Strong Reason for Faith in God’s New World
“Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Heb. 10:39.
1, 2. (a) What is ahead of us that lovers of peace and health have long desired? (b) Why should we not let the likelihood of nuclear warfare destroy our faith regarding it?
A NEW world is just ahead of us, where human souls will live forever on earth in perfect peace, happiness and well-being, with no fear of death or loss of loved ones. Lovers of peace and health have long desired such a world, and O how sweet the realization of this desire at last will be to them!
2 The new world, with its everlasting life in happiness, has been made possible for us by the great Creator of heaven and earth. Because of His promises, written down in the Holy Bible, we can today have faith that that happy world will be brought in within the time of our generation. Mankind will enter it, not by dying and becoming spirit angels in heaven, but by continuing to live on this same earth that we now inhabit. God their Creator will set up a new order of things for their eternal blessing on earth. The terrible likelihood of thermonuclear warfare between the nations should never destroy our faith in God’s own promise of this.
3. Why is the question first proposed, Will God subject that new order of things to angels?
3 Under such a new order of things, the human family will not be subject to the present rulerships that threaten mankind’s very existence with their stockpiles of fantastic weapons for global warfare and their secret plans for using these in the event of war. To whom, then, will the Most High God put the new order of things in subjection for the blessing of earth’s inhabitants? Will it be to angels, hundreds of millions of whom serve before the heavenly throne of the immortal God, “the Ancient of Days”? (Dan. 7:9, 10) During centuries long past such angels served the Most High God in connection with mankind, to protect and preserve God’s people and to transmit God’s laws and commandments to them. The history of the Hebrews from the days of the patriarch Abraham the son of Terah gives us substantial proof of such service on the part of angels. Even now God uses these unseen spirit persons to render service in marvelous ways to those who will inherit salvation to everlasting life in that new order of things.—Heb. 1:14.
4. What do most natural Hebrews today not do toward the Christian letter to the Hebrews, and why do we not have to be guided by their example?
4 Today there are millions of natural Hebrews. Most of them, however, do not accept and heed what a certain Bible writer wrote to Hebrew Christians nineteen centuries ago. But we do not have to be guided by their faithless example. We are interested in salvation even if they are not, and we have the God-given ability to exercise for ourselves the quality of faith in what this inspired Bible writer told Hebrew Christians of the first century about the new order of things. Answering our question as to the person to whom God has purposed to subject the new order of things, this Bible writer says:
5. What did the writer say, in Hebrews 2:5-10 regarding the subjecting of the new order of things?
5 “It is not to angels that he has subjected the inhabited earth to come, about which we are speaking. But a certain witness has given proof somewhere [in Psalm 8:4-6], saying: ‘What is man that you keep him in mind, or the son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than angels; with glory and honor you crowned him, and appointed him over the works of your hands. All things you subjected under his feet.’ For in that he subjected all things to him God left nothing that is not subject to him. Now, though, we do not yet see all things in subjection to him; but we behold Jesus, who has been made a little lower than angels, crowned with glory and honor for having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man. For it was fitting for the one for whose sake all things are and through whom all things are, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Chief Agent of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”—Heb. 2:5-10.
6. Because of the above fact, what will that new earth mean to those who inhabit it, and why so?
6 Nothing could be plainer than that. It is not to the angels that God has subjected the inhabited earth to come, which we today are so rapidly approaching. It is to his chief Son in heaven that God has subjected that inhabited earth to come. And can we not see now what that new earth will mean to men and women who inhabit it? Life forever in happiness! This is because the One to whom that new earth will be subjected has been made the Chief Agent of salvation. He has been made such because of “having suffered death, that he by God’s undeserved kindness might taste death for every man.” He died that we might live forever. And we can enjoy living forever in the inhabited earth to come if we accept God’s loving-kindness through him who died for us, Jesus Christ.
