World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


The Kingdom Of Heaven

The hope for the advent of the millennium, an ideal world, a world without evil, a world in which God's sovereignty is fully manifest, is present to some degree in every world religion. However, this hope is most strongly expressed in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (and the new religions which show their influence), where it is not only a hope but the firm promise of God. Sometimes the term Kingdom of Heaven denotes a spiritual ideal, a state of bliss beyond death: see Heaven, pp. 352-61; but that sense of the term does not do justice to the most thoroughgoing eschatological visions. We are concerned in this chapter with the hope of an ideal future that is to be realized in this world. Furthermore, calling this ideal the Kingdom of Heaven is not meant to connote that its political system should be a monarchy; rather, it is God who will reign on earth through the hearts of godly people.

This section assembles passages which regard the Kingdom of Heaven from several vantage points. First, it is a world of God's absolute sovereignty; His will alone will be exalted. Righteousness, peace, prosperity, and joy will prevail, gladdening all humanity. Second, human beings will be perfected in character, knowing intimately the heart and will of God and rejoicing in the practice of the heavenly way. They will have no inward impediments to doing good. Third, death will be no more, or the dead will return in a general resurrection. Fourth, the Kingdom of Heaven will be an ideal community, symbolized by Zion, the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. Finally, we offer passages from several new religions which connect the dawning of this ideal world with the progress of human civilization in this century.

The sovereignty on that day will be God's. He will judge between them.

Islam. Qur'an 22.56

The Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and His name one.

Judaism and Christianity. Zechariah 14.9

The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever."

Christianity. Revelation 11.15

All Israel shall have part in the World to Come, as it is said, "And the people shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands that I may be glorified" [Isaiah 60.21].

Judaism. Mishnah, Sanhedrin 11.1

On the day when We shall roll up heaven as a scroll is rolled for the writings; as We originated the first creation, so We shall bring it back again--a promise binding on Us; so We shall do. For We have written in the Psalms, after the Remembrance, "The earth shall be the inheritance of My righteous servants."

Islam. Qur'an 21.104

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Christianity. Matthew 5.5-10

Qur'an 22.56: Cf. Qur'an 9.33, p. 448; Hadith of Ahmad, p. 448. Zechariah 14.9: Cf. Isaiah 45.22-23, p. 448; the Lord's Prayer, p. 53. Revelation 11.15: Cf. the Lord's Prayer, p. 53.

We therefore hope in Thee, O Lord our God, that we shall soon behold the triumph of Thy might, idolatry will be uprooted from the earth, and falsehood be utterly destroyed.

We hope for the day when the world will be perfected under the dominion of the Almighty and all mankind learn to revere Thy name; when all the wicked of the earth will be drawn in penitence unto Thee.

O may all the inhabitants of the world recognize that unto Thee every knee must bend, every tongue pledge loyalty. Before Thee, O Lord our God, may they bow in worship, and give honor to Thy glorious name.

May they all acknowledge Thy kingdom, and may Thy dominion be established over them speedily and forevermore. For sovereignty is Thine, and to all eternity Thou wilt reign in glory.

Judaism. Daily Prayer Book, Alenu

If kings and barons would but possess themselves of [Tao], The ten thousand creatures would flock to do them homage; Heaven and earth would conspire To send Sweet Dew. Without law or compulsion, men would dwell in harmony .... To Tao all under heaven will come As streams and torrents flow into a great river or sea.

Taoism. Tao Te Ching 32

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; And all the nations shall flow to it; and many peoples shall come, saying, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; That he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 2.2-4

Alenu: Cf. Isaiah 2.12-17, p. 354; 45.22-23, p. 448; Kaddish, p. 54. Tao Te Ching 32: Cf. Tao Te Ching 80, p. 257, for a vision of a world at peace and where people will live a simple and contented life. Isaiah 2.2-4: Cf. Isaiah 42.1-4, p. 449; 45.22-23, p. 448; 1 Samuel 2.4-9, p. 475; Matthew 23.12, p. 474.

Now is the gracious Lord's ordinance promulgated, No one shall cause another pain or injury; All mankind shall live in peace together, Under a shield of administrative benevolence.

Sikhism. Sri Raga, M.5, p. 74

This world differs from the days of the Messiah only in respect of servitude to foreign powers.

Judaism. Talmud, Sanhedrin 99a

What is the difference between our times and the messianic times? Purity and attainment of knowledge.

