“The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”—How?
“YOU are probably familiar with Jesus’ heartwarming words that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth.’ But in view of all that people are doing to one another and to the earth, what do you think there will be left for the meek to inherit?”—Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:11; King James Version.
Myriam, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, used this question to start a Bible discussion. The man to whom she spoke responded that if Jesus made this promise, the earth must be an inheritance worthy of the name and not a devastated or uninhabitable heap.
That was surely an optimistic answer. But do we have reason for having such a positive outlook? Indeed we do, for the Bible gives us strong reasons to believe that the promise will come true. Actually, the fulfillment of that promise is closely linked to God’s purpose for mankind and for the earth. And we are assured that what God purposes, he will carry out. (Isaiah 55:11) So, then, what did God originally purpose for mankind, and how will it all work out?
God’s Eternal Purpose for the Earth
Jehovah God created the earth for a specific purpose. “This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.’” (Isaiah 45:18) Thus, the earth was created specifically for human habitation. Furthermore, it is God’s purpose for the earth to be an eternal home for mankind. “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”—Psalm 104:5; 119:90.
God’s purpose regarding the earth is also made evident in the commission that he gave to the first human pair. To Adam and Eve, Jehovah said: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) The earth, which God entrusted to Adam and Eve, was to be an everlasting home for them and for their offspring. “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong,” declared the psalmist many centuries later, “but the earth he has given to the sons of men.”—Psalm 115:16.
To realize that marvelous prospect, Adam and Eve, as well as their offspring, must each accept Jehovah God, the Creator and Life-Giver, as their Sovereign and be willing to obey him. Jehovah left no room for doubt in this regard when he gave this command to the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) For Adam and Eve to continue living in the garden of Eden, they must obey that simple and clearly stated command. Doing so would be an expression of their gratitude for all that the heavenly Father had done for them.
When Adam and Eve willfully disobeyed God by breaking the command that had been laid upon them, they in reality turned their back on the one who provided them with everything that they had. (Genesis 3:6) In so doing, they lost their beautiful Paradise home not only for themselves but also for their offspring. (Romans 5:12) Did the first couple’s disobedience thwart God’s purpose in creating the earth?
A God Who Has Not Changed
Through his prophet Malachi, God declared: “I am Jehovah; I have not changed.” (Malachi 3:6) Commenting on this verse, French Bible scholar L. Fillion observed that this declaration is closely associated with the accomplishment of divine promises. “Jehovah could have annihilated his rebellious people,” wrote Fillion, “but being unchangeable in his promises, he will, in spite of everything, be faithful to the promises he made in the past.” God’s promises, whether to an individual, a nation, or all mankind, will not be forgotten but be carried out in his due time. “He has remembered his covenant even to time indefinite, the word that he commanded, to a thousand generations.”—Psalm 105:8.
How, though, can we be sure that Jehovah has not changed his original purpose with regard to the earth? We can be sure of this because throughout God’s inspired Word, the Bible, we find mention of the divine purpose to give the earth to obedient mankind. (Psalm 25:13; 37:9, 22, 29, 34) Furthermore, the Scriptures describe those blessed by Jehovah as dwelling in security, each sitting “under his vine and under his fig tree,” with “no one making them tremble.” (Micah 4:4; Ezekiel 34:28) Those chosen by Jehovah “will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage.” They will enjoy peace even with the beasts of the field.—Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:21, 25.
The Bible provides a foreglimpse of God’s promise in another way. During the reign of King Solomon, the nation of Israel enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity. Under his rule, “Judah and Israel continued to dwell in security, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree, from Dan to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:25) The Bible says that Jesus is “more than Solomon,” and speaking of his reign, the psalmist prophetically declared: “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more.” At that time, “there will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Luke 11:31; Psalm 72:7, 16.
Faithful to his word, Jehovah God will make sure that the promised inheritance is not only available but also restored in all its splendor. At Revelation 21:4, God’s Word tells us that in the promised new world, God “will wipe out every tear from [people’s] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” What is promised is no less than Paradise.—Luke 23:43.
How to Share in the Promised Inheritance
The transformation of the earth into a paradise will take place under a government that exercises its dominion from heaven, a Kingdom with Jesus Christ as King. (Matthew 6:9, 10) First, that Kingdom will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18; Daniel 2:44) Then, as the “Prince of Peace,” Jesus Christ will fulfill these prophetic words: “To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) Under that Kingdom, millions of humans, including those who will be brought back to life by means of the resurrection, will have the opportunity to inherit the earth.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
Who will be in line to enjoy that wonderful inheritance? Consider Jesus’ words: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) What does it mean to be mild-tempered, or meek? Dictionaries generally define “meek,” or “mild,” as gentle, moderate, submissive, quiet, even timid. However, the original Greek word used means much more. “There is gentleness” in that word, observes William Barclay’s New Testament Wordbook, “but behind the gentleness there is the strength of steel.” It denotes a mental disposition that enables a person to endure injury without resentment or thought of retaliation, all as a result of having a good relationship with God, and that relationship becomes a source of strength for him.—Isaiah 12:2; Philippians 4:13.
One who is meek humbly accepts God’s standards in all aspects of his personal life; he does not insist on going by his own views or by other people’s opinions. He is also teachable, willing to be taught by Jehovah. The psalmist David wrote: “[Jehovah] will cause the meek ones to walk in his judicial decision, and he will teach the meek ones his way.”—Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Will you be among “the meek” who will inherit the earth? By getting to know Jehovah and his will through a diligent study of his Word and by putting what you learn into practice, you too can look forward to inheriting an earthly paradise and living forever in it.—John 17:3.
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God’s purpose for the earth is evident in the commission that he gave to Adam and Eve
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The peace and security of Solomon’s reign provided a preview of the promised inheritance
Sheep and background hill: Pictorial Archive (Near Eastern History) Est.; Arabian oryx: Hai-Bar, Yotvata, Israel; farmer plowing: Garo Nalbandian
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A righteous new world is ahead—will you be there?