The Kingdom of God—Part 4—Conclusion

Peace, Life, Restoration

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” —Revelation 21:4

“HOPE springs eternal in the human breast,” wrote Alexander Pope. And so it has been in regard to man’s longing for worldwide peace. As the pages of history are examined, each one is found to be stained with the blood of those who have fallen victim to the ceaseless struggles of the nations.

“Throughout history there has been little difference in the frequency of war. The period from 1496 B.C. to A.D. 1861 shows 227 years of peace to 3,130 of war. The story of Western civilization, from Greece to the League of Nations, shows an average interval between wars of only two years, although individual countries show considerable variation.” (“War,” Collier’s Encyclopedia) Notwithstanding this bleak record of the past, men are ever hoping for a better day.

Undoubtedly a vital source of man’s hope for peace has been the message of the angels, given at the birth of Jesus, and recorded in Luke 2:14: “On earth peace, goodwill toward men.” For many years Christians have firmly believed that this message of the Bible was applicable to the world in this age. Almost every Christmas sermon held out world peace as an inevitable result of Christianity and its influence.

These promises kept the spark of hope alive, but they ended in keen disappointment when again and again the nations resorted to the use of force and warfare to settle their differences. Some have even forsaken the churches because the promises offered have not materialized and the hopes raised have been rudely crushed.

Are the prophecies of world peace and goodwill to be considered as only visionary and actually incapable of fulfillment? Today, students of the Bible have come to the realization that there is nothing wrong with the prophecies but that it is their application which needs correcting. Now it is understood that the Bible’s message of peace belongs to the Millennial Age, when God’s kingdom is established upon the earth. There is no authority in the Word of God for holding out any promise of world peace during this present Gospel Age.

There is much that testifies to the validity of this conclusion. Jesus himself said to his disciples: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars … for all these things must come to pass. … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matt. 24:6,7) Over and over again through the annals of history the cry has gone out: “Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up.”—Joel 3:9,10

Is it not reasonable to assume that the earthly peace and goodwill mentioned at the time of the birth of the Savior would not commence until the Prince of Peace himself had returned in grandeur and glory? A close examination of the prophecies shows that the divine government of the kingdom will be needed to establish everlasting peace and harmony upon earth. Only through the exercise of such divine power and by direct intervention in the affairs of men will it ever be possible for the inhabitants of the earth to abide peacefully with their neighbors.

Attention will first be given to two prophecies relating to the birth of Jesus. Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” becomes understandable when compared with Isaiah 9:6,7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called … the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”

Notice how the peace prophesied at the birth of Jesus is inseparably linked with the establishment of his government or kingdom. During his first advent Jesus expressly said that his kingdom was not then to be established. (John 18:36) It was not until the nobleman in the parable of the pounds went away and returned the second time that the kingdom was to be set up and the reign begun.—Luke 19:11,12

It might be asked, just how will God’s kingdom bring about the condition of universal peace? It will be accomplished by enforcing principles of truth and standards of righteousness on both a local and international scale. Divine force will at first be needed to put down all contrary rule and authority. “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”—Ps. 46:8-10

It is not until God will “judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off,” that man will realize that God’s decrees are to be enforced. (Mic. 4:3) He has determined that wars shall forever cease and that the incalculable suffering and horror they have caused shall never again be repeated.

It will require a rule of iron to accomplish this feat, which is to be carried out by Christ and his glorified church. (Ps. 2:6-12) Of that time the Scriptures declare, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.”—Isa. 28:17

Very exacting indeed will be the requirements to obey and to desist from former ways of violence, warfare, and injustice. Only thus will the nations consent to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks,” and not until the Millennial Age will it be true that “nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Mic. 4:3

Before the millennial reign will have proceeded very long, the inhabitants of the earth will begin to appreciate its many blessings. Not the least of these will be the peace and serenity enjoyed by all in God’s kingdom, when even fear itself will be abolished: “The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11

“In his days [during Christ’s millennial reign] shall the righteous flourish; and the abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sera, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”—Ps. 72:7,8

“They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.”—Mic. 4:4

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom], saith the Lord.”—Isa. 65:25

As the work of the kingdom progresses still further, man’s appreciation of the boundless love and mercy of his Creator will result in his actively desiring to do the will of God. Welling up within his heart will be the inclination to help his fellowman and to love his neighbor as himself. When the disposition of man will thus be changed, peace and harmony will be everywhere evident.