Judaism. Zohar, Genesis 139a

In the messianic future the Holy One will heal the injury [of Adam's sin]. He will heal the wound of the world.

Judaism. Genesis Rabbah 10.4

Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him.

Christianity. 1 John 3.2

Some persons asked the Prophet, "Shall we see God on the day of resurrection?" He answered, "Do you feel any trouble in seeing the moon on the night when it is full? Do you feel any trouble in seeing the sun on a cloudless day?" They answered, No. He said, "In the same way you will see your Lord."

Islam. Hadith of Muslim

For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully.

Christianity. 1 Corinthians 13.9-12

While the living see, at the kalpa's end, The conflagration in its burning, Tranquil remains this realm of mine, Ever full of gods and men, Parks and many palaces, With every sort of gem adorned, Blooming and fruitful jewel trees, Where all creatures pleasure take; The gods strike up their heavenly drums And music make for evermore, Showering down celestial flowers On Buddha and his mighty host.

My Pure Land is not destroyed, Though all view it as being burned up, And grief and horror and distress Thus fill them to the full. Those creatures, full of sin By reason of their evil karma, Throughout kalpas numberless hear not The name of the most Precious Three. But those who virtuous deeds shall do, Are gentle and of upright nature, These will ever me behold Here expounding to all the Law.

Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 16

"Be holy unto your God" [Numbers 15.40]. As long as you execute the command- ments, you are sanctified, but if you separate yourself from the commandments, you are profaned. And God says, "In this world the evil inclination [within every person's heart] separates you from the commandments, but in the world to come I will root it out from you, as it is said, 'I will put my Spirit within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and do them' [Ezekiel 36.26-27]."

Judaism. Midrash, Tanhuma

Sanhedrin 99a: The variety of conceptions about the World to Come in Judaism is evidenced by comparing this conservative statement by Rab Samuel with some of the others in this section which speculate on more radical transformations. Genesis Rabbah 10.4: The remedy of Torah has already healed the Jews of any injury from Adam's sin--see Tanhuma, below; Shabbat 145b-146a, p. 476; but ultimately the entire world must be healed. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15.21-22, p. 476. 1 John 3.2: That is, we shall all become perfect and Christ-like at the Second Coming of Christ. Thomas Aquinas described this Beatific Vision as "the ultimate goal for the redeemed." Cf. Romans 8.22-23, pp. 278-79; 2 Corinthians 3.18, p. 507. Hadith of Muslim: Cf. Berakot 17a, p. 305; Job 19.25-26, p. 507. 1 Corinthians 13.9-12: We can expect to gain clearer understanding of truth that can guide us about life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Cf. John 16.12-13, p. 699; Book of Certitude, 33-41, pp. 932f; Divine Principle I.3.5.2, p. 933. Lotus Sutra 16: In keeping with the Hindu theory of cycles of cosmic time, 'the kalpa's end' is not a final consummation but rather the end of an age. Although the entire phenomenal world is apparently consumed in the conflagration, for those with eyes to see, the Buddha's Pure Land remains unharmed. The Buddha's nature is eternal, and likewise the natures of those who realize their own Buddha nature.

When God appears, there is goodness, there is justice, there is benevolence, harmony comes of itself, all creatures find their places, and there is not conflict, no preying on each other, no disease, no suffering, no poverty.

Seicho-no-Ie. Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Judaism. Jeremiah 31.31-34

In the Kali age, men will be afflicted by old age, disease, and hunger, and from sorrow there will arise depression, indifference, deep thought, enlightenment, and virtuous behavior. Then the age will change, deluding their minds like a dream, by the force of fate, and when the Golden Age begins, those left over from the Kali age will be the progenitors of the Golden Age. All four classes will survive as a seed, together with those born in the Golden age, and the seven sages will teach them all dharma. Thus there is eternal continuity from age to age.

Hinduism. Linga Purana 1.40

Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines: This passage reflects the millenarian hopes in popular Japanese religion, and is given concrete expression in many of the new religions. Cf. Johrei, below. Jeremiah 31.31-34: Christianity regards this prophecy as having been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ, who inaugurated a 'New Covenant'--see 1 Corinthians 11.23-25, p. 735; 2 Corinthians 3.6, p. 697; Galatians 3.21-26, p. 151--from which we get the term New Testament. But the perfect knowledge of God and His law, which would be the full realization of this prophecy, awaits the eschatological future. Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, pp. 850f. Linga Purana 1.40: Here the sufferings of the old age beget a process which leads to enlightenment and transfiguration of the age. The 'seven sages' are the traditional teachers of the Veda. Yet the continuity between the ages is required because of the continual operation of the law of karma; the caste system, too, which is a result of karma, also will persist. The image of the survivors as a seed recurs in Vishnu Purana 4.24, p. 942. See also Laws of Manu 1.81-86, p. 377.

