Has God Forgotten Man?
Do life’s problems indicate that God has forgotten us? What solution does the Bible offer?
IN THE privacy of their modest home a serious-faced railroad man and his wife discussed life’s problems with a visiting minister. They had experienced their share of sickness, worry and the struggle to make a living, but they were not complaining. Yet the man of the house did have a question that had often puzzled him: “How is it that a man who tries to live right has such a hard time, while bad people seem to have it good?” This situation made him wonder if God had forgotten. How would you explain it?
The minister had been asked that question before. In fact, people were asking just about the same thing in the days of the prophet Malachi. Here is what the prophet told his countrymen: “You have said, ‘It is of no value to serve God. And what profit is there in that we have kept the obligation to him, and that we have walked dejectedly on account of Jehovah of armies? And at present we are pronouncing presumptuous people happy. Also, the doers of wickedness have been built up. Also, they have tested God out and keep getting away.’” (Mal. 3:14, 15) Even men who loved God and served him faithfully sometimes asked: “Has God forgotten to be favorable, or has he shut off his mercies in anger?”—Ps. 77:9.
Today lawbreakers still echo the insolence of the wicked men who boasted: “God has forgotten. He has concealed his face. He will certainly never see it.” (Ps. 10:11) Yes, the railroad man asked a common question. Both good and bad people have imagined that God has forgotten man. In our day some arrive at that conclusion, not only because of personal problems, but due to the condition of the world in general.
For example, they reflect on the fact that in spite of many prayers for peace, our century has seen two world wars. They hear of prayer campaigns to convert atheist Russia, but the dangerous cold war continues. Compounding the risk is the ever-present threat of nuclear war. Even that problem may have stiff competition in a few years, according to Dr. Firuz Kazemzadeh, professor of history at Yale University, who says that overpopulation “in fifteen years will be as serious a problem as A-bombs.”
Further aggravating man’s fears and doubts is the rising number of serious crimes, the rapid growth of juvenile delinquency and persistent widespread hunger. These are some of the major worries that trouble people in Christendom, where the landscape is dotted with churches—but where the parishioners often wonder, Has God forgotten?
WHO HAS FORGOTTEN WHOM?
In all fairness we ask, Who has done the forgetting? Is it God’s fault that the world is in its present shape? Is it not true that in the beginning God provided the heat and light of the sun for our comfort, convenience and life? Did he not create a marvelous water exchange system that brings rain for our crops and drinking water? And what about the very atmosphere in which we breathe? All these bounties we still enjoy. (Matt. 5:45) God also planted many kinds of delightful vegetation and he created animals to serve us and supply food. With divine laws to guide him, the first man started on a wonderful career as overseer of the earth. But then someone forgot. Was it God?
The sacred record shows that it was not God who forgot. No, it was not God who brought sin, suffering and death into the world. Jehovah had told the first human pair how to stay happy and alive, but they did not have enough love for him to obey. Man and woman deliberately ignored God’s laws, and when they ignored his laws they ignored him. Violation of God’s law brought the fixed penalty: death. Even then God did not forget man. He remembered that Adam’s unborn children would need hope in their sinful, dying condition. He determined to vindicate his own name of the reproach brought upon it by the rebellious spirit son, Satan the Devil, who used the lowly serpent to deceive Eve. (Rev. 20:2) Jehovah God stepped in with a promise to send a deliverer and free mankind from the deathtrap.
As succeeding generations were born God reinforced his promise of deliverance by giving instruction and encouragement to such righteous men as Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. True to his word, God made a great nation out of their descendants. Through Moses he gave the nation of Israel many wonderful laws to guide them straight to Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. The law would teach them just as a tutor instructs his pupil. (Gal. 3:24) Along with the law God gave many inspired prophecies to build up men’s faith in the coming Messiah, Jesus. For instance, God foretold his birth in Bethlehem, his ministry in Galilee, the manner of his death and his marvelous resurrection. (Mic. 5:2; Isa. 9:1, 2; 53:1-12; Zech. 11:12; Ps. 22:1, 18; 16:10) All of this proved that God had not forgotten man, but could men speak as well for their memory?
