And now for something completely different! Instead of piles of garbage, crime, fear, slums, rot and decay — splendiferous beauty, magnificent gardens, clean and secure city streets, inspiring architecture. The cities of tomorrow what tremendous places in which to live!
YOU ALREADY KNOW that most of the cities of this world are a botch. They range from the barely livable to the insufferable. They are, as they were recently called by a group of Roman Catholic priests, "the pits." So instead of getting depressed with the squalor of today's cities, let's dwell on something more pleasant. Let's cheer up with Good News of tomorrow's cities!
God has revealed in the Bible that life will be better in his soon-coming Kingdom: "And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 36:11). And cities are absolutely necessary for a good life. A famous pagan philosopher — wiser than many today — once said that men came to the city to live, but they stayed to live the good life. Concerts, museums, art galleries, sports events, restaurants, theaters, clubs, libraries — all require a certain physical closeness of people. Imagine trying to prepare a concert, or any other aspect of the performing arts, if people are separated by vast distances with limited means of communication! You need to get people together for rehearsals and have things such as costumes and musical instruments easily obtainable. If everyone involved lived in the country and didn't have a next-door neighbor for miles and miles — putting on such a concert can be unthinkable. Cultural and sports events require a certain centralization — they must be easily accessible to both those who promote them as well as those who attend them. If you want to know about a civilization or a culture — look at its cities. Cities carry on the activities that make life human and joyous — or squalid and fearful. Whether people can enjoy parks, sports and restaurants and theaters — or dash furtively in fear — depends on city life. In God's world, people will be able to enjoy these human, cultural activities — concerts, sports, performing arts — and that means cities whose inhabitants have all found the way to peace and harmony. The Bible clearly prophesies the existence — and magnificence — of cities in the world tomorrow. "... Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad..." (Zechariah 1:17). There will be numerous cities: "For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession" (Psalm 69:35). And the cities of tomorrow will be built from the bottom up! They won't have to compromise because of what has already been built — the builders of the cities of God's world will have a free hand! Such is the silver lining of the upheaval and destruction just before Christ's return. "For thou shalt... make the desolate cities to be inhabited" (Isaiah 54:3). "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations" (Isaiah 61:4) "... the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded" (Ezekiel 36:10). Remember, this will be done under the supervision of divine spirit beings. The human builders will not make the major mistakes of today — or throw up jerry-built, bland, cheap, slipshod buildings. Tomorrow's cities will be "sparkling jewels" — places in which God's concern for beauty and harmony will be reflected.
If most of us could eliminate just one blight from today's cities, it would be crime. Crime is the single most oppressive factor about today's cities. Today, in the United States and Canada, at least, most people with any money choose to live as far away as possible from the inner city. Largely, this is because of crime. No one can deny that the great flight to the suburbs from the cities that has taken place since World War II was largely caused by fear of crime. But tomorrow will be different. People will be able to enjoy benefits of city life without having to live at a physical distance from those benefits: "... they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid" (Ezekiel 34:28). In tomorrow's cities, old people will be able to go about their business with safety and dignity — they will not live in terror from street punks as they do today. Notice this beautiful prophecy: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age" (Zechariah 8:4). No longer will elderly people have to live in fear — barely able to get out and shop because of the threat of mugging or assault! "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders..." (Isaiah 60:18). Just think! Being able to walk a city street at night! In many of today's cities it would be a risk. The pleasure of walking a city street at night is something that is a luxury if you can get away with it: in tomorrow's world — an everyday occurrence. One of the reasons cities will be safe in tomorrow's world is the lack of intense concentration of people. There will be no ghettos. No slums. No blighted "other side of the tracks." No one will have to live in a city if he doesn't want to! No one will be trapped in a crime-infested inner city slum! In tomorrow's world, every family will have a homestead outside of the city. (See generally Leviticus chapter 25, which describes the homestead system) Say a person has agricultural skills or talents. In today's world, such a person, if in a city, might find himself frustrated. In tomorrow's world, such a person will be at his family's farm and live a good and prosperous life in the country. But the big reason cities will be safe is that people themselves will be changed! A city where everyone observed God's Ten Commandments would be a wonderful place in which to live. No lying. No killing, assault, burglary — or family breakup. No illegitimacy nor pornography nor drugs. No store owners having to fear losing their lives in a robbery. Mothers not needing to fear for the safety of their children. God will change the basic hostile, aggressive, selfish orientation that is now part of man's nature into something totally different — into God's own loving, out-going, giving nature: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:25-27). In the cities of tomorrow, people will resist the temptation to degenerate. They will take pride in their homes and families. They will keep their homes and property in good condition. They will treat their neighbors with courtesy and respect. Children just won't wander around, unsupervised, getting into trouble. They will respect other people's property.
