A World Without Poverty Is Near
PICTURES of Paradise, such as the one on the cover of this magazine, appeal to people who live in poverty. A paradise was a reality for the first human couple, Adam and Eve. Their home was the garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:7-23) Although that Paradise was lost, belief in a future paradise—in a new world without poverty—is not just a dream. It is solidly based on the promises contained in the Bible.
Consider the promise that Jesus Christ made on the last day of his life on earth. One of the evildoers who died with Jesus showed faith in God’s ability to solve man’s problems. He said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” These words show that the evildoer believed that Jesus would rule as King and that the dead would be brought back to life. Jesus answered: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:42, 43.
Speaking of those who will live in Paradise, the Bible states: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage.” (Isaiah 65:21) Yes, “they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”—Micah 4:4.
Why, though, is poverty permitted to exist now? What help does God give to the poverty-stricken? When will poverty finally end?
Why Has Poverty Been Permitted?
The Paradise that Adam and Eve were placed in was lost as a result of the rebellion initiated by a wicked angel, Satan the Devil. Using a serpent as his mouthpiece, Satan seduced Eve into breaking God’s law against eating the fruit of a certain tree. He deceived her into believing that independence from God would bring her a better life. When Eve offered the forbidden fruit to Adam, he too ate, turning his back on God in favor of his wife.—Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:14.
The rebellious couple were rightly driven out of Paradise and from then on had to struggle to survive. Until today, Jehovah has allowed Satan to rule over sinful mankind, making evident the results of disobedience to God. Human history has proved that mankind cannot bring about Paradise on earth. (Jeremiah 10:23) Rather, independence from God has resulted in disastrous problems, including poverty.—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
However, the poor are not left helpless in this trouble-filled world. God’s inspired Word, the Bible, contains sound guidance for them.
“Never Be Anxious”
When speaking to a large audience that included many poor people, Jesus said: “Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses; still your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? . . . So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matthew 6:26-33.
A poor person does not need to steal. (Proverbs 6:30, 31) He will be provided for if he puts God first in his life. Consider the case of Tukiso, a man in Lesotho, southern Africa. In 1998, foreign troops entered Lesotho to quell an uprising against the government. As a result of that war, shops were looted, people lost their jobs, and there were dire food shortages.
Tukiso lived in the poorest part of the capital. Many of his neighbors had looted shops in order to survive. When Tukiso came back to his one-room dwelling place, he found that Maseiso, the woman with whom he was living, had many goods that she had looted. “Take these things outside,” Tukiso said, explaining that it was against God’s law to steal. Maseiso obeyed. The neighbors mocked them and helped themselves to the stolen food.
Tukiso took this stand because of what he had learned in his study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Did his obedience to God’s law result in starvation? No. Some time later, the elders in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses that he attended made contact with Tukiso and brought him some food. In fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses in neighboring South Africa had sent more than two tons of relief aid for their Christian brothers and sisters in Lesotho. Maseiso was moved by Tukiso’s obedience to God and by the loving aid of the congregation. She too began to study the Bible. Eventually, the two of them got legally married and thus qualified to be baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are still serving God faithfully.
Jehovah God cares for the poor. (See the box entitled “How Does God View the Poor?”) He has lovingly made provision to help others like Tukiso and Maseiso to learn more about him. And in his Word, he has provided practical advice for day-to-day living.
A Fine Provision
Jehovah’s Witnesses have always tried to reflect God’s concern for the poor. (Galatians 2:10) Often when disaster strikes a land and true Christians are affected, arrangements are made for necessary help to be given. More important, the Witnesses show concern for the spiritual needs of all, including the poor. (Matthew 9:36-38) During the past 60 years, thousands of trained ministers have volunteered to serve as missionaries in foreign lands. For example, it was a missionary couple from Finland who by learning the Sesotho language were able to teach Tukiso and Maseiso to become disciples of Jesus. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Such missionary work often involves sacrificing a comfortable life in an affluent country and moving to a poor land.
Stealing to survive is not an option for true Christians. Instead, they have faith in Jehovah God’s ability to provide. (Hebrews 13:5, 6) One way that Jehovah provides for his people is through the worldwide organization of his worshipers, who care for one another.
Another way that Jehovah helps the poor is by giving them practical advice on daily living. For example, the Bible commands: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) Many unemployed people have been able to create jobs for themselves, doing hard work, such as planting and caring for a vegetable garden. The Bible also helps poor people to save money by teaching them to avoid bad habits, such as the abuse of alcohol.—Ephesians 5:18.
A World Without Poverty—When?
The Bible indicates that we are living in “the last days” of Satan’s rule. (2 Timothy 3:1) Soon, Jehovah God will send Jesus Christ to judge mankind. What will happen at that time? Jesus gave the answer in one of his illustrations. He said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”—Matthew 25:31-33.
The sheep of this illustration are those who submit to Jesus’ kingship. Jesus likened them to sheep because they follow him as their Shepherd. (John 10:16) These sheeplike ones will gain life under Jesus’ perfect rulership. It will be a happy life in a new world free of poverty. Goatlike humans, who reject Jesus’ rule, will be destroyed forever.—Matthew 25:46.
God’s Kingdom will bring an end to wickedness. Then poverty will be a thing of the past. Instead, the earth will be inhabited by people who love and care for one another. That such a new world is possible can be seen in the loving international brotherhood of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
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HOW DOES GOD VIEW THE POOR?
The Bible describes the Creator of mankind as “the One giving bread to the hungry ones.” (Psalm 146:7) It contains over one hundred verses that highlight God’s concern for the poor.
For instance, when Jehovah gave his Law to the ancient nation of Israel, he commanded Israelite farmers not to harvest the edges of their fields completely. They were not to collect leftover fruit by going over an olive tree or a vine a second time. These laws were a loving provision for aliens, orphans, widows, and other afflicted ones.—Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 24:19-21.
Moreover, God commanded the Israelites: “You people must not afflict any widow or fatherless boy. If you should afflict him at all, then if he cries out to me at all, I shall unfailingly hear his outcry; and my anger will indeed blaze, and I shall certainly kill you with the sword, and your wives must become widows and your sons fatherless boys.” (Exodus 22:22-24) Sadly, many wealthy Israelites ignored those words. For this and other wrongdoing, Jehovah God gave the Israelites various warnings through his prophets. (Isaiah 10:1, 2; Jeremiah 5:28; Amos 4:1-3) Eventually, God caused the Assyrians and later the Babylonians to conquer Israelite territory. Many Israelites were killed, and the survivors were taken captive to foreign lands.
God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, reflected his Father’s loving concern for the poor. Explaining the purpose of his ministry, Jesus said: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18) This does not mean that Jesus limited his ministry to the poor. He lovingly helped rich people too. However, when doing so, Jesus often expressed his concern for the poor. For example, he gave this advice to one rich ruler: “Sell all the things you have and distribute to poor people, and you will have treasure in the heavens; and come be my follower.”—Luke 14:1, 12-14; 18:18, 22; 19:1-10.
Jehovah God and his Son care deeply about the poor. (Mark 12:41-44; James 2:1-6) Reflecting his concern for the poor, Jehovah holds within his memory millions of poor people who have died. All such ones will be resurrected into a new world free from poverty.—Acts 24:15.
The international brotherhood of Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that the new world is possible
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Tukiso and Maseiso with the missionary who studied the Bible with Tukiso
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Maseiso at the door of her home with the missionary who studied the Bible with her