How do mainstream Christians interpret the live-forever-on-Earth scriptures

by neverendingjourney 19 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • neverendingjourney
    neverendingjourney

    You know the proof texts we used to "prove" that the "righteous would inherit the Earth and reside for forever upon it?" How do mainstream Christians interpret those scriptures? I gather that the scriptures in Isaiah speak metaphorically to the return of the Jews to the Promised Land, but what about Psalms 37? Thanks.

  • hamilcarr
    hamilcarr

    Similar to Christ's beatitudes, to 'inherit the earth' could be interpreted as a figure of speech for the highest possible blessings. Problems arise when one tries to force a literal understanding on the texts (may seem logical, but doesn't correspond to the author's aims).

  • Awakened at Gilead
    Awakened at Gilead

    The WTS admits that PS37:29 contextually is not talking about the paradise earth but rather the hope that Israelites would enjoy the promised land forever, which was not fulfilled:

    *** w74 6/15 p. 377 par. 13 Serve with Eternity in View ***

    3 In Psalm 37:11, 29 David wrote: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, . . . The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” In saying this he evidently drew upon what should have been the case with regard to the Promised Land in his days and in the following generations. According to God’s covenant with Abraham, the wicked pagans who had lived in the land should be cleared out. (Gen. 15:18-21; 17:8; Deut. 7:22; Josh. 21:43-45) Thus each successive generation of righteous worshipers making up the nation of Israel could have resided on the land, the portion of the earth that God gave to them. (Deut. 30:20) We know, however, that the majority of the Israelites proved unfaithful, and so they did not carry out God’s purpose in that regard. In fact, finally God let the Assyrians and Babylonians conquer and depopulate the land temporarily.

    *** w86 1/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***

    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.—Genesis 15:18-21; 17:8; Deuteronomy 7:12-16, 22; 28:7-14; 31:7; Joshua 21:43-45.

    This is the contextual application of the verse. Of course, the WTS says it has a secondary fulfillment.

  • yknot
    yknot

    I once heard...... from a baptist briefly turned penecostal then back to baptist....

    That at the end of the 1000 year reign, a new heaven and earth would be populated with those deemed worthy. Of course I asked why a person would want to leave 'heaven' and live on a new earth? The reply was because humans are 'earthly creatures' and desire for the earth is manifest by God.

  • jwfacts
    jwfacts

    There is information about this at http://www.jwfacts.com/index_files/earthforever.htm

    As [email protected] showed, these scriptures are taken as being applied to the Israelites and not having a second fulfillment.

    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."

      Psalm 104:5 "He has founded the earth upon its established places; It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever."

      Psalm 78:69 "And he began to build his sanctuary just like the heights, Like the earth that he has founded to time indefinite."

      Psalm 104:5 "He has founded the earth upon its established places; It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever."

      Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 "The greatest vanity!" the congregator has said, "the greatest vanity! Everything is vanity!" 3 What profit does a man have in all his hard work at which he works hard under the sun? 4 A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite."

    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.

      Watchtower 1986 January 1 p.31 "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? …The above rendering of Psalm 37:29 is from the King James Version. As is true of many other versions, it renders the Hebrew 'e´rets as "land." 'E´rets 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."

      Likewise, the prophecies in Isaiah were specific to the Jews, as admitted by the Watchtower.

      Isaiah's Prophecy - Light for all Mankind - I pp.163-164 "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? Isaiah now paints a heartwarming picture of the conditions that God will bring about in the land. He says: "The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; … The knowledge of Jehovah will not change animals, but it will affect people. Neither on the way home nor in their restored land will the Israelites need to fear wild beasts or beastlike men.-Ezra 8:21, 22; Isaiah 35:8-10; 65:25. This prophecy, however, has a larger fulfillment. In 1914 ..."

    • neverendingjourney
      neverendingjourney

      Thanks for the info. It always struck me as odd that one of the central tenets of my faith--the hope of living forever in a paradise Earth--was not explained in the Bible in clearer terms. One of the first signs that something was wrong was when I read the term "paradise of God" in Revelation Chapter 2. The context revealed that it was referring to heaven. It made me realize that Luke 23:43 (where Jesus told the wrongdoer next to him that he would be with him in paradise) could be referring to heaven as well.

