How We Know that God Will Put an End to Wickedness
Will God ever take decisive action to stamp out wickedness from the universe forever? The urgent need for a conclusive answer is pointed up by the steadily deteriorating conditions of our era. Disregard for the rule of law is everywhere evident, in private as well as in public life. A great upsurge of violence and vicious crime baffles the sociologists. As the current trend in human behavior casts its ominous shadow toward the future, what basis is there for believing that God will interfere to enforce righteousness and peace?
The expectation that God will act to put an end to all wickedness may be grounded upon a knowledge of God’s own qualities. He is the God of love and truth. One of his own inspired servants writes of him: “Anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.” (Ps. 11:5) And in another place he informs us: “I, Jehovah, am loving justice, hating robbery along with unrighteousness.” (Isa. 61:8) Would this God of righteousness forever endure what he hates?
In vindication of his own name the righteous God, Jehovah, is sure to act in his own due time against every evildoer, and that time is close at hand. He will not permit the wicked forever to get away with giving the impression that God approves of what they are doing. To the lawless, immoral ones Jehovah gives this warning notice: “These things you have done, and I kept silent. You imagined that I would positively become like you. I am going to reprove you, and I will set things in order before your eyes.” (Ps. 50:21) The long-suffering of God, intended to give full opportunity to evildoers to repent, has been misconstrued by some and they have lulled themselves into a dangerous complacency. There has been no swift retribution for their crimes, so they imagine that nothing will ever happen to them.
But God knows their inmost thoughts. He knows what it is that keeps them going on in the evil way, and he exposes their erroneous thinking: “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) By their attitude, too, they betray a failure to consider the many positive warnings of God’s purpose to act.
GOD’S PROMISES POINT TO END OF WICKEDNESS
True, we are living in days when wickedness is rampant and evildoers multiply, but Jehovah’s promises point to a complete end of wickedness. To the meek ones, for example, he gives this strong assurance: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers. Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness. For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:1, 9-11.
Notice how thorough the cleanup that Jehovah will conduct on this earth. Even though the meek make diligent search they will not be able to find even one wicked person to mar the happy and tranquil scene. Gone will be the wicked, but the meek will survive.
Another promise of God that he will ease righteously disposed persons of the terrible burden of living indefinitely among the wicked was expressed by the patriarch Enoch. So realistic was the vision that God granted him, he was moved to exclaim about its future fulfillment: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15) The magnitude of that final execution work is indicated by the fact that myriads of angels are involved and by the fact that “all the ungodly” are to have execution visited upon them.
Still another promise that points unmistakably to the end of the wicked on an international scale was voiced by God’s prophet Zephaniah: “‘Keep yourselves in expectation of me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘till the day of my rising up to the booty, for my judicial decision is to gather nations, for me to collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation, all my burning anger; for by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured.’” (Zeph. 3:8) At the same time God offers protection and survival for those meek ones of all nations who seek him and his ways of righteousness.—Zeph. 2:1-3.
That Jehovah and his appointed Executioner, Christ Jesus, will also strike directly at the root of all wickedness is made certain by the words of Jesus in his illustration about the symbolic sheep and goats: “Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.’” (Matt. 25:41) Annihilation, represented by “everlasting fire,” is the destiny of the beginner and leader in all wickedness, for the apostle John so describes the action in the prophetic vision given him by God: “The Devil who was misleading [men] was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur.”—Rev. 20:10.
Thus the promises of God furnish ample basis for anticipating an end of all wickedness, and the putting out of action of the very leader in evildoing.
THE PATTERN OF ACTION GOD FOLLOWS
In addition to these and many other promises to rid the universe of wicked ones, the pattern of action God has followed in his past dealings with evildoers offers some guide to us on how he will deal with them now. Consider, for example, the conditions that developed in the days of Noah. Angel sons of God forsook their proper places in heaven, materialized as men and mated with the beautiful daughters of men to produce a hybrid race of giants or bullies. An era of violence and immorality resulted. The sacred Record tells that “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” And what was God’s determination? “I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground.”—Gen. 6:1-7; 2 Pet. 2:5.
As Noah resolutely built the ark for the saving of his family, we can imagine the shouts of ridicule and derision of the multitude: ‘It will never come in our day, Noah. You are wasting your time.’ But the ark came to its completion, its precious cargo was loaded and the door was shut. Then came the downpour. People rushed for shelter. The water level mounted steadily hour after hour, day after day. The people fled to higher ground, frantic, disorganized. Mountains were transformed into islands as the rising waters separated families. People on the highest mountains could hear the cries and shrieks of trapped multitudes as the lower heights became engulfed by swirling waters. The crazed scramble of crowds to occupy the topmost peaks was attended by great loss of life. Eventually, not one peak was left, and the only sound—the swish of waters piled high above the tallest mountains. The last vain shouts for help were silenced.—Gen. 7:17-24.
