The Issue That All Creation Has to Face
1. (a) What issue did Satan raise in Eden? (b) How is that issue implied by what he said?
WHEN rebellion broke out in Eden a serious issue was raised that affects all creation. Approaching Eve, Satan implied that she and her husband Adam were being seriously deprived. He asked: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” Eve replied that only concerning one tree had God said: “You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.” At that Satan directly charged Jehovah with lying, saying that neither Eve’s life nor that of Adam was dependent on obedience to God. He claimed that God was withholding from his creatures something good—the ability to set their own standards in life. “You positively will not die,” Satan asserted. “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen. 3:1-5) Satan led Eve to believe that she would be better off making her own decisions. By implication, he there challenged God’s right to rule and His way of ruling. The issue raised actually involved universal sovereignty.
2. What could have safeguarded the first human pair?
2 Love for Jehovah could have safeguarded Eve. Respect for the headship of her husband could also have held her back from wrongdoing. But she thought only about what seemed to be an immediate benefit. What was forbidden became desirable in her eyes. Thoroughly deceived by Satan’s reasoning, she violated God’s law. Then she involved Adam. Though not deceived by Satan’s lie, he, too, showed gross lack of appreciation for God’s love. He disregarded the headship of Jehovah and chose to throw in his lot with his rebellious wife.—Gen. 3:6; 1 Tim. 2:13, 14.
3. (a) What further issue is closely related to Satan’s attack on Jehovah’s sovereignty? (b) Who are affected by it?
3 Satan’s attack on Jehovah’s sovereignty did not stop with what took place in Eden. His apparent success there was followed by his calling into question loyalty to Jehovah on the part of others. This, then, became a closely related secondary issue. His challenge reached out to include both the offspring of Adam and all the spirit sons of God, even Jehovah’s dearly loved firstborn Son. In the days of Job, Satan contended that those who serve Jehovah do so, not because they love God and his way of ruling, but for selfish reasons. He argued that, when subjected to hardship, they would all give in to selfish desires. Was he right?—Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Rev. 12:10.
How They Responded to the Issue
4. Why have many humans not upheld Jehovah’s sovereignty?
4 Jehovah did not rule out the possibility that others would join Satan in rebellion. In fact, when passing judgment in Eden, God referred to those who would comprise the ‘seed of the serpent.’ (Gen. 3:15) The Pharisees who plotted Jesus’ death and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, were among those. They did not simply take some false step before they were aware of it. They knew what was right, yet deliberately took a position in opposition to Jehovah and his servants. However, countless others who have not conformed to Jehovah’s requirements have acted in ignorance.—Acts 17:29, 30.
5. (a) Unlike Eve, how have those who have remained loyal to Jehovah viewed his word? (b) How did Noah prove his loyalty, and how can we benefit from his example?
5 In contrast with all of these were men and women of faith who informed themselves about their Creator and proved their loyalty to him as Sovereign. They believed God. They knew that their lives depended on listening to him and obeying him. Noah was such a man. So, when God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me . . . Make for yourself an ark,” Noah submitted to Jehovah’s direction. Other people of that day, despite being given warning, went about their normal routine of life as if nothing unusual was going to happen. But Noah built a gigantic ark and kept busy preaching to others about Jehovah’s righteous ways. As the record says, “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”—Gen. 6:13-22; see also Hebrews 11:7 and 2 Peter 2:5.
6. (a) What else has characterized integrity keepers? (b) How did Sarah manifest these qualities, and in what way can we benefit from her example?
6 High regard for the principle of headship, coupled with personal love for Jehovah, has also been outstanding among integrity keepers. They have not been like Eve, who ran ahead of her husband. Nor like Adam, who ignored Jehovah’s law. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, demonstrated these fine qualities. Not only in her speech but also in her heart Abraham was her “lord.” Furthermore, she personally loved Jehovah and was a woman of faith. With Abraham, she was “awaiting the city [God’s Kingdom] having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.”—1 Pet. 3:5, 6; Heb. 11:10-16.
7. (a) Under what circumstances did Moses uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty? (b) How might his example benefit us?
7 About 430 years after Abraham left his homeland, Moses upheld Jehovah’s sovereignty in face-to-face confrontation with Pharaoh of Egypt. Not that Moses was self-confident. On the contrary, he doubted his ability to speak well enough. But he obeyed Jehovah. With Jehovah’s backing and the aid of his brother Aaron, Moses repeatedly delivered Jehovah’s word to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was obstinate. Even some of the sons of Israel were harshly critical of Moses. But loyally Moses did everything that Jehovah commanded him, and by means of him Israel was delivered from Egypt.—Ex. 7:6; 12:50, 51.
8. (a) What shows that loyalty to Jehovah involves more than doing what God has specifically named in writing? (b) How might appreciation of this kind of loyalty help us to apply 1 John 2:15?
8 Those who were loyal to Jehovah did not reason that all that was required was to conform to the letter of the law, to obey only what God had put in writing. When Potiphar’s wife tried to entice Joseph to have adulterous relations with her, there was no written commandment from God that specifically prohibited adultery. But on the basis of what Joseph knew about the marriage arrangement instituted by Jehovah in Eden, he was aware that having sex relations with another man’s wife would be displeasing to God. Joseph was not interested in testing the limits to which God would let him be like the Egyptians. He upheld Jehovah’s ways by meditating on God’s dealings with mankind and then conscientiously applying what he discerned to be God’s will.—Gen. 39:7-12; compare Psalm 77:11, 12.
