Millions Now Alive Will Never Die Off Our Earth
“I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.”—JOHN 11:25, 26.
1. For a person never to die off our earth would mean what for that favored person?
FOR a person never to die at all would mean that such a favored individual would stay living as a mortal man or woman here on earth for all time! That is a reasonable conclusion to draw, is it not? And is it not in agreement with the above words of Jesus Christ spoken over 19 centuries ago? Yes!
2, 3. (a) What hope do the Hebrew Scriptures hold out? (b) What generally is the outlook of the religious systems of Christendom?
2 The sacred Hebrew Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, hold out no heavenly hope, and so the Jews who held strictly to these Scriptures had no heavenly hope or desire. But the Hebrew Scriptures do hold out the hope of everlasting life. (Psalm 37:29; Job 14:13-15) To a natural circumcised Jew everlasting life on earth under the Kingdom of the promised Messiah was a normal hope and expectation.
3 Generally, however, that is not the outlook of the religious systems of Christendom. They believe and teach that we humans have an immortal soul inside our mortal body and that at our unavoidable death this soul is liberated and escapes into the invisible spirit realm. There it undergoes judgment and is assigned by God either to a heaven of bliss or to a place of punishment in endless torment if the person was not a faithful Christian. And the general view of Christendom is that the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars are to be burned up, destroyed, in a universal conflagration.
4. Why would never dying off our earth not seem like good news to many people who have in mind its present state?
4 According to such a religious view, it could never come true that “millions now alive will never die off our earth.” Yet, many people may ask us, Who would want to live on a planet plagued, as it now is, with famines, pestilences, earthquakes, wars, international and racial hatreds, along with the stockpiling of nuclear weapons of war that threaten all human existence on earth? If such horrendous things were to afflict our earth endlessly, most reasonable people would want to get away from it—even by death!
Original Purpose for Earth
5. What was the state of the earth when God put mankind upon it, and how does God feel toward mankind?
5 However, at the very start of human existence, the Creator gave the earth to humankind as their eternal home. Then it was indeed a ‘good earth.’ The Bible’s account of creation tells us that, after the Creator had prepared earthly conditions for the first man and woman and placed them upon the earth, “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) If it had not appeared very good to the Creator, he would never have placed his human children here in the first place. The very writer of the creation account says of God the Creator: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) Almighty God has no record of work, or activity, for which to apologize to anyone. As a good Father, he loved mankind at the start. He still loves mankind.—John 3:16.
6, 7. Why can we be confident that God’s creation of the earth and man upon it will not prove to be a vain project?
6 Happily God’s creating of earth and of man upon it is not to be a vain project. Setting a God-honoring goal before the first man and woman, God authorized Adam and Eve to be fruitful with perfect children and to fill the earth with them. They were also instructed to subdue the earth to a global Paradise and to exercise dominion over all the subhuman creatures on the earth. (Genesis 1:28) Sadly, after more than 6,000 years of human existence and experience, mankind has failed to do what it was authorized to do. Worse still, humans now threaten to wipe themselves out of existence most violently by their own hateful inventions. But mankind’s making itself, for the most part, a failure has not made God the Creator a failure.
7 The original purpose of God respecting our earth will be fulfilled. We have God’s assurance for that! (Isaiah 55:11) At Ecclesiastes 1:4 the Bible says: “A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” And at Isaiah 45:18 God the Creator refers to himself as “the Former of the earth and the Maker of it,” and adds: “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.’” And “inhabited” it will yet be in God’s due time with a perfect race of humankind, favored with the gift of eternal life!
8, 9. (a) Why is God’s purpose for the earth to be inhabited not contradicted by the fact that the present heavens and earth are to pass away? (b) What are the “new heavens” and the “new earth,” and what is the Bible promise respecting them?
8 The above reassuring statement of God’s purpose is not contradicted by the apostle Peter when he warns us that the heavens and the earth that are now will pass away. No, for right after reminding us of this future eventuality, now so close at hand, he goes on to say: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:10-13) God’s promise of such new heavens and new earth is preserved in Isaiah 65:17. As to how long these will last, we are told in Isaiah 66:22: “‘For 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.’”
9 Ah, yes, the new heavens and the new earth will keep standing before Jehovah; they will stand firm, they will endure, they will continue! The “new earth” is made up of a righteous human race that will inhabit the cleansed earthly globe, which the Creator formed “even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) The “new heavens,” which are new righteous heavenly powers, are to be in charge of the cleansed earth and its righteous inhabitants. Certainly, then, Jehovah God will not have created our marvelous earthly globe “simply for nothing.” It will yet vindicate him as Maker!