No longer will it be because of divine command and enforcement, but because it has become man’s new desire and an integral part of his transformed heart. “After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”—Jer. 31:33

Today man’s fallen condition prevents him from establishing peace. “Human nature remains the basic ingredient in war-making. The psychological causes of war operate unceasingly because we are still essentially the creatures of our emotions. Anger, pugnacity, greed, prejudice—these come into play … in relation to other causes of conflict.”—“War,” Collier’s Encyclopedia

But, thank God, these evil emotions are to be replaced by those of love, benevolence, kindness, generosity, and unselfishness, as the inhabitants of the earth learn righteousness in the kingdom. No obstacle will then remain to prevent the establishment of lasting and universal peace among all people.

“Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”—Isa. 32:16-18

Everlasting Life and Happiness

Everlasting life is man’s most cherished hope and dream! Will it ever become a reality? Is there provision in the plan of God for such a desire as this? The Bible answers yes, but not in the way that many have been led to believe.

Tradition, with its roots in the ensnaring web of pagan philosophy, has taught that man is, by his very nature, immortal. When he dies, it is said, he does not actually experience death or the extinction of life but merely enters upon a new form of life, either higher or lower. The teaching of the Bible repudiates this concept by its plain statements:

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”—Ezek. 18:4,20

“There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”—Eccles. 9:10

“The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything.”—Eccles. 9:5

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”—Ps. 146:4

The first man, Adam, was endowed with the physical capability of living forever. He was created perfect and, in his Edenic surroundings, was supplied with all that was necessary to sustain his existence. There was just one requirement, however, which had to be fulfilled. God desired that his perfect human creation render perfect obedience to his commands. This Adam failed to do. As a result, death was imposed as the penalty for disobedience. “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) Through Adam’s fall, the entire human race was made subject to the tentacles of the dreaded enemy, Death.

“The horror of death is universal among mankind. It depends not so much on the pain that often accompanies dissolution as upon the mystery of it and the results to the subject and to the survivors—the cessation of the old familiar relations between them, and the decomposition of the body. This horror has given rise to an obstinate disbelief in the necessity of death, and to attempts, continually repeated in spite of disastrous experiences of failure, to escape it. … The picture thus presented of the desperate refusal of mankind to accept a cardinal condition of existence is one of the most pathetic in the history of the race.”—James Hastings (ed.), “Death and Disposal of the Dead,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics

Yes, man has had good cause to fear death, and throughout history he has endeavored to postpone its realities. The early explorers of this continent searched diligently for the Fountain of Youth, thought to be situated in the New World. In our day, medical research is focused on the same problem of finding means of extending the span of human life. Some measure of success has been achieved:

“Medical and hygienic advances, both for the individual and the group, have served, particularly during the past generation, to prolong the expected life span of man. At the turn of the nineteenth century this was barely 45 years, and by 1978, this age span approximated 73.3 in the United States. (“Longevity,” Collier’s Encyclopedia; Reader’s Digest Almanac, 1980) Nevertheless, the fact that about 150,000 people are still dying every day shows that there is no escape from the Grim Reaper outside of the provisions which have been made by a loving God.

With this background of the origin of death and man’s fruitless efforts to oppose it, consider now the only true source of hope. It is, of course, the Bible, in its revelation of a loving God who has designed a master plan of salvation. His plan provides for all the dead to come forth in the resurrection and to be given an opportunity to gain everlasting human life.

As previously outlined, the ransom sacrifice of Christ guarantees this opportunity to all. Recall the text in I Timothy 2:5,6: “The man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” The due time for this testimony and the occasion for exercising the option of attaining everlasting life will be during the Millennial Age.

When all mankind will be granted an individual trial for life in the great thousand-year Judgment Day, there will be one universal law to follow: “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear [obey], and your soul shall live.” (Isa. 55:3) Obedience to the just principles of God’s laws then in effect will be the key to all lasting human happiness.

