The New World—Will You Be There?
“There is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.”—ECCLESIASTES 3:12, 13.
1. Why can we be optimistic about the future?
MANY people think of Almighty God as severe, stern. Yet, the above text is a truth that you will find in his inspired Word. It accords with his being “the happy God” and with his placing our first parents in an earthly paradise. (1 Timothy 1:11; Genesis 2:7-9) When seeking insight into the future that God promises for his people, we should not be surprised to learn of conditions that will bring us lasting enjoyment.
2. What are some things that you look forward to?
2 In the preceding article, we examined three of the four instances where the Bible foretells “new heavens and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17) One of those reliable predictions is recorded at Revelation 21:1. The subsequent verses tell of the time when Almighty God will drastically change earthly conditions for the better. He will wipe out tears of grief. No more will people die from old age, sickness, or accidents. Mourning, outcry, and pain will be gone. What a delightful prospect! But can we be sure that it will come, and what impact could that prospect have on us right now?
Reasons for Confidence
3. Why can we trust the Bible’s promises about the future?
3 Note how Revelation 21:5 continues. It quotes God, seated on his heavenly throne, as declaring: “Look! I am making all things new.” That divine promise is better than any national declaration of independence, any present-day bill of rights, or any human aspiration for the future. It is an absolutely reliable declaration by the One who the Bible says “cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2) Understandably, you might feel that we could stop right here, relishing this exquisite prospect and trusting God. But we need not stop. There is more for us to learn about our future.
4, 5. What Bible prophecies already considered can bolster our confidence about what lies ahead?
4 Reflect on what the preceding article established as to the Bible’s promises of new heavens and a new earth. Isaiah foretold such a new system, and his prophecy had a fulfillment when the Jews returned to their homeland and reestablished true worship. (Ezra 1:1-3; 2:1, 2; 3:12, 13) Yet, was that all that Isaiah’s prophecy pointed to? Definitely not! The things he foretold would be fulfilled in a grander way in the distant future. Why do we reach that conclusion? Because of what we read at 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1-5. Those passages point to new heavens and a new earth that will benefit Christians on a global scale.
5 As noted earlier, the Bible uses the phrase “new heavens and a new earth” four times. We have considered three of these and have reached encouraging conclusions. Pointedly, the Bible foretells that God will eliminate wickedness and other causes of suffering and that he will then further bless mankind in his promised new system.
6. What does a fourth prophecy mentioning “new heavens and a new earth” foretell?
6 Let us now examine the remaining instance of the expression “new heavens and a new earth,” at Isaiah 66:22-24: “‘Just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘so the offspring of you people and the name of you people will keep standing. And it will certainly occur that from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath all flesh will come in to bow down before me,’ Jehovah has said. ‘And they will actually go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that were transgressing against me; for the very worms upon them will not die and their fire itself will not be extinguished, and they must become something repulsive to all flesh.’”
7. Why should we conclude that Isaiah 66:22-24 will have a fulfillment in coming days?
7 This prophecy had an application among the Jews reestablished in their land, but there would be another fulfillment. That had to be down the stream of time from when Peter’s second letter and the book of Revelation were written, for they pointed to a future ‘new heaven and earth.’ We can look for that grand and complete fulfillment in the new system. Consider some of the conditions that we can look forward to enjoying.
8, 9. (a) In what sense will God’s people “keep standing”? (b) What is the import of the prophecy that Jehovah’s servants will worship “from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath”?
8 Revelation 21:4 indicated that death will be no more. The passage in Isaiah chapter 66 agrees with that. We can see from Isa 66 verse 22 that Jehovah knows that the new heavens and the new earth will not be temporary, of limited duration. Furthermore, his people will endure; they will “keep standing” before him. What God has already done for his chosen people gives us reason for confidence. True Christians have faced vicious persecution, even fanatical efforts to wipe them out. (John 16:2; Acts 8:1) Yet, even very powerful enemies of God’s people, such as Roman Emperor Nero and Adolf Hitler, have not been able to eradicate God’s loyal ones, who bear his name. Jehovah has preserved the congregation of his people, and we can be sure that he can keep it standing lastingly.
