LCN Article
To Liberate a World Held Captive

September / October 2022

Wyatt Ciesielka

True freedom is just around the corner. Are you prepared for a world liberated under Christ’s benevolent rule?

The Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day are among the spiritual highlights of the year for God’s people, not only because they are a time to learn about the coming Kingdom of God—and not only because they are an annual reminder picturing the wonderful future reign of Jesus Christ—but also because of another wonderful truth: The Feast of Tabernacles anticipates the first time since the Garden of Eden when all of humanity will live in a world liberated from Satan the devil’s captivity.

Decades ago, describing how the returning of Christ will free all humanity from bondage, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote an inspiring booklet titled A World Held Captive. The title expressed an important truth most people ignore or reject—that this world is indeed captive to Satan, the great captor. Consequently, humanity suffers under the adversary’s evil influence much more than it understands. But thankfully, God will not leave the world in captivity. And the Feast of Tabernacles points to that future time when all nations will experience true liberty for the first time since before Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator.

But how did the world become captive? And what are some promises and blessings that all humankind can look forward to after Jesus Christ returns and liberates us?

Captive Since the Garden of Eden

Jesus Christ is the Creator—all things were made by Him and through Him (John 1:3). His ways are justice and mercy (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 116:5), and all His works and judgments are righteous and true (Daniel 9:14; Revelation 16:7). But Satan is the captor—his name means “adversary,” and he is full of evil and wickedness (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). And because of sin, “the whole world” lies under his sway (1 John 5:19).

As God’s ministers have long warned, Satan’s wicked influence over individuals, nations, and humanity is enormous and should not be underestimated. Mr. Gerald Weston gives this warning in a recent Living Church News article: “The Bible calls Satan ‘the prince of the power of the air’—the one who directs ‘the course of this world’ (Ephesians 2:2). The depth to which he directs the world is often underestimated” (“Why the Holy Days?,” March–April, 2022). Most people not only underestimate Satan’s influence; but have also chosen the way of their captor.

Explaining how the world reached this terrible state, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “God placed Adam and Eve after creation in the beautiful garden of Eden. In its midst were two special symbolic trees of tremendous significance…. Adam had to choose between the government of Satan with its self-centered way of life, and the government of God with its God-centered way of life…. Willingly, Adam was led into captivity by Satan. He had willingly gone along with Satan, the arch kidnapper of all time” (A World Held Captive, pp. 9–10). Upon Adam’s and Eve’s sin, Satan became the ruler of this present world (John 14:30), and the “god of this age.” As Mr. Armstrong wrote, “All humanity came out of Adam and Eve. The present world was founded in them…. Upon Adam’s sin, God closed off the tree of life, until the second Adam, Jesus Christ, should pay the ransom price. The world has ever since been held captive! The world had thus chosen the way of the kidnapper, rather than of the potential Parent!” (p. 11).

Satan is the enemy and the adversary (Matthew 13:39; 1 Peter 5:8). He was created perfect, but he chose sin (Ezekiel 28:15–16). “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth” (John 8:44). Causing evil, pain, and rebellion is his purpose, and deception is one of his greatest tools (2 Corinthians 4:4). With Adam’s and Eve’s sin, the world became captive to the adversary, and he has deceived the whole world ever since (Revelation 12:9).

Through the ages, God has mercifully called a very few out of this world, who have escaped the spiritual captivity of the captor (cf. John 17:15–20). Humanity has lived in deception and bondage. But the Creator will not leave His creation in bondage forever.

The Creator Will Liberate

At the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus went into the Temple and read from the the Scriptures. Meaningfully, He read a passage from Isaiah, written hundreds of years earlier, which proclaimed His purpose! Jesus read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19).

