One Religion for All
All Nations – One Religion
Referring to the time when Christ reigns on Mount Zion, it is declared by the prophet that: “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 25:7).
This prediction covers two things – first, that the nations of the world will have been quite wrong in their attempts to understand the truth about God and, second, that at the Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth he will bring enlightenment and truth to all.
The work to be done by Christ and his saints – those who now have made a covenant with him, and who have responded to the invitation to become his “called out ones” – will have the effect of removing the darkness that now covers the earth, and enlightening all the nations. The result will eventually be that the peoples of the earth will no longer walk in the vanity of their minds but, being enlightened by infallible teachers in the truth of God, all mankind will walk and rejoice in it.
This will not happen straight away, nor will all nations give a warm welcome to the Coming King. Quite the contrary, as many Scriptures testify. The nations of the world will at first oppose the rulership of Christ. See, for example, Psalm 2 and the prediction about nations declaring that they will not “bow the knee” to Christ. “Yet”, says God, “I have set my King On my holy hill of Zion” (2:6). And, as the prophet Joel foretold, God will summon those nations who oppose His king to come to the “valley of decision”, where they must accept and worship or reject and be punished (Joel 3:1-16).
After that gathering of the nations and the outpouring of God’s indignation, then, says another of God’s prophets:
“I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of Yahweh, to serve him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9).
This will be the time upon earth when it will not be necessary for a man to say to his brother, ‘Know Yahweh for they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh. “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
That will be the time when the long-awaited prediction is fulfilled that:
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9); and when God’s will shall “be done on the earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
The outcome of God’s rulership on earth, through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, will be wonderful for those people on earth who survive to enjoy this Millennium – 1000 year period — of blessedness. For the very earth itself is to undergo a marvellous change at the hands of Christ. The earth, on account of sin, is now subject to the curse pronounced in the garden of Eden:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground! (Genesis 3:17-19).
The consequence of this cursed condition of the ground is that toil and arduous labour are necessary to cause it to bring forth its fruits for the sustenance of life. God punished Adam for his wilful disobedience by saying, among other things, that he would only eat “in the sweat of your face” and such has been the lot of mankind since the day the first man and woman were expelled from the garden of Eden, where life had been continuous pleasure and ease.
So accustomed have we become to this cursed condition of the soil, that it is regarded as its natural characteristic. The Scriptures show us, however, that it is a mere temporary feature, which will disappear with the removal of the curse. Speaking of the time when God, through Christ, will “judge the people righteously, and govern the nations on earth” the Psalmist declares : “THEN the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us” (Psalm 67:4,6).
Paradise on Earth
One of the promises to the children of Israel, which was conditional on their obedience, was that their land should be specially productive, and yield its fruits in such profusion that there should be no want amongst them. The removal of the curse will have this effect throughout the earth.
The prophet Amos, referring to that day when the tabernacle of David is restored “as in the days of old”, declares by the word of God that the days shall come when: “the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it”
That is a poetic way of saying that the earth will yield in such profusion that people will not be able to gather the fruits from one harvest before the time comes round again for ploughing and sowing seed. It will be that fertile; that fruitful.
Another promise to similar effect is given by the prophet Ezekiel through whom God said: “I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields” (36:29,30).
This is a prediction of wonderful fertility and, further than this, the prophets foretell that the waste places of the earth – the vast deserts and sterile tracts of land, which are apparently useless – will then be transformed into fertile plains. They will no longer yield thorn and brier, but will abound with vegetation for the use of man, and will blossom with the flowers of the field.
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree” (Isaiah 55:13);
“I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine and the box tree together” (Isaiah 41:19);
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon” (Isaiah 35:1),
This marvellous change will be a source of blessing to all the inhabitants of the earth. Now we have to work hard just to procure the necessities of life, and as a result we have only a little time left to enjoy the blessings which, even now, are so profusely showered upon mankind by God.
In the coming age, however, work will be a pleasure, plenty will be secured for all, poverty and want will not exist, and every human being will be enabled to enjoy the bounties and the pleasures of the earth. The riches of the world, instead of being confined to the few, will be shared by all, and life will be a matter of pleasure and rejoicing, instead of incessant toil and weariness.
Eating and Drinking
The ideas people have conjured up about life in the age to come have very little to do with Bible teaching. Even for those who are made immortal, who are to live alongside the mortal population in God’s Kingdom, the promise is given that they shall “eat and drink at (Christ’s) table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:30; 14:15). The Lord Jesus, when instituting the memorial feast of bread and wine, declared to his disciples that from henceforth he would not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when he would drink it new with them in his Kingdom (Matthew 26:29).
Apart from this reference to the immortal rulers of the world, the subjects of the Kingdom will, for a thousand years consist of mortal beings, who will carry on to some extent as now, but under more favoured conditions. The prophet says that:
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” (Isaiah 65:21,22);
“they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of Yahweh – for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all” (Jeremiah 31:12).
Notice how real and how detailed these promises are. They are given so that we can build up a picture in our minds of the sort of life God is offering in His Kingdom – a life of many blessings and opportunities, both for work and worship. God’s intention is that, knowing about these things, we should come to desire them and, desiring them, we should want to arrange our lives and order our affairs now so that we will be ready for the Coming Kingdom. That is life’s real challenge to us now. Be sure you face up to it.
F W Porter