The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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The International Association Jehovah's Witnesses

Themes Archive

 
New Heavens and a New Earth
 
    The creating of new heavens and a new earth is now under way. This is an all-powerful reason for lovers of truth, righteousness, liberty and life in peace and happiness to overflow with irrepressible joy. After almost six thousand years of human sorrow, suffering and death, at last permanent relief is near at hand and will be realized within this generation. A clean, just and healthful new world is immediately before them and they may enter into it. Now, when the outlook for this old world is utterly hopeless, it is high time for persons who long for life under perfect conditions to inform themselves and prove whether this startling good news is true. If it is true - and it can be proved true upon the highest authority - then it is only reasonable that they prepare for it, letting it be a guide to their present course of action. In view of the shortness of the time, it is most urgent that they do so. This will save them from sharing the certain destruction of a doomed old world and guarantee them a joyful entrance into the new world that will endure forever with blessings for its inhabitants.     The creation of new heavens and a new earth comes about in a manner far different from what high-minded men presume. The failure of their ideas about it argues that they do not understand it and that they take too much to themselves and improperly rely upon what mere men of this old world do. In January, 1918, months before the close of World War I, the president of the United States proposed a League of Nations for the post-war world. The Protestant religious organization, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (replaced in 1951 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America), came out in favor of the proposal. Disclosing how it viewed matters of universal importance, the religious Council published this statement in January of 1919:     "The time has come to organize the world for truth, right, justice and humanity. To this end as Christians we urge the establishment of a League of Free Nations at the coming Peace Conference. Such a league is not merely a peace expedient, it is rather the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth. The League of Nations is rooted in the gospel. Like the gospel, its objective is 'Peace on earth, good will toward men'. Like the gospel, its appeal is universal.     "The herioc dead will have died in vain unless out of victory shall come a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.—2 Peter 3:13.     "The church can give a spirit of good will, without which no League of Nations can endure."     By this statement the Council of Churches predicted that the League of Nations would prove to be the political expression of God's kingdom on earth and that it would fulfill the prophecy of 2 Peter 3:13 and introduce a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness would dwell. Shortly the League became a reality, with Christendom's backing. But did it fulfill the Council of Churches' prediction? The kingdom of God is prophesied to last forever; but the League of Nations, its claimed "political expression", failed and went into the abyss of helplessness at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. It had not produced a "new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness", even among its member nations. The "heroic dead" of the nations victorious in World War I had evidently died in vain. In 1945, over the blood and agony of millions more dead heroes, the United Nations succeeded to the League of Nations. After years of operation it offers no more promise than the defunct League of Nations did of establishing a new heavens and a new earth out of victory in World War II. Never did less righteousness dwell in this earth, never was there more moral corruption and human degradation. The entrance of the postwar world into the atomic era, and later into the era of the hydrogen bomb, has not elevated its spirit or transformed this earth into a place of beauty and bright hope for mankind.     As if men of this old world, by combinations of nations and with the backing of the religious systems of Christendom, could create new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness controlled! It is beyond the power of feeble, imperfect, selfish man to do. This has been admitted even by the American president who ordered the atomic bomb to be dropped upon Hiroshima, Japan, and who, in 1950, in an international armaments race, ordered the Atomic Energy Commission to produce the hydrogen bomb and asked the American Congress to furnish the vast sum of money for this. The following year this statement came from him, as reported in the New York Times of October 8, 1951: "CINCINNATI, Oct. 7 - President Truman called on Protestant churchmen representing more than a score of major denominations today to 'turn the hearts and souls of men from rancor and hatred to love and the spirit of true brotherhood.' In a message read before the inaugurating session of United Church Men, the President told the assembled laymen that while they 'may not hope to create a new heaven and a new earth' at the present time, they could through prayer and labor 'strive to leave this world a little better' than they had found it." The explosion of the first hydrogen bomb the very next year boomed out a disconcerting emphasis to the president's words.     