Have you ever heard the phrase, “Living the dream”? It’s used when someone experiences what other people can only dream of. “The dream” is an ideal lifestyle. It usually has to do with riches, leisure and lack of worries.
Stereotypically it often involves a nice house, a fast sports car, a yacht and a beautiful wife. The scenario is this: Go to school, get a job, work-work-work, buy a nice house, buy a nice car, find the perfect wife or a rich husband, work-work-work, travel the world, raise some smart kids, maybe with nannies and private schools, and then pass one’s fortune on to them. For many, living the dream has become a consumer contest measuring success only by comparing what we have and can afford with that of others around us.
Living the real dream requires servant leaders, not only the faithful ones listed in Scripture, but all people who will overcome and endure to the end.
Wikipedia describes the American Dream as “a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work . . . regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”
Many would agree with that description. But it’s not always as wonderful as it might look from the outside. Some people use the term “living the dream” sarcastically—often in answer to the rhetorical question, “How’s it going?” The reply is usually given when it’s quite obvious that you have a terrible job, a rusted-out car and are just as broke as the next person—“I’m livin’ the dream!”
Living the dream, or living a nightmare?
So is most of the world’s population living the dream? Are the Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Syria living the dream as they’re relentlessly persecuted and attacked? Are the homeless under freeway bridges living the dream? What about the average person in your town struggling to earn a living and provide for his or her family?
What about those living in countries torn by war and strife? What about the North Korean people who starve while their leader builds nuclear warheads and missiles? What about all the attempts through history to build utopias on earth that have always been miserable failures?
Just how is humanity doing so far in “living the dream”?
It’s a sad statement, but the vast majority of humanity regularly chooses to eat the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” mentioned in the book of Genesis. Most of humankind decides that they will choose for themselves what is right and wrong—whatever they feel is best and in their own interest.
Look around you. Our world today reflects this choice in its multiple contradictory religions, starvation, plagues, violence, war, conflict and broken hearts and minds. For all too many, their dreams have given way to living nightmares!
But this is not humanity’s ultimate destiny. Let’s examine how a type of utopia that will succeed in truly benefiting everyone will be established and prolonged on our planet, and what it will be like!
The Doomsday Clock
Jesus’ disciples knew even 2,000 years ago that the world was getting worse and worse, and would finally reach a point where evil and selfishness would crescendo to a final climax. Jesus told them He would return to begin a new age of peace. So they asked Him, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3, New International Version).
Jesus’ answer was global in its scope, but one phrase caught their ears: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22, emphasis added throughout).
This is Jesus Christ’s doomsday scenario. It is a fact that the world would be destroyed except for His intervention.
Even those who are irreligious believe in the possibility of worldwide devastation. The Doomsday Clock is a well-known symbolic clock face, representing a countdown to possible global catastrophe. The symbol with its movable hands has been maintained since 1947 by the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The closer they set the clock to midnight, the closer the scientists believe the world is to global disaster.
At its inception in 1947, during the Cold War, the clock was started at seven minutes to midnight. It’s been subsequently advanced or backed up according to the perceived state of the world and nuclear war prospects.
In 2012 the clock was moved from six minutes to five minutes before midnight due to several factors—stalled negotiations to reduce nuclear arsenals in the United States and Russia; expansion and modernization of nuclear stockpiles in China, Pakistan and India; improperly secured nuclear materials worldwide; and continuing construction of nuclear power plants without foolproof safety features.
Then in 2015 it was ominously moved forward again to three minutes to midnight. And earlier this year it was even advanced another half-minute as the scientists’ board announced, “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.”
They are warning that the future of humanity is at stake! Jesus Christ identified the time of His return as a time when human extinction was possible.
But He promised He wouldn’t let that happen! The world will indeed see massive global catastrophe. But the good news is that, before we can destroy ourselves, the story will dramatically change.
Standing on the Mount of Olives
When you pray for God’s Kingdom to come (as we are instructed to do—Matthew 6:10), do you imagine in your prayers Jesus Christ actually planting His feet in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives?
I picture in my mind’s eye the passage in Zechariah 14:4 where we’re told that “in that day [the end time] His [Jesus’] feet will stand on the Mount of Olives . . .”
But it’s not just an Old Testament prophecy. The New Testament tells us the same thing in the account of Jesus Christ ascending to heaven: “And while they [the disciples] looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet” (Acts 1:10-12).
This tells us Jesus Christ will literally return to this earth—to the most highly contested piece of real estate we know as Jerusalem! In the same way the disciples saw the risen Christ ascend into the clouds from the Mount of Olives on the city’s east side, He will return through the clouds to earth, but this time with power and great glory, descending onto that same mountain.