9 Similarly, those faithful to God as part of the new earth, the society of true worshipers in the new world, will keep standing individually because they will be rendering pure worship to the Creator of all things. That will not be occasional or haphazard worship. God’s Law, provided to Israel through Moses, called for certain acts of worship each month, as marked by the new moon, and each week, as marked by the Sabbath day. (Leviticus 24:5-9; Numbers 10:10; 28:9, 10; 2 Chronicles 2:4) So Isaiah 66:23 points to regular, ongoing worship of God, week after week and month after month. Atheism and religious hypocrisy will not exist then. “All flesh will come in to bow down before” Jehovah.
10. Why can you be confident that the new world will not be permanently marred by wicked ones?
10 Isaiah 66:24 assures us that the peace and righteousness of the new earth will never be in danger. Wicked people will not ruin it. Recall that 2 Peter 3:7 says that ahead of us is “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” Those coming to their end will be ungodly. No harm will come to innocents, unlike what often happens in human wars, where civilian casualties outnumber military ones. The Great Judge guarantees us that his day will be a destruction of the ungodly.
11. What does Isaiah show will be the future of any who turn against God and his worship?
11 The surviving righteous ones will see that God’s prophetic word is true. Isa 66 Verse 24 foretells that “the carcasses of the men that were transgressing against” Jehovah will be proof of his judgment. The graphic language Isaiah used may seem shocking. Yet, it is consistent with a historical fact. Outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem were dumps for garbage and, occasionally, for the corpses of executed criminals judged unfit for a decent burial.* There the worms and incinerating fire would soon eliminate both the garbage and those corpses. Evidently, Isaiah’s imagery illustrates the finality of Jehovah’s judgment on transgressors.
What He Has Promised
12. Isaiah gives what further indications regarding life in the new world?
12 Revelation 21:4 tells us of some things that will not exist in the coming new system. However, what will exist then? What will life be like? Can we get any reliable hints? Yes. Isaiah chapter 65 prophetically describes conditions that we will enjoy if we have Jehovah’s approval to live when he, in the final sense, creates these new heavens and new earth. Those blessed with a lasting place in the new earth will not grow old and inevitably die. Isaiah 65:20 assures us: “No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him.”
13. How does Isaiah 65:20 assure us that God’s people will enjoy security?
13 When this was first fulfilled on Isaiah’s people, it meant that the babes in the land were safe. No enemies were coming in, as the Babylonians once did, to carry off sucklings or to cut down men who were in the prime of their life. (2 Chronicles 36:17, 20) In the coming new world, people will be safe, secure, able to enjoy life. If a person chooses to rebel against God, he will not be allowed to continue living. God will remove him. What if the rebellious sinner is a hundred years old? He will die “as a mere boy” compared to having endless life.—1 Timothy 1:19, 20; 2 Timothy 2:16-19.
14, 15. Based on Isaiah 65:21, 22, to what rewarding activities can you look forward?
14 Instead of concentrating on how a willful sinner might be removed, Isaiah describes the living conditions that will prevail in the new world. Try to picture yourself in the scene. What might first come to your mind’s eye are things close to home. Isaiah treats that in Isa 65 verses 21 and 22: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”
15 If you have not yet gained building experience or done gardening, Isaiah’s prophecy suggests that an education awaits you. Would you, though, be willing to learn with the help of capable instructors, perhaps kind neighbors who happily lend you a hand? Isaiah did not say whether your house will have large paneless windows with blinds, so that you can enjoy tropical breezes, or closed glass windows through which you can observe changing seasons. Will you design a house with a slanted roof to shed rain and snow? Or will the local climate suggest a flat roof—like one of those in the Middle East—a roof where you can gather with your family for delightful meals and conversation?—Deuteronomy 22:8; Nehemiah 8:16.
