We’ll start with a statement that we can all probably agree with: The world is a mess.
Every day we see food and water shortages, homelessness, disease, religious problems, there is very little or no peace, little or no justice, leadership problems, and many other problems; time would fail us to go through all of them.
The Global Harvest Initiative reports that the world may not be able to feed itself by the year 2050. About one in nine people in the world suffer from chronic undernourishment, according to WorldHunger.org. Most of them live in developing regions. About 783 million people do not have access to clean water, and 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. We have heard in the news in this past year about the situation going on in Flint, Michigan, where they do not have clean water to drink.
A global survey taken in 2005 estimated that about 100 million people worldwide were homeless, and according to Habitat For Humanity, about 1.6 billion people lacked adequate housing in 2015.
These first two problems can be fixed at least temporarily. Even in our own community, we have organizations that send people to places like Nicaragua and Guatemala to build homes for people and to feed those in need.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of death are: Heart disease, Cancer, and Respiratory disease. The average life expectancy right now is 79 years, or in Bible terms, threescore and nineteen.
As of 2014, there are about 4,200 different religions in the world, and they can be categorized into several main religions. These include Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Religion has caused a lot of problems and confusion in the past and many wars have been fought over religion.
President Obama recently said that the world is less violent than it has ever been, based on statistics showing a lower overall crime rate. Statistics do show that apparently there are fewer murders now; but what if you could ask the victims of San Bernardino, Virginia Tech, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Orlando night club shooting, the Charleston church shooting, Chicago, which is Barack Obama’s hometown, or even here in Richmond? You may have heard of the Harvey family; they were murdered in their home on New Year’s Day in 2006. Do you think they would agree that the world is a safer place? Of course we can remember the events of Pearl Harbor, or September 11, or some of the major wars in the past, such as the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
The last verse in the Book of Judges says “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).” It’s almost a timeless verse, isn’t it, as if it was just a matter of fact. We live in a world that is very much the same way. Crime runs rampant because it goes relatively unpunished. If you can find a loophole in the law, you might walk free; think about the OJ Simpson trial where one little piece of evidence was able to get him acquitted even though everything else was stacked against him.
Violence and corruption are nothing new; just a few chapters into our Bibles, it says that God looked upon the earth and saw that it was filled with violence and corruption (Genesis 6:11).
Our Bibles tell us that “the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men, and gives it to whomsoever he wills, and sets up over it the basest of men (Daniel 4:17).” Just because God sets them up does not mean they will be great leaders; it just means that he is in control. Leaders can be good or bad. The statement “sets up over it the basest of men” has been truer in the past two new Presidential elections than ever before: Barack Obama had been only a one-term Senator, and then Donald Trump had no political experience before being elected to the highest office in the land. But they were both elected over someone who had a lot more experience than they did; Barack Obama defeated John McCain in 2008, and Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, not to mention all the Republican candidates, most of which had more political experience than him. The past four new Presidential elections have been about change; the people wanted something new, so they elected a candidate of a different party after eight years. Barack Obama had a famous catchphrase during his campaign: “Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?” Donald Trump ran very much the same way, promising to “Make America Great Again,” implying that it was not great, and that it needed to change. Both major candidates in the 2016 election made promises: Hillary Clinton tried to “break the glass ceiling” by being the first female ever elected President. Donald Trump asked the American people, “What do you have to lose?” in voting for him, again implying that things could not get much worse with him as they already were. Both candidates were also constantly surrounded by controversy.
We can be fair and say that some leaders have done well, and when a leader does well, their people do well as a result. Even in the Bible, there were good kings such as David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and a few others, and their nation did well while they reigned, but soon enough, it was back to ground zero or even worse. We can even admit that in this country there have been decent Presidents in the past who, essentially, “did their job,” and the country did well as a result. And maybe our President will do a good job; time will tell. But no leader in the history of the world has ever been able to permanently solve this world’s problems, or even to permanently leave the world a better place; there has always been violence and corruption, and even though there may be a temporary peace under certain leaders, the world has gone back to the way it was soon after. And even if someone could solve the world’s problems, there is still one problem that no one has ever figured out how to solve, and that is that we all die.
Look back at all the problems we listed; while man is in control, this is the way of the world and how it will always be.
But the Bible has good news.
Let’s first turn to Daniel 2, about a king named Nebuchadnezzer. He had a dream about an image of a man with a head of gold, chest of silver, thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of clay. The image was then smitten by a stone and broken apart. Nebuchadnezzar was told by Daniel that the different parts represented different world empires, that he was the head of gold, representing Babylon, but that Babylon would soon be taken over by the Medes and Persians. Obviously, Nebuchadnezzar was not happy to find out that his kingdom would soon be taken over. But he very quickly learned that the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men. When he makes a plan, no one can stop or change it (Isaiah 14:27). According to Daniel’s interpretation, the head of gold was Babylon, the chest of silver was Medo-Persia, the thighs of bronze were Greece, the legs or iron were Rome, and the feet of iron and clay were mixed nations. But then there was the stone: it was “cut out without hands” and “smote the image upon its feet” of iron and clay, and the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold were all broken together and became like the chaff carried away by the wind, and the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. So the timing of all this is seen in Daniel 2:44, “in the days of these kings…” Daniel writes that the stone would smite the image in the days of the kings of iron and clay, and that the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be destroyed, that it will break in pieces and consume all the other kingdoms and will stand forever.
