Human Rights: Will They Ever Be Guaranteed?
CONSIDER for a moment the following commands:
“You must not murder.”
“You must not steal.”
“You must not testify falsely as a witness against your fellowman.”
“One judicial decision should hold good for you. The alien resident should prove to be the same as the native.”
This was part of a law code written nearly 3,500 years ago and that governed the life of a nation for over 1,500 years. The author of that code certainly understood about human rights. These commands remind us of some of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as Article 3, which states that everyone has a right to “life, liberty and security of person,” or Article 7, which states that all are “equal before the law.” When that ancient law code was observed, it went a long way toward guaranteeing the “life, liberty and security” of the people who lived in those days.—Ex. 20:13, 15, 16; Lev. 24:22.
The above quotations were taken from the law given to the nation of Israel in the time of Moses. Of course, there were other nations then that had law codes too. But one thing made this code very different from any other then existing. Apart from its superior moral tone and provisions, this law did not come from a human source. Moses showed that it had a superhuman source when he said to the Israelites: “You will listen to the voice of Jehovah your God so as to keep his commandments and his statutes written in this book of the law.”—Deut. 30:10.
This shows us that there is a power higher than man who is interested in what today are called “human rights.” That power is none other than man’s Creator, Jehovah God. He has promised that soon all of man’s rights will be observed, to the best interests of everybody.
The Creator’s Record in Human Rights
The record of God’s dealings with mankind is contained in the Bible. There, the modern term “human rights” does not actually appear. Nevertheless, what are thought of today as “human rights” are quite often mentioned in the Scriptures.
At the very start of the human race, Jehovah God blessed man with an abundance of “life, liberty and security.” He created the first pair, Adam and Eve, perfect. This meant that they did not need to die at all—surely a measure of life that no modern government can give.
They had liberty in the sense that they had free will, and also, the whole earth was their domain. One of the privileges God offered them was to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.”
They had security also, including economic security. There was no threat at all to their welfare. Even the animals were at peace with them, since the human pair were given dominion over “the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”—Gen. 1:28.
God himself was the authority who would guarantee these blessings. But Adam and Eve had to accept that authority. If they went to some other authority, then these blessings would no longer be guaranteed. Jehovah mentioned just one limitation to the first pair’s freedom. He said: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Gen. 2:16, 17.
Some may object that God was here limiting Adam’s liberty. But human rights, or freedom, can never be absolute. Just as Adam’s continued life depended on his eating, drinking and sleeping, so it also depended on his obedience to the only authority who could guarantee his happiness.
Mankind Deprived of God’s Blessing
Adam and Eve did not remain in this blessed situation. An unseen spirit creature, who came to be known as Satan, placed a temptation before Eve. It was then that selfish thinking, which has been such a prominent feature of human history, was first seen.
Eve, in response to false reasoning by Satan, “saw that the tree [of knowledge of good and bad] was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it.” (Gen. 3:6) Hence, Eve, and later Adam, rejected the only authority who was able to guarantee their happiness. They followed the alluring suggestions of one who did not have their best interests at heart.
The result, as Jesus Christ later showed, was catastrophic. Talking about Satan, he said: “That one was a manslayer when he began.” (John 8:44) Yes, Adam and Eve died because of their sin. But Satan had caused their death just as surely as if he had murdered them. He caused them to lose the life with which they had been blessed. Jesus also said: “Every doer of sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34) Hence, they lost their liberty too. They were now slaves to sin, and under an authority, Satan, who would oppress them. Finally, their security was also lost. Their eldest son, Cain, killed his brother, Abel, and the future history of their children was one of increasing insecurity.
Really, what we see happening today is merely the long-term result of what Adam and Eve did. Man still has not returned to the rulership of the only One who can guarantee his happiness and bless him with what are known as “human rights.” Until he does, he will never enjoy those rights.
Human Rights Will Be Guaranteed
Is there any prospect of better things in the near future? Yes, there is, because the Creator has a deep and continuing interest in the human race. Jehovah God has put a limit on the length of time that men will be allowed to rule the earth. He has appointed a king who will rule mankind. That king will restore all the rights, or blessings, that man once had.
This change in rulership was referred to in the Bible at Isaiah 32:1: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself.” The king is Jesus Christ, and the princes whom he appoints will, in God’s appointed time, ensure that justice and righteousness will exist in all the earth.
This authority, according to the Bible, will very shortly replace the multitudinous forms of government that exist today, and bring in a new era in which things will be done in God’s way. Christians have prayed for this for centuries when they said: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place.” When that prayer is answered, human rights will be observed on this earth as never before.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
The “right to life” will be enjoyed in a way hardly imaginable now. Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Even the most ardent human-rights activist could not guarantee everlasting life. But God will, and the quality of this life is further shown at Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
No more will nations be allowed to torture, massacre or oppress their subjects. This divine authority will be powerful enough to prevent all abuses, and bring tranquillity to mankind. “He will certainly render judgment among many peoples, and set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”—Mic. 4:3, 4.
What About Religion?
You may ask: ‘But what about freedom of religion? And how will there be a moral community where each will respect his neighbor’s rights?’ Actually, these two points are related.
There will be freedom of religion, in the sense that all will have the freedom to worship the one true God without interference. But Christ Jesus will not permit all forms of religion. Consider this for a moment: At one time in India, certain devotees of the goddess Kali, called thugs, used to strangle people as a sacrifice to their mistress. They sincerely believed this was what she demanded. Was it wrong to interfere with their freedom of worship and ban that practice? Of course not.
But that was not the only objectionable religious practice in history! Should religionists be allowed to infringe on the rights of others by torturing them in inquisitions, or killing them in wars or crusades? Or even by teaching them lies? No. The fact is, true religion is as necessary as eating and breathing; but false religion is as harmful to man as eating poison and breathing lethal gases. Hence, man must have both the knowledge of what God himself shows to be true religion and the freedom to practice it.
This is exactly what will happen. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, will ensure that all will be aided to learn and to practice true worship. This will have the effect of producing a truly moral community where human rights can really exist. As the Bible promises: “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isa. 11:9.
Does this prospect seem realistic to you? Or do you feel it is more realistic to rely on the rulers of this system of things to guarantee your “human rights”? Why not contact the publishers of this magazine and find out more about the way Christ Jesus will finally guarantee our “human rights” and how you can show, even now, that you desire to be part of the community that will enjoy those blessings?
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Jehovah God has put a limit on the length of time that men will be allowed to rule the earth.
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At the start of the human race, mankind had total security. Even the animals were at peace with them.