God’s Wisdom in Dealing with Mankind
ANYONE who impartially examines the evidence has no trouble in recognizing surpassing wisdom manifested in the creative works. These certainly reveal Jehovah to be the Master Scientist of the universe. However, physical science is not all that can be called wisdom. Science as developed in the world has displayed man’s wisdom technologically. But the world has been found sadly lacking in wisdom in the field of human relations.
Looking at the present sorry state of humanity, some are constrained to ask: Is the problem beyond God’s wisdom, as it has proved to be with man? If not, why, during nearly 6,000 years of human history, have conditions been so distressing?
Jehovah’s servant Job recounted God’s exhibition of unmatched power and wisdom in the field of natural science, and then exclaimed: “Look! These are [only] the fringes of his ways, and what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him!” Yes, marvelous as God’s wisdom is seen to be in creation, it is only a very faint reflection of the boundless wisdom of the all-wise God. After making this exclamation, Job proceeded to recount God’s acts of wisdom in dealing with humankind.—Job 26:14.
Righteous Administration Purposed
If a person questions God’s wisdom in his dealings with mankind during the past sixty centuries of history, the fair thing to do is to examine the historical record. If a person is sincere, he will find this especially rewarding, because he will be able to trace in it the outworking of God’s purpose to establish an administration to govern earth’s affairs in righteousness.—Eph. 1:8-10.
In order to get the right perspective, we must first realize that God sees things in a much broader view than man, with a far greater scope of time and space. His prophet describes him as the “One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers.” (Isa. 40:22) In his dealings with men, the farseeing God always keeps in focus the carrying out of his own righteous purpose.
God is going to govern mankind in peace and unity. He has made man a free moral agent, and He does not force anyone to serve Him. He purposes to gather together under his administration all those who recognize and love His sovereignty. Therefore, to establish a foundation for an entire world of mankind that would serve him, God had to provide a knowledge of the standards and principles of his righteous administration and how it operates. More importantly, men needed a knowledge of God himself and of his qualities.—John 17:3.
But Jehovah is an invisible God. So, how would he make men of flesh and blood understand these things in their hearts? Not by a mere display of power, speaking in thunderous tones from heaven. Not from mere statements or assertions through angels or prophets. No, God would reveal his principles and qualities by having dealings with people, with the warm appeal of human experience. How much more instructive, convincing and moving not only to hear and read God’s declarations or speeches as recorded by faithful men, but, additionally, to see in the ‘inerasable historical record the proof of what he said. What does that record reveal?
From the time of Adam to the Flood, a period of about 1,656 years, God did not intervene to correct human affairs. Adam had disobediently removed himself from God’s service, bringing sin and imperfection to his children, with resulting disobedience on the part of the majority. But God let men go the disobedient way they had chosen. In this way he let them make a record that stands as proof of men’s inability to govern themselves. (Jer. 10:23) Finally, by means of the Flood, God stepped in because violence had become extreme, but he preserved alive those who acknowledged his sovereignty.—Gen. 6:11-13, 17-20.
From the earliest record, then, we see that God has had a definite purpose in everything he has done. At the outset he stated his purpose to deliver mankind when he promised the ‘seed of the woman,’ who would destroy God’s serpentlike adversary and those serving him.—Gen. 3:15.
However, God, though he has the power to do so, never acts arbitrarily. Before he acts he lays a solid foundation. For example, in executing judgment, he gives ample advance warning. (Ezek. 3:17-21; Amos 3:7) Furthermore, he lets conditions progress to the point where it is obvious that action is necessary, and that there is no legal or moral reason to delay longer. This was illustrated in the 1,656 years prior to the Flood and later in his patiently withholding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the Canaanites (among whom the Amorites were prominent).—Gen. 18:20, 21; 15:13-16.
A Foundation for Faith
Accordingly, God would lay a foundation for his administration of earth’s affairs under the promised “seed.” The laying of this foundation would take time. But in doing so, God would provide these necessary things: (1) a firm basis for faith in the administration he would provide, (2) a knowledge of the principles of his government, (3) a knowledge of his qualities as Universal Ruler and (4) a sure and unmistakable identification of the “seed,” the One who would be mankind’s Deliverer and the King ruling in Jehovah’s name.—Gal. 3:24.
