Hope Based on the Unfolding Purpose of God
“Hope we have as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm.”—Heb. 6:19.
1. How have some worldly-wise men expressed themselves as regards hope?
THE ancient worldly-wise Greeks disparaged hope. They took the view that, since fate is unchangeable, hope is an illusion. One of them even called hope “man’s curse.” In more modern times an English author said, “Worse than the bitterness of death is hope.” And the atheistic German philosopher Nietzsche wrote: “Hope is the worst of all evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.”
2. What has been learned in recent years about the medicinal value of hope?
2 But since then other men have drawn totally different conclusions about hope. A noted researcher in psychosomatic medicine found that men who had hope were much better able to survive stressful conditions. Another physician pointed to hope as the only explanation for cures of numerous afflictions that baffled doctors. And one of America’s leading authorities on mental illness devotes many pages in a textbook to show the medicinal power of hope.
3. (a) How has Jehovah taken cognizance of our need for hope? (b) How might this be illustrated?
3 Our Creator, Jehovah God, knows even better man’s need for hope, especially as it relates to spiritual well-being. (Ps. 103:14) In his loving-kindness, he has made provision to care for this vital need. Besides stating hope-inspiring promises, he has given repeated indications that they will be fulfilled. Thus he has furnished an ever-increasing basis for hope. This could be compared to what a father might do in letting his children know what he has in mind. Perhaps the father wants to take the whole family on a week’s vacation. His informing the children accordingly gives them a basis for hope, expectation. Then, as he lets them observe the preparations for the trip, their hope is strengthened. Possible doubts about actually going away on vacation are pushed out of the way.
4. What purpose did God have in mind in creating the earth and man?
4 Just as the father would have in mind a vacation for himself and his family even before mentioning it to the children, so Jehovah God had a purpose for the earth and man even before creating them. The Bible shows that God did not ‘create the earth simply for nothing but formed it to be inhabited’ by perfect human creatures, living forever in a paradise. Upon creating the first human pair, he stated his purpose for them, saying: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection . . . every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”—Isa. 45:18; Gen. 1:28.
5. What promise did he give in Eden to show that his original purpose regarding earth and man had not changed?
5 When a certain angel rebelled and made himself Satan the Devil, and Adam and Eve joined in his rebellion, did Jehovah God change his purpose respecting the earth and man? Not at all, for at that very time he gave his first prophecy, one that looked ahead to the fulfillment of that purpose. He stated: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” Inherent in that promise (recorded at Genesis 3:15) was the hope that ultimately righteousness would triumph and Jehovah’s purpose regarding the earth and man would be realized. Other parts of the Bible indicate that this hope-inspiring promise pointed forward to a Kingdom in the hands of the principal “seed” and a body of loyal associates.—Eph. 1:8-12; 1 Pet. 1:18-21; 2:4-9; Rev. 5:9, 10.
JEHOVAH’S WORD HAS EVER PROVED TRUE
6. Why can we fully rely on Jehovah’s promises?
6 Why can we today be confident, certain that Jehovah God will fulfill this promise? Because, on the one hand, he has the power and wisdom to bring about the accomplishment of his purpose. That is why he can consider “things that are not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17) And, on the other hand, we can have full faith in that original Kingdom prophecy and promise because Jehovah God has ever since shown himself to be dependable in fulfilling his word. (Josh. 21:45) God is faithful.—1 Pet. 4:19.
7, 8. What examples might be given as to the dependability of Jehovah’s word from the time of Noah to the days of Solomon?
7 Did not God’s words to Noah come true regarding the great deluge and the means for surviving it when the wicked were destroyed? (Gen. 6:17-19; 8:15-19) Did not God’s promise to Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son in their old age see fulfillment? (Gen. 17:19; 21:1-3) What about Jehovah’s word to Moses? Jehovah promised to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. Did he? He most certainly did, even as Joshua testified: “You well know with all your hearts and with all your souls that not one word out of all the good words that Jehovah your God has spoken to you has failed. They have all come true for you. Not one word of them has failed.”—Josh. 23:14.
8 Jehovah further promised the Israelites that if they obeyed they would be a special property to him and enjoy success, peace and prosperity. Under the reign of King Solomon in particular was that promise fulfilled. At the time of the dedication of the temple, Solomon could say: “Blessed be Jehovah, who has given a resting-place to his people Israel according to all that he has promised. There has not failed one word of all his good promise that he has promised by means of Moses his servant.”—1 Ki. 8:56; Deut. 4:3-8, 37-40.