9. How has the Devil repeatedly been proved a liar in the charge that he raised in Job’s day?
9 Even if severely put to the test, those who truly know Jehovah do not turn away from him. Satan charged that if Job lost his possessions or was physically abused, even this one of whom Jehovah spoke highly would desert God. But Job proved the Devil a liar, and he did it even though he did not know what accounted for all the calamity that was engulfing him. (Job 2:3, 9, 10) Still trying to prove his point, Satan later caused an infuriated king of Babylon to threaten three young Hebrews with death in a fiery furnace if they did not bow in worship before an image set up by the king. Forced to choose between the command of the king and Jehovah’s law against idolatry, they firmly made it known that they served Jehovah and that he was their Supreme Sovereign. More precious to them than life was faithfulness to God.—Dan. 3:14-18.
10. How is it possible for us imperfect humans to prove that we are truly loyal to Jehovah?
10 Are we to conclude from this that to be loyal to Jehovah a person has to be perfect, that one who makes a mistake has completely failed? By no means! The Bible specifically tells us about times when Moses fell short. Jehovah was displeased, but he did not reject Moses. The apostles, though exemplary in many respects, had their weaknesses. Loyalty requires consistent obedience from the heart. But, taking into account our inheritance of imperfection, Jehovah is pleased if we do not deliberately ignore his will in any respect. If, because of weakness, we become involved in wrongdoing, it is important that we be sincerely repentant and so not make a practice of it. Thus we demonstrate that we truly do love what Jehovah says is good and hate what he shows to be bad. On the basis of our faith in the sin-atoning value of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can enjoy a clean standing before God.—Amos 5:15; Acts 3:19; Heb. 9:14.
11. (a) Who among men maintained perfect godly devotion, and what did this prove? (b) How are we helped by what he did?
11 Nevertheless, could it be that perfect godly devotion simply is not possible for humans? For some 4,000 years the answer to this was a “sacred secret.” (1 Tim. 3:16) Adam, though created perfect, did not set a perfect example of godly devotion. Who could? Certainly none of his sinful offspring. Jesus Christ was the only man to do so. What Jesus accomplished proved that Adam, who had more favorable circumstances, could have maintained perfect integrity if he had wanted to. The fault was not in God’s creative work. Jesus Christ is therefore the example that we seek to imitate in demonstrating not only obedience to divine law but also personal devotion to Jehovah, the Universal Sovereign.
What Is Our Personal Answer?
12. Why must we be constantly on the alert as to our attitude toward Jehovah’s sovereignty?
12 Each one of us today has to face the universal issue. We cannot dodge it. If we have openly stated that we are on Jehovah’s side, Satan makes us a target. He brings pressure from every conceivable direction and he will continue to do so down to the end of his wicked system of things. We must not relax our guard. (1 Pet. 5:8) Our conduct shows where we stand in relation to the supreme issue.
13. (a) What is there about the origin of lying and stealing that should make us shun them? (b) Answer the questions at the end of this paragraph, one at a time, regarding situations that incline some people toward such wrongdoing.
13 We cannot afford to treat disloyal conduct as unimportant simply because it is common in the world. Maintaining integrity requires that we apply Jehovah’s righteous ways in every matter of life. To illustrate, consider the following:
(1) Satan used a lie in order to lead our first parents into sin. He became “the father of the lie.” (John 8:44)
Under what circumstances do young people sometimes fail to be truthful with their parents? Why is it important for Christian youths to avoid this? (Prov. 6:16-19)
What business practices might identify a person with “the father of the lie” instead of with the God of truth? (Mic. 6:11, 12)
If someone has become involved in serious wrongdoing, why is it important not to try to cover it up by resorting to falsehood? (Prov. 28:13)
(2) When Eve and then Adam acted on Satan’s urging to make their own decisions as to good and bad, the first thing they did was to take something that did not belong to them. They became thieves.
14, 15. (a) At the end of Christ’s Thousand Year Reign what test will come on all humankind? (b) How will what we do now affect the outcome for us then?
14 During the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, Satan and his demons will be in the abyss, unable to influence mankind. What a relief that will be! But following the thousand years, they will be loosed for a little time. Satan and those who follow him will bring pressure on the “holy ones,” those of restored mankind who are maintaining their integrity. He will advance as in warfare against “the beloved city,” the heavenly New Jerusalem, by trying to wipe out the righteousness that it has established on earth.—Rev. 20:7-10.
15 It is very likely that, as in the past, Satan will employ deceit, along with appeals to selfishness and pride, to entice humans to acts of disloyalty to Jehovah. If it is our privilege to be alive then, how will we personally react? Where will our hearts be regarding the universal issue? Since all mankind will then be perfect, any act of disloyalty will be deliberate and will result in eternal destruction. So that we may prove loyal then, how vital it is that we cultivate the habit now of responding readily and positively to whatever direction Jehovah gives us, whether through his Word or through his organization! Doing so, we show our genuine devotion to him as the Universal Sovereign.
● What is the great issue that all creation has to face? How did we get involved?
● What is outstanding about the ways in which each of the men and women shown on page 49 proved integrity to Jehovah?
● Why is it vital that we be careful every day to honor Jehovah by our conduct?
[Pictures on page 49]
THEY UPHELD JEHOVAH’S SOVEREIGNTY
How can we benefit from their example?