This knowledge, that Jehovah’s administration of the world in righteousness was future, at a time foreordained by him, helps us to understand certain of his acts. He selected one nation as a living demonstration of his principles and dealings. Thereby Jehovah revealed himself and his marvelous qualities of justice, wisdom, love and mercy as he alternately chastised Israel for their sins and demonstrated long-suffering toward them whenever they repented. (Isa. 65:2; Rom. 10:21) Additionally, Israelite history demonstrates what happens when God’s wise, righteous laws are either obeyed or disobeyed; while world history reveals the outcome to those who live without his law.—1 Cor. 12:2; Eph. 4:17-19.
It was therefore not the righteousness and obedience of that nation that God was demonstrating, for they became most stubborn and rebellious. (Deut. 9:4-6) Rather, it was as Moses said in his farewell address to Israel: “See, I have taught you regulations and judicial decisions, . . . And you must keep and do them, because this is wisdom on your part . . . before the eyes of the peoples who will hear of all these regulations, and they will certainly say, ‘This great nation is undoubtedly a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has gods near to it the way Jehovah our God is in all our calling upon him? And what great nation is there that has righteous regulations and judicial decisions like all this law that I am putting before you today?”—Deut. 4:5-8.
Israel had been selected rather than some other nation because of God’s love for Abraham. (Deut. 7:7, 8; 2 Ki. 13:23) Some 400 years after the Flood, Jehovah found Abraham to be a man who accepted God at his word, with unquestioning obedience. (Gen. 15:1, 6; Rom. 4:18-22) Abraham obeyed according to the knowledge he had received about God and his dealings with Abraham’s forefathers Noah and Shem. Consequently, his offspring through his faithful wife Sarah received the unique blessing of being the covenant people of God, used for his purpose.
The other nations went their own way of self-rule and disobedience to God. God allowed them to enjoy the sun and rain, and the fruitage of the earth, but God did not enter into dealings with them, and he did not interfere with them except where they touched upon the affairs of his chosen nation. (Deut. 32:8) Even then, God’s interference was not because of deservedness on the part of Israel, but because of his righteous purpose. When, for instance, Balak king of Moab hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel, God made it impossible for Balaam to utter a curse that would enable Balak to destroy Israel, because God was using Israel for his purpose.—Num. 22:12; 24:10.
But Jehovah had not forgotten the other nations. While dealing exclusively with Israel, he was working out a purpose to bless these nations later, although they were completely ignorant of this fact.
No Injustice on God’s Part
No one can complain about God’s selecting one nation to provide this foundation for our faith and understanding today. During this period Israel was blessed above the other nations, it is true. But, by having Jehovah’s name placed upon it, that nation also faced a very heavy responsibility the other nations did not bear. Israel had to account directly to God. The people were severely disciplined by Jehovah when they sinned, suffering plagues, captivity and, finally, because of unrepentant disobedience, the desolation of their land.—Deut., chap. 28.
Thus the remarkable wisdom of Jehovah God was displayed in making a living record. His wisdom was also manifested in the way that he preserved the truth by committing it to the one nation and by disciplining that nation and holding it together under his Law covenant, while the other nations, under man’s rule, continuously served false gods of their own making.—Ps. 96:5; 115:2-8; Rom. 3:1, 2.
But all Jehovah’s dealings unitedly pointed to his finest gift to mankind. That is his provision of the Seed, the King of God’s administration for the earth, which will mean life for all obedient men. (Acts 17:30, 31) How God’s wisdom shines in furnishing an unmistakable identification for the Messiah in the genealogy, chronology and prophecy of the Hebrew Scriptures! (John 5:39; Rev. 19:10) Moreover, the historical record not only gives comfort and hope but also serves as a guide for present living, because it provides patterns as well as examples for “us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 10:1.