It will also result in everlasting life for as many of the redeemed as are willing to comply with these laws. Only thus will “the desire of all nations” come, and man’s longing for peace, happiness, and everlasting life be finally satisfied.—Hag. 2:7

In commenting on the longevity of life during the millennium, Jesus said, “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead … neither can they die anymore.” (Luke 20:35,36) What did he mean by that statement? Should it be understood that when brought back to the full measure of perfection through God’s kingdom arrangements, man will become immortal? We believe not.

Death, as an entity or principle, will always exist. That is, the possibility of a human being dying because of disobedience to God will always be present through the endless ages of eternity. Nevertheless, it is understood from Jesus’ statement that after the brief testing period of the close of the millennium, none of the redeemed will ever again deflect from God.—Rev. 20:7,8

The question then arises, why will the majority of mankind obey God after the kingdom is established, whereas Adam failed to do so originally? Experience will prove to have made the difference. Adam had never experienced sin or the dreadful results of disobedience.

The world of mankind will have benefited from a twofold experience, first during the present life with evil and the results of disobedience, and later, in the Millennial Age, with good and the virtues of obeying the laws of God. With such a background of experience to help him, man will always desire to serve God and righteousness and consequently will live on indefinitely.

When God’s plan of salvation is completed, both the church class and the world of mankind will have benefited from the blessings of everlasting life. There will be a vast difference in the nature and characteristics of this life, however. Immortality, in the proper sense of the word, will be given only to the church class. Everlasting human, or mortal, life will be apportioned to the world of mankind.

The kind of life which the church class will inherit is comparable to that with which God himself, the great fountain of all life, is endowed. God is a spirit being who inherently possesses the highest form of life, immortality, on the divine plane of being. This kind of life springs from within itself, is not dependent upon any other source, and is death-proof.—John 4:24; 5:26; I Tim. 1:17; 6:16

Who would dare to aspire to such a life unless the Scriptures made it abundantly clear that God intends to share the divine nature and has extended an invitation to such a position? In the Bible, immortality is ascribed only to God, Jesus Christ, and the church class. It is never mentioned in connection with mankind in general.

It represents the very highest reward for faithfulness that could be granted “to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7) “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”—II Pet. 1:4

What kind of everlasting life, then, will the world of mankind be granted, if not immortality? It will be mortality, or mortal life, in the correct sense of the word. Today this word is generally misused to describe the state of human life in which death is unavoidable. All around us is witnessed the inevitability of death, leading to the conclusion that all mortals, or human beings, must die. But this is true only under the present reign of sin and death, which will soon be ended in the kingdom, when “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—I Cor. 15:26

Mortality then will be a condition of perfect human life which will continue forever, so long as man maintains his obedience to the Creator. It will always be dependent upon a higher source for its existence. As already discussed, death will still be a possibility, but not an inevitability, and indeed not a probability.

Apart from gaining everlasting life, still other blessings will accrue to man in the kingdom. Reflect for a moment on the plight of humanity through the centuries. Think of all the misery, heartache, suffering, selfishness, sickness, and pain that have afflicted man in his deplorable fallen condition. All these are traits of imperfection which accompanied the death sentence and have run parallel to it.

When mankind is released from the bondage of death, these other stains of sin will gradually be removed as the world comes into harmony with the ways of God. The nighttime of suffering will be over and the majority of mankind will be eager to look upward for divine deliverance. “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”—Ps. 30:5

Thus the benefits of the kingdom will include not only everlasting life but an enjoyment of that life to its fullest possible extent. Pain, sorrow, and sickness will flee into the background memory of the past, never again to mar the glorious state of man in his perfection. “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isa. 33:24) “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4

Yes, God’s favor in the millennial morning will result in resurrection, righteous judgment, universal peace, everlasting life, and freedom from sickness and pain. In a setting such as this, far exceeding all the cherished hopes and dreams of the philosophers and reformers of all ages, no wonder people will be happy!

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. … And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”—Isa. 35:5,6,10

Harmony with the Creator

Thus far we have viewed the establishment of God’s kingdom upon the earth as a future progressive event unparalleled in the history of the world. In the completed sense, this future kingdom will represent a restoration of that which already existed in the initial period of man’s creation. The early chapters of Genesis describe the establishment of the first kingdom and the circumstances leading to its withdrawal. The closing chapters of Revelation, in highly pictorial language, depict the restoration of that kingdom and its glorious benefits to man.

