Questions From Readers
■ Do the restoration prophecies of Isaiah and other ancient prophets have their final fulfillment in the spiritual paradise of God’s people today, or do they also have a literal application to the Paradise of the future “new earth”?
The book Man’s Salvation out of World Distress at Hand, published in 1975 by the Watch Tower Society, had this to say with reference to Isaiah chapter 35: “It was after the exiled Jews returned from Babylon in 537 B.C.E. that the prophecy of the beautification of the Judean ‘wilderness,’ ‘waterless region’ and ‘desert’ had a miniature fulfillment. The larger and final fulfillment, the spiritual fulfillment, began to take place upon the remnant of spiritual Israelites after they returned from their exile from God’s favor in Babylon the Great in the year 1919 C.E.” Does this mean that none of the features of these restoration prophecies will be fulfilled in the literal Paradise on earth during Christ’s Millennial Reign? Far from it!
The statement in the Man’s Salvation book must be viewed properly in its context. Isaiah’s prophecy had a miniature fulfillment when Israel was brought back from captivity in Babylon, but the major fulfillment began to take place from 1919 C.E. with the release of spiritual Israel from captivity to Babylon the Great. Restoration to their “land,” their spiritual paradise, was then final and complete, for never again would they fall into bondage to any part of Satan’s world empire of false religion.
However, this and other restoration prophecies include features that will also find a physical fulfillment in the Paradise earth. There are features, for example, in Isaiah 35:1-7, such as the healing of the blind, the deaf and the lame, that did not have a literal fulfillment in the restoration from ancient Babylon; nor are they so fulfilled in the restored spiritual paradise today. But Jehovah’s Witnesses look forward with keen anticipation to the realization of these promises in the Paradise earth. No doubt that is why Song 119 in our 1966 songbook is such a favorite with all of us!
Referring to other restoration prophecies, the Society’s book God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached (1973) stated: “It would be inconsistent for God to inspire such a prophecy as that of Isaiah 11:6-9, and Ezekiel 34:25 and Hosea 2:18 to have only a figurative or spiritual meaning and not have a true copy of these things in actual life, as though the literal fulfillment were an impossible ideal.”
It is of interest that inspired writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures have applied features of these restoration prophecies to the “new earth,” even though their major fulfillment today is in the spiritual paradise. For example, the prophet Isaiah spoke of blessings to come in “new heavens and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17-25) Later, the apostle Peter described the coming of Jehovah’s day, in which the present “heavens” and “earth” are to be dissolved, and added: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise [by Isaiah], and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:10-13) Thus Peter indicated that features in Isaiah’s prophecy will become a reality in the “new earth.” True happiness, long life, secure homes, abundant food, satisfying work, peace between man and animals—all these blessings are assured ‘according to God’s promise.’
Further, in speaking of ‘the banquet for all peoples,’ Isaiah 25:6-8 includes the statement: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” Though the major fulfillment is in the spiritual paradise (with the “great crowd” sharing therein), the apostle John shows that this feature of Isaiah’s prophecy has also a definite fulfillment toward mankind in the “new earth.” (Revelation 7:9, 16, 17; 21:1-4) Then, a global Paradise will be recreated after the pattern of the Paradise of Eden.—Genesis 2:8; Matthew 19:28.
Jehovah’s people now exult in the complete restoration of their spiritual paradise. And there will be no end to rejoicing in the physical Paradise, “because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9; 51:3.