This question is only meaningful to those who believe that this our planet earth — not heaven — is the reward of those “saved” in Christ. For most people who profess faith in Jesus, “Earth is not thy goal,” as a religious song asserts.
To settle this question from God’s word, the Bible, please see this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org , click ENTER HERE, select “Books & Booklets” and scroll down to the booklet titled “What Is the Reward of the Saved?” [Also, see: What Happens to Man After Death?]
Jesus taught that “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). This He quoted from Psalm 37:11. Jesus said, “I am meek and lowly of heart” and that we should come to Him and learn from Him, among other virtues, this Godly quality of meekness (Matthew 11:29).
As our Model of meekness, Jesus will return from heaven to this earth to claim it as His inheritance together with His true followers. As He promised His faithful disciples, “Where I am there you will be also” (John 14:3; Revelation 14:4).
The Bible clearly teaches that Christ will return to this earth to put away all the wicked (principally Satan and his demons and his human followers). [See: Two Goats Together.] Psalm 119:114 says this of God: “You will put away all the wicked of the earth like dross.” Christ will come as a “refiner’s fire” to put away the wicked and wickedness (Malachi 3:2-3; Isaiah 24:6; 66:14-16; Psalm 21:8-10; 50:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
Revelation 11:15-19 shows that, as His appearing is announced by the seventh and last “trumpet” of God, Jesus will take power over the nations and “destroy those who destroy the earth.”
In a number of His parables Jesus taught that, at His return, God’s kingdom on earth will start small. Like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). Like dough with leavening (Matthew 13:33). Like a little flock of sheep (Luke 12:32).
It would seem that that “little flock” will at least also be a tenth of the number of mortal human survivors after all the calamitous events at Christ’s return. This “flock” will be changed to glory at that time so that they can help Christ teach surviving humanity God’s way to lasting peace, prosperity and everlasting life. Zechariah 8:23 indicates that in Christ’s “educational system” the effective student/teacher ratio will be 10:1.
Isaiah 6:13 indicates that after the great destruction resulting from the “Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21-22) as Satan vents his wrath on mankind (Revelation 12:12) and God’s plagues are poured out as Christ returns to take power over the nations (Revelation 11:15-18), only about 10% or a “tithe” of earth’s human population will remain alive (compare with Amos 5:3).
While Isaiah addressed the nation of Israel in his prophecy, Romans 2:5-11 shows that an impartial God will punish Jews [representative of all Israel] and Greeks [representative of all Gentile or non-Israelite nations] in the same manner.
If earth’s human population will be about nine (9) billion by the time Christ returns, some 900 million (10% of 9 billion) human beings will survive. And in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 8:23, there should be some 90 million (10% of 900 million) of Christ’s true believers to teach these human, mortal survivors the rudiments of the true faith (Revelation 20:6, etc.). The teachers will be the faithful followers of Jesus (the “saints”) who will be changed to immortality and will reign with Him all through His 1,000-year reign (Revelation 5:10; 20:6; Isaiah 30:20), and beyond. [See: World Peace — At Last! Predestination, “The Next Chapter of History,” The Value of the “Firstborn,” and The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.]
Earth’s human population to proliferate
Contrary to the belief of some, the surviving mortal subjects of God’s kingdom on earth will marry and produce families that will replenish earth’s devastated population. [See accompanying box, below.]
Luke 20:34-38, where Jesus said that there will be no marriages in “that age,” refers to resurrected people [those “saints” or “elect” of God] changed to immortality at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:50-55). The mortal subjects of Christ’s kingdom will not have gone through a resurrection. Thus, they will marry, have children and — as God decides when they are ready — they will be changed to glory also, and become a part of Christ’s immortal “teaching force” [of priests and kings] (Revelation 5:10, etc.; Malachi 2:7; Isaiah 2:2-4) to educate the rest of humanity that have not had their chance to be saved. These latter are those to be resurrected after Christ’s 1000-year reign on earth (Revelation 20:5), as we will discuss further later.
Human reproduction during Christ’s rule on earth
several Bible passages show that human families will flourish all through the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth.
- Psalm 22:27-31 — “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you….A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.”
- Psalm 102:16, 18, 28 — “For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory….This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD….The children of your servants will continue, and their descendants will be established before You.”
- Isaiah 27:1, 6 — “In that day….those who come He [the LORD] will cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”
- Jeremiah 30:18 — “…Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob’s tents….I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish…they shall not be small.”
- Ezekiel 36:36-38 — “Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate….I will increase their men like a flock….so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men.”
Human reproduction all through the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth will be unlike today’s “population explosion” which has resulted in squalor, poverty, sickness, untimely death (not to mention the spike in number of criminal acts). In that reign, the mortal human subjects will be taught to properly plan their families.
With agricultural production at its best; a pollution-free environment; sound economic and financial management; sound infrastructure to make transport, communications, education, recreation, etc. effective and safe, etc.; virtually zero criminality, etc., Christ’s 1,000-year rule on earth could well result in exponential but sound human population growth.
How will the earth contain all this number of people?
According to the latest statistics on the earth’s total surface area (510,072,000 square kilometers), some 70% (361,132,000 square kilometers) consists of bodies of water and only some 30% consists of land. Of the water surface area, only 2.5% is fresh water; the rest (67.5% or a surface area of 243,764,100 square meters) is salt water (or seas). Of the land surface area, only 30% is good, arable land; the rest is occupied by snow land, mountains, dry land with no topsoil. [For more details, see: chartsbin.com/view/wwu.]
