Sovereignty and Integrity
God’s role and man’s in the drama of vindication
FOR almost six thousand years now a drama of universal importance has been unfolding. It involves at once the sovereignty and vindication of the Creator and the integrity and destiny of all his creatures. This drama might well be illustrated by the two types of government that exist side by side in certain countries.
In these is found, on the one hand, a legally constituted, de jure, government keeping order and ostensibly looking after the welfare of its people. And, on the other hand, there is an underworld criminal government by gangsters that rules by bribes, violence and murder for its own selfish ends. The terrible reality of this situation in the United States, for example, was brought home to members of a Congressional committee when certain witnesses refused to testify because of fear of what the gangster government might do to them. Such a criminal rule not only represents a challenge to the sovereign rule of the country but also serves to test the loyalty of all its citizens to their de jure government.
In many respects the same may be said to be true of the universe, because of the condition that now prevails upon the earth. There is the legally constituted universal government by Jehovah God, the rightful Sovereign, “the King to time indefinite.” (Jer. 10:10) And on earth there is a criminal government by gangsters, as it were, both visible and invisible. This government got its start and continues to rule by means of deceit and violence for the selfish ends of pride and power. It likewise represents a challenge to the duly constituted government, the rule by Jehovah God, and it accounts for this earth’s being such a place of wickedness and woe. It also serves to test all those on earth as to their loyalty to the sovereignty of the universal de jure government, that of Jehovah God.
Let us hasten to add, however, that there is a basic difference between the two situations. Whereas the conflicting situation within certain countries is due to the weakness and selfishness of imperfect men who either connive at the situation or are unable to do anything about it, the situation involving the sovereignty of Jehovah God is tolerated by One who both has the power and purpose to end it all and will do so in his due time.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
How did this situation upon earth come about, and why does God permit it to continue? When will it end, and what can and must we individually do about it? Fortunately for us, we are living in the day when God has caused light to shine upon his Word making these matters clear, in keeping with his promise: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”—Prov. 4:18.
God’s Word reveals that the Supreme Sovereign of the universe is Jehovah God. “Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Statute-giver, Jehovah is our King.” Within himself Jehovah embodies all three branches of universal government: judicial, legislative and executive. He “ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will,” “and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”—Isa. 33:22; Dan. 4:25, 35, AS.
Jehovah God is the rightful Sovereign of the universe both by reason of what he is and by reason of what he has done. By reason of his eternity and superlative attributes, such as his omnipotence and omniscience, he not only is beyond the reach of any of his subjects but can impose his rule upon all. And this he has the right to do as the Universal Sovereign by reason of his being the Creator of all things seen and unseen and by reason of his being the Source of all life. Since all things owe their existence to him and are dependent upon him for their continuance, all rightful sovereignty rests with him. What is sovereignty? It has been defined as “the possession or exercise of supreme authority.” “The power that determines and administers the government . . . in the final analysis.”
Until about six thousand years ago Jehovah’s sovereignty had never been questioned. Then one day one of God’s spirit creatures dared to do so because of selfish ambition. This he did by inducing the first human pair, Adam and Eve, by means of appeals to selfishness, to become disloyal to Jehovah’s sovereignty. At the same time he besmirched God’s fair name by claiming that God had lied to Adam and Eve. Because of thus challenging Jehovah’s sovereignty and besmirching His fair name this one came to be known as Satan or adversary, Devil or slanderer, Serpent or deceiver, and Dragon or devourer.—Rev. 12:9.
By this course of action Satan set himself up as a rival ruler who did not recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty. In view of the basis of Jehovah’s sovereignty, as we have seen, Satan, of course, had no right to challenge it. Jehovah continued to be the rightful Sovereign regardless of what any creatures did or did not do; it did not depend in any manner upon their approval and support.
Faced for the first time with a challenge to his sovereignty as the rightful Universal Sovereign, what would Jehovah God do? Would he at once assert that sovereignty by destroying the three rebels? This he could easily have done, so settling then and there not only the question of his sovereignty but also that of his telling the truth regarding the penalty for the violation of his law. But because of certain compelling factors Jehovah did not do so. What were these?
By turning away the first pair Satan impugned Jehovah’s creatorship and justice in demanding obedience as a condition for life and yet seemingly not creating man able to remain loyal to Jehovah’s sovereignty. Also, by Satan’s success in turning away the first human pair he put in question the loyalty or integrity of all God’s creatures toward God’s sovereignty. And as later became evident in the case of Job, whom Jehovah had pointed out as being without a peer as to loyalty to Jehovah’s sovereignty, Satan took the position that he could turn all men away from God.—Job, chaps. 1 and 2.
To give Satan ample opportunity to prove his boast, and to give other creatures the opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty to God’s sovereignty, Jehovah delayed or postponed asserting his sovereignty. This would allow Satan to build up a powerful criminal government or organization by means of violence, deceit and murder, the destruction of which by Jehovah in his own due time would be an even greater proof of his sovereignty. God was so certain as to the outcome of it all that he foretold it in the garden of Eden, at the very time of the rebellion. (Gen. 3:15) In the meantime Jehovah would have those loyal to his sovereignty declare his name in all the earth, even as he told Pharaoh, who served as a symbol for Satan: “But, in fact, for this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.”—Ex. 9:16.
