"... His name shall be called ... Mighty God ... Of the increase
of His government and of peace there shall be no end ...."
Isaiah 9:6-7 (Amp.)
In this final chapter, we're going to look ahead and try to see what kind of transformation is in store for all who dwell on Earth when Christ comes to reign.
True, we cannot know the precise timing of His Return. On this subject, there are undoubtedly many clues carefully, lovingly, placed in the Scriptures. Have we interpreted them correctly? - that's the question. One thing we can state for sure though - the coming years are very interesting for us. Folks who are more than 102 years of age now (in 2016) would have been alive in 1914 when WWI erupted and the End-Time began. Whereas if the Return were to be 20 years from now, then likely the condition Jesus announced could no longer be met?
But as to the nature of the Kingdom which the Messiah will bring in, we can know precisely about many facets of it - because God has placed Scriptures in the Bible to enlighten us all on the subject.
The Beauty of Earth's New Order will come from Heaven's Kingdom and will reflect Heaven's Goodness. Love, Peace and Harmony will reign supreme.
Life will be so much better than we could predict. We think we know what is meant by words like love and peace, but do we fully grasp them? Because we have lived with so much strife and hate in this the End-Time, hasn't the very idea of peace been devalued? The writer suggests we will get a fresh appreciation of these qualities in the Reign of Christ.
The age that is passing has been one in which it has been hard to fully believe in Jesus. In the New Age this will not be a problem - He will be here!
That's great, but can we know everything about what's in store for us in His Kingdom? Well, from our limited perspective, we must realize that any view of the Wonderful Prospect before us must be hazy and incomplete. Nevertheless, we do have Scripture to guide us, and if we use all that we've been given, we should get a pretty good idea. It would be sensible to start with the Character of Jesus. We know that our human leaders can put their stamp upon a country. How much more so will the Person of our Creator - by His Virtue - shape the whole world?
For the first time there will be one Ruler visible and presiding over the Earth. No human being was ever big enough for this job; indeed such power would surely inflate us mortals beyond reason. But with the One Who had the Grace to endure the Cross, we need have no such concern.
Indeed, so Humble was He that people have allowed themselves to be put off by this. Our species is reluctant to be too closely linked with a "loser," and this is a major reason why Jesus has fewer followers today than He otherwise would have. But if we would just appreciate His Humility! Then we would start to see that this quality is our guarantee that things will not go sour in the Kingdom (as they could and would with a lesser person in charge).
^ We are reminded of how humbly Jesus could serve when we read this appeal by Isaiah for God to do something Dramatic!
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down ...Jesus came a long way down.
Isaiah 64:1 (KJV)
But, through the Bible we learn that you cannot triumph without first having trouble - the reliable leader is formed in the crucible of painful struggles. Jesus Christ has passed the Test, and will show us all how to exercise real leadership.
If we consider what Jesus did in terms of the Old Testament (God's Covenant with the Jews), what do we find? He homed in on the essence of the Jewish Law, and by showing that Love fulfills the Law completely, Jesus brought the Hebrew Scriptures to Life! Instead of just talking about living holy, He actually lived holy.
He also met the universal need for a religion based on the heart.
The Grace and Courage that He brought to that Life as Jesus of Nazareth is the same Grace and Courage that He will bring when He returns. What a wonderful assurance that God's Promises will be fulfilled!
Let us review what these Promises are, relating to the coming Kingdom. Firstly, there will be fertility and splendid growth in places where nothing grew before:
Then shall the lame man leap as a hart,We can expect our communities to become places of peace: A peace that isn't weak or toothless, but a peace that is kept because people choose to do good to others. A society whose people get off the rat race, switch from tearing the other person down, work instead at lifting each other up. A place of secure homes in which locks and security alarms are no longer needed.
And the tongue of the dumb shall sing;
For in the wilderness shall waters break out,
And streams in the desert.
