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Paradise on Earth Forever
Jehovah's Witnesses think that they will never die, believing that the Bible promises they are to live forever in paradise on this earth.
"Jesus indicated that a similar day [to the Flood] is coming in our time. Those heeding the knowledge associated with this event will have the prospect of not only surviving but also living forever.
In addition, the dead who are in Gods memory will be raised to life with the prospect of never having to die again.
... All evidence shows that this day is very near, which means that you may never die at all."
Watchtower 2005 Apr 15 p.5
The concept of never dying is what attracts many to become Jehovah's Witnesses and is the main message preached.
Though the majority of religions believe in everlasting life, they generally teach that mankind's destiny is to die and go to heaven.
No Scripture says mankind will be resurrected onto earth
Where is the resurrection hope?
Does the Bible indicate this planet will remain forever?
The Bible states that the earth will both remain forever and that it will be destroyed. This section explains this apparent contradiction and shows that the Bible indicates this planet will not survive forever but promises a heavenly resurrection.
"Paradise earth" is a key phrase in Watchtower literature, appearing over 1,000 times on the Watchtower CD Library.
However, the term never appears in the Bible. Neither is resurrection onto earth specifically discussed.
Revelation 2:7 "Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
The Watchtower identifies this as heaven;
"Eating in "the Paradise of God." Revelation 2:7 mentions a "tree of life" in "the paradise of God" and that eating from it would be the privilege of the one "that conquers." Since other promises given in this section of Revelation to such conquering ones clearly relate to their gaining a heavenly inheritance (Re 2:26-28; 3:12, 21), it seems evident that "the paradise of God" in this case is a heavenly one." Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2 p.576 Paradise
Luke 23:42-43 is the only occasion that the Watchtower claims the word paradise refers to the earth. The context indicates otherwise and it is generally accepted that this scripture refers to heaven.
"And he went on to say: "Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom." 43 And he said to him: "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.""
The Watchtower attempts to explain that Luke refers to an earthly paradise.
"To such ones who had the hope of being received into heaven, Christ promised: "To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7; John 16:33; 1 John 5:4) This figurative "paradise of God" is in the invisible heavens. However, is it correct to assume that heaven is the only paradise set before all of Jesus' followers? Since the sympathetic evildoer did not conquer the world by pursuing a course of faithfulness to God but was justly being put to death for his wicked deeds, what Paradise did Christ promise him? Indeed, the Bible does promise an earthly Paradise!" Watchtower 1983 Oct 15 p.4 Does the Bible Promise and Earthly Paradise
The quoted article shows that the Revelation reference to paradise is heavenly and provides no evidence that Luke 23 refers to earth. The Watchtower reasoning given is simply that it supports their doctrine. As the paradise of God is in heaven and Jesus specifically states that the man on the cross will be "with him" it follows that this would be in heaven.
2 Enoch 8:1-6 And those men took me thence, and led me up on to the third heaven, and placed me there; and I looked downwards, and saw the produce of these places, such as has never been known for goodness. And I saw all the sweet-flowering trees and beheld their fruits, which were sweet-smelling, and all the foods borne by them bubbling with fragrant exhalation. And in the midst of the trees that of life, in that place whereon the Lord rests, when he goes up into paradise; and this tree is of ineffable goodness and fragrance, and adorned more than every existing thing; and on all sides it is in form gold-looking and vermilion and fire-like and covers all, and it has produce from all fruits. Its root is in the garden at the earth's end. And paradise is between corruptibility and incorruptibility. And two springs come out which send forth honey and milk, and their springs send forth oil and wine, and they separate into four parts, and go round with quiet course, and go down into the PARADISE OF EDEN, between corruptibility and incorruptibility.
