Do We Need Rulership by God?
1, 2. What may a person think when he sees the bad conditions in the earth?
WHEN you look around and see the many undesirable things going on all over the earth—sickness, injustice, crime, hatred and war—you may find it difficult to harmonize this with the idea that there is a supreme power governing the universe.
2 You might say, ‘If I were the Creator, I would do something about it now.’ Many people show that they feel this way when they ask, ‘Why doesn’t God do something? Does God care?’
3. If a man had the power to make forcible changes in this world, could he make people happy?
3 But, assuming that you were powerful enough to put an immediate stop to all things causing trouble, would this make people happy? It would require you to make sweeping changes in all the systems and institutions of this world, in fact, a total change in the way that the world operates. It would demand drastic alterations in everyone’s personal plans and ways of life. Would these forcible changes meet with a warm welcome by everyone? Hardly. People do not want to be forced into a way of life. As they say, they ‘want to do their own thing.’
FREEDOM OF WILL ESSENTIAL
4, 5. Are people happy if their lives are regulated in all things? Give an example.
4 For people to get along together in happiness a change of mind and heart is needed. This change cannot be brought about through the mere exercise of power and authority. People must be willing to change.
5 For example, a man may be a loving father providing the necessities of life, along with some extras, for his son or daughter. But what if the father uses his authority to regulate every detail of the child’s life, even when the child becomes grown? True, the child may have an apparently secure life with no material needs. But will he (or she) be happy? No. Often we hear the complaint made by children of rich and powerful men: ‘I want to live my own life. I prefer to make my own decisions. I may make some mistakes but at least my life would be real.’ Such persons thus show they actually feel insecure, in spite of all their apparent advantages. Total domination does not lead to human happiness.
6. Why, basically, do people want freedom to do as they see fit?
6 God, who made mankind, knows that humans have this deep-rooted feeling. He made them “in his image,” which includes having a generous measure of free will and choice. (Genesis 1:27) God could have made humans like automatons, constructed so that they could do no wrong. But he did not. Neither are they directed by built-in instinct, as are animals. God made men with their own free will and the desire to exercise it.
7. (a) What factor has God provided so that people can exercise their free will wisely? (b) What qualities has Jehovah God displayed in not forcing men to obey him, as pointed out at Romans 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:15?
7 As a result, mankind cherishes freedom, sometimes more than life itself. However, so that every human can take a wise course in his exercise of free will, God has provided guidance in the form of a conscience and, in addition, His own wise counsel and instructions. But God is not dictatorial. He does not force people into the course of action that he recommends. For this wise manner of dealing with us we should be really grateful.—Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:15.
8. Why do many people prefer man-rule to God’s rule?
8 Many people feel that admitting God’s existence and acknowledging his rule would be sure to conflict with their exercise of free will. Therefore they prefer human rulership, even though human rule brings its own restrictions, even hardships. They choose to tolerate man-rule rather than to seek God’s rulership. Why? Because man-rule allows for a considerable measure of selfishness. It does not demand deep-seated internal changes—a making over of one’s personality. Man-rule does not require the bringing of one’s life into line with what is wholly right, as God’s rule encourages. If a person doubts this, all he needs to do is to look about to see whether he finds real love of neighbor and a following of clean, honest, upright principles in the everyday lives of the majority of mankind.
9. Though most people have chosen rulership by man, what does the evidence show as to whether they are happy and satisfied?
9 However, even under man-rule, people have never been really content. And today people are getting more and more dissatisfied with all man-made forms of rule. This is evidenced by the many public demonstrations against certain governmental policies. It is manifested even more strongly in the internal upheavals, revolutions and changes in government around the world. Yet many people do not think of rulership by God as the way to genuine relief. Why?
IS GOD “DEAD”?
10. What do persons mean who say “God is dead,” and what is one strong evidence that they are not correct?
10 Some say, “God is dead,” that is, he is uninterested in man’s affairs and is indifferent, with no intention of asserting his authority. Never is this so! The amazing care, even to the smallest detail, that God displayed in forming the universe shows that he has intense interest in his creations and particularly in man ‘made in his image.’
11. How do the words of Jesus Christ and of Jehovah himself show that God is interested in man’s affairs?
11 When on earth his Son taught that believers should pray to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:10) He urged people to look to a time when God would exercise undisputed rulership over the earth. God himself spoke to some who doubted his interest in them and who questioned his “aliveness.” He made it clear to them by words and actions that “Jehovah is alive in truth, in justice and in righteousness!”—Jeremiah 4:2.
12. Why is God not waiting for humankind to ask him to rule over them?
12 Well, then, is God waiting for men to abandon man-rule and ask him to be their sole ruler? No. The nations will never willingly give their rulership over to God. The Bible prophetically says: “Why have the nations been in tumult and the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing? The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one [or, Christ], saying: ‘Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords [all requirements and restrictions that God’s rule would bring] away from us!’”—Psalm 2:1-3.
13. (a) What does God mean when he says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega”? (b) Do we have evidence of God’s intervention in the affairs of humankind?
13 Jehovah declares: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13) Since Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, God means that when he begins a thing, he sees it through to its conclusion. Moreover, Bible history gives account after account in which God took a hand in the affairs of men. These acts manifested his keen interest in accomplishing what he wanted at the time. They were all steps toward fulfilling his purpose that his will be done on earth in his appointed time, as will be discussed later.