And the parched land shall become a pool,
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the habitation of jackals herds shall lie down,
It shall be an enclosure for reeds and rushes.
Isaiah 35:6-7 (JPS)
Notice that there will not only be streams of water but also streams of healing. The Blessings of the New Order do not end with a greener planet; people will benefit in more direct ways.
^ Many people are already engaged in the work of peaceful reconstruction that will help to usher in the New Kingdom:
And if the Russian word 'perestroika' has easily entered the international lexicon, this is due to more than just interest in what is going on in the Soviet Union. Now the whole world needs restructuring, i.e. progressive development, a fundamental change ... We have embarked on this road, and call on other countries and nations to follow suit.We will find ourselves embracing more and more the "small is beautiful" philosophy, and building new communities along these lines, your writer believes.
From the Conclusion to Mikhail Gorbachov's book - Perestroika : Global Challenge : Our Common Future(1).
All of this is only possible because of God's Miraculous Power. Many people today discount talk of Miracles. However, it is a fact that in present times, gifts of the Holy Spirit are being showered down upon us. Miracles just as dazzling as those in the New Testament have actually taken place. (The writer was present at a gathering in which a number of deaf people received back their hearing. Deaf aids were gladly discarded, and the whole experience was very, very heartwarming.)
Tremendous things are happening, but you have to look for them!
Healed individuals, healed society, healed planet - is this all sounding a bit "too good to be true"?
Let's look then at the other side of the coin (just in case the impression has been given that Paradise is like dreamland!) First of all, Paradise is not the same as the Ultimate Heaven that we can aspire to. Secondly, there are some realities we need to be aware of:
The Kingdom of God on Earth will not be "cushy;"One example - it may come as an unwelcome shock to people in the life insurance business - but it seems the transition to this Kingdom will involve a great reduction in their business. (Perhaps it could even disappear altogether?) However, it's possible to foresee all of us, including the employees and others most directly affected, coming to view this as a good thing! For what could look like a blow to insurance people is actually a part of one of the Best Blessings that are going to be conferred on us.
it will not dispense a life of luxury;
it won't be what we would prescribe for ourselves.
As this Scripture tells us:
"Love does not demand its own way."
I Corinthians 13:5 (TLB)
^ Namely that in the coming Kingdom there will be a great increase in our average lifespan. As the Prophet wrote:
... my people will live as long as trees ...What marvelous news - a life will last typically for hundreds of years! (And when it does eventually come to an end, this is only so that the man or woman concerned can experience new possibilities - see below.)
Isaiah 65:21,22 (TLB)
It does seem a shame to remind ourselves at this point that, for Paradise to get started on the right footing, there have to be seven difficult years. (We discussed this earlier - in chapter 8. Please see Appendix D also.) But really we should be thankful, because by this we know that the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with "Easy Street."
What will be happening during those seven years? A big process of adjustment, certainly. If human nature is anything to go by, we'll likely start by being overawed at the Majesty of the King of Kings. Then the pendulum may swing the other way, and we'll fall into a lack of appreciation of how much is being done for us. But eventually it will come right, because God will bring this about!
When the Messiah returns to save the world, there will be those who up to that point remained unbelievers. These folks are going to have a particular struggle (again, mentioned in chapter 8). We should be aware that the painful aspects of conversion will apply not only at the level of the individual. There will also be work going on at the level of nations, to bring them into a godly condition.
We are each of us part of a nation, so the tremors that our own distinct nation will feel during this time of regeneration will hurt us too. But this should not worry us unduly, if we can just shift our focus to the huge benefits that will result from the "shaking"!
To illustrate this, let us look at one issue, namely peace. The Scriptures hold out to us the promise of peace, and deep down we all long for a peaceful world. But we need to stop for a moment and think about why people go to war now. Because there's a price to be paid for giving up this fighting.