Testament of Abraham Chapter 20 "For Death deceived Abraham, and he took his right hand, and straightway his soul adhered to the hand of Death. And immediately the archangel Michael came with a multitude of angels and took up his precious soul in his hands in a divinely woven linen cloth, and they tended the body of the just Abraham with divine ointments and perfumes until the third day after his death, and buried him in the land of promise, the oak of Mamre, but the angels received his precious soul, and ascended into heaven, singing the hymn of "thrice holy" to the Lord the God of all, and they set it there to worship the God and Father. And after great praise and glory had been given to the Lord, and Abraham bowed down to worship, there came the undefiled voice of the God and Father saying thus, Take therefore my friend Abraham into Paradise, where are the tabernacles of my righteous ones, and the abodes of my saints Isaac and Jacob in his bosom, where there is no trouble, nor grief, nor sighing, but peace and rejoicing and life unending."
Elijah De Vidas in a medieval text titled The Beginning of Wisdom states
"And if he merits reward on the level of spirit, he will enjoy Paradise. If he merits reward on the level of super-soul, he will be privileged to ascend to the upper realm of Paradise."
Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that everyone that died before Jesus will be resurrected on earth sometime in the future. Only 144,000 of Jesus followers are to go to heaven, where they serve as Kings with Jesus.
"[Jesus] spoke of the resurrection to life on earth, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will receive." Watchtower 1976 Jun 1 p.349
This is in direct conflict with the Bible, which states Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in heaven.
Matthew 8:11 "But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens."
The Bible never promises an earthly resurrection.
The Old Testament is vague about life after death, neither specifying a resurrection nor defining the afterlife.
Throughout the New Testament the resurrection is heavenly.
Ephesians 4:4 "One body there is, and one spirit, even as YOU were called in the one hope to which YOU were called"
This "one hope" is consistently stated to be a resurrection as spiritual beings to heaven.
Matthew 6:20-21 Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Under "Resurrection", the Insight book p.787 is only able to list one Scriptural reference to indicate an earthly resurrection.
The scripture is Luke 23:42, 43 "Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise" and as already seen this most likely refers to heaven.
John 3:3 "In answer Jesus said to him: "Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Because the Bible says that the hope for those "born again" is in heaven, the Watchtower is forced to make the baseless assertion that a group of Christians will not be born again. To counter such scriptures the Watchtower Society uses circular reasoning. For instance, the Awake! 1974 August 22 pp. 27-28 attempts to show that this scripture does not mean what it says, since there will be an earthly great crowd. It then switches the wording of the scripture to "His point was that no one could be born again unless he believed in Jesus Christ." This is classic Eisegesis; using predetermined doctrine to dictate the meaning of the Bible.
Both the Old and New Testament state the earth will end.
Psalm 102:25-26 "Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, And the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They themselves will perish, but you yourself will keep standing; And just like a garment they will all of them wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will finish their turn."
God has plans for a new earth to replace this old one.
Isaiah 65:17-18 "For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating."
The Watchtower dismisses all these scriptures as figurative.
Earth remains forever?
The Watchtower uses several lines of reasoning to support the idea that people will live forever on earth.
None of these concepts prove the earth will continue forever.
God told Adam he will die in the day of eating from the tree of good and bad. The Watchtower says this implies that Adam wouldn't die if he didn't eat the fruit. This is a poor form of reasoning referred to as argument from silence.
"Not all of God's living creation is eternal. We know that plants, even long-lived trees, eventually die. (1 Pet. 1:24) And there is no Biblical evidence that God purposed for individual animals to live forever. Yet it was different with humans. God held out to our first parents the prospect of never dying. By obedience they could have hoped to live eternally. (Gen. 2:17)" Watchtower 1974 Jun 15 p.376
A non statement should not be used to formulate doctrine. A conclusion cannot be drawn from something that God did not say. If Adam had been faithful, God may have had any number of plans for Adam, none of which are touched upon in Genesis. If all other aspects of earthly creation tend to decay and death it makes as much sense to conclude that human's earthly existence is also temporary.
Similar reasoning is used when saying Isaiah 45:18 proves the earth remains forever:
"This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited."
It is an un-stated conclusion that the earth will last forever. All that can be drawn from this is that for a period of time God wanted the earth to be inhabited.
