THE CHERISHED EARTHLY HOPE - PART 3
THE REAL HOPE FOR LIFE ON EARTH
May 15, 2012
The Father did indeed purpose for man to live on earth:
“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
“For 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
The psalmist expressed the Father’s eternal purpose for the earth:
“The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.”
– Psalms 37:29
And as the prophet Isaiah perceived, the Father intended for mankind to enjoy his time on earth in peace and abundance:
“And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
– Isaiah 2:4
“‘And 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. 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. 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 65:21-25
Even Jesus emphasized that it is the Father’s purpose that mild-tempered ones would dwell on the earth:
“Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted. Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth. Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled. Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.”
– Matthew 5:3-7
But he also told us the Father had more than life on earth planned for his children:
“Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God. Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’ Happy are those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them. Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.”
– Matthew 5:8-12
Mankind had come to know that there was one God and Father of all persons. The nation of Israel was the worldwide leader in revealing the international love of God. What was next needed was a revealing of our true relationship with the Father:
“For the eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.”
– Romans 8:19-22
Jesus began the revealing. He further taught us to refer to God as a Father:
“You must pray, then, this way: ‘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. Give us today our bread for this day; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.’ For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
– Matthew 6:9-15
The apostles likewise emphasized that Christians are to seek the upward heavenly call, even telling us that if we are not of that mental attitude, we should pray to God about it and God will show us the truth of our upward goal:
“Not that I have already received it or am already made perfect, but I am pursuing to see if I may also lay hold on that for which I have also been laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not yet consider myself as having laid hold on [it]; but there is one thing about it: Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus. Let us, then, as many of us as are mature, be of this mental attitude; and if you are mentally inclined otherwise in any respect, God will reveal the above [attitude] to you.”
– Philippians 3:12-15
For a full discussion of our sonship and heavenbound hope, see our articles: Revealing God as a Loving Father, Who are Led by the Spirit, Moving Forward in the Faith, Hold Fast to the Sacred Secret, and the series of articles under Observing the Oneness of the Faith.
It is clear and unambiguous that Jesus taught us to follow him into the heavens. (John 14:6) Nowhere does Jesus or any of the apostles encourage any Christian to pursue an earthly hope – not even the apostle John in the book of Revelations. If the truth is that only 144 thousand out of 108 billion would go to heaven, surely Jesus would have told us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be. And where I am going you know the way.”
– John 14:1-4
Yes, Jesus would have told us! So what is God’s purpose for the earth? He absolutely wants the earth to flourish with righteous people. He wants mankind’s life experience on earth to be productive and enjoyable. But the time would come when man would complete his time on earth and begin the ascent toward the Father in heaven.
The provision for man to be born and live on earth would continue forever. It is the means of creating potential human sons of God. While spirit personalities are directly created and eventuated in the heavens, only on earth are new human sons of God procreated and born.
“. . . for in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.”
– Matthew 22:30
We might liken our earthly existence to the embryotic stage, and the release from our bodies as our true birth. Or we might liken ourselves to caterpillars who must go through the cocooning struggle before we can be born as butterflies. The example of Jesus shows us the way to successfully ‘cocoon’ so that we will be able to fly! Like an attorney who goes to law school. He must leave school to practice law!
Ever since the default of Adam and Eve, mankind has been in confusion as to God’s purposes. As a result, his comprehension of spiritual things has been skewed. As the apostle Paul said, our understanding has been “veiled.” (2 Corinthians 3:15) This apparent disconnect from the Father has resulted in our carrying out manifold sin and error. We could not see our true relationship to God because of our own guilty consciences. We tried, through blood sacrifice to heal the breach, but were unable:
“For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things, [men] can never with the same sacrifices from year to year which they offer continually make those who approach perfect. Otherwise, would the [sacrifices] not have stopped being offered, because those rendering sacred service who had been cleansed once for all time would have no consciousness of sins anymore? To the contrary, by these sacrifices there is a reminding of sins from year to year, for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away.” – Hebrews 10:1-4
But by means of Christ Jesus, we who accept his teachings no longer have a consciousness of sin, and as a result, we are able to see the promises of God with clear, clean, unveiled hearts, and thereafter have the privilege of attaining a heavenly transformation ‘from glory to glory:”
“Therefore, as we have such a hope, we are using great freeness of speech, and not doing as when Moses would put a veil upon his face, that the sons of Israel might not gaze intently at the end of that which was to be done away with. But their mental powers were dulled. For to this present day the same veil remains unlifted at the reading of the old covenant, because it is done away with by means of Christ. In fact, down till today whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their hearts. But when there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away. Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom. And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah [the] Spirit.”