No men were ever authorized to create new heavens and a new earth. It is presumptuous for them to hope to do so themselves at any time, present or future. Their use of the expression "new heavens and a new earth" is in fact a borrowed one and they have misappropriated it and misapplied it. They have thus subjected trusting people to great disappointment and have turned the attention of mankind away from the true and only creator of the righteous new world. Although the hopes of men who look to men crash around them in bitter failure, the creating of the new heavens and new earth moves on to full accomplishment. Men of faith and of enlightened vision who look to the right source of these long-awaited things see the grand work in process and rejoice. They behold the millenniums-old promise of these good things coming true. They trust in the same promise that the inspired writer did, who nineteen centuries ago wrote: "There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell." The writer of that was Simon Peter, of the city of Bethsaida. He was a loyal follower and faithful apostle of Jesus Christ, and he penned these sublime words in his second letter to his fellow Christians, chapter three, verse thirteen.* The time of awaiting these things in full is now about over.     To whose promise was the apostle Peter referring with such confidence that the promise would not fail but was worth waiting for? Not a mere man's promise. True, the prophet Isaiah uttered and wrote down the promise over seven centuries before the apostle Peter's letter, but he was merely quoting by inspiration the great Promiser, who himself said: "Lo, I am creating new heavens, and a new earth, and the former things are not remembered, nor do they ascend on the heart." (Isa. 65:17) The Promiser of these new things is also their Creator. That is why he speaks the promise as if he were already carrying it out, although it was over twenty-six centuries in advance. And who is this confident Promiser and Creator? Not some nameless "lord", whose identity would be lost among the many personages in heaven and in earth who are called "lord". No, but he discloses his name, that we may not look to the wrong source or channel for the fulfillment of the promise; and he puts his own chosen name before the statement of his promise, declaring: "There-fore, thus said the Lord Jehovah." (Isa. 65:13) He is the great Creator of all things, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. For the first two thousand years from man's creation he was known to men of faith by that name "Jehovah"; but for over nineteen hundred years after that, beginning with faithful Abraham the Hebrew, he was almost exclusively associated with the He-brews and Israelites and Jews. He is the living and true God.     The Hebrews, Israelites and Jews are not responsible for God's unusual name. No creature in heaven or on earth gave it to him. He chose it for himself. He gave it to himself. He announced it as his own, saying: "I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images." (Isa. 42:8) Men who claim to know and represent and worship God have become ashamed of that name; but the exclusive Owner of it is not ashamed of it. He is not afraid of having his name known because of his deeds and associations that are reported in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, like a hunted criminal afraid of being identified because of his dark deeds and incriminating associates. He does not fear that harm will come to anyone if his name is made known in connection with his works, his promises and his people. He has chosen no poor name, but has already covered it with matchless glory and will glorify it still more in the future.     If he had no personal name by which we could speak of him and address him, there would be no sense in the third of his Ten Commandments given to the nation of Israel through the prophet Moses; which commands: "You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way." Likewise, there would be no sense in the prayer that Jesus Christ taught his followers to address to God, saying: "Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified." (Ex. 20:7 and Matt. 6:9) The divine command not to take up God's name in a worthless way was, not a command never to pronounce it, nor a command always to use some unauthorized, inferior substitute for it, but a command never to misuse it. That the true Creator of the new heavens and earth may be honorably identified we are obliged to mention his unique name "Jehovah" in all its connections.

