God and Reason—Part 5

The World’s Only Hope—Restitution

THE full restoration of the human race to a state of perfect health, happiness, and everlasting life, in a worldwide edenic home, is the expressed purpose of the Creator as recorded in his Word, the Bible. Reason tells us that this is as it should be. If God created the earth for man, and man for the earth, it would be illogical to suppose that he would permit opposing forces of deception and rebellion forever to thwart his loving designs; or that he would be forced to adopt some alternative arrangement in order to salvage a few of his human subjects by transferring them to another state of life.

When God created man and provided him with that wonderful Eden home, the commission was given to multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it. Nothing was said to Adam and Eve about going to heaven when they died; indeed, death was not in the offing for them as long as they remained obedient to the Creator’s laws.

They were to live—on the earth—and not die. They were to fill the earth—not heaven—with their progeny. Try, then, to imagine the glorious, ideal conditions that would have obtained on this planet Earth if sin and death had not come upon the scene and the original edenic paradise had been enlarged to embrace the whole earth, as God had commanded. Picture that worldwide paradise filled with a perfect and happy human family, all enjoying eternal life and the eternal favor of their Creator. It is this practical, blessed boon that is yet to come to the human race, such restitution having been provided through the death of Jesus.

Promises of Restitution

When, in the very beginning, God said that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head, he actually meant that the results of the serpent’s work of death would be destroyed, and man would be restored to that which he was then forfeiting by disobeying his Creator. When God told Abraham that through his seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed, it was in reality a promise of restoration to all of Adam’s posterity.

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus, saying, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord,” it meant that the whole world was to have an opportunity of being saved from death, and restored to life upon the earth. (Luke 2:11) When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” he simply was reminding them of the real and ultimate purpose of the kingdom of God—the restoration of man’s lost estate. Every Christian who has uttered this prayer—whether he realized it or not—has prayed for the restoration of paradise conditions on the earth.

When our Lord and his apostles promised all faithful Christians that they would become joint-heirs with Jesus and would reign with him, it meant that ultimately they would share with him as the spiritual seed of Abraham, in the glorious work of dispensing the promised blessings of restored life. (Rev. 5:10) When the Scriptures tell us that Jesus “by the grace of God tasted death for every man,” it means that the penalty of death, which rests upon every man because of original sin, will in due time be set aside, thus opening the way for every man to live again upon an earth made perfect.—Rom. 6:23; Heb. 2:9

It is in order to accomplish this work of restoration that the church, as well as Jesus, is exalted to such a high position, both of nature and of glory. And what a better hope of glory this is for the church of Christ than the Dark Age theory that God has been trying to get the whole world to join the church in order that they might be saved from hell-fire!

It is this glorious work of restoration, or restitution, that follows the second coming of Christ. The Apostle Peter indicates this in Acts 3:19-23. Just before making the statement here recorded, Peter had healed a man who had been lame from his youth. Using this incident as an illustration and as a basis for the important lesson he was about to impart to his hearers, he said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 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.” And what an all-comprehensive prophecy this is, restitution of all things! What a different sequel to the second coming of Christ is this from the traditional crack of doom that was supposed to follow his return to the earth.

Yes, times of refreshing—not of gloom and torture—shall come from the presence of the Lord. The expression, ‘from the presence of’, in the Greek, literally means ‘out from the face of it’. It is based on the oriental idea that to turn one’s back upon another is an evidence of disfavor, but to look upon another indicates that he is considered a friend. How full of meaning then is this expression, as the apostle uses it in this prophecy! In the Garden of Eden, God turned his back upon his human creation because his law had been disobeyed. “In his favor is life,” says the prophet; but the world lost God’s favor because of sin, and, like the flower deprived of the sunlight and rain, the people have withered and died.—Ps. 30:5

The Promises Will Be Fulfilled

But while God’s back, figuratively speaking, has been turned against the human race for more than six thousand years, nevertheless he has been making promises concerning the future time of blessing, and also making preparation for the things which he has been promising. The second coming of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom mark the time when these promises begin to be fulfilled. Because of this Peter tells us that then God will turn his face toward the human family, and that as a result, times of refreshing shall come.

