A Bright Future, Sort of
Make no mistake about it. We are heading towards a glorious new day, though perhaps not all of us.
In his writings the prophet Isaiah describes this new day for mankind at length, saying among other things: “They will beat their swords into plowshares. . . . Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. . . . The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. . . . They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6,9).
But first there has to be change; there must be upheaval. The present system of man must give way; it must be rooted up and out. How do we do this? We don’t. God does. As Isaiah writes: “The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty. . . . The arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear.” (Isaiah 2:12,17,18).
Is this being that we call God angry with us then? Is He personally offended and vengeful? No, of course not. But both God and the created laws of our universe are absolutely just. Therefore it is the violation of these laws that exacts justice. It is an impersonal legal outgrowth of the law of cause and effect. Again I quote: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.” (Isaiah 24:5,6). So God does not personally exact justice upon us. We do it to ourselves.
This exacting of justice has been a long time coming. But its day is now forcefully approaching. How will it manifest? Primarily through planetary upheaval. Our home—the earth—is poised to rise up and right itself. How? It will shake off its inhabitants in the same way that a powerful horse rears up on its hind legs to eject a rider. What will be the nature of this upheaval? Climate change, drought, famine, fire, flood, earthquakes, etc. The earth will shake us off its back. Until when? Until we stop violating the statutes of its created mandate, until the arrogance of man is dealt such an authoritative blow that it can never rear its hoary head again. But then after its harmonious chemistry is restored, the planet earth will once again become a perfectly marvelous home for the human race. The question is: how many of us will be left to enjoy this new world?
According to Isaiah’s amazing prophetic vision of these times, there will definitely be some survivors. When the earth finishes its convulsions and returns to being tranquil and beatific, men will once again go forth to populate it and will spread out to the left and the right. But this will be a starkly different society of men than we now have. These new inheritors of the earth will no longer live in opposition to God and the legal structure of the universe. Rather they will live in harmony, respect, and peace.
What does the teaching of Jesus have to say about Isaiah’s vision? His is a nearly verbatim concurrence. The rebellion and arrogance of Adam’s descendants will bring about a period of great upheaval on the earth, on account of their continuous willful violation of the ancient created statutes. There will be famines, earthquakes, wars, rumors of war, etc. Jesus refers to these events, however, not as an end, but rather as signs of a new beginning, as “birth pains.” And of the new societal order that will emerge he paints a picture of perfect peace—an inviolable rule of divine governance (Matthew chapter 24). Moreover, in that day the meek—that is, those who have divested themselves of any trace of arrogance—will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Of course, the arrogant men living today will in all likelihood have a swift predictable reaction to this prophetic vision—a reaction that both Isaiah and Jesus foresaw. Men will scoff. “Nonsense,” they will say. “Things have been this way for thousands of years, and they will continue to be this way for thousands more.” But ironically, it is this very attitude of scoffing that will bring about their destruction. How? Because by scoffing and clinging to a business-as-usual mindset, they will miss all the signs and therefore be totally unprepared. In Jesus’ words, that day will come upon them like a “thief in the night.” But he then adds: “So you must be ready.” (Matthew 24:43,44).
Thus survival of this coming catastrophic period on earth is going to be largely up to us. There is no mythical personal God that is going to reach down from heaven and pull us out to safety. Rather it will be through readiness—the readiness that comes from “reading the signs of the times” that we will be saved.
But it will not be cleverness that achieves this ready state. Rather it will come from a change of heart, by which we humble ourselves in repentance and contrition and disassociate ourselves from the present-day collective stance of opposition to God. Cleverness is just another outworking of arrogance. We might think we can plot, scheme, and manipulate our way through this crisis, just as we have manipulated our way through the circumstances of our lives up until now. But that won’t get it. Mental manipulation is just another way that we fend for ourselves and thereby oppose God. No, the only posture that will lead to survival in the days ahead will be the sincere attempt to align ourselves harmoniously with God’s Spirit and created law. This is the readiness Jesus spoke of.
The prophets also stress disassociating ourselves from the arrogant circles of men as a proactive methodology promoting readiness and survival. This is a thoroughly logical position. The age-old works of arrogant men upon the earth have brought about this judgment of severe upheaval. Therefore today’s human civilization, which has been shaped and molded by this arrogant mindset, is like a sinking ship. All those who cling to this ship are destined to go down with it. To escape such a fate, Isaiah warned us to “stop trusting in man,” and to “leave Babylon and flee from the Babylonians.” (Isaiah 2:22; 48:20). While the New Testament echoes these sentiments, saying, “Come out of her, my people so that you will not share in her sins.” (Revelation 18:4).
As the day of catharsis approaches, it also makes good sense that any progress we can make in our spiritual consciousness development will be of great benefit to us. This is because the more we develop our spiritual consciousness, the stronger we will become in the truth. And the stronger we are in the truth, the more attuned we will be to the divine pulse. This attunement will then be a source of guidance and practical saving grace for us. In other words, it will make us responsive to the still small voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God, which will surely instruct us about what we can do to survive. And this subtle inward communication may well be the only factor that divides the destinies of the survivors from those who are perishing.
Some may wonder: Can this terrible cathartic upheaval be somehow averted? The answer is yes; it can, although I, for one, am not confident of this outcome. Why? Because it would require a complete turnaround of mankind’s present course. And such a turnaround would necessarily implicate not only the common man and woman, but also and most prominently, the current batch of our collective entity’s leaders, spokespersons, decision makers, and policy setters. Like all other leaders throughout this age that have been invested with the power to determine the course of civilization, this current global hierarchy seems to be firmly committed to the retention of our present system. Though many stress the need for improvement and greater progress, such efforts are usually just superficial and as such are powerless to avert the disaster that presses down upon us. As with one voice, our world leaders promote the bottom-line perpetuation of the status quo. Even those who feel deeply concerned about our planet’s future cannot envision there being a total turnaround in the way we think and live. It is almost as if they lament the fact that the human race has gone too far down this path of destruction, and now there is simply no way to reverse things. In other words, it is too late for man.
But in this regard the words of the prophets can also be like a healing balm. Did Isaiah or Jesus ever preach that it was too late to right the human ship? Of course not.
Rather they taught repentance, realignment with God’s law, a more harmonious approach to our interactions with the earth, and a willingness to reverse our present course. And if such a turnaround was not possible for us as a collective unit, they painted a picture of great hope for the future of the surviving remnant—a remnant that will lead the way into a new age of God awareness and harmonious human endeavor.