Peace for a Thousand Years—And Beyond!
“That God may be all things to everyone.”—1 COR. 15:28.
1. What exciting prospect awaits the “great crowd”?
CAN you imagine all the good that a powerful government under a just and compassionate ruler could do for its subjects in one thousand years? Wonderful events await the unnumbered “great crowd”—survivors of “the great tribulation,” which will bring a total end to the present wicked system of things.—Rev. 7:9, 14.
2. What have humans experienced during the past 6,000 years?
2 During 6,000 years of human history, self-determination and self-rule have brought a tragic abundance of pain and suffering to mankind. The Bible long ago stated: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” (Eccl. 8:9) What do we see today? Aside from wars and uprisings, there are the devastating problems of poverty, disease, destruction of the environment, climate change, and more. Government officials have warned that if we do not change our business-as-usual attitude, the outcome will be disastrous.
3. What will the Thousand Year Reign bring about?
3 Under the Messianic King Jesus Christ and his 144,000 corulers, God’s Kingdom will take progressive steps to undo all the damage done to humans and their home, the planet Earth. The Thousand Year Reign will bring about the fulfillment of the heartwarming promise by Jehovah God: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isa. 65:17) What wonderful, though still unseen, events await us? With the help of God’s prophetic Word, let us get a glimpse of the marvelous things yet “unseen.”—2 Cor. 4:18.
‘THEY WILL BUILD HOUSES AND PLANT VINEYARDS’
4. What housing conditions do many face today?
4 Who would not like to have a home of his own, a place where he and his family could feel safe and secure? In today’s world, however, adequate housing is a serious problem. People are packed into crowded cities. Many have to manage with makeshift dwellings in shantytowns and city slums. Having a house of their own remains a mere dream for them.
5, 6. (a) Isaiah 65:21 and Micah 4:4 will have what fulfillment? (b) How can we receive that blessing?
5 Under Kingdom rule, the desire of every resident to have his own home will be fulfilled, for it was prophesied through Isaiah: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage.” (Isa. 65:21) Yet, having a home of their own is not the only prospect. After all, some today live in their own home, a few even in a mansion or on a grand estate. But there is always the worry that the home can be lost through some financial reverses or that burglars—or worse—will break in. How different everything will be under Kingdom rule! The prophet Micah wrote: “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble.”—Mic. 4:4.
6 With that wonderful prospect in mind, what should we do? Of course, all of us need adequate housing. Nonetheless, rather than striving to acquire that dream house now—perhaps going heavily into debt to do so—would it not be wise for us to focus on Jehovah’s promise? Recall what Jesus said of himself: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Luke 9:58) Jesus had the ability and the power to build or acquire the best house anyone could possibly have. Why did he not do so? Clearly, Jesus wanted to avoid any distraction and entanglement that would prevent him from putting the Kingdom first. Can we follow his example and keep our eye simple—free of materialistic entanglement and anxiety?—Matt. 6:33, 34.
“THE WOLF AND THE LAMB . . . WILL FEED AS ONE”
7. What relationship between humans and animals was originally mandated by Jehovah?
7 In the process of creation, Jehovah made humans last, the apex of his earthly works. To his Master Worker, his firstborn Son, Jehovah stated his specific purpose: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26) Thus, Adam and Eve, and eventually all humans, were mandated to have dominion over the animal creation.
8. What animal behavior is common today?
8 Is it really possible for humans to have all the animals in subjection and to be at peace with them? Many people are very close to their pets, such as dogs and cats. What about wild animals, though? One report says: “Scientists who have lived closely with beasts and studied them have found that all mammals are emotional.” Of course, we see animals become frightened or ferocious when they are threatened, but are they capable of what some might describe as tender feelings? The report continues: “It is in the raising of their young that mammals reveal their greatest attribute—their tremendous capacity for warm affection.”
9. Regarding the animals, what changes can we expect?
9 So we should not be surprised when we read in the Bible that peace will come to prevail between humans and animals. (Read Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25.) Why not? Recall that when Noah and his family emerged from the ark after the Flood, Jehovah told them: “A fear of you and a terror of you will continue upon every living creature of the earth.” That was for the animals’ self-preservation. (Gen. 9:2, 3) Could not Jehovah remove a measure of that fear and terror, so that his original mandate would be fulfilled? (Hos. 2:18) What an enjoyable time awaits all who will survive to live on earth then!
“HE WILL WIPE OUT EVERY TEAR”
10. Why are tears common in human experience?
10 When Solomon saw “all the acts of oppression that are being done under the sun,” he lamented: “Look! the tears of those being oppressed, but they had no comforter.” (Eccl. 4:1) Things are similar, if not worse, today. Who among us has not shed tears for some reason? True, at times they may be tears of joy. Generally, though, tears reflect the outpouring of an anguished heart.