Tomorrow's cities will probably resemble today's smaller towns and better suburbs than they will great, suffocating megacities like New York or Tokyo. Skyscrapers probably won't be needed in most cities because there will be more land available on which to build. At Christ's return, the physical geography of the earth will be altered. Land now underwater will be raised. Mountains will be made lower, deserts reclaimed. Skyscrapers are generally a product of expensive land. If you can afford a little, you build up, not out. In tomorrow's world, there will be plenty of space to expand. Buildings won't have to be built umpteen stories high in order to be economical. In the cities of today, there are usually slums and nice areas. In North America, the inner city has often become a concrete and asphalt jungle, and things get better the farther out you go. In Europe and Latin America, the central core is the livable, beautiful part, with the slums on the outside. In tomorrow's cities, there need not be the sharp difference between where people work and people live. Of course, those who want to live in cities will be able to commute to their family homesteads when they want. But there really should be no reason why city neighborhoods can't offer employment, a spacious place to live and cultural activities within the same general area. Today, many people cannot afford to live in "good" (meaning less crime-ridden) sections of cities because of high property values in downtown areas. Only prosperous businesses can afford to locate there. But in a world of low-priced land, and nonpolluting, clean industry, people could enjoy the advantages of being able to live, shop and work in a safe place — without a lot of driving or commuting. To be sure, there will be travel in the world tomorrow. But people will no longer have to spend years of their lives staring at the rear end of an exhaust pipe because the only relatively safe places in which to live or shop are many miles away from where they must work. Or consider a small thing like parks. In today's cities, parks are often far and few between, and no sane person would dare use very many of them because they are places of mugging and rape. But in God's world, the superabundance of land, and the incredible general prosperity will allow cities to support great amounts of greenery. There will be parks. There won't be the desperate pressing need to squeeze every last penny's worth out of every last square foot! Cities will be able to afford wide streets with plenty of foliage and immaculately kept up shrubbery. There is a need most people have for contact with greenery. As the song goes, "In the mountain greenery, where God paints the scenery..." Today's cities lack adequate greenery because it costs too much to maintain public parks and trees, because land is so scarce that it must be put to more pressing uses.
God does not have anything against large cities, all else being equal. After all, Jerusalem will be a magnificent metropolis, and, after the Millennium, will become the very capital of the universe made new! (Revelation 21:10-27 and chapter 22:1-5) Indeed, the scripture indicates that Jerusalem will be an inspiring, bustling, dynamic city with great buildings symbolizing God's own glory: "Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together [most probably some form of skyscraper]: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. For there are set thrones of judgment, and thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces" (Psalm 122:3-7). But most cities will not be as densely populated as Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a special city, which as God's future headquarters on earth, will require a special magnificence all its own. God seems to have designed living beings to need a certain amount of open space for its own sake. You probably have heard of the various scientific experiments where rats — when put in crowded conditions — degenerated (if rats can be said to "degenerate"). As one article in Science News reported: "Sexual perversion, irrational and excessive aggression, increased mortality rates, lowered fertility rates, maternal neglect of young, withdrawal and other psychotic behavior — these are among the reactions of rats, monkeys, hares, shrews and fish that have been experimentally forced to live in overcrowded conditions." In another study, scientists found that the blood pressure of a prisoner rises immediately when he is taken from his cell and put in a crowded dormitory. This is why the Bible reveals that cities of the future will be places where the children will play in the streets: "And the streets of the city [Jerusalem] shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof' (Zechariah 8:5). The clear implication is that there will be large areas of open space between buildings without the vehicular traffic problems of today. In tomorrow's world, people won't have to flee to distant suburbs to find a little room to play with their children.
Notice also! Jerusalem will be "compacted together" but children will play in the streets. How explain? Such results could not be had without streets that were closed to car or auto traffic! Perhaps there will be cars in the world tomorrow — but they won't be permitted to pollute and they are not going to clog up city streets! There will, of course, be major highways (Isaiah 19:23). So there may be cars. But within cities, children will play in the streets — for Jerusalem is a model for the rest of the world. So cities will have just, efficient working (not broken down) forms of public transportation: probably something like Disneyland's People Mover or Monorails.
How will it be possible to have nonpolluting cars? To have cities afford broad, open streets? For each city dweller to have his own detached house — not some cramped condo? Because the key curse that forces incredible evils on today's world will be removed! When Adam stole from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, and set mankind on the wrong course of life, he brought a curse on the earth. The good things of life became scarce: "... cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life" (Genesis 3:17). Do you want personal mobility? You must have a car. But a car pollutes. Why can't we have a nonpolluting car? Because the easiest source of energy for a car is derived from oil, and burned oil
The Bible clearly prophesies the existence — and magnificence — of cities in the world tomorrow.
pollutes! Do you want to live close to your job? In today's (literally cursed) world — you will probably have to live in a city or its suburbs. But living in a city is expensive. There's only so much good city space to go around, and the price is bid up. The point is, after Adam sinned, life became a series of compromises when it comes to material things. You can't have your cake and eat it at the same time. Do you want a quality building? You must pay for it. If you want good food? Time and effort must be spent in its preparation, and someone has to clean up afterward. But life today is so short of time! Do you want clean air? Are you willing to limit driving? Or limit the use of electricity to get it? In the world Adam bequeathed to his children, there is no such thing as a "free lunch." But in God's world, you can have good things without having to sacrifice other good things: Clean air and personal mobility. A spacious place to live with trees and greenery and a job close to where you live. Sports and cultural activities close at hand and a crime-free neighborhood. People will be living much longer and the rat race to get ahead economically and socially will vanish.
New Political Leadership
Tomorrow's cities will have a different kind of mayor. Literally, they won't be human beings. They will be SPIRIT BEINGS. Because they won't be human, they won't be susceptible to graft, greed, corruption or any other of the temptations that befall too many big city mayors. No more bribes. No more policemen "on the take." No more payoffs, kickbacks or construction contracts to the mayor's brother-in-law. It will be an era of HONEST government! Tomorrow's mayors will have qualified in this life. They will have overcome temptation in this life. They will have proved loyal to God and his government in this life — they will not be untried. And since they will have God's CHARACTER, their rule will be just. No favoring one group at the expense of another. No "respect of persons" — justice will be "blind." No petty politics. No more useless municipal boondoggles (wasteful public projects) so someone can feed his ego. The cities of the world tomorrow will be happy, joyous places in which to live and work. There will be music, sports, art, glorious inspiring architecture; there will be no slums, blight, crime, decay. Cities will be decent, livable places. That is certain. God will bring it about. What is uncertain, as yet, is whether you will be there. You can be — regardless of your age. You can even be one of the mayors. To learn how, read our free reprint article entitled "Prepare to Be a King."