The apostle also says that there shall come times of restitution of all things, spoken by the mouth of all God’s holy prophets since the world began. It was perfect life on earth that man lost, and it is perfect life on earth that is to be restored. How could the world be restored to heaven, when it has never been there? And think of it, all of God’s holy prophets have foretold these coming days of blessing for the distressed and dying world of mankind! Did you ever wonder about deserts blossoming and fig trees growing in heaven? It is earthly things of this nature that the Old Testament prophets wrote about, and now we see that their messages pertained indeed to earthly blessings of life and happiness in the restored paradise.

Peter’s restoration to health of the one man who had been lame was used merely as an illustration of the fact that when the messianic kingdom is established there will be similar restitution for all. Isaiah, for example, said that when the kingdom time comes, “the lame man shall leap as an hart,” that the “tongue of the dumb shall sing,” that the “ears of the deaf shall be unstopped,” and the “eyes of the blind” opened. (Isaiah, chapter 35) Not only will these restitution blessings affect those unfortunate ones who are maimed and crippled, but all others who desire it shall be benefited thereby. And then, too, there is a spiritual blindness that will be removed when the “knowledge of God’s glory” fills the earth “as the waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34

The messianic kingdom is symbolized in prophecy as a mountain. It is this mountain-kingdom that Daniel foretold would grow until it fills the whole earth. (Dan. 2:34,35,44) This same mountain is mentioned by the Prophet Micah where we read, “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”—Mic. 4:1-4

The Last Days

The expression, last days, as used in the foregoing passage, is descriptive of the closing days of the reign of sin and death upon the earth, and the period in which a new and better order will be established, under the direct administration of the Messiah. The Dark Age hallucinations concerning the last days are found to be entirely erroneous when compared with this and other hope-inspiring scriptures. For example, instead of the last days signaling the end of all hope as well as all opportunity for repentance, the prophet presents an entirely opposite picture. He says that then God will teach the people his ways and that they will walk in his paths; that they will cease their selfish, warlike tendencies, and will devote their time to the promotion of peace and goodwill: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Not all the details of the messianic kingdom arrangements are revealed in the Bible, but we are assured that the same divine power and unerring wisdom that brought into being and now controls the orderly movements of all the millions of heavenly bodies, vouchsafes the kingdom methods by which the knowledge of God’s law of love will be enforced throughout the lengths and breadths of the earth immediately following the present debacle of human sin and selfishness.

The symbolisms of Micah’s prophecy, of course, are based on things with which the prophet himself was familiar. Spears and swords are not much in vogue as effective implements of warfare today. If this prophecy had been written in more modern times it doubtless would have mentioned submarines, airplanes, poison gas, and nuclear warfare.

Likewise, the vine and fig tree picture is that of peace and contentment, based on an adequate assurance that the necessities and comforts of life will continue to be available for all when Christ’s kingdom is in full operation. A comfortable cottage, free from mortgage, and a two-car garage, would be the modern conception of the same glorious condition.

We quote another interesting prophecy of the times of restitution: In this mountain [kingdom] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees … well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away all tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.”—Isa. 25:6-8

What more could be asked than that which is described in this heart-cheering prophecy of restitution blessings to come? A feast indeed it will be, when “the desire of all nations shall come.” (Hag. 2:7) The feast symbolizes the Life restoring and life-sustaining provisions of the messianic kingdom.

The veil, symbolizing the blinding influences of that “old serpent,” will then be removed. This will be made possible because, as the Revelator points out, Satan will then be bound that he should deceive the nations no more.—Rev. 20:1-3

And death is then to be swallowed up in victory! Ah, yes, it was death that entered the world and destroyed the happiness of all; but “that which was lost” is to be restored, hence death must be destroyed.

In Revelation 21:4 we are told that “there shall be no more death.” The difficulty in the past has been that we tried to make all these glorious earthly promises apply to heaven, overlooking the fact that only a few—the genuine footstep followers of the Master during this age—are to have a heavenly reward. It is here on earth that death has reigned; and it is here, therefore, that there shall be no more death.

How happy the people will then be to accept the kingdom blessings of life and salvation! Note what the prophet says on this point: “It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

How many millions of people, indeed, have waited and longed for a better understanding of the true God! And how many, also, have hoped and prayed for the salvation that he alone can give! Yes, the world has been waiting for the sunrise of God’s returning favor—ignorantly waiting, perhaps, not having much idea of how or when it was to come about. But when the blinding influences of the arch deceiver have been removed and the knowledge of God’s glory fills the earth, then the world will know its God, and actually and enthusiastically return to him with its whole heart.