2. 'Forever scriptures'
The main support for the Watchtower doctrine that mankind will live forever on earth are Old Testament scriptures that say the earth will reside to time indefinite or forever. These are not proof the earth will never perish for the following reasons;
The Earth remains forever
The following scriptures that say that the earth will last to time indefinite or forever are all from just two Bible books, Psalms and Ecclesiastes, both devoted to poetry.
Psalm 37:29 "The righteous themselves will possess the earth, And they will reside forever upon it."
Understanding poetic license, these can not be taken as literal without additional support. Neither do these passages clearly refer to Jesus kingdom rule. The Watchtower shows that it is accepted that these passages refer to the Israelites and the Promised Land.
"Since Psalm 37:29 has been translated "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever," does it refer simply to Israel's permanently occupying the Promised Land?" Watchtower 1986 Jan 1 p.31
The above rendering of Psalm 37:29 is from the King James Version. As is true of many other versions, it renders the Hebrew 'erets as "land." 'Erets can refer to a distinct region or to the territory of a nation, such as "the land of Shinar" or "the land of Egypt."-Genesis 10:10, 11; 21:21; Psalm 78:12; Jeremiah 25:20. So Psalm 37:11, 29 might indicate that the Israelites could have been and should have been permanent occupants of the Promised Land. In accord with God's covenant with Abraham, they could have remained in that territory that God gave them, with generation after generation enjoying his blessings there. However, it did not work out that way, for the Israelites became unfaithful to God."
Forever and time indefinite can be figurative and come to an end.
2 Samuel 7:24 "You proceeded to establish your people Israel firmly for yourself as your people to time indefinite; and you yourself, O Jehovah, have become their God."
Likewise the false prophet is not literally tormented forever.
Revelation 20:10 "And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet [already were]; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
3. Jewish restoration prophecies
Isaiah and Ezekiel contain texts describing perfect living conditions. One such text regularly referred to is Isaiah 65.
Isaiah 65:17-25 "For here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. 18 But exult, YOU people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For here I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joyfulness and her people a cause for exultation. 19 And I will be joyful in Jerusalem and exult in my people; and no more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or the sound of a plaintive cry." 20 "No more will there come to be a suckling a few days old from that place, neither an old man that does not fulfill his days; for one will die as a mere boy, although a hundred years of age; and as for the sinner, although a hundred years of age he will have evil called down upon him. 21 And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat [their] fruitage. 22 They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. 23 They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. 24 And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear. 25 "The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain," Jehovah has said."
These texts are understood to be prophecies of the Jewish deliverance from Babylon, even by the Watchtower Society.
"The initial fulfillment of Isaiah 65:17-19 involved the ancient Jews who, as Isaiah accurately predicted, did return to their homeland, where they reestablished pure worship." Watchtower 2000 April 15 p.10
Isaiah states that there will continue to be children and like trees these blessed Jews will fulfil their days, grow old and die, certainly not possible in the everlasting paradise the Watchtower promises. Jehovah's promise that he would bless the righteous Israelites with a peaceful life and then death in old age was familiar to the Jews;
Deuteronomy 4:40 ""And you must keep his regulations and his commandments that I am commanding you today, that it may go well with you and your sons after you, and in order that you may lengthen your days on the soil that Jehovah your God is giving you, always.""
Despite the depiction of death in Isaiah 65 the Watchtower uses this text as proof that this earth is to be an everlasting paradise in which death is no more.
Can restoration prophecies be used to prove a paradise on this planet?
These contradictions make it necessary for the Watchtower to explain how they fit within their belief structure and so restoration prophecies can not be the basis for belief in eternal earthly paradise if not supported elsewhere.
As with a large portion of Bible prophecy, the Watchtower attempts to fit the fulfilment of the new earth around the second leader, Rutherford. Isaiah is said to have been fulfilled with the release of Rutherford from jail in 1919. The post Armageddon fulfilment is only an addition to this centricity around Watchtower Society application.