Is it not true that wherever there is violent conflict, this carries the risk that one or more injustices will arise out of the carnage? These remain long after the battles, and they can fester into sore grievances that sooner or later provoke the next outbreak of violence. So if we want the lasting peace that God gives, we must first care for the roots of peace - we must remove injustice, replacing it with justice.
It's not only the nations ruled by cruel dictatorships that will be liberated by the Messiah, then. Any nation that has relied on its "power" to get its own way, rather than looking to the Prince of Peace to work things out, is going to need correction! The individuals in that nation who have been most responsible for handing out pain and sorrow - what will they receive? Those who have bombed innocent people - whether we call these bombers "terrorists" or "generals" - what must they in their turn experience? What else but a redeeming measure of pain and sorrow, blight and loss? (Along with the sure Comfort of God, letting them know that the Just Judge really loves them and is carefully remaking them in the right image!)
^ In the Bible, described in beautiful terms, is the process of leveling-up that we need so desperately, a process that without the Messiah we are quite unable to bring about:
The LORD says,"Every nation" - no exceptions. The most "powerful" nation today is America, and you can surely think of many other countries that will also need this kind of Purification (and will also rejoice when they taste the Blessings that ensue). But wait, one of the offenders here is Israel herself. How will the Messiah deal with God's "Chosen People"? On the one hand, the Jews have themselves been the victims of great suffering, and those of us who call themselves "Christians" must share a lot of the guilt for this. But it is also a bitter truth that since 1948, the State of Israel has in her turn been responsible for the ill-treatment of others. As we have seen, the people on the sharp end of this persecution are the Palestinians. The God of Equality is repelled by the unlove that lurks in all the nations, and will teach us to feel the same way God does about it.
"Here is my servant ...
I have filled him with my spirit,
and he will bring justice to every nation ...
He will bring lasting justice to all.
... he will establish justice on the earth."
Isaiah 42:1-4 (TEV)
Thankfully, in the case of Israel, we have Prophecy to guide us as to what will happen:
And I will pour upon the house of David,See what a great advantage there is to be gained from this Anointing, this additional humbling of Israel's people! Without it, would it not be very tempting for the Jews in Israel, and especially those in Jerusalem, to become arrogant? When the Messiah is in Residence, and Jerusalem is clearly seen as the "City of the Great King" - how easy for its people to get inflated. Such thoughts as, "I'm at the center of things." and, "Look at me, I'm a very special person – one of the Chosen!" would surely be a real temptation!
And upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
The spirit of grace and of supplication ...
Zechariah 12:10 (JPS)
But once any of us who promoted any form of injustice have been taken in hand, and given a thorough reorienting, how much less potential there will be for unhumble, destructive attitudes to creep in. Then we can look forward to harmonious relationships between peoples. For instance, we can envision Jews and Palestinians living side by side in a vitally close relationship! Hallelujah!
What will the Messiah do to promote the healing needed in the Middle East (and the rest of the world)? The writer does not know - this is just one possibility - perhaps we will see both branches of Abraham's family having a mark of distinction? In other words, in biblical fashion, we can classify people in the world of today as either Jew or Gentile. Whereas, in the Kingdom will we view Earth's people as consisting of - Jews and Arabs and others ("Gentiles"?) Maybe. We can be assured that God will do something to heal up the breach between the children of Abraham!
Can any of us say that we've never been unfair to another? And if not, can we see that each of us must feel the heat of this "refining fire" about which the Bible informs us? (Please see for example, Malachi 3:1-3.) And when we are brought by this means to understand and to share the Vision of the Lamb, we will be so glad!
^ In 1915 these words of the American, John Woolman (1720-1772), helped inspire British Quakers (resulting later in the publication of eight "Foundations of a True Social Order"):
May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.A peace worth dwelling in is surely a peace worth sacrificing for. The end-result of this process of balancing-up will be a real world in which justice is the rule, and lapses into injustice the rare exception.
Quaker Faith & Practice, 3rd rev. edn. (London: Britain Yearly Meeting, 2006), 23.16.