9. What events in the latter days of Israel’s history show that Jehovah’s word is trustworthy?
9 But Jehovah God also warned that if they turned away from him they would be punished. In fact, he foretold their going into Babylonian exile. True to his word, when they turned away from him, Jehovah did indeed punish them. (Deut. 31:29; Isa. 39:5-7; 2 Chron. 36:15-21) Likewise, in harmony with his promise, he restored a repentant remnant to their homeland. (Lev. 26:41-45; Ezra 1:1-3) Finally, by the mouth of his greatest prophet, his own Son, Jesus Christ, Jehovah foretold another desolating of Jerusalem. This was fulfilled in 70 C.E. when the Roman armies under General Titus destroyed Jerusalem and her glorious temple. (Luke 19:41-44) No question about it, Jehovah has shown himself faithful and dependable, always fulfilling his word. Yes, as the apostle Paul assures us, ‘God cannot lie.’—Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18.
CUMULATIVE BASIS FOR FAITH
10. What has Jehovah done to strengthen our hope?
10 Not only is our hope in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s Kingdom promise strengthened by reason of his having kept his word in so many other instances, but it is strengthened also in that we see the outworking of his purpose toward its grand realization. From the beginning Jehovah has, by many supernatural acts, given evidence to faithful men that his original Kingdom prophecy would be fulfilled.
11, 12. How did the Flood and Jehovah’s dealings from the time of Abraham to Moses serve to strengthen the hope of his servants in the Edenic prophecy?
11 Giving support to that first Kingdom prophecy was the flood of Noah’s day. How so? Well, the Flood was an expression of Jehovah’s interest in the earth. It provided undeniable evidence that God would not always let wickedness hold sway but would, in his due time, fulfill the promise about the “seed.”—Gen. 6:3.
12 Moreover, Jehovah God revealed that he was taking steps to produce the “seed” and to protect the line of descent leading up to that one. He revived the reproductive powers of Abraham and Sarah, enabling them to have a son, Isaac, in their old age. (Heb. 11:11, 12) Later, a grandson of Isaac, Jacob’s son Joseph, came to be a slave in Egypt. Jehovah God made use of this circumstance to prevent Jacob’s large family from perishing in a seven-year famine. (Gen. 45:4-7) In time Jacob’s family grew to be a nation in Egypt and came under terrible oppression. God’s sending Moses to deliver the Israelites from that oppressive slavery was yet another step in producing the “seed.” (Ex. 3:13-17; 19:3-6) From that time onward Jehovah used an entire nation to make known aspects of his purpose concerning the “seed.”
13. What basis for hope did the reigns of David and Solomon furnish?
13 In his dealings with the nation of Israel, Jehovah God gave further basis for faith in his original Kingdom promise. The Law and the priesthood that he gave to the Israelites pointed forward to the principal “seed” and the marvelous things he and his associate king-priests would accomplish in making this earth a beautiful home, to be inhabited by a perfect human race for all eternity. (Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1; Rev. 5:9, 10; 21:2-4) During the reign of King David over the entire nation it became clear that the principal “seed” would come through his royal line. (2 Sam. 7:12-16) The conquests of David and the glorious reign of his son Solomon furnished foregleams of that “seed’s” grand Kingdom reign. Like David, he would gain the victory over all who set themselves in opposition to him. (Ps. 2:1-12; 110:1, 2; Matt. 22:41-45; Acts 4:24-30) And, as in the time of Solomon, his devoted subjects would dwell in security, enjoying the fruitage of their labors to the full.—1 Ki. 4:25; Ps. 72:7, 8; Isa. 11:1-9.
14, 15. What basis for hope did Jehovah give by means of Jesus’ earthly ministry?
14 What strong evidence that Jehovah God would carry out his Edenic promise appeared with his sending his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to earth! Now features of Jehovah’s purpose began unfolding even more speedily. In laying down his perfect human life in sacrifice, Jesus provided the legal basis for the Kingdom. By his entire course of faithfulness while subjected to great stress and suffering, he also proved himself worthy to be the king of the Kingdom. As we read in the Bible: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.” Jesus “conquered the world” in that he refused to become like it. As a reward for his unswerving devotion to his Father, he became “the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords.”—Heb. 5:8, 9; John 16:33; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14.
15 What grand assurances of the ultimate triumph of righteousness and the everlasting blessing of humankind Jesus gave by the many miracles that he performed! There was nothing too difficult for him. He healed all manner of diseases and infirmities, fed multitudes on a few loaves and fishes, calmed wind and sea, and raised the dead, even one who had been dead for four days. Truly God ‘had anointed his Son with holy spirit and with power,’ thereby giving all men further basis for hope in the sure coming of the Kingdom.—Acts 10:38.
