Sell your possessions! Give the money to the poor, Jesus told the young rich man. But he couldn’t do it. His possessions seemed too valuable, too precious even more important than eternal life (Matt. 19:16-23).
What if you were told the same thing? Would you sell everything you owned? Would you give the money to the poor? Or would you be like the rich man who couldn’t bear to part with his material possessions?
It would be extremely difficult for most to give up everything they have. What if you had to sell your dream house, the one you, for years, scrimped and saved for? What about your car, clothes and furniture? Some have rare antiques, coins or stamp collections. How easily could you give them up?
Then, after selling everything, you have to turn around and give all the money to the poor. You would be left with nothing.
How could Jesus Christ ask such a thing? How could he expect anyone to do it willingly? What would be the trade-off? Listen to what He said in Matthew 13:44:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid, and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field? Do you realize that with this special joy, you could sell all your possessions; you could do whatever God required of you. This is why the joy of anticipating God’s kingdom must be the strongest influence in your life.
But is it? Does the joy of desiring God’s Kingdom burn brightly in your mind? Does it fill you with zeal for doing God’s will? Does it help you pray more fervently and serve others?
Sad to say, many people find things in this life more influential than God’s Kingdom. Like the rich man, they lack the zeal to do God’s will.
But you can be different! You can build zeal for doing God’s will by developing more of this joy, this happiness that comes from anticipating God’s glorious Kingdom.
But how can you increase this joy? How can you enlarge it? By having a vague, irrelevant picture of God’s Kingdom? No, that leaves you wanting things of this world. What you need is a vivid, clear picture of your incredible reward, that treasure in the field, a picture that makes you want to fulfill your eternal destiny. So let’s take an imaginary trip into your future. Let’s picture what it might be like. Remember, what we are about to see is not idle speculation. It is based on the plain revelation of God’s Word, the Bible.
Picture yourself living during the Day of the Lord. Much of the earth’s vegetation has been destroyed. Water has been turned to blood or made bitter. Hundreds of millions have died from warfare, famine and diseases. This is the chilling prophecy of Revelation chapters 8 and 9.
But you have survived, thanks to God’s protection; now you and other true believers anxiously await the seventh trumpet blast, the final trumpet that signals the return of Jesus Christ (Rev. 11:15) – and your transformation into a literal member of God’s Family!
You wonder what the resurrection will be like. How will your mind and body be changed? What will your life be like? Then it happens, the blast of the seventh trumpet pierces through the sound of a world poised at the brink of destruction. Before you can blink your eyes in amazement, you are transformed. The fleshly body you once knew is gone; replaced by a spirit-composed body the same as God’s (I Cor. 15:50-52; Phil. 3:21).
The change is extraordinary. Aches and pains are gone. Enormous energy – incredible vitality fills your well-proportioned body. Your mind is instantaneously made free from temptation, guilt and feelings of inferiority, free from the negative pulls you’ve had to struggle against. Positive thoughts and feelings abound. Never have you felt and looked so good. The joy is incredible!
Now notice the amazing prophecy of I Thess. 4:16-17: “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
Freed from the confines of gravity, you ascend to the clouds. You marvel at your bright, white garments, described in Rev. 19:7-8. Looking around, you recognize other members of God’s Church who were supernaturally changed at the same moment you were – perhaps your spouse and children, if they have answered God’s calling and remained faithful until Christ’s return. Like you, they radiate beauty and happiness. Tears of joy fill your eyes as you embrace one another. You rejoice in your blessings, knowing that they will never be taken away.
And then you see the returning Jesus Christ and the angelic armies of heaven! Revelation 19:11-16 describes the picture this way:
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He has a name written that no one knew except Himself.
“He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.”
You watch in awe as the glorious, powerful Jesus Christ and the angelic host descends to do battle with the defiant, warring humans below who have insanely turned their weapons of destruction upon Him. Earth’s armies are soon defeated. You can read about this in verses 17-21.
With Satan bound (Rev. 20:1-3) and Christ in absolute authority on earth, Jesus greets His new Family. Imagine the rejoicing; everyone is excited about working together and ruling the world in righteousness.
Think about it: How will you feel when Christ addresses you and says: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21).
Jesus Christ will organize and run the world’s new government using the vital family-centered principles God’s people have learned and practiced within His Church. United with the faithful servants of God down through history, now resurrected, you are given authority in that government (Rev. 2:26-27). And you have the privilege of sitting with Christ on His very throne (Rev. 3:21).
Under Christ’s guidance, you are taught how to use the power of God and serve in His government. You can appear in the flesh when necessary, as Christ did to the early apostles (I Cor. 15:4-8). Eating and resting are now only optional, not required for you (Isa. 40:28)!
Healing the sick draws you close to the physically and psychologically scarred human refugees from the last days under Satan’s rule. Teaching them God’s way of life produces obedience and zeal in them. Human leaders are appointed to serve in an effective government.
Because of your efforts, people are blessed. Cities are beautifully rebuilt, pollution-free. Agricultural areas produce abundant crops without harmful pesticides or fertilizers. Opportunities abound for productivity and growth in all areas of life!
And relationships are totally changed from the way they used to be. Marriages are truly happy. Children are reared properly “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Employers and employees get along in peace and outgoing concern for each other.
Throughout the Millennium, life improves constantly. Wars cease. Starvation doesn’t exist. Peace, harmony and happiness increase. In short, the entire world is rebuilt according to God’s law and plan. As the Millennium comes to a close, you await the second resurrection, the time when those uncalled before Christ’s Second Coming are resurrected to physical life.
During that time, which God’s Church has come to call the Great White Throne Judgment based on the prophecy of Rev. 20:11-12, seeing your relatives and friends resurrected brings you great happiness. You help them learn to live God’s way of life so they can become members of the God Family.
But what will happen next? What is the next phase of God’s plan? Revelation 21:1 tells: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away.” Think about it! With the new heavens and earth comes an even more exciting phase of God’s plan.
New Jerusalem, a city 1,500 miles in length, breadth and height, descends to the earth (vs. 2, 16). Layers of precious gems sparkle brightly in the walls surrounding it. And God the Father Himself descends at last to live on this new earth!
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (v. 3). Brilliant light from God the Father and Jesus Christ floods the city. A transparent street of pure gold leads to the tree of life (v. 21. Revelation 22:1-2) From the tree comes 12 delicious types of fruit. Flowing from God’s throne is a crystal-clear river of the water of life.
This magnificent city is now your home. With others in the Family of God, you carry out your responsibilities and activities from this regal setting. Everything becomes new. Advances are made in the arts and sciences. Godly creativity changes the way things are done. Recreational activities change and expand and improve. New responsibilities are undertaken (Rev. 21:5).
Your relationships with others in God’s Family are tremendously joyous and fulfilling (Rev. 21:4). God’s Family members respect each other and serve with one another with unique abilities.
And if you can believe it, there is much more to come. Isaiah 51:16 gives us the briefest hint. Here God says, “And I have put My words in your mouth: I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens.”
What can God intend to do with this lifeless universe with us as His born children? The possibilities stagger the mind!
When you think about your amazing future, you can understand why David said to God, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
This means complete joy, not dashed hopes and dreams. It means everlasting pleasures, not temporary, cheap thrills that end only in death, like the pursuits of this world. When you really desire this life, when anticipating it gives you great joy, you can put everything into right perspective. You can look at what God requires in a positive way. You can obey His every command.
And you can join the apostle Paul in saying, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).