    RELIABILITY OF HIS PROMISE

    The promise of new heavens and a new earth is backed by a living Personage, with ample power to fulfill it regardless of how marvelous these new things will be. It is foolish for puny man, whose 200-inch telescope, according to the latest estimate, pierces the depths of the universe to a distance of about two billion light-years, to say, "How do we know there is a God? None of us here on earth have ever seen him!" It is good that mankind, from the first man on, has never seen him. Man is not so constructed as to be able to see his Creator and remain alive. When the prophet Moses on top of Mount Sinai in Arabia asked to see his face, Jehovah by his invisible representative there answered: "You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live." (Ex. 33:20) The nation of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai were so terrified at the out-ward manifestation of Jehovah's unseen presence on the mountain and his voice out of the invisible that they said to Moses, the mediator between them and God: "You speak with us and let us listen, but let not God speak with us for fear we may die." "Do not let me hear again the voice of Jehovah my God and this great fire do not let me see any more, that I may not die." God said that they spoke sensibly in so speaking. (Ex. 20:18, 19 and Deut. 18:16, 17) Only the fool asks to see God personally in order to be convinced of his existence. All the creation with which man is in touch by means of his sense of sight, hearing, taste, feeling and smell testifies that God the Creator of all exists, so that such a request to see before believing is without excuse. - Rom. 1:19, 20.     The great truth stated in his written Word, that God always was and had no beginning, may stun us. Our minds can hardly take it in, but it is not too much for reasonable faith. We must not liken God to ourselves and put our limitations upon him. Because he is the great First Cause of all creation he must always have been, during the endless past, so that what seems to be a long stretch of time to us mortals is but a short space of time to him. In prayer Moses said to him:     "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." (Ps. 90:2, 4) Emphasizing His timelessness, the apostle Paul prayed: "Now to the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1 Tim. 1:17) Angels have been reported as swearing "by him who lives forever", yes, "by the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it and the earth and the things in it and the sea and the things in it." (Dan. 12:7; Rev. 10:6) He it is "who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy". (Isa. 57:15) Because of his eternal existence and his incorruptibleness he will always remain the God supreme and true, and all the false gods of this present short time will perish and prove to be no gods. It is as the prophet Jeremiah wrote: "Jehovah is the true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his wrath the earth trembleth, and the nations are not able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding hath he stretched out the heavens." (Jer. 10:10-12) Only due to the fact that this true and living God is without beginning and without end mankind will be sustained in endless life in the new earth that he creates along with new heavens.     Even his enemies and those on earth who doubt his existence will shortly be forced to know that he is supreme and all creatures are his inferiors. The fervent prayer was not uttered to him nor recorded in his Holy Bible all for nothing: "Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: that men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth." (Ps. 83:17, 18) To vindicate himself as the Supreme Sovereign he will answer this prayer of his faithful servant. To fit his unequaled position, his throne is in the heavens and our earthly globe is beneath his feet. "Thus said Jehovah: The heavens are My throne, and the earth My footstool." (Isa. 66:1) The center of the boundless universe is therefore at God's throne; it is not at the astral center of the great galaxy of numberless galaxies or island universes that now exist within or beyond the range of man's visual powers. As the creative center, God is the necessary foundation of all creation. AH the creation revolves around him as its source. The centripetal force of this vast system of animate and inanimate things is inward toward him. All is inseparably united to him.     Since God is and is supreme, there must be theocracy throughout all parts of creation, high and low. Simply explained, theocracy means "God-rule", that is, the absolute rulership by God. This means that his creation is operated and con-trolled by divine law. That is the one scientific formula that applies all the way from the great island universes or galaxies down to the inside of a mere atom of matter. Natural law, which our scientists are at great pains to investigate and understand, is merely a part of theocratic law. There are no areas in all heaven and earth that lie apart from theocratic rule, God's rightful sovereignty. There are no islands isolated from the mainland of his creation. There is no part of creation so distant as to be beyond the reach of his power. There would be no means to live or exist in places of isolation.     All is dependent upon the Sovereign Creator. His universal theocratic laws are bigger and stronger than we human mortals are. We cannot halt or alter the operation of his laws, nor can man now equipped with the atomic bomb and its sister, the hydrogen bomb, wreck the Creator's universe. To try to go contrary to the fixed outworking of his laws always works to our unhappiness, harm and destruction. To bring ourselves into harmony with his theocratic law and order means wisdom and understanding on our part. It makes our eternal life in the Creator's righteous new world certain.     It would be impossible for us to know the full truth about this Creator God by merely trying to read the visible universe like a book, including the so-called "book of nature", that has to be decoded or deciphered. Well knowing this, the Creator has been delighted to reveal himself to inquiring men who have faith. For the good of the generations to come he has turned Author and has caused this revelation to be written under inspiration in the Holy Scriptures. The sacred Bible is his creation. Without it, how would we know God's name, his miraculous deeds and his purpose now to create new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell? Worldly scientists try to understand how and by what physical laws created things operate, but they never learn how the Creator of such things works. They neglect the Creator's written Word, his Law Book. Viewing it from the standpoint of religious creeds and tradition, they criticize the Bible, call it unscientific and put physical law and matter above the Bible. That is why they continue in destructive darkness. We will not follow them. We will accept God as our Creator and take his Word.     God does not believe in keeping us in ignorance and dependent upon worldly scientists. He invites us to come and ask him questions concerning his purposes and operations, and to request an answer: "Thus saith Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask me of the things to come; concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands, command ye me. It is I that have made the earth, and created man upon it; it is I, my hands, that have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." (Isa. 45:11,12) To respond to this invitation to inquire of Jehovah the Creator, we must go to his written revelation, the Holy Bible, and study it with the help of his theocratic organization. We must come, not defiantly challenging his right and ability to make things occur his way nor commanding him to do things for us or dictating the work of his hands, but humbly and sincerely asking for information and guidance and requesting an answer in faith. (Jas. 1:5) This we shall now do, that we may learn how he creates the righteous new heavens and earth and how we may gain life everlasting in that glorious new world.