Unfortunately, even the chosen nation, Israel, often forgot God. The Bible record at Jeremiah 3:21 states: “They have twisted their way; they have forgotten Jehovah their God.” His counsel did not seem good to them, any more than it did to Adam and Eve. Jehovah used his prophet Hosea to tell them exactly why they would lose his favor: “My people will certainly be silenced, because there is no knowledge. Because the knowledge is what you yourself have rejected, I shall also reject you from serving as a priest to me; and because you keep forgetting the law of your God, I shall forget your sons, even I.” (Hos. 4:6) When Jehovah finally withdrew his protection the northern kingdom of Israel fell, in 740 B.C., and in 607 B.C. those of Judah went into seventy years’ captivity in Babylon. Restoration followed, but not with the glory and prosperity once enjoyed in the reign of King Solomon. One hope remained: the coming Messiah whose appearance was foretold in Eden. The prophecy of Daniel 9:25 indicated that the Messiah would appear A.D. 29. Would God remember?
GOD’S LOVE FOR MANKIND
At the appointed time Jesus came into the world and began his important ministry at the age of thirty. Electrifying were his words and miracles! In three and a half years he died—then he was resurrected. Here was convincing proof of God’s love for the world of mankind. (John 3:16) But that was nearly 2,000 years ago. What of all the concentrated woes that have hit the earth beginning with World War I? Has God forgotten to answer Jesus’ prayer for God’s kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth and in heaven?
As the apostle Peter foretold, many imagine so. He wrote: “In the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” (2 Pet. 3:3, 4) So they say, but are the scoffers right?
On the contrary! The fearful events of our time, and the ridiculers, are pointed fulfillments of Bible prophecies marking the heavenly establishment of God’s kingdom under Christ the reigning king. That is the true meaning of the unprecedented world wars, great earthquakes, epidemics, food shortages, increased lawlessness and the anguish of nations with fear of the things coming upon the earth. (Matt. 24:3-12; Luke 21:11, 25, 26) Jesus explained this when he said: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” “With that he spoke an illustration to them: ‘Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.’”—Luke 21:28-32.
The woes afflicting this generation are not evidence that God has forgotten man. Rather, they are assurance that God has remembered his promise to bring paradise back to earth through his kingdom. (Isa. 65:17; Dan. 2:44) The rising of nation against nation in the first world war was not the only struggle taking place at that time. Revelation chapter twelve indicates that Michael, who is Christ in heaven, came to the heavenly throne of God’s kingdom at that time and warred against the great Serpent, Satan the Devil, expelling him from heaven. The hurling of this wicked one to the earth has meant further “woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:5-12) Under Satan’s goading, men and nations oppress their fellowman, bring about bloody wars, terrible food shortages and much misery to mankind. These are the pangs of distress afflicting our generation even since the birth of God’s kingdom in heaven. What then? Has God’s King forgotten to act as a deliverer?
Not at all. God’s love has provided that men now living shall have an opportunity to know of the Kingdom’s establishment. Jehovah has raised up an international group of Christians who vigorously witness to the fact of the Kingdom’s establishment. They urge all to worship Jehovah, the true God, with hope of surviving his war of Armageddon into God’s new world. (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 16:14, 16) To the very doors of mankind God has sent these witnesses with assurance that he has not forgotten. Their message declares that soon Christ will crush the serpent, Satan, and “break up the works of the Devil.” (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8) Following that victorious Armageddon fight, the King of kings will subdue all enemies, including Adamic death, and bring in a paradise of peace and happiness to the extremity of the earth. (1 Cor. 15:25, 26; Ps. 46:9; 72:7) Even the dead in God’s memory will get their promised resurrection. No longer will the Devil or devilish men oppress the lowly, for “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth.” (John 5:28, 29; Ps. 37:11) “Look!” Jehovah says, “I am making all things new.”—Rev. 21:5.
WHO REMEMBERS GOD?
Since Jehovah’s purpose is clear and his patience is to our advantage, there is no cause to think that he has forgotten man. The question is, Who will remember God and survive Armageddon? Jehovah says: “Wicked people will turn back to Sheol, even all the nations forgetting God.” (Ps. 9:17) Therefore it is important to remember the words of the prophet Malachi and consider our own standing with God. Malachi wrote: “At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name. ‘And they will certainly become mine,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him. And you people will again certainly see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.’” (Mal. 3:16-18) Soon no one will ask the railroad man’s question, “How is it . . . bad people seem to have it good?”
When Armageddon’s fury breaks in this generation, God will remember those who have served him, just as he remembered to save righteous Noah and his family at the time of the Flood. We have the assurance recorded in his own Word: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” (Heb. 6:10) We have every reason for confidence in that statement. The evidence shows that Jehovah made provision for man’s deliverance; that he gave believing men his laws to guide them and set a real hope before mankind. Moreover, in spite of the fact that most men have forgotten Him, the Bible shows that God will soon remove the oppressor, restore perfect life to obedient men and resurrect the dead. These are some of the blessings in store for those who remember Jehovah God now and honor his name.
Will you do so?