16. What has Jehovah been doing since Pentecost of 33 C.E. to further his Kingdom purpose?
16 And what has Jehovah God been doing since Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven to unfold his purpose respecting the “seed”? Much, as the book of Acts and the rest of the Christian Greek Scriptures show. Beginning with Pentecost of 33 C.E., by means of miracles Jehovah showed that members of the Christian congregation are to be associates with Jesus as part of the “seed” foretold in Eden. In fact, for the past 1,900 years Jehovah God has been selecting these, for a total of 144,000 members. By now that number appears to be nearly complete.—John 14:1-3; Acts 2:1-47; Rev. 14:1, 3; 20:6.
JEHOVAH’S PURPOSE MOVING TOWARD FULFILLMENT IN OUR DAY
17. Since the end of the Gentile Times, what evidence has been pilling up to show that God’s purpose for mankind will soon be realized?
17 Also in this twentieth century evidence concerning the sure fulfillment of God’s purpose for mankind has continued to mount. In the year the first world war broke out the “appointed times of the nations” expired. (Luke 21:24) Events since then—the wars, earthquakes, food shortages and pestilences—prove that the great prophecy uttered by Jesus (as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke) is undergoing fulfillment. Also, as foretold by Jesus, the “good news of the kingdom” is being preached. (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10) More than two million proclaimers speaking in over 160 languages and in upward of 200 lands and islands of the sea have had a share in it. All of this is evidence that the Kingdom in the hands of Christ will soon come against its enemies, in fulfillment of God’s Edenic promise.
18. How has Jehovah’s name been made prominent, and what purposes has this served in particular?
18 The Bible, particularly the book of Ezekiel, reveals that it is Jehovah’s purpose to make all men know at the end of this system of things that he alone, whose name is Jehovah, is the one true God. (Ps. 83:17, 18; Ezek. 36:38; 38:23) How fitting, then, that in 1931 God put it into the minds and hearts of his people here on earth to embrace the name he had long ago given his servants, namely, Jehovah’s witnesses, or, more fully, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12) This has been a blessing in at least two respects. First of all, it has served to make known world wide the unique name of the one true God. And secondly, it has set apart the real followers of Jesus Christ, the true servants of Jehovah God, from all others who profess to be Christians but are such in name only. The very prominence given that name serves to strengthen our faith that the time is near for Jehovah God once and for all time to vindicate himself in the minds of all his intelligent creatures, seen and unseen!
19. Increased light regarding what class of individuals has served to show that the fulfillment of God’s purpose is moving forward to a climax?
19 Further helping to strengthen the hope of Jehovah’s servants in the full realization of his purpose was the light that came in 1935 as to the identity of the “great crowd” mentioned at Revelation 7:9. It was then discerned, from a careful study of the Scriptures, that these would survive the “great tribulation,” having the prospect of eternal life on earth. The appearance of such a “great crowd”—particularly since 1935, and now in rapidly increasing numbers—from all nations and lands is additional evidence that the fulfillment of Jehovah’s purpose is indeed at hand. How so? Since a “great crowd” is already in evidence, the “great tribulation” that they will survive must be very near. And since this “great crowd” constitutes the nucleus of the “new earth,” it logically follows that the time for the bringing in of a righteous new order of “new heavens” and a “new earth” must also be at the doors.—2 Pet. 3:13.
20. What call is being made to lovers of righteousness still in Babylon the Great, and what does this indicate as to the time in which we are living?
20 Also strengthening the faith and hope of Jehovah’s servants has been the clearer understanding of “Babylon the Great” as the world empire of false religion. Through a careful study of the Holy Scriptures, they have learned that the “great tribulation” will begin with the destruction of false religion and all those who are a part of it. This has contributed to their having a sense of great urgency in sounding the warning found at Revelation 18:4: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” Those staying in Babylon the Great will share in her sins, be guilty with her, and therefore will also suffer punishment with her, receiving part of her plagues. The very fact that this message of imminent destruction of all false religion is being proclaimed far and wide further argues that the “great tribulation” must be drawing on apace.