God’s Mighty Power

Let no one’s faith be staggered by the immensity of the things which God has promised to do for mankind. Remember that we are now considering what the all-powerful eternal Creator of the universe has promised to do. The God who produced life in the first place is abundantly able to reproduce it in order to fulfill his promises.

And this restitution is to include the dead as well as the dying. It is this that is involved in the Bible teaching of the resurrection. This wonderful doctrine of the resurrection from the dead has been made void by the traditional theory that there is no death. How could one be raised from the dead unless he were dead? How utterly impossible it has been for a confused world to grasp the simple but soul-satisfying hope of restitution while their minds have been blinded by the immortal-soul tradition! But now, thank God, we can see what constitutes salvation; that it means an awakening from the dead and a restoration to life upon the earth. The Bible pictures death as being a sleep, from which all are to be awakened, refreshed, in the morning of the new day soon to dawn. The divine time clock of the ages already marks the early morning hour; and while the darkness is still dense, the day is rapidly approaching; yea, it is very near.

Yes, the most interesting part of it all is the fact that these life-giving blessings of restitution are indeed just around the corner. And it does not require a superabundance of faith to believe it, either. The prophets of the Bible have been so accurate in their foretelling of present world conditions—the conditions that were immediately to precede the establishment of God’s kingdom—and of the many blessings which already have materialized, many of which would have been considered impossible up to a few years ago, that it is not hard to believe that the same divine power and wisdom that must have guided in giving prophetic utterance to the things which we now accept as realities must also have guided in foretelling the still more wonderful things which lie just ahead.

Let us then rejoice in the inspiring prospect that is before us; and may the vision of those joys to come enable us to bear patiently the trials of the present. The reign of sin and death has been a long and weary night for the world as a whole, yet for each individual the time goes quickly by, and with its passing, each one has laid the foundation of a very valuable lesson. If now we can realize that the wise and loving Creator has allowed the reign of evil for the very purpose of enhancing our appreciation of him and his laws, we can patiently wait for, and continue to pray for, the ushering in of the new day.

Let us remember, too, O blessed fact! that those who fall asleep in death while waiting for the divine kingdom to come, either ignorantly waiting or joyfully expecting and praying for it, will not miss the blessings of the new day any more than those who live all the way through the present transition, because all sleeping ones are to be awakened: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.”—John 5:28

But while all will, in the new day just at hand, have a full opportunity of returning to God and of receiving the blessings of everlasting life then available, this boon will not be forced upon anyone. Obedience to the laws of the messianic kingdom will be required; and those who will not obey shall be destroyed in what the Scriptures term “the second death.”—Acts 3:23; Rev. 20:13-15


A brief, but comprehensive, description of God’s new order is found in this text of scripture: “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. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.”—Rev. 21:4,5

If it were possible to imagine our earth, or any of the other planets in the boundless expanse of the universe, disobeying the divine law that governs the heavenly bodies, we know that such anarchy would result in the utter destruction of that planet. The reason that scientists are able to foretell the exact second of a solar eclipse years in advance is because they know that the orbs of space are all subject to certain definite laws which can be depended upon to produce uniformly accurate results.

Is it not reasonable to suppose, then, that man, the highest of God’s earthly creatures, and the only one who has a conscience more or less attuned to the principles of right and wrong, is also subject to divine law? It is even so, and it was man’s disobedience to God’s law that plunged him into a quagmire of sorrow, suffering, and death. And it will be only through obedience to divine law that mankind will be able to return to God and to the blessings of life and happiness that were forfeited because of sin.

But let no one suppose that any present attempt to obey God’s law will result in the return of God’s favor. No, God’s law was violated by the perfect Adam—who had both the knowledge and ability to do better—which resulted in his being sentenced to death. Adam’s posterity, therefore, have been the children of a condemned and dying man; so all have been born imperfect and under condemnation of death. Thus man, in his enfeebled, dying state, is unable to keep God’s law inviolate, hence is hopelessly lost so far as providing salvation for himself is concerned.