– 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
(See also our response in Questions and Responses, dated May 2, 2012, for a discussion of the meaning of being “transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”)
But in order to attain to the heavenly hope, does that mean we must first die? It appears that in this phase of our development, the answer is most likely, yes. Since Jesus was the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), all those who died prior to him were sleeping in death, waiting for their resurrection. But after Jesus death, we are told that at some point in the future, many of us would be able to attain to our heavenly hope by “a twinkling of an eye.”
“However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:50-53
We are not sure when “the last trumpet” will occur, but we are assured that a time will come when death will not be a necessity.
“But when [this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and] this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: “Death is swallowed up forever.” “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” The sting producing death is sin, but the power for sin is the Law. But thanks to God, for he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
– 1 Corinthians 15:54-56
Then will be fulfilled the promises in Revelation:
“And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
– Revelation 21:4
When we are told that death will be no more, that does not mean that we will not leave the earth anymore. Rather, it means that instead of experiencing unconsciousness in the sleep of death, we are transformed “in a twinkling of an eye.” And we will not experience any pain or suffering. Imagine that you knew that whenever your loved one transformed and “put on incorruption,” he or she was attaining to the heavenly hope. Would you mourn and cry out? Not out of sadness. It would be like a loved one going away on a trip. While you will surely miss them, you can rest assured that you will be together again in the future when you yourself transform.
Based on what we can glean from the scriptures, it appears that at some time in the future, this is how mankind will leave the earth. But we have much work to do and more trials to endure as the wicked elements of our system of things comes to an end.
We do not know how the prophesies in Revelation will be fulfilled or when. We suspect there may be a great loss of life, as well as a need to rebuild and regenerate our planet. But we doubt that a loving Father would destroy 7 billion people in favor of just 7 million. Would you do that to your children? Or even the neighbor’s children?
We further doubt that a loving Father would put such a massive cleaning and rebuilding work on the shoulders of 7 million after numerous natural and unnatural disasters, including the burial or disposal of 7 billion dead bodies. We also doubt the Father would arrange for the resurrection of 100 billion people to live on this tiny planet and share resources when it is currently struggling to sustain 7 billion.
But we know the heavens are unlimited and certainly capable of housing and sustaining untold billions of human sons of God. Notice its current capabilities: Revelation 5:11 – “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands”; and Revelation 7:9 – “a great crowd, which no man was able to number.”
And we doubt the Father would co-mingle sex and non-sex creatures on the same planet, or landlock us here on earth and not let us venture into the universe to experience the wonders of His vast creations. Finally, we strongly doubt that the Father would not want us to be with him and to know him personally and face to face.
We do believe that there must be a change in the current system of things. And we believe such a change will likely come sooner than later. But we choose to maintain the attitude of the faithful servants of Jesus prophesy in Matthew 25:14-30 who were not worried about the timing of their master’s return. For whenever he would return, the master would be pleased with all who were working to “increase his belongings.” (See our series of articles on Ambassadors Substituting for Christ for a discussion of this work.) In fact, the longer the master was delayed, the greater the increase.
We take the counsel of Paul and Timothy:
“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering theses things.”
– Philippians 4:8
We let go of anxiety as counseled by our Master:
“Keep on, then seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”
– Matthew 6:33-34
Finally, we realize that there are many things the Father has in store for us that we do not know and cannot now comprehend.
“Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9
We do not presume to be able to interpret prophesy. Instead, we keep our eyes on the prize of the upward call (Philippians 3:14), knowing that whatever occurs, we will be on the favorable side of events. For a certainty, we will be with Christ in the heavenly paradise. (Luke 23:43)
“Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”
– Revelation 2:7
We pray that each of our visitors re-examines their eternal hope. Is everlasting life on the planet earth what you really want? More importantly, is that what Jesus taught? Or is that merely the pre-Christian, ancient Hebrew belief? Can you not see that the Father wants you to be with Him in his kingdom in the heavens? We all agree that Jesus taught his first century followers that they were ALL children of God with a heavenly hope. We all agree that all the Christian Bible writers likewise accepted their sonship and looked forward to a heavenly eternity. Ask yourself, when did this message change? When were the doors to the kingdom of the heavens shut closed to mankind? Who closed it? Is it scriptural?
We believe a serious and honest contemplation of these questions will lead you to the truth. You are indeed sons of the living God with an eternal heavenly future in view. We invite you to consider the next series: The Glorious Heavenly Hope.
We welcome your comments.