The Kingdom—Why So Long in ‘Coming’?
1. In view of Romans 8:22, what questions arise?
THE apostle Paul writes: “We know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” (Romans 8:22) Why is this so? Why has God permitted the wars, the crime, the sickness and the misery of the past 6,000 years of recorded history? What went wrong, that humankind, created to live according to divine law, should now be plagued with lawlessness? Why has not our heavenly Father corrected this situation? If the Kingdom is the solution, why has it been so long in ‘coming’? Can we really hope that God will reverse these terrible conditions?
2. Under God’s sovereignty, what should earth have become?
2 Under the supreme rulership, or sovereignty, of “the King of eternity,” ideal conditions should have prevailed on earth since the time of creation in Eden. As the first man and woman brought forth children, and the human family multiplied into thousands of millions of family units, the entire earth should have become a paradise of beauty, filled with the joyful laughter and neighborly love of peaceful races of mankind.—Compare Ecclesiastes 2:24.
3. (a) In what likeness was man created? (b) What were the first human couple commissioned to do? (c) What question must we now ask?
3 That is what the loving Creator purposed for this earth when he created man after his own moral likeness and formed woman from the man. For the Bible account of creation tells us:
“Male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘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.’ . . . After that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:26-31)
Why, then, does God’s creation on earth not look “very good” today?
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY CHALLENGED
4. (a) What law of God excels, and why? (b) Who wanted to make different laws, and how did he go about this?
4 Creation had as its basis God’s laws. And outstanding among these is the law of love. God himself “is love.” (1 John 4:8) But now someone appeared who wanted to make different laws for mankind. That “someone” was an invisible angelic ‘son of God,’ no doubt one of those who ‘shouted in applause’ when Jehovah created the earth and everything upon it. (Job 38:7) This angel turned himself into a satan, an adversary of God. He wanted to become independent, sought worship for himself and sowed a spirit of rebellion. (Ephesians 2:1, 2; compare Luke 4:5-7.) He schemed to use our first human parents for his own selfish ends. How did he go about this?
5, 6. (a) What simple command did God lay on Adam? (b) What approach did Satan make, and why is he properly called “the Devil”?
5 In the paradisaic garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were the recipients of Jehovah’s benevolent rule. God provided everything necessary to sustain them spiritually and physically. For their own continuing welfare, he required also that they obey him as their Sovereign Lord. To this end he had given Adam a simple commandment, that he must not eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” This applied also to Eve, after her creation. It was not that God was depriving them of anything, for the other trees in the garden provided a delightful variety of nourishing fruits. However, if they were to disobey God in eating of this one fruit, they would “positively die.” Slyly, through a serpent, the rebel Satan made his approach first to Eve, saying: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating [the fruit of the tree] your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.”—Genesis 2:17; 3:1-5.
6 That made God appear to be a liar. But it was Satan who really was the liar. Rightly, that “father of the lie” came also to be called the Devil, meaning “Slanderer.” (John 8:44) Here was a direct challenge to Jehovah’s sovereignty, his Kingship over his creatures. It implied that God was withholding knowledge to which they were entitled, that God’s rulership was not to be trusted, that they would do better to go their own independent way, setting their own standards of “good and bad.”
7. In what respects did the human pair fail under test?
7 How did the woman respond to this slanderous speech? She failed to guard her heart, permitting wrong desire to take root there. This desire then became fertile, so that she was deceived into willfully committing sin by disobeying God. In this she also flouted the headship of her husband, whom she should have consulted. And how did the man react? “Adam was not deceived,” but chose to throw in his lot with Eve, willfully joining her in her course of rebellion. What a sad day that was for our first parents, and for the entire race of mankind!—Genesis 3:6, 7; 1 Timothy 2:14; compare James 1:14, 15.
8. (a) What just sentence did God pass on Adam and Eve? (b) Did they have souls that would go to heaven or to a hell of torment at death? (c) What king came to rule over us, and why?
8 Adam and Eve had shown gross disregard for God’s sovereignty. So now, in harmony with his law, God announced the sentence of death, telling Adam:
“For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)
God did not here mean that only Adam’s body would die, while some inner “soul” or “spirit” escaped from the body to keep on living in a heaven or a hell. No, for Adam himself was a “soul.” As the creation account says, at Genesis 2:7: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” In due course, both Adam and Eve died—as souls. And because the entire human race is the offspring of the sin-tainted Adam, all of us have inherited sin and death. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) Yes, as human souls, we all die. Death has come to rule as king over us. —Romans 5:12, 14; 6:12; Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20; 9:5, 10; Psalm 6:5; 115:17.
THE ISSUE OF MAN’S INTEGRITY
9. What other issue was raised in Eden?
9 However, it was not only God’s sovereignty that was called into question by the rebellion in Eden. Another issue was raised. Since the very first humans that God had placed on earth had become unfaithful under test, was there something wrong with God’s creation? Could it truly be said that all his works were “perfect”?
10. (a) Was God’s creation defective, and why do you so answer? (b) How may humans show themselves to be ‘in God’s likeness’?
10 God might have destroyed Adam and Eve immediately and created another human pair. But would not that have been an admission that his first creation was defective? It was not defective. It was only that our first parents had elected to use their moral capacity of free choice in the wrong way. If they had been robots that had to do right under all circumstances, then they would have been lacking in a moral sense. They would not have been ‘in God’s likeness.’ Jehovah always does things perfectly, in the right way, because he is love. He wants his intelligent creatures likewise to be motivated by love in doing what is right.—Genesis 1:26, 27; 1 John 5:3.
