T he article below was written by Howard Davis, an elder in the United Church of God. Mr. Davis is the leading architect and host of the Tomorrow television program as well as its website Tomorrow online. This essay, which also appears in the September-October edition of the Good News magazine was placed on our website because we believe it offers an insightful look into the greatest international body in the world and the struggles it faces in the chaotic times in which we live.
UN's Millennium Goals:
How Do They Compare to God's?
In 2000 the United Nations established "Millennium Development Goals" to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger; reduce disease, child mortality and malnutrition; and to improve education, personal incomes and opportunities, housing and sanitation worldwide by the year 2015. All 191 UN member states have pledged to meet these goals. While admirable aspirations, how do they compare to what God promises for the future?
Just imagine—a thousand years of peace, complete justice, high-quality education, miraculous health care, plenty of food, a pristine environment and year after year of double-digit economic development without even the possibility of war for every nation on the earth.
This is a vision of the future virtually no one thinks about today—much less has any faith will actually come.
It may come as a surprise that the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals have elements in common with the prophecies of Jesus Christ. Both are visions of a better future for all mankind. Both are to fulfill the great goals of all humanity. Both are based on the term "Millennium." And both are basically not believed by most of the world gripped in skepticism and cynicism.
The difference is that Jesus Christ's vision of a Millennium of fabulous progress is much more far-reaching and profound. It promises to deal more realistically with the causes and solutions to world problems. But it seems even more impossible because it will require God to make it happen. In reality, this is all the more reason to believe it.
UN millennium goals too modest
Visiting the United Nations in New York in June, I spoke with the charismatic Ghanaian Marian Aggrey of the UN's Public Information Department. She spoke articulately about the UN's Millennium Development Goals. I interviewed her in the impressive UN Security Council chamber.
I live in a typical and modest suburban home with my wife and four children in a middle-class American neighborhood. I wouldn't want my children to live like the bottom 2 billion people on earth even if the UN goals Ms. Aggrey described for them are achieved. Neither would most readers of this article.
Ms. Aggrey introduced me to the staff of Jeffery Sacks, the world's expert on what to do with underdeveloped economies, for an interview about the possibilities of ending global poverty. He explained the need for the UN Millennium Goals: More than 1.5 billion people live on less than $1 a day, most at about 60 cents, and tens of millions live on less.
By 2015, the world leaders have resolved to cut in half the number of people with income of less than $1 a day, provide safe drinking water to the poor populations of the world and reduce by half the number of people experiencing severe malnutrition. They further hope to remove 100 million people from desperate slum conditions by 2020.
There is nothing wrong with these goals—except they are too modest. Ambitious though they are, they will give no hope to hundreds of millions left to languish and die.
On the positive side, the UN's Millennium Goals have begun to globalize a series of specific possibilities for human progress. It is only now that serious discussion of the eventual end of poverty on earth is emerging. Many world leaders have the laudable goals of helping all human beings achieve their potential and be relieved of desperate poverty, hunger, disease and abuse.
But we must all acknowledge that they are tinkering with a human race that is profoundly flawed and a world system that is virulently blind in its selfishness. The United Nations can do nothing to alter these underlying problems. This is why divine intervention is necessary to fix the fundamentals. This world will not lay down its arms—which cost nearly $1 trillion a year—to help eliminate the most desperate poverty.
It is especially for the faceless, nameless hundreds of millions who are left behind by the Millennium Goals that the miracle of another reality will one day come to pass.
Our disbelieving world
The idea of 1,000 years of universal progress for humanity is found in a prophecy near the end of the biblical book of Revelation (see 20:4, 6). Imagine a world in which every country in Africa is as prosperous as the United States of America is today, and every country in Asia and South America is wealthier than any nation in the world of the 20th century. Such a world appears beyond belief.
Yet the fact that the world doesn't believe a heavenly paradise will become an earthly reality doesn't mean it won't happen. It simply means people today can't see past the terrorism, poverty, ignorance and blind arrogance of wealth and cynical politics to imagine how a divine promise will be fulfilled that sweeps away all of the evil roadblocks to progress.
The prophets of the Bible, from Moses and Isaiah to Jesus and His apostles, said the world simply can't perceive the Kingdom of God because of its self-absorption and hardness of heart.
Nor do dominant global religions today perceive and teach about the future world of justice and progress described in your Bible. Most believe heaven is the ultimate paradise for man, not what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God coming to rule on earth.
Christ's Millennium prophecy at the United Nations
Ironically, the United Nations building itself acknowledges the existence of these idealistic prophecies. In the wide circular stairway that leads up to the street called United Nations Way across from the main headquarters building, Isaiah's famous prophecy of the Millennium of God surrounds visitors.