For the same reasons Jehovah also permitted the first human pair to live for quite some time and bring forth children. Jehovah knew full well that not all of them would prove disloyal to his sovereignty, that not all would yield to the pressures exerted by Satan’s gangster government. He knew that there was no flaw in his creative work and that some of his creatures would remain faithful to him. The mere fact that their number has been small has had no bearing upon the issue, for by their course of action they prove that others could have done likewise had they wanted to.
The course of those that remained loyal, while not affecting God’s sovereignty, would nevertheless clear God’s name of the reproach that Satan heaped upon it by his boast that he could turn all men away from God. They would thereby also clear themselves of reproach and thus prove Satan a liar. That is why God says to such: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him [Satan the Devil] that is taunting me.”—Prov. 27:11.
Once this question of man’s integrity or loyalty to God’s sovereignty has been fully settled God will assert his sovereignty. This he will do by destroying Satan and all others who have proved disloyal to Jehovah’s sovereignty, at the battle of Armageddon, thereafter bringing in a new world in which righteousness is to dwell.—2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 16:14, 16.
CERTAINTY AND HISTORY
Why can we be so certain that Jehovah will vindicate his sovereignty when for so long he has apparently done nothing about it? Because as Supreme Sovereign his Word tells us he cannot deny himself. Never acting in behalf of his sovereignty would amount to his denying that he himself exists, or at least that he had the power and will to assert his sovereignty, thereby vindicating himself. He would be like the governments of this world that connive at or are unable to deal with the gangster governments within their borders. Failure to act would show a lack of love for the ones being oppressed by Satan and his agents. Besides, were he not to act, wicked conditions would worsen to the extent of wiping out all his creation on earth.—2 Tim. 2:13.
Giving us strong assurance that Jehovah will, in his due time, assert his sovereignty is the record found in his Word. Did he not assert his sovereignty at the time of the Flood, in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the days of Moses against Pharaoh and his Egyptian might, against Captain Sisera and his army, and against Sennacherib and his hosts encamped before Jerusalem? Yes!—Gen. 7:1, 23; 19:24, 25; Ex. 14:30, 31; Judg. 4:15; 2 Ki. 19:35.
At the same time Jehovah has had those who kept their integrity toward his sovereignty and who vindicated his name by thus keeping integrity. Among these must be mentioned Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and many others down to the time of Jesus and his early followers, as far as the Scriptural record shows. And secular history shows that there have been some ever since, right on down to our day. When Jehovah asserts his sovereignty he spares those who have demonstrated their integrity to him.
THE SITUATION TODAY
Today, more than ever before in human history, conditions cry out for Jehovah to assert his sovereignty. There is godless communism taking in ever more of earth’s population. It not only is dedicated to an atheistic ideology but harasses and persecutes and imprisons those who insist on paying back “God’s things to God” and who follow the example of the apostles who said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Matt. 22:21; Acts 5:29.
In Christendom there is a deliberate and concerted effort to wipe out the name of Jehovah. This is seen both by their refusing to use that name in their modern Bible translations and by their heaping ridicule and reproach upon those who bear his name, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, thereby treating Jehovah’s name with disrespect.—Isa. 52:5.
All over the earth there is more crime, delinquency and immorality than ever before, on the part of both adults and juveniles. As in no other period of history it is true: “Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad.”—Eccl. 8:11.
These very facts, however, prove that the time for Jehovah God to vindicate himself by asserting his sovereignty is near at hand, for did not Jesus say that at the end of this system of things there would be an “increasing of lawlessness”? And did not the apostle Paul foretell “that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here” because of all manner of wickedness? They certainly did, even as the psalmist of old said: “When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever.”—Matt. 24:12; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Ps. 92:7.
The day for Jehovah to assert his sovereignty draws on apace. There is no time to lose. To escape annihilation with the enemies of Jehovah’s sovereignty we must prove our loyalty to it by separating ourselves from Satan’s criminal rule and refusing to be bribed or intimidated by it. That means we must stay clean of its materialistic commercialism, its corrupt politics and its false and hypocritical religions. Thereby we will share in the vindication of Jehovah’s name, proving the Devil a liar. So doing, we can hope to be spared when Jehovah gloriously demonstrates that he is the Universal Sovereign and when he clears his name of all the reproach that has been maliciously heaped upon it; and this he will do by destroying all the wicked at Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God Almighty.
There is no middle ground. As Jesus said: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30) We may not deceive ourselves with the thought that a passive belief in the Bible and leading a moral life is all that is required. Not by any means! Loyalty to Jehovah’s sovereignty requires that we take in knowledge of him and his Son, that we associate with other Christians, that we dedicate ourselves to do God’s will and carry out that will, the chief part of it at the present time being preaching “this good news of the kingdom.” By doing so, it will be our happy privilege to demonstrate throughout eternity our integrity to Jehovah’s sovereignty and to honor his name as his obedient subjects in the righteous new world.—Zeph. 2:3; Matt. 24:14.