Jesus is probably the most famous religious figure in all history. The entire New Testament is centered around him, and he is prophesied about in many Old Testament scriptures. He was a direct descendant of King David, and his name means “God saves.” He brought a new set of laws, many of which are found in Matthew chapters 5-7, including the “Golden Rule” in Matthew 7:12. Jesus never once sinned (Hebrews 4:15), but he was crucified, died, was buried, and rose from the grave three days later, then ascended to Heaven 40 days later, to the right hand of God, where he now sits. But he was not just a man who came and taught “a better way;” he has a much greater role for the future.
Jesus was a direct descendant of David, a man after God’s own heart. God promised David, “And thy house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16).” David’s son Solomon took over as king after David died; Jesus is called the “Greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42).”
Of the birth of Jesus, the angel said to Mary, that Jesus would reign over the house of David, and of his Kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33). He was prophesied about by Isaiah on multiple occasions, one of the most famous being: “For unto us a son is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Kingdom will be here on earth; Jesus told his disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).” God did not create this planet to be burned up; Isaiah says he created it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).
Jerusalem will be the center, the capital city, the metropolis (Jeremiah 3:17).
The Bible does not give a list of laws that will be in place with Jesus as King, but we can assume that the laws that he brought in his first advent will be put in place then. The nations will be subject to him, and will become part of his empire (Psalm 72:11). The Jews will have a very special place in his Kingdom, as they are God’s chosen people (Zechariah 8:20-23).
The Kingdom will see the world become a much better, safer, happier place than it is now. There will be enough food and water for everyone (Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 27:6, 65:21; Zechariah 14:8), and everyone will have a place to live in safety (Isaiah 65:22). People will also live a lot longer; in the early chapters of Genesis, we see that some people lived to be almost 1000 years old; then, after the Flood, God cut it down to about 120 years, then Moses, in Psalm 90, wrote, “if the days of our years be three score and ten (70);” even at that point, he imagined an average lifespan only being about 70 years. People in the Kingdom are going to live a lot longer; even someone who dies at 100 years old will be considered a child (Isaiah 65:20).
The whole world will be of one religion. Most people in this world are in darkness right now; they haven’t seen the light of God’s truth. But there is a time coming when the truth will be seen by everyone (Isaiah 25:7-9, 40:5). Nations will come to Jerusalem to be taught the ways of God; the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3, 42:4). People will come from the ends of the earth, and will say that they had previously inherited lies and vanity, and things wherein there is no profit (Jeremiah 16:19). They will finally see God’s truth; no longer will the world be covered in darkness and confusion; they will rejoice in his salvation.
Most people, when asked if they could change one thing about the world, would probably say they wish there could be peace on earth. Peace is not just a lack of war; it is the lack of even having the thought of war, or anything bad happening. The day will come when everyone will live under their own vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4:3-4), and war will be a thing of the past (Isaiah 2:4). Justice will be served in righteousness; no longer will people get away with crime (Psalm 96:13; Isaiah 11:3-4).
This is coming soon; Jesus will return to the Earth (Acts 1:11). He will then collect his followers and will judge them (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:32-34); those who are judged worthy will be made immortal and will live and reign with him for 1000 years (Revelation 20:4). Jesus and his followers will fix all the problems of this present world, and bring a new world order (Psalm 72).
The thousand year reign of Christ will see this world become a much better place than now, but it will not be perfect: sin will still exist, and be dealt with, and people will still get old and die. There is good news about this as well: at the end of the thousand years, those who lived and died during that time will be resurrected and judged; those who are judged worthy will also be given immortality (Revelation 20:11-14).
are invited. There is relatively little we can do right now to make the world a
better place; you can personally practice peace and practice proper judgment,
feed a homeless person on the street, you can do as much good as you want, and
it certainly does make an impact on that one person or group of people who you
can help, but there is still relatively little we can do at the time being to
actually make the world a better place. The problems of this world will never
be done away with while man is in control; again, all you have to do is open a
history book; there’s plenty of horror stories about bad kings, bad leaders,
and how at the end of it all, nothing was really fixed, and even if it was, it
was only temporary; it didn’t last. It will only be when Jesus is King that the
world will be healed. We are invited to take part: “He that overcomes, and
keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations
After the thousand years are over, there will be a time on earth when everything is absolutely perfect (Revelation 21:1-7). The Bible begins and ends in a perfect world.
The Bible promises a coming King, a future righteous leader, who is the only one who can bring healing and peace and freedom to this world. Jesus is that King, and he is coming very soon. He is called God’s “elect (Isaiah 42:1-4);” he is not going to win the “popular vote” when he returns, but he has already been chosen. He will be King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one (Zechariah 14:9). He will rule the world in peace and in truth and in righteousness. Amen.