11. What light does Deuteronomy 32:4, 5 throw on the situation back there?
11 It is written of Jehovah: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” His creation, humankind, can also be faithful, righteous and upright. So he permitted Adam and Eve to bring forth children. Even though these inherited sinful traits from their parents, yet there would be those among them who would prove their unswerving love for their Creator and prove their integrity to him, even in their fleshly imperfection and in the face of bitter trials and persecutions that might come their way. But others of mankind would ‘act ruinously’ and show themselves not to be God’s children. That would be their own choice, the defect being chargeable to them and not to God.—Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.
12, 13. (a) How did Satan taunt God with regard to Job? (b) What reply did Job provide, and with what result to him?
12 That Satan the Devil pressed this issue of man’s integrity before God is shown in the Bible book of Job. The man Job, who lived some 2,500 years after Adam’s deflection, was “blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” Satan taunted God that Job’s uprightness was not genuine, that he served God only for what he could get out of it. So God permitted Satan to put Job to the test. Job suffered severe property losses; his 10 children were killed in a disaster; he himself was later afflicted with a loathsome disease, and finally his own wife mocked him, saying: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” Next, Job had to contend with the sarcastic reproaches of three false comforters.—Job 1:6–2:13.
13 Through all these trials Job held fast to his resolve:
“Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!”
He proved true to God, thus providing a strong reply to Satan’s accusations. Jehovah therefore rewarded Job by giving him double of all he had possessed before. He was also blessed in again having seven sons and three daughters—the latter being the prettiest in all the land.—Job 27:5; 42:10-15.
14. How have others likewise answered Satan’s claim, and what is the finest example of this?
14 However, Job is only one of hundreds of thousands of faithful servants of God who have made His heart rejoice because of giving an answer to Satan’s false claim that lovers of Jehovah obey and serve him only for selfish reasons. The finest example of this was that of God’s own Son, Jesus, who, while on earth, “endured a torture stake, despising shame,” all for the joy of continuing to serve selflessly in the assignment that God gave him.—Hebrews 12:2.
THE TAUNTER’S CHALLENGE ANSWERED
15. Why can it be said that Jehovah’s side of the challenge has been proved?
15 Now, the appointed time has nearly run out. During some 6,000 years Jehovah has been proving his side in answer to the challenge. He has shown that he can and does have men and women on earth who keep integrity no matter what persecution or other vicious trial Satan brings upon them. The Devil has used every conceivable wicked device against them, but in vain. God’s faithful servants have made their Father’s heart rejoice, for they have provided him with a reply to the one that is “taunting” God, namely, the great adversary, Satan.—Proverbs 27:11.
16. (a) In what conquest have certain of God’s loyal ones already shared? (b) Why may the subjects of the Kingdom have confidence in their rulers?
16 At the same time, and in his economy of doing things, Jehovah has been choosing from among these loyal ones persons who will rule with Christ in the heavenly kingdom. Though Satan has accused them “day and night before our God,” they have conquered him “because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death.” Like their Exemplar, Jesus Christ, they have been willing to show the superlative quality of their love for God and neighbor by surrendering even their lives. What confidence mankind will be able to have in the heavenly kingdom made up of Christ and his 144,000 associate kings—all of them tried and proved integrity-keepers!—Revelation 12:10, 11; 14:1-5; 20:4; John 15:13.
17. Who inherit the earthly realm of the Kingdom?
17 Others, such as Job, who died faithful to God in pre-Christian times, are assured of “a better resurrection” into a “new earth.” (Hebrews 11:35; 2 Peter 3:13) They become part of the “other sheep” of the “fine shepherd” Jesus Christ, with the prospect of everlasting life in a paradise earth. Also, those sheeplike ones who show kindness to Christ’s anointed “brothers” at the time of the “conclusion of the system of things” are invited to inherit this earthly realm of the Kingdom. (John 10:11, 16; Matthew 24:3; 25:31-46) They are saved alive when the angels of heaven unleash the winds of the “great tribulation” upon our earth. Do you want to be one of that “great crowd” of survivors when God’s kingdom ‘comes’ to crush the wicked nations? You may be! For, as an integrity-keeper, you too may prove that God’s way alone can lead to the lasting enjoyment of life.—Revelation 7:1-3, 9, 13, 14.
18 Once God’s kingdom has crushed Satan and his corrupt system of things, it will never again be necessary to vindicate God’s sovereignty. The issues raised by the rebel Satan will have been answered once and for all time. (Nahum 1:9) Right here, at this earth, the rightfulness, the righteousness, the excellence of rulership based on God’s law of love, will have been proved, and the Kingdom will have “come” to sanctify the grand name of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. For those of ‘groaning creation’ who now serve God in integrity, what a bright hope God’s kingdom holds forth! Are you praying fervently for its ‘coming’?—Romans 8:22-25.
[Box on page 44]
WHY HAS GOD SO LONG PERMITTED EVIL?
● To establish the rightness, righteousness, excellence and permanence of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty
● To demonstrate for all time that every kind of man-rule independent of God leads only to sorrow and disaster
● To provide for the development of God’s Kingdom promises, and the selection and testing of the heirs of the Kingdom
● To allow time for proving, as in a court of law, that servants of God can keep integrity despite every trial from Satan
● To show that obedience, based on God’s law of love, is the only course that leads to lasting enjoyment of life
● To answer Satan’s challenge so thoroughly and to establish such a clear legal precedent that never again will it be necessary to vindicate Jehovah’s name and sovereignty