11. What Bible account particularly touches your heart?
11 Recall the many touching and emotional scenes we read about in the Bible. When Sarah died at the age of 127, “Abraham came in to bewail Sarah and to weep over her.” (Gen. 23:1, 2) When Naomi said farewell to her two widowed daughters-in-law, “they began to raise their voices and weep,” and then “they raised their voices and wept some more.” (Ruth 1:9, 14) When King Hezekiah was afflicted with sickness and certain death, he prayed to God and “began to weep profusely,” which evidently touched Jehovah. (2 Ki. 20:1-5) And who is not moved by the account of the apostle Peter denying Jesus? On hearing the cock crow, Peter “went outside and wept bitterly.”—Matt. 26:75.
12. How will Kingdom rule bring true relief to mankind?
12 Because of the tragic events—small and large—that befall us, mankind is sorely in need of comfort and relief. That is what the Thousand Year Reign will bring to its subjects: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Rev. 21:4) As wonderful as it is that mourning, outcry, and pain will be no more, God’s promise even includes doing away with mankind’s ultimate enemy—death. How is that to come about?
“ALL THOSE IN THE MEMORIAL TOMBS WILL . . . COME OUT”
13. How has death affected humans since Adam’s fall?
13 Ever since Adam sinned, death has ruled as a king over humanity. It has been an invincible enemy, the inescapable end for sinful humans, the source of immeasurable sorrow and grief. (Rom. 5:12, 14) In fact, “for fear of death,” millions are “subject to slavery all through their lives.”—Heb. 2:15.
14. What will result when death is brought to nothing?
14 The Bible points to the time when “as the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.” (1 Cor. 15:26) Two groups can be mentioned who will come in line to benefit from that. For the “great crowd,” who live now, it will be possible to survive into the promised new world with unending life in view. For the billions who have already been snatched up by death, it will be possible to experience a resurrection. Can you imagine the joy and excitement when those in the former group welcome back the latter? A close look at some of the resurrection accounts in the Bible can give us a foretaste of what it might be like.—Read Mark 5:38-42; Luke 7:11-17.
15. How would you likely react to seeing a loved one brought back to life?
15 Think of the expressions “they were beside themselves with great ecstasy” and “they began to glorify God.” If you had been present on those occasions, perhaps you would have felt the same way. Indeed, seeing our dead loved ones come back to life through the resurrection will produce in us a marvelous sensation of joy and exhilaration. Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) None of us have ever seen such a thing take place; it will surely be one of the grandest of “the things unseen.”
GOD WILL BE “ALL THINGS TO EVERYONE”
16. (a) Why should we talk enthusiastically about the blessings yet unseen? (b) What did Paul say to encourage the Corinthian Christians?
16 Yes, a glorious future awaits those who prove faithful to Jehovah in these critical times! Though the grand blessings are yet unseen, keeping them clearly in mind will help us to focus on what is truly important and to avoid being sidetracked by the fleeting attractions of the present system of things. (Luke 21:34; 1 Tim. 6:17-19) During family study and worship, in conversations with fellow believers, and in discussions with Bible students and interested ones, let us speak enthusiastically about our marvelous hope and prospects. This will help us to keep these vivid in our minds and hearts. The apostle Paul did just that in encouraging his fellow Christians. He took them, so to speak, all the way to the close of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. Try to imagine the full significance of Paul’s words found at 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25, 28.—Read.
17, 18. (a) In what way was Jehovah “all things to everyone” at the outset of human history? (b) What will Jesus do to restore unity and harmony?
17 There can be no better description of the grand climax than the words “that God may be all things to everyone.” What does that mean? Think back to the time in Eden when the perfect humans, Adam and Eve, were a part of Jehovah’s peaceful and harmonious universal family. Jehovah, the Universal Sovereign, ruled directly over all his creation, angelic and human. They were able to communicate with him personally, worship him, and be blessed by him. He was “all things to everyone.”
18 That harmonious relationship was interrupted when humans, influenced by Satan, rebelled against Jehovah’s sovereignty. Since 1914, however, the Messianic Kingdom has been taking progressive steps to restore that unity and harmony. (Eph. 1:9, 10) During the Thousand Year Reign, marvelous things presently “unseen” will be brought to reality. Then comes “the end,” that is, the close of Christ’s Millennial Reign. What will happen then? Though given “all authority . . . in heaven and on the earth,” Jesus is not ambitious. He has no intention of usurping Jehovah’s place. He humbly “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.” He will use his unique position and authority “to the glory of God.”—Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9-11.
19, 20. (a) How will all Kingdom subjects demonstrate whether they accept Jehovah’s sovereignty? (b) What grand prospect awaits us?
19 By then, the earthly subjects of the Kingdom will have been brought to perfection. They will follow Jesus’ example and humbly and willingly acknowledge Jehovah’s sovereignty. They will have the opportunity to demonstrate their desire to do that by successfully passing the final test. (Rev. 20:7-10) Thereafter, all rebels—human and spirit—will be eliminated forever. What a joyful and jubilant time that will be! The entire universal family will happily praise Jehovah, who will be “all things to everyone.”—Read Psalm 99:1-3.
20 Will the glorious Kingdom realities just ahead motivate you to focus your attention and efforts on doing God’s will? Can you avoid being sidetracked by the false hope and comfort that Satan’s world offers? Will you strengthen your resolve to support and uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty? May your actions prove that it is your desire to do so forever. Then it will be your privilege to enjoy peace and prosperity for a thousand years—and beyond!