And so we look forward then, not to dreamland or Camelot but to our true home: a genuine place, where we can grow. And we shall learn what soundly-based growth is. We've had false growth - more and more things, streets filled with cars and air filled with fumes! If instead we are kind to the planet, then all of God's creatures can share the good life. When our spirits enlarge, that's real growth - we get closer to our Maker. We shall gain in stature if we can keep our eyes on Jesus, if we can maintain an attitude like that expressed by Mary, His Mother:
... My soul doth magnify the Lord,If we look carefully at the following verse, we start to get an idea of just how much we stand to gain when we have gone through the seven "trying" years with the Help of Jesus:
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Luke 1:46-47 (KJV)
Truly, I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.Scientists tell us that we only use a fraction of the potential capacity of the human brain. In the above verse, surely Jesus is telling us that in the Kingdom we shall experience a quantum leap in our abilities. If we put these two thoughts together, it would seem that we can look forward to finding buried treasure inside of us!
Matthew 11:11 (Amp.)
" 'Enmity vanishes before ahimsa' is a great aphorism. It means that the greatest enmity requires an equal amount of ahimsa for its abatement. Cultivation of this virtue may need long practice, even extending to several births."Ahimsa - the word strictly means "non-violence," but in its active sense, this requires the strength that comes from a loving heart. As Gandhi points out, we may need to be reborn several times for this quality of love to become fully mature in us.
The Words of Gandhi(2)
^ The exciting prospect then is that Jesus could be presiding over a great unlocking of talents that we already hold within ourselves. It pleases the Bridegroom (John 3:29) to see us realize our potential in this way(3).
Bearing in mind that a Day to God is 1,000 years to us, let our hope be that once again the Lord will visit us on the third "day":
On the morning of the third day ... Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God ... Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it ...The television companies are keen to show the most important news items on their channels. So we can take it as read that this greatest event ever to happen on Earth would be on TV. Indeed, we already saw (in chapter 4) that there is a Hint in the Bible to this effect:
Exodus 19:16-18 (NAB)
"For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, so the presence of the Son of man will be."Perhaps we could now paraphrase the above verse as: "Television signals will be beamed around the world, broadcasting My Return"?
Matthew 24:27 (NWT)
The writer's plea to you is that you will not settle for viewing this astonishing Event on TV. If you have made sure by the time He returns, that Jesus is your Heavenly Partner you may be sure that you will then be granted a joyful, aerial view of this fabulous New Beginning!
Those who do share in the Rapture are in a position to welcome the many changes that will take place as God's Manifest Kingdom is ushered in on the Earth.
Believing in some of these changes requires a lot of imagination from us at this stage:
And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
Isaiah 11:6-7 (JPS)
^ This Scripture is saying that the bodies, minds and spirits of carnivorous animals will be subject to amazing changes - they will become vegetarians! This seems incredible, yet why should we creatures be doubting the Creator's Ability to carry off this Feat? Once again, if we look for the Divine Purpose in what is prophesied, then why it should happen becomes clear.
Even today most people try to be kind to their fellow-creatures, don't they? Sometimes it seems like a one-sided battle, for in Nature the carnivores are busy preying on the rest. But we see that this will no longer be the case - in the Kingdom the animals will all be kind to each other! And so we can have faith that our efforts now will be vindicated then.
Finally, on the day that we see the above Prophecy fulfilled, we will understand something else. Namely that the God of the Universe has never ceased from doing creative things!
"Can we really trust that these things will happen?" Yes we can. All we have to do is believe on what God has said. Scripture reveals that there's an exciting new Age dawning - it's time to get ready!
For I'm going to do a brand new thing. See, I have already begun! Don't you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert!Did you too find some fascination in the change of millennium? If so, look out! Your dreams could be about to turn into reality! Think big! You won't go over the top, as this final Scripture shows:
Isaiah 43:19 (TLB)
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so shall the earth be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:9 (TLB)
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