The Scriptures say that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) From this it is seen that in Jesus alone is centered all hope of salvation. He paid the penalty of death by his own death on Calvary’s cross. It was for this very purpose that Jesus was made flesh. It was a man (Adam) who had sinned, and it therefore was necessary that another man—a perfect and uncondemned man—become the Redeemer. This Jesus did. But while God, in his love, sent Jesus to die for the race, thus providing a way of escape from death, a mere mental assent to this vital truth will not bring salvation, either now or later when the kingdom is established. What does God require?

God expressed his law to Israel in what is known as the Ten Commandments. These constitute the basis of most civilized laws today. Jesus summed up these commandments in two major requirements—supreme love for the Creator, and an equal love for our neighbor as we have for ourselves. This latter requirement is comprehended in what is commonly known as the Golden Rule. These two major commandments constitute the foundation of all true righteousness, and no one, either now or in the age to come, can be in harmony with the true God while ignoring this law or refusing to be governed by it.

Selfishness, up till now, has always been preeminently in the saddle. From the material and outward appearance, selfishness has been profitable and necessary. It has too often seemed true that those who did not remain on the bandwagon of self-interest have been hopelessly left behind in their pursuit of happiness. “Now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up,” declares the prophet of the Lord.—Mal. 3:15

Love to Replace Selfishness

During the past six thousand years, Satan has been the great taskmaster of the human race, and he has governed by the evil principle of selfishness. With the establishment of the new kingdom, the whole order of things will be reversed. Then Jesus will be the ruler, and love, instead of selfishness, will be taught and encouraged and rewarded.

Then will come the actual fulfillment of that wonderful angelic prophecy, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men.” This change from selfishness to love will not come suddenly. The prophet suggests the gradual method by which the world will be instructed in the law of love when he says that “when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”—Isa. 26:9

The judgment work mentioned by Isaiah will be coincident with the dispensing of kingdom blessings. But it will be nothing like the traditional judgment day which has been used to frighten so many people into joining a denominational church organization. So thorough will be the kingdom system of instruction in righteousness that the prophet tells us God’s law will be written even in the hearts of the people.—Jer. 31:33

The Blessings Around the Corner

No one needs to wait, however, until the kingdom is actually established in order to begin learning and putting into practice the law of God. What should hinder any of us, even now from making a sincere effort actually to love our neighbors as ourselves? There are so many ways of doing good to others—ways that are within reach of all of us. It doesn’t cost money to give a smile, a word of cheer, or otherwise to share with others the joy that should be in our own hearts. To the extent that we know of the love of God as it is revealed in his Word we should be glad to tell others about it. There is no better way to comfort distressed hearts than to tell them the glad message concerning the messianic kingdom soon to be established.

Today, the comparatively few of earth’s millions who may not for the moment be afflicted with one or another of the countless maladies with which fallen man is tormented are living in almost constant fear of the time when they will be among the sufferers. Because of the dread specters of poverty, disease, bombing planes, and nuclear weapons which are ever in the offing in this selfish, sin-sick world, men’s hearts are continuously filled with fear, and this mars the slight happiness that might otherwise be enjoyed temporarily by a few. But in the new world, when the rule of Christ’s kingdom is in full operation, even the fear of evil will be removed. The promise is that nothing will be permitted to hurt nor destroy in all that holy kingdom. (Isa. 11:9) Ah yes, how wonderfully true it will be then that the weeping bereaved ones will have their tears, as well as the causes of their tears, all wiped away, when thus they realize the kingdom work complete.—Isa. 25:8

What a glorious privilege, then, is now ours, of telling the whole world these blessed tidings, as we have and can make opportunities! When we note the fearfulness of our friends and neighbors as they look after those things which are coming upon the earth, let us be quick to heed the instructions of the Lord bidding us to “say to them of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even with a recompense; he will come and save you.”—Isa. 35:4

There is nothing better we can do at the present time to show our appreciation to God for the hope of the kingdom which he has given us through his Word than thus to make it known to others. We cannot stop the mad rush of a selfish world toward the precipice of sure destruction; but we can tell as many as will listen that God is soon to establish a new world, once inhuman selfishness has completely destroyed this “present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) Thus we can be ambassadors of the new kingdom and, from the vantage point of faith in the sure fulfillment of the promises of God, can take our place beside those described by the prophet, who are saying unto Zion, “Thy God reigneth!”—Isa. 52:7; 61:1-3

Dawn Bible Students Association
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