Surviving Into the “New Earth”
10, 11. (a) In their predictions, what do students of world affairs not take into account, and so what can we survive, and into what? (b) What can we learn from the survival of Noah and his family through the Flood?
10 The picture that students of world affairs generally paint leaves no hope of human survival on earth into a new and better system of things. Thankfully their thoughts are not the thoughts of earth’s Creator, neither are their ways his ways. (Isaiah 55:8-11) Their thoughts are not based on what happened on the earth long ago in the days of the man Noah. All the nuclear bombs and other high explosives of the nations cannot match in power the global Deluge that then poured down from the skies to put an end to that old world of violence. Mercifully Jehovah God the Creator made provisions for the human family to survive the disastrous end of the world at that time so as to continue on earth.
11 As regards the human survivors of that ancient world, there were eight of them, namely, Noah and his wife, and their three sons and their wives. Through these eight human souls our race was given a new start, in righteousness. (2 Peter 2:5; 3:6) This serves as a pattern for the near future. (Genesis 9:1-7) What it shows is that, just as Noah and his family survived the end of the world in their day, so we can survive the end of this world into the new system of things that is so near at hand!
12, 13. (a) Why do millions today not fear the end of this old system of things? (b) Concerning what does the prayer taught us by the Son of man assure us about our literal earth?
12 Millions today on earth appreciate that the “new heavens” and the “new earth” are immediately ahead of us. They do not fear the end of the present old world, even though it is to take place as if in a fire enveloping both heaven and earth. They know from the reliable Word of the Creator of all things that our literal earth will survive just as it did at the finish of the first world in the days of their forefather Noah. The inspired psalmist made this comment about our earth: “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.”—Psalm 115:16.
13 “The sons of men” were made, not for heaven, but for the earth, where the Creator authorized them to dwell. Down here on earth the Great Teacher who called himself “the Son of man” taught his disciples to pray to the Creator, saying: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 24:37; 6:9, 10) For that prayer to be answered by the “Hearer of prayer” through the coming of his heavenly Kingdom, our literal earth must survive the approaching end of the present doomed system of things. (Psalm 65:2) Upon it, surviving mankind will do the heavenly Father’s will just as the angels in heaven loyally do it.
14. Who will start off the “new earth,” and how will that new earth be enlarged?
14 What a marvelous prospect thus lies before doers of God’s will on the cleansed earth! The human survivors of this present world, who look forward to endless service of the heavenly Father on a Paradise earth, will start off the “new earth” under the Messianic “new heavens.” In time this promised “new earth” will be enlarged by the resurrection of the ransomed dead of mankind who will be taught righteousness and who will be obliged to do what is righteous. (John 5:28, 29) In view of this, what shall we prospective survivors of the end of this world do?
15, 16. (a) What did the apostle Peter show to be the proper course for prospective survivors of the end of this world? (b) What sort of person was Noah during the pre-Flood days, with what recompense to him and his family?
15 That is a good question. More than 1,900 years ago the apostle Peter showed what should be the answer to that question, when he wrote: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” (2 Peter 3:11, 12) If it was fitting for the inspired apostle to write those words 1,900 years ago during the heyday of the Roman Empire, how much more appropriate it is for those words of exhortation to be addressed to Jehovah’s Witnesses during these final days of this system of things. This “presence of the day of Jehovah” will culminate in the dissolving, as if in a melting pot, of the figurative “earth and the works in it.”—2 Peter 3:10.
16 In the closing days before the end of the pre-Flood world, “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9) Noah’s walking that way as the head of his small family worked for their being kept alive by the God with whom he walked. After Noah and his family came out alive from the ark of salvation, they were used to start a new system of things in righteousness under the blessing of Jehovah God. Then God made a covenant with these Flood survivors never again to bring a global Flood upon the race of mankind on earth.—Genesis 9:8-17.
17. To what extent was Noah given warning, and what situation corresponds with that nowadays?
17 Noah was given ample warning of the coming downpour of water sufficient to flood the whole earth. No less have Jehovah’s Witnesses of this 20th century been given warning of this world’s end. This warning is based on the inspired Bible and on the fulfillment of its prophecies that make clear that we are getting close to the termination of this violent system of things.
Welcoming the Dead Back to Earth
18. At what forevisioning of the resurrection of the earthly dead as described in the Revelation do millions of Witnesses rejoice today?
18 Today millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are ‘walking with God’ rejoice at what is forevisioned at Revelation 20:11-14, where we read: “And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds. And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.”
