Some people have falsely assumed that most biblical prophecies are merely dire, doomsdayish foretelling of catastrophic events of the wrathful vengeance of a harsh God who is about to descend with terrible fury upon His hapless subjects here below. But this is far from the real truth. Many of the prophecies foretell a time of peace, of happiness, of restoration, of joy, of great prosperity and physical wealth. Ultimately, the biblical message is one of lasting peace, right rulership, and radiant health for all races and nations around the world. It is a globe-girdling gospel. It announces the way to world peace and harmony; the way to end all famines, wars and terrorism. It is a message of firm hope in an age of utter hopelessness.
I have both good news and bad news. The good news is that the gloomy predictions of an ultimate doomsday — the extinction of all human life from this earth — are never going to happen. And that is because there is a great news source which reveals a gigantic master plan for a world super-government. That major world news source, which world leaders and my scientists have over-looked and left out of the picture completely, reports tomorrow's news today — news of a soon-coming, peaceful and happy world tomorrow. In a world living under the shadow of the bomb, I can't give you any better news than that. But I would be less than honest with you — in reality totally dishonest — if I tried to hide the fact that we are edging ever closer to the brink of the disintegration of this present society. The signs of future breakdown, disorder, violence and utter bewilderment are all around us if we have the wit to see them. Yet in the spirit of what Jesus Christ of Nazareth said to the seven churches in Asia Minor, I will give you the good news first. Millions of professing Christians simply do not think of Jesus as a prophet or a newscaster of future world events. Yet the very first verse of the book of Revelation states: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show I to his servants what must soon take place...." Yes, the One who is generally acknowledged in all of Christianity to be the spiritual Savior of the world, also forecast the overall, general sequence of events that would characterize the world from His time to now and right on into the future. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was an up-to-date futurist in the truest sense of that term. He talked not only of the mind-bending, fast-moving, sometimes horrifying events to presage His second coming, but also of a wonderful world to come. He spoke directly of an altogether different kind of society that would envelop the earth in future ages. The religious leaders of Jesus' day thought they had backed Him into a corner with a trick question about marriage and the resurrection. But He deftly sidestepped their picky question by informing them of the never-before-heard-of conditions of tomorrow's world. He specifically forecast: "But those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more..." (Luke 20:35-36, RSV). Have you ever heard of a world in which people don't die anymore? Visionary futurists of our day contemplate a fantastic world with a vastly lengthened life-span made possible by replacement parts for worn-out body organs. But how many of them envision the ultimate: "They cannot die anymore"? In perhaps the oldest Gospel account — that of the book of Mark — Jesus Christ entered into the country of Galilee, "preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel' " (Mark 1:14-15, RSV). In the Greek language, the word euaggelion, sometimes translated evangelos is better rendered into the English language as "good news." Equally acceptable in the English language would be "the glad tidings," or simply "the gospel."
The Good News
So "good news" means the "gospel." When Jesus commanded His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God to all the world as a witness, He could just as easily have said, had He been speaking in the English language: "Go you therefore into all nations, announcing the good news of my soon-coming Kingdom to rule the world." So the essence of the Great Commission to the Church of God involves preaching good news. However, on the other side of the coin, the conclusion is inescapable that, excepting general statements and parables about the Kingdom of God and short declarations about "the world to come" (and those mostly in direct relationship to the problems and affairs of this life), there is not all that much material in the four Gospel accounts about the wonderful world tomorrow per se. In terms of sheer volume in the Gospels, Jesus Christ dealt mostly with the problems a human being has in this present life on his way into the Kingdom of God. Conditions in tomorrow's world are simply not the subject of whole chapters in the four Gospel accounts. Of course, Jesus Christ of Nazareth continually referred to what was written in the Old Testament as authoritative. He supported and endorsed its contents. And almost every prophetic writing in the Old Testament contrasts coming calamities brought on by massive disobedience with the good news of tomorrow's world. For instance, the first chapter of Isaiah is a stinging indictment against a sick nation so satiated with sin that the whole country is plagued with putrefying sores from head to toe. Isaiah likens the whole nation to the vileness of Sodom and Gomorrah. He then calls for national repentance after telling them their "hands are full of blood" (meaning senseless, violent, brutal murders in their cities and towns). "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow" (Isa. 1:15-17, RSV). Yet in chapter two, Isaiah goes on to tell of the time when "many people shall go and say, Come ye, 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 out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:3-4, RSV). Chapter three of Isaiah "lapses" back into warnings of stern punishments such as famine, the erosion of truly effective leadership, hatred between young and old, and many other evils sure to come on any disobedient nation. Chapter nine prophesies again of God's government with Christ at its helm here on earth. Chapter ten then condemns the political corruption and chicanery of this present evil world. Then chapter eleven goes into a rather detailed description of utopian conditions in the world tomorrow (including the total tameness of formerly vicious wild animals).
