The Glories of the Age to Come

ONE GOVERNMENT throughout the world, ruling solely by the law of God: its fruits, peace and fulness of life for humankind from pole to pole.

That seems the most futile of utopian dreams in a world of international conflict: yet it is as sure as the unceasing roll of the heavenly bodies, for “the mouth of the Lordby Whom they were made “has spoken” (Isaiah 40:5).

Many Bible prophets speak of the splendid Temple to be reared in Jerusalem (for example Ezekiel 40–48). And the prophecies of Isaiah 2:1–4 and Micah 4:1–4 draw a picture of the new world order of which it will be the centre. With Christ’s return to the earth, the throne of King David will be restored as the seat of his rule (Luke 1:32); and people from far countries, sickened by slaughter and the ruin which humanity’s evil has brought, will turn to it as to light. They will say “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:3).

Not only by the sheer power of moral beauty will the new rule draw people into its sway. History, especially recent history, has proved too well that there is a core of wickedness in human nature which loves the dark rather than light (John 3:19).

The King in Jerusalem will rule with a rod of iron and dash to pieces like pottery those who oppose him (Psalm 2:9). With the sanction of absolute right, he will also have a power against which raging nations will fling themselves in vain. He will “rebuke strong nations afar off”, and on his orders they will “beat their swords into ploughshares” (Micah 4:3).

People require two things of an organised society: that it should give them security and sufficiency. They want to live safe and ordered lives, with a fair chance of obtaining suitable food, clothing and housing for themselves and their families.

Human governments in general cannot guarantee these two elementary needs. Divine government will meet those needs with all the resources of the earth turned to the pursuits of peace: “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:4).

With freedom from fear there will be a freedom also from hunger. Guided by the light of God from the centre of His government in Zion, men and women will no longer be warped and poisoned by their environment: they will be free to grow to that full mental and spiritual stature for which they were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26).

Most of the world lives now in fear and uncertainty. The spiritual feast and the enlightenment of that day, described in the poetic language of the prophet, are beautiful as daybreak by contrast to this gloom:

And in this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees. And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations (Isaiah 25:6–7).

No mere change of social system could give the benefits which will come from that age. Neither king nor demagogue has ever had power to raise the dead: none but Jesus of Nazareth, whose kingdom, once established, will have no end. Under his rule life will come with a new wealth and healing, for it is written:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert (Isaiah 35:5–6).

Harmony with God will make life richer physically as well as mentally: its span will be lengthened, so that people will no longer lose their powers before they are fully attained and pass into a premature grave: I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them (Isaiah 65:19–23).

Though these words are written especially of the people of Israel, who will be restored to their land as the central domain of this world empire, all families of the earth will be blessed through this blessing which will come on Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:3).

“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice” (Isaiah 32:1) hints at the ordered administration of this great realm. Those “princes” will be those whom Daniel was told would wake from sleep in the dust to receive everlasting life (Daniel 12:2), who in the book of Revelation are shown acclaiming the “Lamb of God” who has washed them in his own blood, and made them kings and priests to his God (Revelation 1:5–6, 5:9–10). They rule over the mortal population during the thousand years (Revelation 20:2–7) which is the last stage in God’s work of redeeming the world; then death will be abolished, and the world will enter the glory of that final state in which God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

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