      The only other scripture in the New Testament that I knew of that supported the paradise earth doctrine was in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said that the meek would inherit the Earth, but that could mean anything. I realized that one of the most important JW teachings had little to no New Testament support and what support was there was very weak. When I went back and looked at the Old Testament scriptures that spoke of living forever on Earth, it became clear from the context that those scriptures were metaphorical and were being applied to the Israelites. There's nothing there to suggest those scriptures were to have a second or greater fulfillment.

    • jwfacts
      jwfacts
      The only other scripture in the New Testament that I knew of that supported the paradise earth doctrine was in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said that the meek would inherit the Earth, but that could mean anything.

      Interestingly, the Watchtower doctrine is that the meek referred to in this passage is Jesus and the earth is his inheritance. The Scripture does not mean that the Great Crowd inherit the earth by their living on it.

        Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1 p.1201 "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."

        Watchtower 1974 June 15 pp.377-378 "… saying that the 'mild-tempered will inherit the earth.' Yes, those mild-tempered ones who are to be with Christ in his heavenly kingdom will rule over this earth."

        Watchtower 1959 August 1 p.479 "When Jesus said, as recorded at Matthew 5:5, "Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth," of whom was he speaking?-H. S., U.S.A. Jesus here applied the expression "mild-tempered" or "meek" to his disciples of that time who were in line for the heavenly kingdom. He was the chief meek one among them and their example. Hebrews 1:1, 2 and 2:5, 6 show that Jesus inherits the earth or takes over the possession of it. His disciples were made his joint heirs in the Kingdom and enter into this inheritance or possession of the earth with him. Hence Matthew 5:5 does not strictly apply to the "other sheep.""
    • Awakened at Gilead
      Awakened at Gilead

      nej,

      When I went through Gilead this hit me like a ton of bricks as I realized that a paradise earth was not offered in the scriptures, but rather they used a handful of proof texts to make their lame point...

      This is why I feel so strongly about using this as an argument against JWs...

      Cheers on your journey!

      [email protected]

    • neverendingjourney
      neverendingjourney
      Interestingly, the Watchtower doctrine is that the meek referred to in this passage is Jesus and the earth is his inheritance. The Scripture does not mean that the Great Crowd inherit the earth by their living on it.

      Fascinating! All those years as a JW and I had no idea this was their official position. I used to use Matthew 5:5 along with Psalms 37:29 at field service all the time to "prove" that the reward awaiting the vast majority of the righteous was life upon the Earth, not heaven. I liked using quotes from both the NT and the OT. I felt it lent the argument more weight.

      It's amazing how little JWs know of their own official doctrines. I was one who studied more than your average JW and yet I still keep coming across official JW doctrines that I had never heard of when I was active. Thanks for your help.

      When I went through Gilead this hit me like a ton of bricks as I realized that a paradise earth was not offered in the scriptures, but rather they used a handful of proof texts to make their lame point...

      Yeah. One would think that since the fate of the vast majority of mankind is so important the Bible would say in no uncertain terms that the followers of God will live on Earth forever after Armageddon, but that's not the case. In the hundreds of pages that make up the Bible, this thought is never clearly spelled out, yet we're to believe that by piecing together scriptures from several different books in the Bible we can arrive at that conclusion. Why would God make something so important so difficult to figure out? Makes no sense.

    • civicsi00
      civicsi00

      It's amazing, isn't it? When the scales began to fall from my eyes about the Watchtower, one of the topics I quickly looked up was the Paradise on Earth bit, in the Reasoning From The Scriptures book. I saw then immediately that they pulled so many texts out of the bible and used them out of context. I saw how fooled I had been...

      Additionally, earlier this year, one of the Watchtower Public Edition magazines advertised the Paradise on Earth and I saw again the texts that they used. When I showed them to my wife, she immediately saw the farce, too. It's crazy...

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