This will be the biggest news story in history!
Bible prophecy describes in detail the time of great distress, or great tribulation, that will envelop the earth at the end time. Wars, disasters, famines and disease epidemics will ravage the population before Jesus finally does descend to the Mount of Olives to save humanity from extinction!
And then, finally, a new day will dawn—a day fresh with the promise of peace and fulfillment, of joy and purpose, of happiness and accomplishment. The nightmares of history will fade, and the dreams of mankind will begin to come to life. And it will begin with Jesus Christ standing on the Mount of Olives. This is a major step towards humanity at last being able to live the dream—the right dream in the right way!
Living the dream
A famous quote attributed to the Buddha says, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
But this is a very short-sighted religious goal in life—just live for the moment! No, the Creator of the universe has so much more that He is offering us if we will follow Him.
Walt Disney said: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” We could add that it takes God to make the dream a reality. It takes God to transform the world. It takes God to live the dream of eternity.
Jesus Christ promised to return and not simply to clean up the corruption of ongoing earthly rule, but to completely replace all the powers of this world with a new and perfect government—one that truly serves the people—with humanity being led to truly live the dream as God intended.
This is more than just “day one” after an election or a coup, but a complete, astounding, “out of this world” intervention by the Kingdom of Heaven—which will then be brought to earth and imposed on a desperate population in need of relief from its own corrupt human nature. In other words, man is going to be saved from himself, by none other than mankind’s very Creator!
This is what we ultimately dream of! This is what we pray for. This is what we long for. This is what we imagine—with Christ descending on the Mount of Olives along with His resurrected followers, His faithful saints, who will have been caught up to meet Him (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The entire earth will become refreshed and restored after the Father sends Jesus back: “That He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:20-21).
As Jesus Christ plants His feet on the Mount of Olives, we will see the beginning of the time of refreshing, the time of restoration, that the apostle Peter and all the holy prophets had proclaimed. This will truly be “living the dream”!
This will not be a restoration of some idyllic golden age of man’s self rule, but a restoration of the perfect government of God that had been lost when the first human beings rejected Him in the Garden of Eden.
Living the dream requires Christ-like leaders
In the human realm, even the best of leaders are too often stymied by red tape, corrupt bureaucracies and humanly insolvable problems. And sadly, too many of them also get trapped in the web of corruption and scandal.
Political corruption is rampant in our world. It’s the use of power by government officials for illegitimate gain. Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft and embezzlement. Corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking.
But God has been working with certain people today to form in them His own righteous character so that He can make them incorruptible in every way at Christ’s return. Those who have been faithful, some even to being killed as martyrs, will be changed or “raised incorruptible,” with divine power and immortality at that time. These will be Christ’s new rulers and teachers on the earth. We read about this amazing resurrection to eternal life in 1 Corinthians 15.
These resurrected saints of God will then assist Christ in fairly, mercifully and effectively serving those who survive the catastrophes of the end of this age of human misrule under the influence of Satan.
With the power and love of the Creator behind them, as Christ-like leaders God’s servants will be able to clean up the corruption and cut through the Gordian knots that have had humanity in a stranglehold.
Living this dream requires servant leaders, not only the faithful listed in Scripture, but all people who will overcome and endure to the end.
War colleges shut down
In New York City, outside the United Nations buildings, a famous sculpture given as a gift by the Soviet Union of a man beating a sword into a farm implement captures the longing of humanity for peace—and hints at the way it will truly come.
The inspiration for the statue—and the true hope for disarmament, peace and life that humanity can now only dream about—comes from a beautiful prophecy in Isaiah 2 that is repeated in Micah 4. Note the version in Micah:
“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house [God’s government] shall be established on the top of the mountains [other governments], and shall be exalted above the hills [smaller governments]; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths . . .’
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid . . .” (Isaiah 2:1-4).
What a wonderful vision! Finally disputes between nations will be resolved without resorting to the horrors of war. At last, nations will be forced to disarm, but they will soon realize they have nothing to fear, since their neighbors will all be disarmed as well.
War colleges will be shut down and military forces disbanded. No longer will there be medals of valor for soldiers showing bravery on the battlefield, even to the loss of their own lives. Instead of investing the best minds and greatest resources into developing weapons of mass destruction, nations will be able to invest in making life better for all their citizens!
Today some of the most impoverished nations in the world import inordinate amounts of arms at great cost. Gone will be these wasteful arms races, and today’s dangerous neighborhoods—like in the Middle East, where 40 percent of arms exports go—will be peaceful at last.