The process of bringing the alienated human race back into accord with God is called the doctrine of the atonement. The necessity for the atonement is one of the most fundamental teachings in the Bible. Over and over again is repeated the theme of man’s fall, his need of a Redeemer, the sacrificial work of Christ, and finally the coming kingdom as the agency to accomplish the needed conciliation. In many circles today, however, the plain teachings of the Bible regarding the fall of man and his present state of alienation from God are made light of and discounted as too primitive a belief to be retained in modern theology. The authenticity of the whole Genesis account of the entrance of sin into the world is repudiated by labeling the book as mythology, noteworthy only for its literary style. Man is pictured as making steady progress toward the sublime state as a result of his own exalted efforts.

But how differently the Scriptures view the matter! The Book of Genesis shows that Adam was originally created in the mental and moral image of God. He was placed in a garden-like environment “eastward in Eden,” flourishing with the vegetation needed to sustain life. He was given dominion over all the lower animals, whether creatures of the air, land, or sea. In effect, Adam was a king of an earthly kingdom which had been established for him by God.

His conversing with God in the cool of the evening demonstrated the fellowship and communion which he enjoyed with the Creator as one of his sons on the human plane of existence. Here was a picture of perfect tranquility and harmony existing between man and his Creator in the original kingdom of God.

How quickly this scene was changed, however, when Adam transgressed the law of God! He lost the right to reside in the earthly paradise which had been his. Thorns and thistles and the sweat of his brow as he labored for a living were to become his lot. Under the sentence of death, physical, mental, and moral decay began to set in, each day carrying him farther away from the original state of perfection.

Under these circumstances of condemnation and imperfection, he also lost the right of fellowshipping directly with his Creator. Thus was forfeited the original kingdom of God and earthly paradise, a permanent loss, were it not for a plan of salvation designed by a loving God.

This is the Genesis account of the creation and fall of man. If it is mere mythology and cannot be depended upon as the inspired Word of God, then the foremost personalities of the Christian church have been deceived. Jesus frequently cited incidents mentioned in Genesis in his own personal ministry among the Jews, such as in Matthew 23:35 when he referred to Abel, and Matthew 24:37 when he spoke of Noah.

And the great Apostle Paul confirmed the creation account when he wrote, “The first man Adam was made a living soul.” (I Cor. 15:45) Whom, then, are we to believe? We prefer to side with Jesus and Paul, accept the Book of Genesis as authentic, and observe that those who try to discredit it are not benefiting by the enlightenment which it provides.

Another objection has been advanced by those who deny man’s need for atonement. Their argument is that God should simply forgive man for a disobedient act, especially for a first offense. Thus, if the account of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden be true, God should have immediately reinstated him to favor. This objection seems somewhat plausible on the surface. The basic question to be resolved is, could God have forgiven his wayward human creation without requiring an atoning sacrifice?

Before this question can be answered, it will be necessary to provide a background sketch of the character of the Creator and of the setting of man’s creation. The Bible describes God as an invisible spirit being, possessing grand attributes of character which are in perfect balance with each other. Briefly, the chief characteristics of God are wisdom, justice, love and power. All these attributes are constantly working together in every act in which God is engaged. As the great Sovereign of the universe, God conducts all his affairs in perfect harmony with each of these four basic attributes.

Consider now how these must have reacted to the impulse of simply forgiving the transgression of man: divine wisdom at once would have foreseen the dangers of such a course. God had originally declared that the penalty for disobedience would be death. If he now altered the consequences, others of God’s intelligent creatures, as well as man, would conclude that God was changeable and his word not trustworthy. The Scriptures expressly declare that in God there “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”—James 1:17

Further, divine justice pointed to God’s position as the lawgiver of the universe. He is the great king of many creations on various planes of existence in addition to that of man. Man’s disobedience to the just laws of his Creator represented a rebellion in one quarter of the vast universe. It had to be dealt with fairly and strictly in accordance with those laws. Could one measure of justice be meted out to man and another to the remainder of creation? No, divine justice demanded the same standard, which was an exacting one of full obedience to the divine will. Justice, then, required that the death penalty be carried out as originally imposed.