The Creator desires to liberate His creation! This great hope is central to the true Gospel that God’s Church has proclaimed through the ages, and it is what the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day portend. True liberty and blessings come from Christ as the result of obeying and living according to His perfect law, which is the law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12). The Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day also remind us that all the world will one day learn to obey and walk according to God’s perfect laws, because “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

If they were universally obeyed, the Ten Commandments would liberate the world from the scourge and pain of sin. And this is another of the reasons why true Christians are so excited to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles each year—in addition to pointing to the wonderful future reality of God’s government on this earth, it is an opportunity to meditate more deeply upon and learn more fully God’s plan and His laws.

As zealous Philadelphian Christians celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, we not only obey the command to assemble where God the Father has “placed His name” to learn, worship, and rejoice (cf. Deuteronomy 12:20–21; 16:14–15). We also assemble because, like Jesus Christ, we anticipate the soon-coming reality these days represent—when every nation will confess that He is Lord (cf. Philippians 2:9–11). Then, the Creator will bring liberty to a world held captive (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18).

The Creator Will Rule

What are some of the blessings that the world will experience in the coming Kingdom of God? Let’s briefly review just ten blessings that all will benefit from as the creation learns to worship the Creator.

Our first blessing is that Jesus Christ is zealous to perform His will. As we have already seen, He is zealous to liberate this distraught, rebellious, and increasingly troubled world: “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). All true Christians share this zeal with Jesus Christ.

Our second blessing follows, which is that upon the earth’s liberation from Satan, God’s righteous government will be established on the earth. We look forward to all nations learning to obey Him (Isaiah 2:3).

Our third blessing is that God’s laws will be obeyed throughout the entire earth (Micah 4:2). Although some people will at first be resistant (cf. Zechariah 14:16–19), there will be no place on the planet where God’s laws will not be fully enforced.

And our fourth blessing is that in addition to God’s laws covering the entire earth, during the Millennium the knowledge of the Lord will also cover the earth (Isaiah 11:9). All people will come to know God, the Creator (Hebrews 8:11).

Having been delivered from captivity, and now under Jesus Christ’s righteous rule, the nations will learn to live in peace (Isaiah 2:4; 19:24–25), which is our fifth blessing. As we see violence and war increasing throughout the world today, this promise is becoming even more significant.

And as peace and lawfulness spreads, this will lead to our sixth blessing, which is that God will bless the nations with an abundance of food and prosperity (Ezekiel 36:33–37; Micah 4:3–4). As we currently see hunger and famine increasing, this is another promise that is growing in significance.

Our seventh blessing is that all the natural world will be in peace and harmony (Isaiah 65:25).

Our eighth blessing is that, as a result of people learning to obey God’s laws, He will heal sicknesses and diseases (Jeremiah 30:17; Malachi 4:2). How wonderful it will be when the scourge of disease is removed from the earth!

Our ninth blessing is that Israel will no longer be subject to the covenant curses because of its disobedience (Leviticus 26:14–46; Deuteronomy 28:15–68). These curses are coming upon us now, and they will culminate in the Great Tribulation yet to come. But in the Millennium, these curses will be removed. No longer will Israel build and someone else inhabit, or plant and someone else will eat, but Israel will instead be blessed in everything it does (Isaiah 65:21–24).

All Who Ever Lived Will Have Their Opportunity

There are many more blessings from God we could discuss, but our tenth blessing is that after the Millennium will come the Great White Throne Judgment, which is pictured by the Last Great Day, “the eighth day” and a Holy Day (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35). Then, all the rest of the human beings who have ever lived will have their opportunity to know Jesus Christ, to repent, and to accept Him as Lord and King (John 7:37; Revelation 20:11–15).

Each year, we look forward to the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day. But we look forward with even more excitement to what these wonderful celebrations picture—when humanity and all the world will no longer be captive, but instead will be liberated and enjoy wonderful blessings. We are excited that the righteous saints will be resurrected, will live forever, and will rule as “priests of God and of Christ” for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). And we are thankful that all creation will again be subject to Jesus Christ, the Creator and the Liberator, who Himself “will also be subject to Him [the Father] who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).