Is God’s Promise Slow of Fulfillment?
WHEN mention is made of God’s promise of genuinely better times, do you feel like some who say, ‘If God is going to bring good conditions to the earth, why didn’t he do it long ago?’
Yet, do we not all value the privilege of having free will, freedom of choice?
The fact is that man set out virtually at the beginning of history, by his own choice, to rule according to his own will and way. He was originally made in God’s image and likeness, which included his having intelligence and freedom of choice. God respects this fact and deals with man as an intelligent person, not as an unreasoning animal, nor even as an irresponsible child.
Now, if God arbitrarily forced his rule on unwilling men, where would their own free will and choice find a place? Following the first man Adam’s rejection of divine rule, God has allowed mankind full and fair opportunity to try ruling themselves. They have thus had ample time to see demonstrated the failure of human rule independent of God, and to realize what rule was really best for them.
An example of God’s principle of thoroughness and patience in such matters is shown in his dealing with Abraham (Abram). He promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s posterity. But Abraham and his descendants had to wait four hundred years to get the land. Why? “Because,” God explained, “the error of the Amorites [inhabiting the land] has not yet come to completion.”—Gen. 15:13-16.
Yes, God allowed the natives and their leaders in Canaan full opportunity to reform, but they went on full length into corruption. He did not arbitrarily take their land away. Like a rotting tree that produced nothing but rotten fruit, they became more and more vile, practicing child-sacrifice to idols, engaging in perverted, degraded sex worship, and were full of filth and disease. By every standard of right, they deserved to be ousted from the land. Not until then, after centuries of time, did God order their removal.—Lev. 18:21-28.
God’s Seeming Delay a Good Thing for Men
Indeed, God in his tolerance with man has allowed conditions to develop to the point that all can see His full moral and legal right to remove government out of the hands of selfish men and to bring in his own heavenly rule of righteousness and justice. And right-thinking persons will be glad to see it. God has let the evidence pile up, just as in a court case, so that no one can charge him with arbitrary, dictatorial or unreasonable methods—all this is really not for his own benefit, but for that of mankind, so that they can know that when he acts he is fully justified.
Accordingly, in God’s timetable for allowing men to try ruling themselves is a definite time to bring this misrule to an end. Being the Creator, knowing his own purpose and seeing all circumstances, he can select the optimum time, the very best time, to bring man’s unsuccessful efforts to a halt. Also, unlike men, he can and will completely erase the effects of any injustices mankind has suffered during the time that God has restrained himself from acting to bring in a righteous rule over earth. The former bad things “will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart,” to tarnish the happiness brought by the Kingdom’s rule.—Isa. 65:17.
So, having the power to bring about his purpose and promises instantly, GOD is the one who has shown endurance, long-suffering and patience. He has endured all the insults and has seen terrible injustices practiced, but has exercised self-control in order to carry out his own purpose and for the ultimate welfare of all.
The apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) He knows exactly what is needed to give men the best possible opportunity. He knows just what foundation to lay so that men can see and appreciate the fulfillment of his promises.
Now we have reached the time when God will take action to bring about the full realization of all his grand promises. How do we know that this is so? What reason do we have to believe that we can personally enjoy the better times that God’s promised government will bring?
Because the removal of the present corrupt system was foretold to occur toward the end of a certain “generation,” or lifetime, of people. The Bible shows that this generation consists of those who were living in 1914,a the year when World War I began. The entire period of time since that date is described in Bible prophecy, particularly with regard to the things that were foretold to take place during that era.
Check for yourself some of the details of such prophecies, for example, those found at Matthew chapter 24, Luke chapter 21, Mark chapter 13 and 2 Timothy chapter 3. In those prophecies were foretold global war, food shortages, disease epidemics and juvenile delinquency. Also mentioned was the trend toward pleasure-seeking at the expense of morality, as well as the breakdown of authority, the lack of neighbor love and the abandoning of any real faith in God by many people.
Those things came right on schedule, as foretold, beginning in 1914. At that time the Bible prophecy regarding the devastating ride of the ‘horsemen of the Apocalypse’ began its fulfillment. Their symbolic ride, with its resulting distress for humankind, continues to our day.—See Revelation chapter 6.
The fact that those foretold events have taken place, right on schedule, all within one generation, gives us confidence that the fulfillment of God’s promise of genuinely better times will also take place. When will it come? Before the lifetime of the ‘1914 generation’ runs out.
How do we know that? Because this point was specifically mentioned by Jesus Christ as part of his prophecy for our times. He pointedly said: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matt. 24:34.
The ‘1914 generation’ has nearly run out, with most of the people who were alive then having already died. The remainder are of advanced age. Thus there is full reason for confidence that God’s time is indeed at hand to bring true relief from earth’s present pressures and afflictions.
God tells us that his timetable now calls for a cleaning out of wickedness and the bringing in of a government that will really do what men desire. Our own desire for that Kingdom rule must be much more than superficial. What is involved?
a For details concerning this date, see Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 94-96.
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The ride of the symbolic ‘horsemen of the Apocalypse’ began right on schedule in 1914, with resulting distress for mankind