The Issues That Determine Our Future
1. (a) What current issues dominate the thinking of many people, and where do they look for solutions? (b) What are they often failing to consider?
IN RECENT years burning issues that involve our future have been thrust upon us one after another in rapid succession. Conditions are such that people everywhere desperately want relief. Perhaps they believe in God, but it may seem to them that if the situation here on earth is going to improve, humans are going to have to bring it about. Some try to do it through existing governments or by mass protests against the decisions of these governments. Others believe that revolution is the only way. They feel that changing laws, replacing rulers or even entire governments will surely improve conditions. But what do the facts show? After trying for thousands of years, men have not produced even one government that has brought impartial justice, true security and lasting happiness to all its subjects. What accounts for this?
2. Why are conditions in the world so bad?
2 No matter how noble the objectives of persons in authority, all human governments are manipulated by forces beyond the control of the men in office. By whom? By superhuman spirits, Satan the Devil and his demons. True, many people scoff at belief in such spirit persons. But Jesus Christ did not. He personally knew the background of Satan and spoke of him as “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) In symbolic language, the Bible depicts the global political system as a wild beast and reveals that “the dragon [Satan] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Revelation 13:1, 2; compare Daniel 7:2-8, 12, 23-26.) And for our day the Bible foretold increased “woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you.” (Revelation 12:12) Nothing else can satisfactorily account for the chaos into which human society has been thrust. But how did it come about? What can we do to get relief?
THE ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY
3. What does Genesis 2:16, 17 show as to mankind’s proper relationship to God?
3 The opening chapters of the Bible inform us that when Jehovah God created the first human pair, Adam and Eve, and placed them in the garden of Eden he instructed them about their relationship to him. He was their Father, their generous Provider, also the Universal Sovereign. For their own good, they needed to appreciate that their continued life depended on obedience to God.—Genesis 2:16, 17; compare Acts 17:24, 25.
4. (a) From where did Satan come? (b) What wrong desire did he allow to develop?
4 At that time all creation was perfect. Unlike the animals, angels and humans had the faculty of free will. But soon after man’s creation one of the angels, abusing the wonderful ability to make personal decisions, rebelled against Jehovah’s sovereignty. He thus made himself an adversary, or resister, which is the literal meaning of the name Satan. (Compare James 1:14, 15; Revelation 12:9.) Motivated by ambition, Satan sought to entice the first human pair away from Jehovah God and to bring them under his own influence. He saw in them the potential for an earth filled with humans honoring him as their god. (Compare Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 4:5-7.) The account of what took place in Eden is no mere fable. Jesus Christ referred to it as historical fact.—Matthew 19:4, 5.
5. (a) What issues were raised in Eden? (b) Who is affected by them?
5 Jesus said of the Devil: “He did not stand fast in the truth . . . He is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) The Devil’s first recorded lie was to Eve when he called into question God’s truthfulness. He urged rejection of God’s law and argued that it would be beneficial for each one to set his own standards in life. (Genesis 3:1-5; compare Jeremiah 10:23.) Jehovah’s sovereignty was thus challenged there in Eden. As later events showed, the integrity toward God of all intelligent creatures was also called into question. Did they serve God because they really loved him, or could they be induced to turn away from him? (Job 1:7-12; 2:3-5; Luke 22:31) These issues would affect everyone in heaven and on earth. What action did the Universal Sovereign take?
6. Why did Jehovah not immediately destroy the rebels?
6 Instead of immediately destroying the rebels, Jehovah wisely allowed a certain time period for the issues to be settled once and for all. This God did, not to prove any point to himself, but to allow creatures with free will to see for themselves the bad fruitage produced by rebellion against his sovereignty, also to afford them opportunity to demonstrate where they personally stand on these vital matters. With the issues settled, never again would anyone be permitted to disrupt the peace.
7. (a) How did human governments begin? (b) What kind of record have they made?
7 Jehovah God, being mankind’s Creator, was also their rightful Ruler. (Revelation 4:11) In time, however, Satan and his demons began to stir up in men the desire not only to set their own standards as to good and bad but also to rule over their fellowmen. Nimrod was the first to establish himself as a king, ruling over cities in Mesopotamia. He was “a mighty hunter [both of animals and of men] in opposition to Jehovah.” (Genesis 10:8-12) From the days of Nimrod down to the present, every possible kind of human government has been tried. But the overall record, as any student of history knows, has been one of corruption and bloodshed.—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
8. Why did Jesus refuse to get involved in the world’s political system?
8 When Jesus Christ was on earth, Satan tried to bring even him under his influence. He offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth” in exchange for one act of worship. Jesus refused. (Luke 4:1-13) Later the people wanted to make him king, but Jesus withdrew. (John 6:15) He knew what the world’s political system was, and he realized that it was not God’s will for him to try to improve it.
9. (a) To solve mankind’s problems, what must be done that only God’s Kingdom can do? (b) What is that Kingdom?
9 Jesus demonstrated complete loyalty to Jehovah, his God and Father. He loved his Father’s ways and always did the things pleasing to him. (John 8:29) He knew that the solutions to the problems of mankind would come by means of God’s Kingdom, a real government that would rule from heaven and would provide the righteous and loving direction needed by mankind. That Kingdom alone could remove the influence of Satan and his demons. It alone could unite people of all races and nations into one global family living in peace. Only it could relieve mankind of bondage to sin and death. Only it could bring lasting happiness to mankind. This Kingdom is not some arrangement set up by politicians and blessed by the clergy. True Christians do not resort to weapons of carnal warfare to further its interests. It is God’s own government, with a perfect heavenly King enthroned by God himself. This is the Kingdom about which Jesus preached and for which he taught his followers to pray.—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 20:1, 2; 21:3, 4.