Divine love desired that man should be fully forgiven. God’s mercy and compassion had already provided a way of meeting the strict requirements of his justice. The solution was a plan of salvation (conceived before the creation of man) centering around a substitutionary sacrifice to be offered on behalf of Adam. The Son of God would be commissioned to perform this task, to which he willingly consented.

He would undergo a change of nature from the spiritual to the human state. He would become a ransom, an exact equivalent to Adam in his perfection, and then voluntarily offer his life as an atoning sacrifice. “Ye were … redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained [foreknown] before the foundation of the world.” (I Pet. 1:18-20; Heb. 10:5-7) Thus would divine justice be fully satisfied, since a perfect human life was to be offered for the transgression of Adam.

Thus, too, the life of Adam would not be forfeited forever but would be restored in the resurrection on the basis of the merit of the Redeemer And not only Adam, of course, but the entire human race condemned in him would benefit from such a plan.

This, then, is the method which God adopted to begin the work of atonement. It carries a logic which at once satisfies the reasoning of the inquirer for truth, and it counters all objections that are raised against it. It is a plan to which all the attributes of God’s character can give wholehearted consent. And the great power of the Almighty One is pledged to carry it out.

Thus it is seen that man will ultimately be forgiven, but through a course which provides him with a valuable lesson in the results of disobedience to the divine will. It is a pathway which leads from condemnation in Adam to justification in Christ.

Further Proof

If the doctrine of the atonement is fundamental, then it should be possible to produce additional scriptural support for it throughout the Bible. Evidence should be available showing the present fallen state of man, the method God has devised to redeem him and restore him, and the final outcome of the application and execution of such a plan. Consider first the following texts to determine whether man is described as being in a condition out of harmony with God:

“By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; … by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.”—Rom. 5:18,19

“We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. … They are all gone out of the way.”—Rom. 3:9-12

“Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”—James 4:4

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more, then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”—Rom. 5:8,9

Is not the conclusion self-evident? All mankind is described as sinful, unrighteous, at enmity with God, and under his condemnation and wrath. The only exception to this general rule is the church class. All dedicated believers, on the basis of their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf, are justified, or reckoned acceptable in God’s sight. All others stand separate from the righteousness and perfection of God, wholly condemned before the divine bar of justice.

Originally the only separating influence between God and man was the sentence of death for disobedience. Now—as a result of the accumulated effect of many years of alienation and sin—degradation and depravity have set in, removing man still farther away from the divine image.

As a result of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, all men are guaranteed an awakening from the dead. As previously shown, however, all will return from the tomb with the same character which had been developed in this life. Even the noblest individuals will have some measure of imperfection, and the average lot of man, no doubt, will display a considerable tinge of sin.

Unless, therefore, God were to provide some means of assistance, all men would immediately be condemned again to death. Their imperfection would prevent them from rendering full obedience to the divine will and would only lead to a renewed condemnation. Thank God, provision has been already made in the divine plan to permit the temporary shielding of all humanity during the thousand-year kingdom while the great work of restoration proceeds.

Jesus Christ and his church will act in the capacity of Mediator between God and man. They will act in a manner similar to that of Moses during the inauguration of the old or Law Covenant with the nation of Israel. When this covenant was originally instituted, Moses was selected by God to come up on the mount of Sinai and obtain the tables of the Law directly from God.

Before he set forth the Law to the people, Moses sprinkled the tables of the Law with the blood of sacrificed animals. If the Israelites had been able to live up to the requirements of this covenant in full obedience to the will of God, they would have received everlasting life.

This entire proceeding foreshadowed a much greater and more beneficial arrangement. Jeremiah 31:31-33 states: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. … After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

God will establish a New Covenant with man, starting with Israel and finally encompassing all the families of the earth. Instead of Moses, there will be Christ and the church to act as the Mediator of this covenant. “Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant.” (Heb. 12:24) “God … hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”—II Cor. 5:18

Jesus and the church class will be in Mount Zion, a symbol of the spiritual phase of the kingdom, administering the affairs and laws of that kingdom. Instead of the blood of animals, there will be the merit of the blood of Jesus, which will make the New Covenant possible and eventually take away the sin of the world. The Mediator will set forth the laws and regulations of the kingdom and assist all those who are willing to come to a full knowledge of the truth. Thus all will be informed of their privilege to return to harmony with God and gain everlasting life.