Through Christ’s new world government, peace will spread by education in “His ways,” including “the way of peace [which] they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8).
Paul described some of the elements of this way of peace in his letter to the Romans:
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone . . . If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink . . .” (Romans 12:16-20, New International Version 1984).
You see, the way of peace is an attitude! Many other biblical passages detail the attitude and approach of the peacemaker. How would you measure up against this high standard? Are you preparing to be a peacemaker in your eternal life to come by exercising this aspect of God’s character in your life now? Are you turning the figurative “swords” of your life into “plowshares”?
Rebuilding and renewing the dream
After the most devastating wars in human history that will precede and culminate at Jesus’ return, there will be an incredible amount of cleanup and rebuilding to do. But this time the rebuilding will be done in a permanent, sensible and sustainable way. Cities will be clean and safe. Villages and farmlands will be productive and beautiful. Picture these scenes from the words of the prophet Amos about the age to come:
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it . . . They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them’” (Amos 9:13-14).
Even Jerusalem, the most fought-over piece of real estate in history, will finally live up to the meaning of its name as a city of peace and safety: “Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing” (Zechariah 8:4-5).
A world without war will be incredibly better than today’s world. But there will not be mere absence of war. The whole world will know true peace—resulting from following God’s way of peace. This will be fantastic almost beyond human imagination!
God promises that a rebuilt world of peace and prosperity will come! It’s what mankind has always wanted, but has never been able to achieve.
The spiritual Jarvik 7
Why haven’t we found peace on earth yet? Science and technology haven’t brought it. All the experiments in various governmental and economic systems over centuries haven’t moved us any closer to peace—but seem to draw us ever nearer to destruction.
The fact is: God’s way has never been fully tried in this world. But why not? What is needed?
Have you ever heard of the Jarvik 7? It was the first artificial heart to be successfully implanted in a person back in 1982, named after Robert Jarvik of the design team.
This device, placed inside patient Barney Clark, caught the attention of media around the world. If you saw a photo of it, you’d be surprised at how primitive it looks now! But amazingly, it worked, and was small enough to fit inside Barney’s chest cavity.
Today’s version of the device is the SynCardia CardioWest Total Artificial Heart, designed for permanent heart replacement but only approved for temporary use as a bridge to heart transplantation. It has been implanted in more than 800 people.
What does this have to do with not yet finding peace on earth? The problem lies with the human heart, spiritually speaking. As Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” All people need to receive a new heart—a spiritual heart transplant, in a manner of speaking!
And this is what will happen. As God says: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:24-25, NIV). This is a figurative picture of God replacing hard, stubborn hearts with softened, yielded hearts—a new attitude of being willing to humbly follow and obey Him.
We’re further told: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days [in the age to come], says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10; quoting Jeremiah 31:33).
This promise of a new heart is not only to the descendants of Jacob or Israel, but to all nations!
“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:11-12; quoting Isaiah 28:16).
In God’s perfect plan of salvation, He has made it possible for us to have a new heart—one capable of living His way of love, obeying His laws, being filled with His Holy Spirit, which is how His loving character is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). This will not be a Jarvik 7 mechanical heart, but a heart that can be influenced and led by the Spirit of God.
Living the dream requires a change of heart, a spiritual heart transplant. And along with God’s Spirit, this process requires repentance or turning from a life of sin—not merely seeing the need for forgiveness and conversion, but actively and humbly seeking God’s mercy and fully committing to a life of change. It includes faith in God and acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty for one’s sins and the sins of the whole world.
The dream comes alive
The nine aspects of the fruit of God’s Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are building blocks in producing God’s heart and mind within us. Imagine a world where these are growing and spreading everywhere: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Imagine having neighbors like that! Imagine people having coworkers, supervisors, teachers and government workers who always treat them that way—God’s way! What a wonderful world that will be! What an incredible future is ahead!
Jesus Christ is coming with the Kingdom of God to lead the world in these ways. Everyone has a choice—a choice between life and death, good and evil, and between God’s Kingdom and Satan’s. Right now mankind has chosen Satan’s way—symbolized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
But soon a new Kingdom will be here, not ruled by chaos and self-will, but by a King who loves peace and will reign in loving service to all mankind. Wars will cease, as nations come together as family to worship God in spirit and in truth. Sickness and disease will be cured, and the streets will be filled with joy and laughter.
This will truly be living a life that many can only dream about today. God’s sons and daughters will help bring this about—they will help humanity make the universal changes needed to truly live the dream!