It expresses the hoped-for reality behind the vision of the United Nations charter endorsed by all the nations of the world today. This inscription at the UN directly refers to the future administration of Jesus Christ:
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:3-4, King James Version).
The same inscription appears on the famous statue depicting a man beating a sword into a plowshare that stands in the park along the east side of the headquarters building beside the Hudson River, celebrating the literal disarmament of the nations of the world. In this world to come, the trillions of dollars spent on military efforts in our world will be diverted to human development, not destruction.
The wonderful world tomorrow
Jesus proclaimed a realm of the divine existence of God, another dimension of reality open to man in the future through faith and conversion to Him now. He called it the Kingdom of God. He said the faithful believer could enter this existence just as He did.
When God calls a person to understand the Kingdom of God in this life, He is offering supernatural help now, even for the desperately poor person left behind in the most destitute regions of the world. He is given faith, hope and a desire to live up to his or her divine potential. Faith in the Kingdom of God and obedience to God creates a relationship with Him.
Jesus Christ said a man of vision would consider this the pearl of great price, for in it is the promise of eternal life. It is the ultimate purpose and inevitable reality for the future of human life.
Christians, Muslims and Jews—collectively more than half of the world's population—need to understand that the promise of a fabulous future on earth is our common heritage. All nations need to understand what Abraham, the father of the faithful who lived nearly 4,000 years ago, believed in this vision of a world of peace based on a coming civilization "whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). It puts all the heartache of this world in perspective.
A new world capital
In the world to come, the center of global power will never again be New York, Washington, London or Rome. God, through Jesus Christ, will supernaturally establish his global capital of government at Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3).
Earth's new capital will be the epicenter of global developments under which all nations will unite in a universal spiritual family under an administration of love, care and opportunity. The earth will be transformed into a paradise through the brilliant accomplishment of a human race liberated from evil and guided by Jesus Christ.
This new global government will institute a process of reconciliation among all peoples. Social injustices will be forgiven and forgotten as the world repents of its past. Millennia of hatred and prejudice will fade; every personal injustice and penalty will be erased for those who willingly surrender to this new government.
Unjust, oppressive practices will no longer be allowed. Every cultural or religious practice that then prevents the true uniting of all nations as a global family at peace will be abolished. Faith in the God of Abraham will become universal.
There will be no question who God is
Human beings will no longer be resistant to Christ's "golden rule," now featured in gold letters on artwork donated by the United States displayed by the entrance to the United Nations General Assembly: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
The basis for the uniting of all nations in the world tomorrow will be a common spiritual understanding, a new perception of heart, mind and intellect. Man will be given opportunity to take on the nature of God.
Global Garden of Eden
In prophecy after fabulous prophecy of this Millennium, the spectacular transformation of the earth is described in terms that have amazed theologians.
Indeed, many have speculated that these predictions are merely metaphors that could never come true. Now, with all the scientific advancements of the last few decades, many—if not all—of the physical aspects of these prophecies could be seen as conceivable and possible, but only in the hands of a perfect world system. And rest assured, the perfect system is coming.
The future world is compared to the Garden of Eden (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 36:35). Ecosystems will be changed. "The desert shall . . . blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1).
Poverty and famine will be eliminated. Even animals' very nature will miraculously be genetically reengineered: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them . . . The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole . . . They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain . . ." (Isaiah 11:6-9).
"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped" (Isaiah 35:5). Right education and miraculous healing will eliminate disease. Abundant healthful food will be produced (Amos 9:13). Destructive food manufacturing will be banned, and the destruction of the environment through chemical poisons will be eliminated.
Education will be universal and the secrets of God that underlie all physical matter and biological life will be revealed. The spiritual knowledge of the nature of God Himself will be universally taught and believed. "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
Jesus Christ will bring the most virulent of enemies in the world together through a common conversion. People of all religions —former Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.—will become part of a new universal brotherhood throughout the world. All other nations will be linked in the same way. The most hated of former enemies in the Middle East will develop relationships as integrated states within a common religion, culture, transportation and economic structure coordinated from Jerusalem (Isaiah 19:21-25).
What a future for the world! All these prophecies are real. They preexisted the United Nations and its Millennium Development Goals by 2,000 years and more.
Which is the more powerful vision, the greater hope? Which of these sets of goals would you rather see happen?
It's time to understand our responsibility as human beings to care for one another, to start living for and working toward these goals now. And to orient us, we need to accept and believe that our common future is wonderful beyond our wildest dreams, praying earnestly, as Jesus told us to in Matthew 6:10, "Your kingdom come"! GN
To the World