19. To an earth in what state will the resurrected human dead come back, and what treatment will be theirs with which to start off life anew?
19 Those resurrected from the dead according to that Bible prophecy will not come back to a depopulated earth. Millions of dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah expect to survive the fleeing away of the figurative old heavens and earth to welcome the resurrected dead into an earth under cultivation for a worldwide Paradise. (Luke 23:43) The new system of things will then be well under way. Lovingly the survivors of the end of this old world will have made ample preparations for the return of the ransomed human dead.
20. What instructions given by Jesus after he raised Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter from the dead indicate what the survivors will have to do in behalf of the resurrected billions?
20 Those millions of survivors will recall how, right after Jesus raised his beloved friend Lazarus from that tomb there in Bethany, near Jerusalem, he commanded those witnessing this miracle to loose Lazarus from his burial wrappings. Similarly, when Jesus raised the daughter of the Jewish ruler Jairus from the dead, he “ordered something to be given her to eat.” (Luke 8:55; John 11:44) Doubtless instructions from heaven will be given to the survivors to make due provisions for the return of the billions of the human dead.
21, 22. (a) By what program will the survivors help the resurrected dead to avail themselves fully of the benefits of Christ’s death? (b) Why will the “new earth” be righteous from its very start?
21 There will also be a great educational work to be done. This is in line with the divine purpose for the returning dead humans to take full advantage of the benefits of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Only by doing this will they be authorized to live on an Edenic earth, in human perfection. Already the “great crowd” of the prospective survivors of the “great tribulation” are preparing themselves to share in that wonderful educational program. They personally have availed themselves of the benefits of the sacrificial death of “the Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ. (John 1:29) This is what is shown in Revelation 7:9-14 where, among other things, it is stated concerning them: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” So, because of receiving the benefits of Christ’s ransom, they are pictured as “dressed in white robes.”
22 Of this “great crowd,” it is also said in a figurative sense: “They are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:15) During the “great tribulation” just ahead, their white dress will not be taken away from them, but they will unswervingly keep on rendering sacred service to Jehovah God under his protection. (Revelation 7:17) They, in their symbolic “white robes,” will be the initial part of the “new earth,” so that in it, from its very start, “righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
Millions Get Ready for Uninterrupted Life on Earth
1. (a) What words of Jesus to Martha of Bethany is it now most timely for millions to recall? (b) At what part of those words do millions now thrill, and why?
FOR millions now alive it would be most timely to call to mind the words of Jesus Christ to Martha of Bethany: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that exercises faith in me, even though he dies, will come to life; and everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.” (John 11:25, 26) It is indeed thrilling for those millions who seek unending life in a righteous world to perceive that it is now that Jesus’ words apply when he said: “And everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.”
Even in the case of those who would be alive on earth at the time of his Kingdom and who would not need to be resurrected from an earthly grave, Jesus would need to be “the life.” Why so? Because they would still be under condemnation to death due to their sinfulness inherited from disobedient Adam. So they would still be in a dying state.—Romans 5:12.
3. Because of the exercise of what quality does Jesus Christ become “the life” to persons now alive, and how is this quality exercised today?
3 To people now living on earth, the reigning King Jesus Christ becomes “the life” due to the fact that they exercise faith in him, this faith being proved by works. During this “conclusion of the system of things,” these works would include taking an active part in the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 24:14 to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom before “the end” of the system comes. (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3, 4) The exercisers of faith who survive the end of the current system of things and who look forward to life in Paradise restored will never need to die at all. (1 John 2:17) They will ‘return to the days of their youth,’ yes, back to human perfection such as the first man, Adam, possessed. We have basis for believing that there are living today millions of such potential candidates for an unbroken endless life on earth.
4. (a) How does Jesus’ prophecy point to a basis for people to enjoy an unbroken endless life on earth? (b) What “flesh” will be saved into the new system of things?
4 Jesus provided the basis for such a hope when he gave his prophecy concerning the unparalleled time of trouble with which “the conclusion of the system of things” would end. He said: “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” (Matthew 24:21, 22) So the days of the “great tribulation” are to be cut short, and, accordingly, some human “flesh” will be saved into the new system of things. Such flesh will be mainly other than that of the “chosen ones” who will then still be on earth awaiting their glorification in the heavenly Kingdom with Jesus Christ. Upon surviving the great tribulation, such “saved” flesh will enter the new system of things under the reign of the one who will become their Eternal Father.—Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:20, 22, 27; Revelation 17:14; Isaiah 9:6, 7.