How Long Will Wickedness Continue?
JEHOVAH GOD has permitted wickedness until our day. But will he permit it to continue indefinitely?
No, for God’s particular purpose in permitting wickedness was to settle all the issues raised by Satan. Thus, he has set a definite time when he will bring wickedness to an end. The Bible writer Daniel referred to this long ago when he wrote: “The end is yet for the time appointed.”—Dan. 11:27.
Nearly six thousand years from Adam’s day to ours may seem a long time when viewed from the standpoint of humans who live about seventy years. But since God set the time limit, it is good to appreciate his view of the matter. The prophet Moses, at Psalm 90:4, says of him: “A thousand years are in your eyes but as yesterday when it is past.” A year is a long time to a child of five, but to a man of sixty it is comparatively short. Likewise, to Jehovah, who lives for eternity, a thousand years is like a day.—2 Pet. 3:8.
This set time during which wickedness has been permitted has been no injustice to us. Why, if God had immediately crushed the life out of all the rebels in Eden, we would never even have been born! We would never have had the opportunity for eternal life in his new system. So the fact that Jehovah did not cut short his long-suffering at some earlier time has given us opportunity to live now, and eternally in the future. (2 Pet. 3:9, 15) Also, God has used this time to provide for man’s redemption through Jesus Christ.—Gal. 4:4, 5.
In addition, God has used the time to select and prepare from among mankind “vessels of mercy.” These are the ones who will make up the righteous government over those who will live forever on earth in the new system. What blessings this heavenly kingdom means for mankind! During the time that God has been preparing the “vessels of mercy,” he has show much long-suffering. He has tolerated the wicked, the “vessels of wrath.” He has held off their destruction. Why? The Bible clearly answers: “In order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy.” (Rom. 9:22-24) To God’s heavenly kingdom will go the glory of vindicating God’s name and destroying the wicked, the “vessels of wrath.” Also, by his allowing wickedness to continue for a time, facets of God’s personality are manifested that would not ordinarily be seen: his mercy and long-suffering. These enrich our appreciation of the Creator and our own personalities, as we imitate him.—Eph. 5:1.
There has also been another real benefit in God’s permitting wickedness as long as he has. If at any time in the future anyone should call into question God’s way of doing things, it would not be necessary again for him to grant that one time to try out some other way. The record of six thousand years of failure by Satan, his demons, and men who have tried to run affairs independent of God has supplied sufficient answer. No one can rightly claim: ‘They did not get a chance,’ or say, ‘If only they had more time.’ The permitted time has been enough to prove that the way of rebellion against the Creator has been absolutely disastrous! So God will be fully justified in swiftly crushing any rebel that threatens the future peace of the universe.—Ps. 145:20.
There is only a short time left before Jehovah will destroy this wicked system of things. This remaining time gives us the opportunity to take sides with him and ‘make his heart rejoice.’ (Prov. 27:11) If we willingly submit to his rulership, he will bless us with eternal life in his new system. The choice of accepting or rejecting is set before each one of us.—Deut. 30:19, 20.
Obedience to God is not really difficult. If we appreciate that Jehovah’s wisdom is much greater than ours, and that whatever he does is for our good because he is a God of love, then we will obey him in everything. Whatever Jehovah’s will is, we will want to do it, whether in times of crisis or in the everyday things of life. That is the way loyal servants of God have always felt. (Dan. 3:16-18; Ps. 119:33-37) In the first century some of these said to a high court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
Today, Jehovah is using his loyal servants to declare his name and purposes in all the earth. (Matt. 24:14) When that is done to his satisfaction, then he will show Satan his almighty power by crushing him and all other rebels, bringing an end to this wicked system. Thus, Jehovah will clear the universe of wickedness and pave the way for his righteous new system.—2 Pet. 3:13.