21. How has Jehovah strengthened the hope of his people in times of great opposition and persecution?
21 Jehovah’s Christian witnesses as a body have also had their hope strengthened by experiencing God’s loving care. During the 1930’s, for example, came bitter opposition and persecution in totalitarian lands. Then, after World War II broke out, intense opposition began to spread to nearly every nation on earth. Nevertheless, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah found the assuring words of Isaiah 54:17 to apply in their case: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn.” Yes, in spite of all the opposition and persecution in the form of imprisonment, torture and, in some cases, brutal execution, Jehovah’s servants as a body emerged from World War II stronger and more numerous than before. Even the horrible concentration camps of Nazi Germany had not destroyed their determination to continue serving Jehovah faithfully. On May 3, 1945, a group of 230 Witnesses who survived concentration-camp brutalities expressed themselves as follows:
“Let it be known that our great God, whose name is Jehovah, has fulfilled his word to his people, especially in the territory of the King of the North. A long hard period of testing lies behind us and those who have been preserved, snatched as it were from the fiery furnace, do not even have the smell of fire on them. (See Daniel 3:27.) To the contrary, they are full of strength and power from Jehovah.”
22, 23. (a) What did members of the Christian congregation eventually come to recognize as regards appointments of elders and ministerial servants? (b) How are appointments of elders and ministerial servants made today, and how has this benefited the congregations?
22 Evidence that Jehovah’s irresistible spirit is moving his people forward may be seen in what is happening inside the Christian congregation. For many years individual congregations operated along somewhat democratic lines, the local congregations electing their elders and deacons (ministerial servants). (Acts 14:23, Rotherham) But eventually, through careful and prayerful study of God’s Word, members of the Christian congregation, under the guidance of the holy spirit, came to recognize that appointments should be made by those occupying positions comparable to the central body of elders in the first-century Jerusalem congregation and other elders like the apostle Paul, and comparable to Paul’s delegates, his associates Timothy and Titus. (Acts 6:2, 3; 14:23; 1 Tim. 5:22; Titus 1:5) This resulted in the gradual restoration of the first-century congregational arrangement.
23 Hence, today appointments of elders and ministerial servants are made directly by a governing body of spirit-anointed elders or by them through other elders representing this body. All men measuring up to the Scriptural qualifications are appointed either as ministerial servants or as elders. The opportunity is there for any man to ‘reach out’ for the responsibility of an elder by striving to meet the qualifications the Bible outlines. (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) In fact, all men are encouraged to do so. Those associated with the various congregations throughout the earth have come to appreciate that the bringing in of the Bible-based congregational arrangement has been at an especially appropriate time. Now the load of caring for the spiritual needs of rapidly growing congregations does not fall primarily on one elder or overseer but is shared by a body. The congregations have thus been able to benefit more fully from the varying abilities of capable men.
THE WORLDWIDE EXPANSION
24, 25. What do the marvelous increases in the ranks of Jehovah’s people prove?
24 What has been happening in the congregations of Jehovah’s people in recent years has simply been amazing. The prophetic words of Isaiah 60:22 have come to sudden realization: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation.” When we consider that only a few thousand identified themselves as true worshipers of Jehovah God in the days of World War I and compare that to the more than two million Kingdom proclaimers today, we must confess that the little one has indeed become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. Surely this provides additional proof that we must be living in significant times as regards the outworking of Jehovah’s marvelous purpose for mankind.
25 It is astounding that there has been such tremendous increase at a time when religious organizations of both Christendom and pagandom are losing their hold on the people. The great religious systems have been unable to cope with radical political ideologies and the materialistic and hedonistic philosophies that make selfish gain the most important thing in life. But the pure worship of Jehovah God is stronger than all the philosophies, all the ideologies and all the world religions of this old system of things. That is why hundreds of thousands have embraced true worship in recent years and rejoice in having found true hope. Why, during the period of September 1, 1973, to August 31, 1974, alone, 297,872 made that hope their own by submitting to water baptism as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
26. Why can we look to the future with confidence?
26 Truly Jehovah God has given us strong basis for hope in the ultimate realization of his grand purpose for humankind. We have seen how, time and time again, he proved true to his word, clearly demonstrating that he cannot lie. And we have also seen how, since giving that first Kingdom prophecy in Eden, Jehovah God has been unfolding his purpose to mankind and working through the millenniums toward its fulfillment. What he has done has also served to strengthen his servants for whatever the future may bring. So we can look to the future with confidence, certain that his glorious purpose will triumph, to the eternal blessing of obedient mankind.—Luke 21:28.
[Pictures on page 80, 81]
Wicked destroyed in Noah’s day
Abraham has a son
Israel delivered from bondage
King David victorious over enemies
Solomon’s peaceful reign
Jesus healed the sick
Jesus’ death atoned for sin
Good news preached world wide