Jeremiah continues: “They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will remember their sin no more.”—Jer. 31:34

There is yet another beautiful picture of the great work of sin removal in the kingdom period, found in the experiences of the Israelites under the old Law Covenant. To compensate for the inability of the people to live up to the requirements of the Law, God instituted tabernacle sacrifices, which typically cleansed the people of their sins. The high priest offered the sacrifices of specified animals, which were accepted by God as an atonement for sin.

Jesus is referred to in Scripture as the great high priest (Heb. 4:14), and his true followers as his underpriests. (Rev. 20:6) The faithful sacrifices of the church class during this life qualify them to become underpriests in the Millennial Age. As priests of God, they will reign together with Jesus for the express purpose of blessing the masses of humanity returning from the grave.

As a result of receiving instruction in the ways of righteousness and acting in harmony with it, the world will gradually be restored to the original state of perfection as represented in Adam. At the end of the thousand years they will be fully cleansed of all imperfection and enabled to stand in the presence of God without the need of a Mediator.

There is an interesting text of Scripture bearing on the restoration of man’s lost dominion, which has generally been overlooked by most Christians. It is found in Acts 3:20,21: “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Here is a clear statement connecting the second advent of Christ with blessings of restitution—a restoration of all that was lost in the fall of man.

Notice that this text cannot apply to the church, which is promised a new thing—the reward of the divine nature. It does apply to the whole world of mankind, who will be blessed by a restoration of that which was lost—perfect human life with abundance. During the times of restitution, man will regain his original state of perfection, a mental and moral likeness of God, the dominion of earth, and harmony with the Creator.

Not only was this statement made by the Apostle Peter, but, as he points out, it has been spoken by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets since the world began. How strange, then, that more Christians have not understood that the kingdom era was designed to be one of blessing and benefit for man.

Other scriptures elaborate further on how the church class will be used in accomplishing man’s restoration. The call of the church was not intended to result in the selfish enjoyment of heavenly bliss. Rather, the church was designed by God to act as his instrument in blessing all the families of the earth.

One of the earliest evidences of this is found in the Old Testament, in God’s promise of blessing to Abraham. God said to him: “I will bless thee, and … I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. … And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:17,18) The Apostle Paul later explained that the seed mentioned in this promise was in reality Christ and also his church. He wrote: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:29

How will Christ and the church accomplish the blessing of all the families of the earth? The essential features of the work they will accomplish during the millennial kingdom have already been touched upon. The method to be used is summed up in Isaiah 49:8-10:

“Thus saith the Lord … I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.”

Within the wording of this text are hidden rich gems of truth. The broad outlines of the entire work of reconciliation to be carried on by Christ and his glorified church are found therein. God’s purpose for the church is shown in its position as mediator of a covenant with the people. The people to be blessed by this New Covenant are not just those who happen to be living at the time but include all that are in the grave.

To these prisoners, bound by the shackles of sin, ignorance, superstition, and death, it will be the privilege of the church class to say: “Go forth, … show yourselves.” This is another way of expressing the resurrection of the dead and the enlightenment which will accompany it and be available to all during the kingdom.

The inhabitants at that time shall not hunger nor thirst, not only because of the abundance of natural food, but also because they will be nourished and sustained by the truth of God’s Word. Through processes of instruction and judgment, all mankind will be led back to the ways of God and to harmony with him.

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—I Cor. 15:24-26

What is the end mentioned here? Not the end of time, or the end of the earth. It is the grand finale of the thousand-year reign of Christ and the church. It represents the climax of God’s great plan of salvation, marking the moment when the earthly creation will have been fully purified and brought back to the perfection lost in the fall.

The mediatorial reign will then have accomplished its objective, and the need for the Mediator will have ceased. When Christ returns the kingdom to the Father, man will again stand directly before his Creator to enjoy all the benefits of human sonship. Reconciliation between God and man will be complete.

“God be merciful unto us and bless us and cause his face to shine upon us, that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. … Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear [reverence] him.”—Ps. 67:1-7

Dawn Bible Students Association
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