As the ark tossed to and fro on the surface of the boundless waters, its occupants, Noah and his family, had time to ponder the fact that God’s announced purposes are always carried out. Even though wickedness had spread abroad and dominated the earth, the Supreme Ruler had swept the earth clean of wicked men.
Another striking example of God’s pattern of dealing with wicked ones is to be found in the Bible account of Sodom and Gomorrah. Righteous Lot dwelt in Sodom, and he was “greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct.” In order to satisfy their animalistic passions, those men of Sodom were prepared to resort to violence against apparently defenseless strangers. The shocking depths of their depravity reached Jehovah’s ears like a loud “cry of complaint.” The angels sent to rescue Lot and his family delivered the urgent message: “Get up! Get out of this place, because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin!”—2 Pet. 2:7; Gen. 18:20; 19:4-14.
Lot’s warning of the impending catastrophe upon the city and district was treated by his prospective sons-in-law as a big joke. The population, now long accustomed to getting away with wrongdoing, had been lulled into a false sense of safety from punishment. Yet, as soon as Lot and his daughters were clear of the doomed district, “Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire” upon the whole area. Even from a considerable distance Abraham could observe how “thick smoke ascended from the land like the thick smoke of a kiln!”—Gen. 19:24-28.
All the inhabitants of the district, with their cities, their homes, their gardens and all the well-watered fertile country, were overthrown in the fiery disaster. Three persons, God-fearing Lot and his daughters, lived to report the terrible experience. Again God had declared his purpose to bring ruin to the wicked, and again he displayed the pattern of destroying the wicked but delivering the righteous.
PROPHETIC PATTERNS FOR TODAY
These examples of God’s pattern of action in dealing with wickedness surely constitute object lessons to be read and understood by all who have lived since. They tell of Jehovah’s abhorrence of evildoing, and of his zeal for the eradication of wickedness. But they go farther. They were actually recorded as prophetic patterns of things to take place on a vastly larger scale. And it is not left to us humans to guess that those events were representative of a greater one to come in the future.
That drowning of a wicked race has lived in the traditions of almost all tribes and nations to this day. But nineteen hundred years ago it assumed new importance as a pattern of things to come when Jesus Christ declared: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matt. 24:37-39) Just as they were catering to the selfish desires of the flesh and ignoring God’s warning back there, so it is today.
Thus Jesus authoritatively warned that the prophetic pattern is certain to be carried through to a destructive conclusion for the wicked. And, referring to this same prophetic pattern of the Flood, the apostle Peter gives further detail on how the end of international wickedness will come: “By those means [God’s word directing the unprecedented downpour] the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Pet. 3:6, 7) Again an entire world of wicked creatures will be wiped out, but the righteous spared, as were Noah and his family.
Likewise the experience of Sodom and her sister cities is no mere historical incident unrelated to people living on earth today. Under the direction of God’s holy spirit the apostle Peter was moved to write: “By reducing the cities Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes [God] condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.” (2 Pet. 2:6) Thus God is certain to follow that pattern of action in connection with the wicked generation that encumbers the earth today.
Another Bible writer, Jude, adds his inspired testimony as to the real purpose of the record of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah: “So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones [materialized angels] had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” (Jude 7) God will not tolerate the wicked indefinitely.
Are there those today who ridicule the idea that God will bring a complete end to wickedness and deliver the righteous, who treat any thought of an impending destructive judgment as a great joke? God foreknew there would be, and caused the apostle Peter to prophesy: “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) The destructive events in Noah’s day and in Lot’s day point to the error of such ridiculers and to the fact that Jehovah will deliver the righteous.—2 Pet. 2:9.
The qualities displayed by the just and loving God offer a strong guarantee that he will rise up and bring an end to a generation of evildoers who today misrepresent him and ruin his handiwork here on earth. His promises, too, point to such decisive action, and it is impossible for him to lie. (Heb. 6:18) His dealings with wicked men of the past and his deliverance of the righteous point to the pattern he will follow in our day. And perhaps most explicit is the fact that in his Word the destructive Flood of Noah’s day and the fiery overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah are specifically named as patterns of “things to come.” There can be no doubt that God will put an end to all wickedness.