"Isaiah's prophecy had a miniature fulfillment when Israel was brought back from captivity in Babylon, but the major fulfillment began to take place from 1919 C.E. with the release of spiritual Israel from captivity to Babylon the Great. Restoration to their "land," their spiritual paradise, was then final and complete, for never again would they fall into bondage to any part of Satan's world empire of false religion." Watchtower 1983 Dec 1 p.31
However, this and other restoration prophecies include features that will also find a physical fulfillment in the Paradise earth."
Likewise the Isaiah book shows that Isaiah 11 was fulfilled in Jewish times, with its secondary fulfilment in 1919. The concept that this refers to a future paradise is almost an afterthought.
"Picture an Israelite who has just learned of Cyrus' decree that the Jews return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Will he leave the security of Babylon to make the long trip home? During Israel's 70-year absence, the deserted fields have become overgrown with weeds. Wolves, leopards, lions, and bears now freely prowl those fields. Cobras too make their home there. The returning Jews will have to depend on domestic animals for survival-flocks and herds will provide milk, wool, and meat, and oxen will pull the plow. Will these fall victim to predators? Will small children be bitten by snakes? What about the danger of being ambushed on the journey?
Revelation 21:1-4 also discusses "a new heavens and a new earth" and is based in part on Isaiah 65. This passage follows on from the final destruction of Satan (Revelation 20:7), placing the establishment of the new earth after the 1,000 year reign of Christ. For this reason some Christians understand that there will be a new earth created once perfection has again been achieved at the end of Christ's reign. Others are content to admit that God's purpose and the final fulfilment is yet to be fully revealed.
4. Jesus' Earth Quotes
It was only on one occasion that Jesus discusses the earth. He made two statements that are often used by Jehovah's Witnesses as 'proof' that the righteous will live forever on earth. However, these scriptures do not state that the earth will last forever or that people will live on it.
The first statement from Jesus is at Matthew 5:5: "Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth."
Most Witnesses are unaware of their own teaching on this scripture, as even the Watchtower does not say that this scripture applies to the Other Sheep. The Watchtower doctrine is that the meek referred to in this passage is Jesus and the earth is his inheritance.
"The anointed members of the Christian congregation are spoken of as having a heavenly inheritance, sharing Jesus' inheritance as his "brothers." (Eph 1:14; Col 1:12; 1Pe 1:4, 5) This includes the earth.-Mt 5:5." Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.1201
Sharing this inheritance with Jesus Christ will be his "bride," those footstep followers of his, limited to 144,000, who will receive a heavenly reward. (Rev. 14:1, 3) Thus the apostle Paul tells them: "If, then, we are children, we are also heirs: heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ." Jesus refers to these specially favored followers of his as a "little flock." However, the principle enunciated at Matthew 5:5 applies also to Jesus' other sheep who, as meek ones, will receive everlasting life on earth. How so? In that they will hold the earth in trust for Christ and his bride, permanent tenants, as it were."
Following this statement Jesus went on to recite the Lord's Prayer, stating at Matthew 6:10; "Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth."
The Lord's Prayer does not state that the earth is to last forever or be lived on. In fact this scripture contradicts Watchtower doctrine as it indicates God's will was already done in heaven when Jesus made this statement.
Watchtower depictions of paradise contain surreal images of tamed animals, children, and luxury houses separated by many kilometres of parkland.
These pictures may well lure people to the religion, wishing to belong to such a world, but are not based on any form of reality. Certainly, without death there will be no children, as the earth would soon fill to capacity.
"When the mandate to fill the earth is fulfilled, when childbearing ceases, the marriage partners may continue their association together as life companions, or they may not, depending upon the divine will at that future, distant time." Watchtower 1952 Aug 1 p.478
Furthermore, this world appears to contain no infrastructure, no road, factories or electricity, yet has beautiful houses built from complex materials. If people are going to travel, research, and enjoy many of wonders of modern life, there will need to be modern infrastructure unlike what is portrayed in almost all Watchtower depictions of the New System.