WHICH SIDE WILL YOU CHOOSE?
10. (a) What is the big issue that each one of us must face? (b) What should we be doing about it?
10 The issue that you must face is this: Do you recognize that Jehovah God, the Creator of the universe, is also its rightful Sovereign, its Supreme Ruler? Have you taken time to learn his purpose and his requirements as set out in the Bible? Out of respect for his position and in appreciation for his ways, are you proving yourself lovingly obedient to him?—Psalm 24:1, 10; John 17:3; 1 John 5:3.
11. Why does choosing a different course not bring happiness?
11 Are people who choose some other course happier? What has resulted from Satan’s argument that humans would be benefited by asserting their independence instead of listening to God? Refusal to acknowledge that God owns the earth and that all mankind, as descendants of the original pair, are meant to be brothers has resulted in the slaughter of at least 99 million men, women and children in wars in this century alone. Failure to apply the Bible’s moral standards has produced broken families, epidemics of venereal disease, the ruining of health by drug addiction, and violent crime. Even persons who escape a violent end are confronted with death because of sin inherited from Adam. All the evidence shows that people only hurt themselves and those around them when they ignore the wise and loving requirements of the Creator. (Romans 5:12; compare Isaiah 48:17, 18.) Surely that is not the kind of life that you want. You can choose something far better.
12. (a) What warm invitation does the Bible extend to us? (b) As we progressively apply God’s Word in our lives, what will we experience?
12 With warm appeal, the Bible extends the invitation: “Taste and see that Jehovah is good, O you people; happy is the able-bodied man that takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) To do that, you must come to know Jehovah and then apply his counsel. As you do so, your life will become filled with meaning. Instead of grasping for brief moments of pleasure that may help you momentarily to forget problems but that often produce heartache later, you will learn how to cope successfully with problems of life and how to have enduring joy. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; 4:10-13; 1:30-33) You will also have the prospect of sharing in the marvelous blessings that will come by means of God’s Kingdom. If this is the kind of life that you long for, it is vital to act now. Why?
ALL NATIONS HEADED FOR ARMAGEDDON
13. Why is it important to take a firm stand on Jehovah’s side now?
13 Jehovah will not forever tolerate men and organizations that either deliberately or indifferently follow Satan’s lead. They will not be permitted to continue disregarding God’s law, misusing the earth and spoiling life for others. They face a day of reckoning in what the Bible calls “the great day of Jehovah.”—Zephaniah 1:2, 3, 14-18.
14. To what are all nations now being gathered?
14 In a revelation of events that would take place during the closing days of the present system of things, Jesus Christ disclosed that “expressions inspired by demons” would “go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” As that revelation showed, “they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon [or, Armageddon].” That gathering is now under way!—Revelation 16:14, 16; Authorized Version.
15, 16. (a) What is Armageddon? (b) Why is it necessary?
15 The Armageddon of which the Bible speaks is not something that can be avoided by a nuclear freeze. International negotiations will not head it off. The name is apparently drawn from the ancient city of Megiddo, but far more is involved than a location in the Middle East. Egged on by the invisible “ruler of this world,” all nations, despite their varied political ideologies, are being gathered to a worldwide situation that demonstrates their opposition to Jehovah God. “The kings of the entire inhabited earth,” along with all their followers, are being made to take their stand. Immediately before Armageddon their opposition to God’s Kingdom and to all who proclaim it will greatly intensify earth wide. Whether they acknowledge the existence of Satan or not, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” as God’s Word declares. The entire wicked world and all who put their trust in it, yes, all who imitate its ways, must go.—1 John 5:19; 2:15-17.
16 From top to bottom, this world is riddled with corruption. Not just notorious criminals but average citizens display callous disregard for law and lack of concern for the person and property of their fellowman. Above all, they refuse to take heed to what God himself says in his Word, the Bible. They do not respect his sovereignty. It is necessary for God to take action in order to clear his name of the reproach that has been brought upon it, also to prepare the way for making the earth a Paradise where lovers of righteousness will be able to enjoy genuine peace and security.
17. (a) How great will the destruction be? (b) Who will be directing the outcome?
17 When destruction comes, there will be no doubt that it is from Jehovah. Desolation will sweep around the globe. The nations will know that Jehovah is taking action as his forces of execution go into operation. As governmental authority crumbles, every man’s hand will turn against his companion. From the heavens, God’s own Son will direct the outcome.—Revelation 6:16, 17; 19:11-13; Zechariah 14:13.
18. Who will the survivors be?
18 Unlike the results of nuclear war waged by men, this destruction will not be indiscriminate. But who will the survivors be? Will they be all who profess some sort of religion, or perhaps all who claim to be Christians? Jesus labels “many” of such as “workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23) The survivors into the “new earth” will be only those who have really cultivated an intimate relationship with Jehovah and his kingly Son, Christ Jesus. By their way of life and their witnessing concerning the Kingdom, they will have demonstrated that they truly “know God” and that they “obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” Are you proving yourself to be such a person?—2 Thessalonians 1:8; John 17:3; Zephaniah 2:2, 3.