
□ What does Isaiah chapter 34 show as to Jehovah’s “day of vengeance”?
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“Jehovah has a day of vengeance”
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The spiritual paradise protects against the “pestilences” that now plague mankind