A logistical question is, "If all the dead are to be resurrected onto earth, will they all fit?" Watchtower reasoning claims there will be ample room, based on a figure that only 20 billion people lived prior to 1900.
The figure of 20 billion is highly dubious, with the real figure likely to be several times greater than this. To highlight how little effort has gone into using a correct figure note that the Watchtower has been using the same number for over 100 years now. In 1925, The Way to Paradise p.209 stated:
"It is very doubtful if there have ever been as many as 20,000,000,000 people born on this earth."
In 1988, the Insight book was still using the same estimate of 20 billion people, despite 9 billion people having been born during the 1900's.
"A very liberal estimate of the number of persons that have ever lived on earth is 20 billion (20,000,000,000). The land surface of the earth at present is about 148,000,000 sq km (57,000,000 sq mi), or about 14,800,000,000 ha (36,500,000,000 acres). Even allowing half of that to be set aside for other uses, there would be more than a third of a hectare (almost 1 acre) for each person. As to earth's potential food production, a third of a hectare will actually provide much more than enough food for one person, especially when, as God has demonstrated in the case of the nation of Israel, there is abundance of food as a result of God's blessing." Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 p.792
The figure used by the Watchtower Society is without basis and the Population Reference Bureau estimates that 105 billion people have been born over the last 2,000 thousand years alone.
The earth has 148,000,000 km of land (although only approximately 31,000,000 km is arable). With 6 billion people the average amount of land per person is 5 acres. With 100 billion people this would be reduced to less than 1/3 of an acre each. This is unsustainable by any ecological model. However the figure is even less, as the entire world can never be arable, as this would entail not only growing crops on the highest rocky mountains, but also clearing all forests. To understand the magnitude of these figures, in 2000 China had 135 people per square kilometer; with 100 billion people resurrected there would be over 715 people per square kilometer.
If 100 billion people were to be resurrected on to earth there would not be a paradise of sparsely populated tracts of land, filled with smiling children living in mansions.
Will the earth exist forever? Of course this is impossible. It is an undisputed scientific fact that the earth will end, agreeing with Isaiah 51:6 that "like a garment the earth itself will wear out". Consider the following indications that the earth was not designed to last forever.
"Also, some scientists warn that the earth and all life on it may be threatened by such things as a large meteorite, an exploding star, or the exhaustion of the sun’s hydrogen fuel. Scientists believe that the earth will gradually—perhaps over many billions of years—lose the ability to sustain human life. The Encyclopædia Britannica describes this as “the irreversible tendency toward disorder.” Happily, the Bible assures us that Jehovah God will not allow our earth to be destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. As Creator, he has limitless “dynamic energy,” so he can sustain the universe indefinitely." Watchtower 2008 Apr 1 p.10
Though theoretically possible for God, such a line of argument allows anyone to believe anything. This view also contradicts one of the apparent proofs for a God; the structured order in the universe. If the universe is mathematically perfect, as Jehovah's Witnesses
state, God is going against his order of things to change the destiny of the sun. In fact, if with God all things are possible, why did he create things in such a way that the sun is dying? Why not just create the universe in such a way as to last forever?
The Bible does not indicate humans will live forever on this earth. No scripture says mankind will be resurrected onto earth, whereas the Bible regularly discusses a heavenly resurrection. Use of the word paradise generally refers to heaven and Revelation places the Great Crowd in heaven.
The doctrine that Jehovah's Witnesses will never die but survive to live forever on paradise earth is core to present Watchtower teaching. For over a century Watchtower followers have thought they will not die. A number of generations of Witnesses that expected to live forever are now dead. While the majority of people learn to accept death as a certainty, children raised as Jehovah's Witnesses do not prepare themselves for old age emotionally or financially. They wait as Watchtower promises go unfulfilled decade upon decade. Proverbs 13 shows that life should be built on wisdom and warns in verse 12;
"Expectation postponed is making the heart sick"
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2013
607 / 1914 / Seven Times