God is way, way, way ahead in planning things for the benefit of all His people and all of mankind. In at least two Scripture passages we have a key to how God will handle the “population explosion” on earth during Christ’s rule here. He will have ample space for everyone!
Isaiah 40:4 shows how earth’s landscape will be gradually transformed all through the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign here: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”
This Scripture passage could certainly apply to the landscape of the human soul: God will change the crooked ways of man and make man “straight” and upright in heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your heart and put a heart of flesh [soft, pliable or teachable]. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
But Isaiah 40:4 also applies to changing the earth’s landscape to make it ready to accommodate more human inhabitants, as God’s kingdom fills the whole earth (Matthew 13:33; Corinthians 15:24-28). God’s supernatural intervention through earthquakes, landslides, etc. coupled with man’s engineering abilities to level mountains and raise valleys — including those under the seas — will make more habitable lands available for man. [See: “He Marveled.”]
Revelation 21:1 is another Bible key to how God will change the earth’s landscape: “Also there was no more sea.” While this scenario is cast in the setting of a new heaven and a new earth, it gives us a clue as to what could happen before that — all through the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign. As mountains are leveled and valleys raised, the total area of the sea will likely be much reduced. This is to prepare the earth to receive the possibly multiple billions of human beings to be raised back to mortal life after that millennial rule.
Great resurrection coming!
Some have estimated that, when all the “unsaved” dead of mankind from the time of Adam and Eve until the return of Jesus Christ are resurrected after His 1,000-year reign here (Revelation 20:5), they would possibly add up to some 50 billion! If, by then, a good portion of the seas is reclaimed as land (say, 90% of the seas now — or an estimated 219,387,690 square kilometers), there could be a total habitable land surface area on earth of 372,409,290 square kilometers. Divide 50 billion people by that possible total land area of earth then, and that would make a density of about 134 persons per square kilometer! — quite a comfortable living environment by all standards.
But what about the possibly billions of people who will replenish the earth’s population all through the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign here? If we follow God’s “educational system” as revealed in Zechariah 8:23, there should be 10% of 50 billion (=5 billion) “glorified” or immortal “teachers” from that millennium and earlier to teach this horde of “newbies” God’s way to salvation.
Will these glorified people of God occupy normal habitations on earth when the great resurrection of all previously unsaved people takes place? As immortal sons and daughters of God, all those saved during the millennium and earlier will not need the same normal creature comforts that physical human beings need. They will not need the same physical space and amenities as we now need. As glorified children of God they will not be bound by time and space as we are now in this life. [But even if we added their number to the some 50 billion, our estimated population density would be about 148 persons to a square kilometer (55,000,000,000/372,409,290 sq. km.) — still quite comfortable for everyone.]
At His return Jesus will transform the true Christians’ present “lowly body” so that “it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20). When they will be “born of the Spirit” through a resurrection or change to immortality, true Christians will be like Christ — with a Spirit body that is able to appear and disappear at will (John 3:5-8; 20:19-20; Luke 24:13-43, etc.; Acts 1:9; 1 Corinthians 15:7;Galatians 1:11-12, 15-17).
Families after the great resurrection?
Having undergone a resurrection, those approximately 50 billion to be judged after the millennium will no longer have marriages for the purpose of reproduction, as Luke 20:34-38 teaches. However, in that resurrection there will be young children (even newborn babies from the previous life — perhaps even unborn children or fetuses?) that will need mothers and fathers (whether their natural or surrogate parents) to help them develop into mature Christians and also become a part of God’s divine family.
Isaiah 54:1 and Psalm 113:9 indicate that women who, in their previous life, never had children of their own to raise, will have the opportunity to do so in that general resurrection. In the case of parents who will have become a part of God’s immortal family, while their children have not, God could well reassign the children to other couples or families.
Because of the perfect physical, social and spiritual environment of a transformed earth to which they will be resurrected, those billions in the general resurrection will have an easier time believing in Christ and receiving salvation than people in this present evil age. With God’s Spirit poured out on them (Joel 2:28), with ample Spirit teachers to guide them in knowing Christ, and with Satan put away [after he is released for a short time at the end of the millennium, Revelation 20:3], it is doubtful that it would — or should — take 100 years for those in this general resurrection to be changed to immortality as God’s saints before them.
Isaiah 65:20 is a rather vague and debatable Bible reference which has been used to prove that those judged after the millennium will have to undergo fully 100 years in which to qualify for the kingdom of God. The context of Isaiah 65 (Verses 21-25) shows it to be during the millennial reign of Christ, similar to the prophecy in Micah 4:2-5.
God a perfect Provider
God is unlike many parents (especially in the “developing” nations) today who bring about children whom they cannot properly feed, educate and provide with other means and guidance to make the children turn out to be productive and upright adults. God is a perfect Provider!
God can — and does — provide for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field (Matthew 6:25-29). [See: Of Birds and Men.] How much more concerned, willing, ready, and able is God to provide for mankind, whom He created in His own likeness or image? We just need to put our priorities right: “But seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things [our creature needs] shall be added to you” (Verse 33). Nothing is too difficult for God (Jeremiah 2:1, 27)! He will make sure that there will be enough room here on this renewed earth for all His divine family!
Why not trust in God to provide all that we need in this life (Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:19)? And certainly in the next?
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.