They will practice these virtues: abstain from taking life, abstain from taking what is not given, abstain from adultery, abstain from lying, abstain from evil speaking, abstain from abuse and from idle talk, abstain from covetousness, from ill will, from false opinions, abstain from the three things--incest, wanton greed, and perverted desires--be filial towards their mothers and fathers, be pious toward holy men, and respect heads of clans. And because of the good they do they will increase in length of life, and in comeliness, so that the sons of them who lived but forty years will come to live eighty years; their sons to 160 years; their sons to 320 years; their sons to 640 years... 2,000 years... 4,000 years... 8,000 years... 20,000 years... 40,000 years; and the sons of those that lived 40,000 years will come to live 80,000 years.

Among such humans there will be only three kinds of disease: appetite, non-assimilation, and old age. Among such humans, this world will be mighty and prosperous, the villages, towns, and royal cities will be so close that a cock could fly from each one to the next. Among such humans this India--one might think it a Waveless Deep--will be pervaded by mankind even as a jungle is by reeds and rushes.

Buddhism. Digha Nikaya iii.74-75, Chakkavattisihanada Suttanta

As earthly paradise moves into its advanced stages, people's inner attitudes towards God will directly affect more and more aspects of daily life. Those whose souls are closer to God will be so much of the same heart that they can communicate without verbalizing their thoughts and feelings. By this stage, contemplation will have become the mode of existence for everyone. God will have given them such highly refined powers of spiritual perception that they can at last see His will directly and perfectly understand what is in the hearts and minds of others.

In its ultimate phase, paradise on earth will be so perfect, so unblemished, that it may be called the Crystal World. All evil and hatred will have been cleansed away. The world will have become the final realization of absolute goodness and love. Completely free from even a hint of sin or impurity, humankind at last will dwell in the heavenly abode longed for through the ages. This is the Crystal World of unity with God.

Sekai Kyusei Kyo. Johrei

Then comes the end, when he [Christ] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Christianity. 1 Corinthians 15.24-26

Digha Nikaya iii.74-75: This renovation will be presided over by the Maitreya Buddha; see Digha Nikaya iii.76, p. 943. This description of the ideal world as one of closely packed villages and kingdoms where none will molest its neighbor is similar to the Taoist ideal as presented in Tao Te Ching 80, p. 256. Johrei: The world of daily life is being changed from a state of strife to a 'Crystal World' of purity and harmony. This transformation is said to have already begun in this century. Cf. Vishnu Purana 4.24, p. 942. 1 Corinthians 15.24-26: Cf. Job 19.25-26, p. 507; John 11.25, p. 502; 1 Corinthians 15.52-57, pp. 504f.

The holy man told them, "I'll give you something to eat that will kill you, but don't be afraid; I'll bring you back to life again." They believed him. They ate something and died, then found themselves walking in a new, beautiful land. They spoke with their parents and grandparents, and with friends that the white soldiers had killed. Their friends were well, and this new world was like the old one, the one the white man had destroyed. It was full of game, full of antelope and buffalo. The grass was green and high, and though long-dead people from other tribes also lived in this land, there was peace. All the Indian nations formed one tribe and could understand each other. Kicking Bear and Short Bull walked around and saw everything, and they were happy. Then the holy man of the Paiutes brought them back to life again.

"You have seen it," he said, "the new land I'm bringing. The earth will roll up like a blanket with all that bad white man's stuff, the fences and railroads and mines and telegraph poles, and underneath will be our old-young Indian earth with all our relatives come to life again." Then the holy man taught them a new dance, a new song, a new prayer. He gave them sacred red paint.... Now everywhere we are dancing this new dance to roll up the earth, to bring back the dead. A new world is coming.

Native American Religions. Ghost Dance

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea.

Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 11.6-9

The victorious World-renovator and his helpers... shall make the existence renovated--ageless, deathless, unputrifying, uncorruptible, ever-living, ever benefitting, ruling at will. The dead shall rise up, life shall prevail indestructible, and existence shall be renovated at the will of God!