7. How and why was the Chief Agent of our salvation made “a little lower than angels”?
7 It was not as if an ordinary man laid down his life for us that we might live a little while longer on earth and die later on without a better earth or a better order of things. Just think of it, God’s Son came down from heaven to share our blood and flesh as a man, as a perfect, sinless, uncondemned man. To this effect it is written, in Hebrews 2:14, 15: “Since the ‘young children’ are sharers of blood and flesh, he also similarly partook of the same things, that through his death he might bring to nothing the one having the means to cause death, that is, the Devil; and that he might emancipate all those who for fear of death were subject to slavery all through their lives.” Angels are not sharers of blood and flesh; they are spirits. Consequently, by leaving heaven and being born as a human creature and thus sharing or partaking of blood and flesh, God’s chief Son was made “a little lower than angels.”
8. What does his tasting “death for every man” mean for every man?
8 There was a purpose in this. It was that Jesus, as a perfect human Son of God, might offer up a human sacrifice acceptable to God and thus “taste death for every man.” His death for every man means everlasting life for every man that takes advantage of his sacrifice by faith in its life-giving value. It means emancipation from the fear of death if we put faith in him who will bring to nothing even the Devil who now has the means to cause death and who caused the death of Jesus nineteen hundred years ago.
9. (a) What did the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12 require concerning the one there referred to? (b) To what position relative to the angels did God resurrect him, and what must we therefore do to be saved to eternal life?
9 Almighty God did not leave his self-sacrificing Son in death. God had said prophetically concerning his Son: “I shall deal him a portion among the many, and it will be with the mighty ones that he will apportion the spoil, due to the fact that he poured out his soul to the very death.” (Isa. 53:12) In order to give him a portion among the many and to let him spoil the enemy and share the spoils with other mighty ones, Almighty God resurrected his Son from the dead. The idea was not that Jesus might be a man again on earth, “a little lower than angels,” but that the angels might thenceforth be far lower than Jesus. God raised him from the dead to be a spirit creature, “crowned with glory and honor” in heaven, higher than ever before above the angels. To make known that this glorified Son was higher than the angels, God put the “inhabited earth to come” in subjection, not to the angels, but to his beloved Son Jesus. “God left nothing that is not subject to him,” not even the angels. God, who is the Most High, glorified and honored his Son by having him sit down at his own right hand in the heavens. Well, then, if we long to live in that “inhabited earth to come,” ought we not to subject ourselves also to this exalted Son of God? If we really desire to be saved to everlasting life in the new earth, is it not absolutely necessary to subject ourselves to him, God’s Chief Agent of salvation?
10. Why is there reason for us to take most seriously what we have heard through him rather than through angels?
10 So there is reason for us to be most serious about what we have heard. It is not as if we had heard just mere men, the Hebrew prophets. The Jews heard them up until A.D. 31. Neither is it as if we had heard angels. Through angels in the days of the prophet Moses the Jews had God’s Ten Words or Ten Commandments, together with all the other laws and statutes, passed on to them. Rightly it was said to the Jews: “You who received the Law as transmitted by angels.” (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19) Our case is different. We have had God’s own Son on earth nineteen centuries ago, directly speaking to men. Persons who heard him, such as Matthew, John, Peter, James and Paul, have written to us about what he said and did. Seeing, then, that we have heard what was said by God’s Son, the One next highest to God, we ought to take most seriously what we have heard by means of him.
11. Giving us a reason for doing so, what does Hebrews 2:1-4 say on the matter?
11 “That is why,” says Hebrews 2:1-4, “it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved to be firm, and every transgression and disobedient act received a retribution in harmony with justice; how shall we escape if we have neglected a salvation of such greatness in that it began to be spoken through our Lord and was verified for us by those who heard him, while God joined in bearing witness with signs as well as portents and various powerful works and with distributions of holy spirit according to his will?”
12. Why did that “word,” even though spoken through angels, deserve to be obeyed by the Israelites?
12 The “word spoken through angels” to the prophet Moses stood firm and was enforced, so that every transgression and act of disobedience toward that word was justly punished. Those angels evidently did not include the Son of God. Why not? Well, here this inspired letter to the Hebrews is making a distinction between the angels in general and God’s exalted Son. But even if the Mosaic law given at Mount Sinai in Arabia was not through God’s heavenly Son, that Law was still of divine source and it was not delivered as if it did not amount to much, as if it could lightly be disobeyed with no fear of a just retribution. No, but despite its angelic transmission it was vitally important to pay attention to that Law and to obey it. It was a matter of life to do so. For instance, an Israelite was stoned to death for collecting pieces of wood on the weekly sabbath day, and this by order of Jehovah God.—Num. 15:32-36.
