THE GOOD NEWS FOR A MODERN WORLD
What is God's Purpose for the Earth?
Why Did God Create the Earth?
The Bible tells us that God created the earth to inhabit life:
“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 earth is certainly fulfilling that purpose; our planet is teeming with life – sea creatures, flying creatures, creatures that walk on the earth, and, of course, man. This scripture also tells us that God does not create things ‘simply for nothing,’ so we can safely assume that while some planets are formed for other purposes, there are many planets that were formed to be inhabited like ours, and likely are currently inhabited by various forms of life.
When we look into our universe, we see billions of planets, all spherical like our earth. Thus, we conclude that it is God’s purpose that His various living creations would be domiciled on spherical planets like earth. We cannot imagine that the angels must perpetually fly. The Father is merciful enough to provide roosts for the birds. (Matthew 8:20) Surely, angels, too, must have planets that were formed for their habitation.
But earth is not the only home for mankind. Jesus told us:
“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.”
– John 14:2-3
Yes, Jesus is preparing other abodes, other homes or dwelling places, for Sons of the Kingdom!
Why is the Earth Not a Paradise Now?
When Adam and Eve first arrived on earth, they were placed in a beautiful garden that came to be known as the Garden of Eden. But it was never known as a paradise. Our research reveals that there was a specific Hebrew word for “paradise” and it was not used in reference to the Garden of Eden.
However, the Bible does refer to a place called “paradise” in three specific instances:
• As Jesus’ kingdom, the promised destination for those who exercised faith:
“And he went on to say: ‘Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.’ And he said to him: ‘Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.’”
– Luke 23:42
• As a heavenly place where the Apostle Paul apparently visited:
“Yes, I know such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know, God knows—that he was caught away into paradise and heard unutterable words which it is not lawful for a man to speak.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:3-4
• And as the heavenly place of God:
“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
Each of these references identify paradise as a place located somewhere other than earth. While the earth has the potential to be truly beautiful, that would not be the equivalent of a true paradise. We are told:
“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
How Will Paradise Be Restored?
As shown above, Paradise has never been on the earth, therefore, it could not be ‘restored.’ However, there are many prophesies that point to a time when the earth will be a beautiful paradise-like home. For example, the prophet Isaiah perceived that at a future time, the earth would exist 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
“The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. . . . For in the wilderness waters will have burst out, and torrents in the desert plain. And the heat-parched ground will have become as a reedy pool, and the thirsty ground as springs of water."
– Isaiah 35:1, 6-7
“‘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
These are beautiful prophecies that will eventually be realized and perpetuated forever. As the psalmist wrote:
“The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it.”
– Psalms 37:29
Yes, our troubled planet will someday be healed and will serve as a comfortable, enjoyable, and enduring first residence for mankind until the time they take up the new abodes prepared for them by Jesus. (John 14:2-3)
How the renovation of our planet will be accomplished is a question of the ages, from generation to generation. Some believe it will be accomplished by an all-out war where God will send his angels to destroy all who oppose God. But that in itself would not change our planet into a paradise-like place. Such a war would more likely devastate it and probably leave it in a far worse condition than it is in now. So we wonder if maybe Christianity’s current interpretation of the Book of Revelation is accurate.
But whatever will occur in the future, we are certain that the education work Jesus started is an excellent step in the right direction! By preaching and teaching the true Good News of the Kingdom, we will be expanding the spiritual brotherhood of man right now, turning enemies into friends, and thereby changing ‘swords into plowshares and spears into pruning shears.’ (Isaiah 2:4) And person by person, we can change the spiritual climate of our world until the Father determines to effect another planetary intervention.
When Will Suffering End?
Suffering is associated with earthly life and arises in proportion to the extent to which we and those around us do not know or reject the Good News of the Kingdom. Some of our brothers are especially fraught with suffering and must endure untold anguish at the hands of those who could potentially be their brothers, but have not heard or responded to the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) Thus we can minimize some suffering by spreading this Good News throughout our communities.
This type of suffering has been the plight of mankind since Adam and Eve defaulted in their commission to uplift and subdue our planet. (Genesis 1:28) But this detour only delayed the Father’s purposes. There has always been hope:
“Consequently I reckon that the sufferings of the present season do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going to be revealed in us. 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. Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom. For we were saved in [this] hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, we keep on waiting for it with endurance.”
– Romans 8:18-25
It is by means of our sonship that we will have our freedom from all ‘groaning’ and suffering. So while it may take some time for our planet to be transformed into a paradise-like environment, we know that upon ‘the release from our fleshly bodies,’ all our suffering will end.
Who will live in the future Paradise?
Since the true Paradise is in the heavens, only those who pursue the heavenly hope will have the privilege of living in it. The Christian writings repeatedly counsel a heavenly pursuit:
“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, should be dissolved, we are to have a building from God, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. For in this dwelling house we do indeed groan, earnestly desiring to put on the one for us from heaven.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
“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 of 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 3:13-15
“For there are many, I used to mention them often but now I mention them also with weeping, who are walking as the enemies of the torture stake of the Christ, and their finish is destruction, and their god is their belly, and their glory consists in their shame, and they have their minds upon things of the earth. As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens, from which place also we are eagerly waiting for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will refashion our humiliated body to be conformed to his glorious body according to the operation of the power that he has, even to subject all things to himself.”
– Philippians 3:18-21
“We thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ always when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in connection with Christ Jesus and the love you have for all the holy ones because of the hope that is being reserved for you in the heavens. This [hope] you heard of before by telling of the truth of that good news which has presented itself to you, even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all the world just as [it is doing] also among you, from the day you heard and accurately knew the undeserved kindness of God in truth.”
– Colossians 1:3-6
“If, however, you were raised up with the Christ, go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above not on the things upon the earth.”
– Colossians 3:1-2
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you, who are being safeguarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last period of time.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
The message of the Christian Bible writers is clear and decisive. There is no room for doubt. As Jesus said, if it were not so, “I would have told you.” (John 14:2) Therefore, all who seek to live in the Paradise of God must follow the Christ into the heavens as Sons of the Kingdom!