The worlds shall be deathless, by the will of Right, benefitting all! Evil will stand against, but will flee away, here and there causing death to the holy and his progeny and creatures, but running to its death and destruction at the will of the Judge!

Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Zamyad Yast 19.11-12

Ghost Dance: The Native American Ghost Dance religion, which has incorporated some ideas from Christian eschatology, looks to a divine visitation which will bring judgment upon the white man and vindication to the Native American people. Cf. Yakima Tradition, p. 287. Isaiah 11.6-9: Cf. Romans 8.19-23, pp. 278f.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Judaism and Christianity. Isaiah 51.11

In the City Joyful dwell the saints of God; Neither suffering nor sorrow is found therein; Neither anxiety to pay tribute nor any imposts; Neither fear of retribution nor of fall from eminence. In this happy land where my dwelling is, Abides unending well-being. All who therein dwell are blessed with eternal kingship; None is there reckoned inferior to any. That city knows no decline; Its citizens are rich and fulfilled. Unlimited their freedom-- None are alien there; All in true liberty abide. Says Ravidas, the emancipated cobbler, Only a citizen of that City reckon I my friend.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, Ravidas, p. 345

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son."...

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall all the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, and its gates shall never be shut by day--and there shall be no night there; they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Then an angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.

Christianity. Revelation 21.1-22.5

Isaiah 51.11: The promised return to Jerusalem is central to the Jewish messianic hope; it no doubt helped to fuel the Zionist movement and the reestablishment of the State of Israel in this century. Some Christians also expect a return of the Jews to Jerusalem to herald the return of Christ, and have supported the State of Israel for such theological reasons. Gauri, Ravidas: Cf. Suhi Chhant, M.5, p. 253; Sri Raga, M.5, p. 483.

It is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity, and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love. This unity is the radiance of eternity, the divine spirituality, the effulgence of God and the bounty of the Kingdom.

Baha'i Faith. 'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

And verily I say unto you a sign, that you may know the time when these things shall be about to take place--that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion...

For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land [America], and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he has covenanted with his people, O house of Israel...

If they [the Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and not harden their hearts, I will establish my church among them and they shall come unto the covenant and be numbered among this remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.

And then shall they shall assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem.

And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in their midst.

And then shall the work of the Father commence that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say to you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.

Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father, to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.

Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father, among all nations, in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance.

And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, says the Father, and I will be their rearward.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 21.1-29

Revelation 21.1-22.5: This is the central Christian passage depicting in symbolic terms the coming millennium, the Kingdom of Heaven. Cf. Isaiah 62.4-5, pp. 184-85; Revelation 7.9-17, pp. 309f. On the Tree of Life as a symbol, see Psalms 1.1-3, pp. 148f.; John 15.4-11, p. 559. On the Church as Bride, see Ephesians 5.22-32, p. 233. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: For more from this text, see pp. 256f. Cf. Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah 15, p. 449; 111, p. 243.

As we have observed repeatedly, the development of the cultural spheres also shows that a worldwide cultural sphere is now being formed centered on one religion. Nations, too, are moving toward one worldwide structure of sovereignty, starting from the League of Nations, through the United Nations, and reaching today for world government. Regarding economic development, the world is now on the threshold of forming one common market. Extremely well-developed transportation and communication facilities have reduced the limitations of time and space. Men are able to communicate with one another on the earth as easily as if the earth were the garden of a house in which people of all the different races of the East and the West lived as one family. All mankind is crying out for brotherly love.

However, a home is formed around the parents; there alone can true brotherly love occur. Therefore, upon the Second Advent of the Lord as the True Parent of mankind, all men will come to live harmoniously in the garden as one family.

Unification Church. Divine Principle I.3.4.3

Nephi 21.1-29: 'My Zion,' the new refuge for the dispersed of God's people, is to be built in America. The New World figures centrally in the Latter-day Saints' expectation of the millennium. Divine Principle I.3.4.3: 'True Parent' is a messianic title, specifying the Messiah's parental love for all humankind and his role as the new Adam, the origin of the new lineage of God that is free from the sin and death which pervades the lineage of the fallen Adam. Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 9-11-77, p. 274; 8-26-86, p. 287; 9-3-89, p. 619; 8-20-89. p. 577.


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