OUR GREATER RESPONSIBILITY
13, 14. Why does the word of salvation through God’s Son take on greater importance, and how does Hebrews 1:1-4 bear out this point?
13 We today have heard the word of salvation as spoken by God’s Son and as verified by those who heard him nineteen centuries ago. The word of salvation that he spoke takes on greater importance because of his importance in God’s arrangement, an importance greater than that of the angels who dealt with the Israelites long ago.
14 As to his greater importance, Hebrews 1:1-4 says: “God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our [Hebrew] forefathers by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things. He is the reflection of his glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power; and after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down on the right hand of the majesty in lofty places. So he has become better than the angels, to the extent that he has inherited a name more excellent than theirs.”
15. What question therefore arises as to our escaping execution?
15 Hence, if Israelites who violated the “word spoken through angels” were executed by God’s judgment, how much less would we escape execution, that is to say, endless destruction, if we now ignore and neglect the word of salvation that began to be spoken by such an important person as God’s own Son? God has appointed him to be Heir of all things and the Maker of the systems of things.
16. What do we desire to enjoy, and what mistake of the natural Jews do we not care to make, according to the warning of Hebrews 3:12-14?
16 We desire to enjoy some of those “all things” of which God has appointed him to be the Heir, do we not? We desire to enjoy the new system of things that he will make, do we not? Yes! Well, then, we must never let go of the word of salvation originally spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must pay more than the usual attention to the things we have heard from him, that we may never drift away from the salvation in that new system of things, the new world. We do not care to make the same mistake that the natural Jews made; we see what they are today as a people. With them in mind, the inspired writer says, in Hebrews 3:12-14: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God; but keep on exhorting one another each day, as long as it may be called ‘Today,’ for fear any one of you should become hardened by the deceptive power of sin. For we actually become partakers of the Christ only if we make fast our hold on the confidence we had at the beginning firm to the end.”
17. As to making fast our hold on our original confidence, what question is asked regarding Watchtower readers?
17 How long have you, as a reader of The Watchtower, had the confidence that the word of salvation spoken by God’s Son gives? When did you begin to have this confidence? First this year? Last year? Three years ago? Five—ten—fifteen—twenty—twenty-five years ago? Some readers of The Watchtower (which began to be published in July of 1879) have had this confidence for fifty years or more. This would mean before 1914, which was the year that World War I broke out and this old world or system of things entered into the “time of the end,” although it also entered into the most scientific period of all human history. Have these readers lost confidence because the years of waiting have piled up and the time of waiting is not yet over? No! Their continuing to read and support and circulate The Watchtower is strong proof that they have not let go their hold on the confidence that they had at the start, no matter how long ago.
18, 19. (a) For that lifesaving word to benefit us, what must we do? (b) Why do the natural Jews have no rest in this old world, but how only can we have it?
18 Because of our confidence, we have no desire to draw away from the living God, for to know him and his Son means everlasting life. (John 17:3) But if we allow a “wicked heart lacking faith” to develop in us, we would draw away from God and his Son. It may be that it was merely recently or quite some time ago that we first heard this word about life in the new system of things or in the “inhabited earth to come.” But that lifesaving word will not benefit us either now or in the critical future if we do not keep on exercising faith in connection with it. We have the ancient Jews to prove that point.
19 Referring to them, Hebrews 4:2, 3 says: “For we have had the good news declared to us also, even as they also had; but the word which was heard did not benefit them.” Why not? “Because they were not united by faith with those who did hear. For we who have exercised faith do enter into the rest, just as he has said [regarding the faithless Jews]: ‘So I swore in my anger, “They shall not enter into my rest.” ‘“ And to this day the descendants of those Jews have no rest in this world, even with their Republic of Israel. But we do desire rest in God the Creator. We can have it only if we hold onto our faith and the confidence that faith inspires.