14. How can we be sure that man-rule can never bring peace and happiness to earth?
14 Why is God’s rulership the one that we need? Because the rule of earth that can bring peace and harmony cannot come from any other source. No person or body of persons among men and women can exercise proper rule over humankind. In making the earth, it was not God’s purpose to have humans rule mankind. When the Israelites demanded a king like the other nations, God made it clear to them that this would lead to problems, including the loss of freedom. This proved to be the case. (1 Samuel 8:7-9) Even one of Israel’s kings, a man who devoted much time to a study of life and its problems, spoke of ‘man dominating man to his injury.’—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
15. What was the extent of the dominion that God gave to man?
15 In the beginning, God gave man no authority to dominate or rule over other men. God told him to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) But men have gone beyond this and assumed domination over other men and have fought for it.
16, 17. (a) How is God’s wisdom manifest in his not giving men rulership over other men? (b) How did God’s inspired prophet express the reason why man is unable to rule over his fellowman?
16 God’s wisdom in not giving men domination over one another can be seen by examining world history. As regards any earthly ruler, he may do well for a while, but the people’s interests generally become more and more unimportant to him as his rule continues. The saying ‘Power corrupts’ is true, because in time a human ruler comes to take undue advantage of his authority. He usually becomes partial, favoring persons he likes, particularly those from whom he receives things, and this to the hurt of others. Often, those close to him deceive him as to the facts and prevent others from approaching him. Some of these fear to bring the true state of affairs to his attention.
17 Rulership over others is too much for any man. He gradually loses touch, not knowing what is going on at the “grass-roots” level of the common people. The Bible accounts show that the very best of human rulers made serious mistakes. It is as the prophet said: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23.
GOD’S RULERSHIP THE ONLY SATISFACTORY ONE
18. Why is rulership by God the only satisfactory one?
18 Not so, however, with the Almighty God. It is evident from the wisdom manifest in the universal creation that his scope of understanding is great. (Psalm 147:5) He has complete knowledge of every detail of creation and of every law governing it. (Isaiah 40:12-14) Reasoning leads us to conclude that a supreme power upholds, sustains and controls the material universe. Would not such a ruler be one to whom it would be wise to submit?
19. In dealing with individuals, how is God outstandingly superior to human rulers?
19 There is no partiality in the exercise of God’s rulership, as is the case with earthly rulers. The opportunity to become his friend is open to all. He needs nothing from his creatures. He cannot be bribed. (Psalm 50:9-12) All are on the same level before him, for who can give the Creator anything? The apostle Paul asks: “Who has first given to him, so that it must be repaid to him?”—Romans 11:35.
20. Why is it only God as Ruler who can know what is altogether best for everyone?
20 A proper ruler over humankind would have to know the human makeup through and through. Of no one but Jehovah can it be said: “You have become familiar even with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all. Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.”—Psalm 139:3, 4, 16.
21. Show that God takes an interest, not merely in people as a whole, but in each individual.
21 God is concerned with and interested in every one of us. “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones,” says the inspired proverb. (Proverbs 15:3; compare 2 Chronicles 16:9; 1 Peter 3:12.) To what extent can we rely on his care? Jesus Christ said: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) Only the Creator knows the minds and hearts of men. “As for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Samuel 16:7) He alone knows what is needed to mold willing-hearted ones so that he can bring them into a state of unity and peace with him and with one another.
22, 23. What may be said in answer to the questions: ‘Why does not God take over rulership of the earth now? Is he slow?’
22 ‘Why, then,’ you may ask, ‘does God let man exercise rulership? Why does He not assert His sovereign rule now, doing away with mankind’s suffering, and establishing peace?’ This he has certainly promised to do. But he has a time for it, no later, we can be sure, than is absolutely necessary. To those who thought God slow, 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 Peter 3:9.
23 Peter also counseled: “However, let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) Since Jehovah lives forever and is not bounded time, he is different from humans, who have to accomplish their aims in a few short years. Because of his limitless scope of view of the past, present and future, he can act at the most appropriate time, the time that will result in salvation and life to the greatest number of people. And because of his power to resurrect the dead, any harm formerly done to them can be erased, reversed.—Luke 20:37, 38.
24. (a) Is God, as Ruler of the vast universe, unconcerned about this comparatively insignificant planet? (b) Why is it of greater honor to God to have people obey him than it is to have the stars and planets operating according to his will?
24 Jehovah God as Ruler and Controller of the vast starry universe, in which the earth is a mere speck by comparison, is no less interested in this “speck.” He is concerned in exercising complete sovereign rule over his intelligent creatures in heaven and on earth, and in seeing to their happiness. To rule over intelligent, living creatures, to have them willingly and knowingly submit to his sovereignty, is much more glorifying to God and the splendor of his rulership than having the unintelligent, inanimate stars obey him in their courses. This kind of intelligent harmony he purposes to restore. (Psalm 66:3, 4) And in accomplishing this, God will not do one thing more, or less, than is absolutely necessary.
25. What is the important question that we should consider next?
25 But what brought about disharmony and the need for God’s action to restore peace to the earth? The answer to this question also helps in answering many others, such as: ‘Why has wickedness been permitted?’ ‘Why over such a long time?’ It is of greatest importance for us to get a correct and thorough understanding of this matter. Let us investigate it.
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A good father reasons with his son, realizing that the boy must make decisions. So God acknowledges the free will of his intelligent creatures
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From our birth God knows our traits and individual needs; he can provide the right kind of rulership for all mankind