A Glimpse of the World to Come
What does the Bible say about the reality of this world?
What the World Faces Now
The time of this writing is late December, 2005; the location, the United States. The White House may soon be full of indicted criminals, the government’s integrity has dropped to the level of a snake oil hawker, 13% of the people in the richest country in the world now live below the poverty level, a large portion of the country lays in a state of destruction, and the terrorist threat has now reached the credibility level of the boy who cried wolf. Unemployment, the cost of living, disapproval of the government’s war for global dominance, the debt our children’s, children’s, children will owe other countries, are all at dangerously high levels. Unless one is living in a fantasy world, and there are many doing just that, the level of anxiety, pressure, and confusion is reaching a “crisis” point. And, this is just one country, with less than 5% of the world’s population, which, when compared to most of the rest of the world, is still paradise.
To the rest of the great majority of humanity, those outside the highly privileged “developed” world, the stark realities of war, starvation, disease, ethnic cleansing, and slavery are stark realities. Extreme poverty, along with man-made and natural disasters are a way of life, as common as political scandal and gas price hikes in this country. Over 10 million people have already died of starvation this year. Corporate exploitation over the limited resources of the poor nations has eclipsed despotic rulers in their detrimental effects on human life. Pollution, though already a severe threat to the global biosphere, is on the rise, worldwide arm sales are up, famine is advancing like a wildfire, and uncontrollable disease epidemics are threatening the entire world’s people, regardless of social status. And, not the least surprising, through it all, the rich are get richer and more powerful, the poor get poorer and weaker, the middle-class is becoming a fond memory, while corporate power is dominating every aspect of the human experience. The only certainty of it all is that these conditions are destined to get worse, if the powers behind this bleak agenda, continue their rule. As long as government is controlled by the corporate agenda, profit at all cost, without the least regard for the welfare of humanity, and as long as government controls the world, this will not change.
The Teachings of Jesus and the Reality of the World
The following are just a few examples of what Jesus thought about the false truths and empty values of this world.
Concerning the contradiction between the pursuits of wealth and serving God:
· “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) “mammon” = mammonas, pronounced mam-mo-nas’, of Aramaic origin (confidence, i.e. wealth, personified); mammonas, i.e. avarice (deified).
On the danger of wealth:
· “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
· “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:9-11)
When asked how the rich could follow his teachings, he was very specific:
· “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
· “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
On conforming to the standards of society he inspired the apostles to say:
· “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
In speaking of the “scribes and the Pharisees”, the forces controlling the society of his day, he pointed out striking similarities to the leaders of our modern age:
· “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matthew 23:4-7)
On the rise of crime we see in our world, he points out the resulting apathy in society we now see:
· “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. “iniquity” = anomia, pronounced an-om-ee’-ah; illegality, i.e. violation of law or (genitive case) wickedness: (Matthew 24:11-12)
About loving the physical pleasures of the “good life”, he inspired the apostles to say:
· “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16)
He inspired the apostles to warn about the teachings of those that were counter to his own:
· “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
Concerning the world’s acceptance for following his teachings:
· “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1 John 3:13)
On the predicted rejection of truth and the acceptance of a false reality:
· “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) “doctrine” = didaskalia, pronounced did-as-kal-ee’-ah; instruction (the function or the information):
He also reflected these same thoughts about the rejection of reality, as Yhovah, the God of the Old Testament:
· “Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.” (Psalms 52:3)
· “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
· “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” (Psalms 4:2) “leasing” = sheqer, pronounced sheh’-ker; an untruth; by implication, a sham