16. Why can you expect the new world to be permanently satisfying?
16 More important than knowing such details is that you will have your own residence. It will be yours—not like today when you might slave to build but then another person benefits. Isaiah 65:21 also says that you will plant and eat the fruitage. Clearly, that summarizes the general situation. You will derive intense satisfaction from your efforts, the fruits of your own labors. You will be able to do that over a long life—“like the days of a tree.” That certainly meets the description “all things new”!—Psalm 92:12-14.
17. Parents will find what promise especially encouraging?
17 If you are a parent, these words will touch your heart: “They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.” (Isaiah 65:23, 24) Do you know from experience the pain of ‘bringing to birth for disturbance’? We need not list the range of problems children may have that bring disturbance to parents and others. Related to that, we have all observed parents so preoccupied with their own careers, activities, or pleasures that they spend little time with their children. In contrast, Jehovah assures us that he will hear and respond to our needs, even anticipate them.
18. Why can you expect to enjoy the animals in the new world?
18 While you are thinking about what you may enjoy in the new world, picture the scene that God’s prophetic word sets out: “‘The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,’ Jehovah has said.” (Isaiah 65:25) Human artists have tried to paint that scene, but this is no mere word picture produced with artistic license. This will be real. Peace will prevail among humans and will be matched by peace with the animals. Many biologists and animal lovers spend the best years of their life learning about a few types of animals or just one species or breed. In contrast, think what you will be able to learn when animals are not dominated by fear of humans. Then you will be able to approach even birds and tiny creatures whose habitat is the forest or jungle—yes, observe, learn from, and enjoy them. (Job 12:7-9) You will be able to do so safely, free of danger from man or animal. Jehovah says: “They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain.” What a change that will be from what we see and experience today!
19, 20. Why are God’s people quite different from most people today?
19 As mentioned earlier, humans are unable to foretell the future accurately, despite widespread concerns related to a new millennium. That leaves many frustrated, confused, or in despair. Peter Emberley, director at a Canadian university, wrote: “Many [adults] are finally confronting primary questions of existence. Who am I? What am I truly striving for? What is the legacy I leave for the next generation? They are struggling at mid-life to achieve order and meaning in their lives.”
20 You can understand why that is the case with many. They may seek to enjoy life through hobbies or exciting forms of recreation. Yet, they do not know what the future holds, so life may lack significance, order, or real meaning. Now contrast that with your view of life, in the light of what we have considered. You know that in Jehovah’s promised new heavens and new earth, we will be able to look about and say from our heart, ‘Truly, God has made all things new!’ How we will enjoy that!
21 It is not presumptuous to imagine living in God’s new world. He invites, even urges, us to worship him in truth now and to qualify for life when ‘they will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all his holy mountain.’ (Isaiah 65:25) Were you aware, though, that Isaiah earlier made a similar comment and that he included an element that is crucial to our truly enjoying the new world? Isaiah 11:9 says: “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.”
22. Our consideration of four Bible prophecies should reinforce our determination to do what?
22 “The knowledge of Jehovah.” When God makes all things new, earth’s inhabitants will have accurate knowledge of him and of his will. That will involve much more than learning from animal creation. His inspired Word is involved. For example, reflect on how much we have seen from examining just the four prophecies that mention “new heavens and a new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1) You have good reason for reading the Bible daily. Is that a feature of your routine? If not, what adjustments can you make so that each day you will read some of what God has to say? You will find that beyond looking forward to enjoying the new world, you will receive increased enjoyment right now, even as the psalmist did.—Psalm 1:1, 2.
See Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1, page 906, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
How Would You Answer?
• Why can we conclude that Isaiah 66:22-24 foretells what yet lies ahead?
• What reasons do you have for being confident about your future?
[Pictures on page 15]
Isaiah, Peter, and John foretold aspects of the “new heavens and a new earth”