Prophecy Is a Mix
The mix of good and bad prophecies continues throughout the book of Isaiah. Other prophetic books share the same distinction. Amos talked about a devastating round of famines, droughts and insect-induced crop failures (Amos 4:6-10). He got real specific about why God was so upset with the northern nation of Israel. He talked about the drastic increase in crime, graft, bribery and political corruption (Amos 3:9-10; 5:12-13). Yet in spite of the fact that the nation was ridden with social injustice and was so morally bankrupt that God itemized that country's evils in the book, Amos' message was not all bad news. Though Amos minced no words in addressing the nation's problems, he concluded his book with a wonderful, long-term prophecy of agricultural prosperity (Amos 9:11-15). As the biblical prophecies and the Bible as a whole are a mixture of good and bad news, so must the message of this Work be. Humanly, perhaps we have at times emphasized the one at the expense of the other. True, there is coming a new, a brighter, a different, and a totally better world than the one we know today — a prosperous, peaceful, restructured world tomorrow under the government of Jesus Christ Himself. And we must never neglect telling the world of the guaranteed reality of that future utopian society. But we cannot ignore the fact that today's world is in the death grip of an evil system that is automatically bringing more and more troubles on the world with the passing of every single year. The predictions that Jesus made in His Olivet Prophecy (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) are beginning to intensify in their overall impact. World confusion, hatred, strife, warfare and terrible destruction are sure to increase with rapid acceleration. The Bible continually points out that there is a cause for every effect. Living a certain way brings a definitive bag of results. The blessings and cursings listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 are true to this pattern. Blessings are promised for obedience to the laws of God. Curses are sure to come when a nation insists on living a life of rebellion and disobedience. Our Western nations are plagued by the curses enumerated in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Is there a connection? You figure it out! Because the citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, South Africa and Rhodesia are breaking certain fundamental laws, they are facing, as surely as the rising of tomorrow's sun, increased race riots, social decad6nce, widespread crime, venereal disease, pornography and the continuing onslaught of runaway inflation. These are the fruits of disobedience to the Ten Commandments of God.
Evil Has a Cause
It's all a matter of cause and effect. We should be reaping long lives, peace and safety in our lands, children born minus any birth defects, rain in due season, a plenteous reserve of natural resources and all the other blessings God guarantees for obedience to His way of life. Instead our cities are cursed with violent, senseless, unbelievable crimes against the person; some of our most productive agricultural areas are in the grip of terrible droughts; children with birth defects fill whole hospitals — and I could go on and on with all the curses that plague our Western nations. And so long as the causes exist that produce these evil effects, this Work will continue to cry out to our nations to change — to repent of their filthy ways — to turn wholeheartedly to God on their knees. And we hope against hope for the best results — knowing that even though our peoples as a whole may fail to heed their God, at least some few are turning their lives around, shoring up their family lives, cleaning up their spiritual filth, and beginning to obey the laws of their God. We rejoice that people in Ghana, India, Australia, Western Europe, North, Central and South America, Indonesia and Mexico are being moved by the message of the Kingdom of God — their lives profoundly influenced and changed by the impact of this last-ditch effort of Jesus Christ. Our task is so broad and so monumental that it defies description in just a few words. It combines the wonderful good news of the world tomorrow with the sobering commission of Ezekiel to his beloved nation of Israel. It includes the wonderful sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the fact that we are saved spiritually by His life. But it also entails the warnings of Elijah to the prophets of Baal and the stern correction of Jeremiah for the people of Judah. We work in the hope that more and more people will heed our message and learn how to make their marriages happy; how to lovingly rear their children — in short, how to obey the laws God has given them for their good. And we do preach, the message about how humanity will ultimately be saved in the wonderful world tomorrow.