6,000 Years of the Grand Outworking of Jehovah’s Purpose Toward Mankind
WHEN Adam openly rejected Jehovah’s rightful sovereignty, Jehovah dealt with mankind in a merciful, loving way. He did not put Adam to death immediately and start all over again by creating a replacement for him here on earth. Rather, God chose to allow Adam to continue living and to commence producing the human family. This family that stemmed from Adam was “subjected to futility” by God in that, through inheritance from Adam, it came under condemnation of death. Of itself, humankind could find no way of release from this unhappy condition. However, this subjection to futility was “on the basis of hope,” in that God, out of his incomparable undeserved kindness, purposed a way out for faithful ones among Adam’s descendants. In this manner they might be “set free from enslavement to corruption” and be delivered into a “glorious freedom” as restored children of God. This grand hope was expressed in a prophecy that Jehovah himself spoke back in Eden. Examine now the record, millennium by millennium, as to whether there has been any slowness on God’s part in carrying forward his purpose to bring release for humankind.—Rom. 8:20, 21; Gen. 3:15; 2 Pet. 3:9.
FROM 4026 TO 3026 B.C.E.
During the millenniums preceding man’s creation, God had shown deep love and interest by preparing a paradise home for the human family. But when man in Eden rebelled, Jehovah, as the Sovereign Ruler, held court, sentenced Adam and Eve to death, and expelled them from the garden of pleasure. Jehovah acted in accordance with his quality of justice. But he did not carry out the sentence in such a way as to blot out the human race. He allowed the first pair, though now sinners, to produce children. When sentencing Adam and Eve, Jehovah also declared that he would raise up a “seed” or offspring to bruise Satan and his followers. This indicated that he would act with mercy toward Adam’s offspring, so that they could have hope of recovery and life through this promised “seed.”—Gen. 3:8-24.
When Cain murdered his brother Abel, Jehovah made clear that mankind is to be held accountable for bloodguilt. This just God inspired faithful Enoch to prophesy that Jehovah would come “with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds.” So Jehovah made it clear that he would always act justly and in righteousness against the wicked, but in his mercy he held out a glorious hope for those who would honor him.—Gen. 4:9-11; Jude 14, 15; Ex. 34:6, 7.
FROM 3026 TO 2026 B.C.E.
Early in this millennium Noah was born. Jehovah used Noah in acting out a prophetic portrayal of the deliverance that He would at last bring to mankind. In what way? Jehovah brought the cataclysm of the Deluge as his execution of judgment upon the ungodly. Only Noah and his family survived, along with specimens of all the animal kinds, in the ark, to emerge in due course into the cleansed earth. More than two millenniums later, the Messiah, Jesus, explained the prophetic meaning of the Deluge. He said: “For 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.” In this way the “Son of man,” Jesus himself, pointed forward to the purposed “day and hour” when Jehovah God would bring the “great tribulation” upon the earth, ridding it of ungodly men.—Gen. 6:13-22; Matt. 24:36-39.
Following the Deluge, when granting man permission to eat animal flesh, Jehovah declared life to be sacred and he prohibited the eating of any blood. But even while Noah yet lived, the cleansed human society became corrupt and showed disregard for God’s law, as Nimrod, a wanton hunter, set himself up as earth’s first king. Jehovah had purposed that human society should spread abroad in all the earth. When Nimrod defiantly opposed this purpose by trying to centralize the world of mankind under himself as dictator and “god,” Jehovah acted! By confusing the language of mankind, Jehovah enforced the scattering of mankind “over all the surface of the earth.” Thus he showed that no one who tries to tamper with his stated purpose will succeed.—Gen. 9:1-7; 10:9, 10; 11:1-9; Isa. 55:11.
FROM 2026 TO 1026 B.C.E.
Jehovah had made known that the promised “seed” and Deliverer for mankind would come through the family line of Noah’s son Shem. In this line there appeared Abraham, a man who was counted righteous because of his strong faith. God made a covenant with Abraham, stating that by means of Abraham’s seed, all nations of the earth would “certainly bless themselves.” By having Abraham go to the point of attempting to offer his son Isaac in sacrifice, God portrayed not only the future sacrifice of his own Son as a ransom for mankind but also the glorious resurrection hope. God also used Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph in Egypt to picture how the Messiah would be raised up as a savior for mankind. In the nearby land of Uz, Job’s “holding fast his integrity” in proving Satan to be a liar foreshadowed how the Messiah, as well as other faithful servants of God, would endure much persecution in vindication of Jehovah’s purposes.—Gen. 22:3-18; Heb. 11:17-19; Gen. 47:21-27; Job 2:3.
At the halfway mark of this millennium, Jehovah led Israel, under Moses, out of Egypt and told them: “You yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God gave a detailed law to Moses, together with instructions for the tabernacle, its service and the priesthood. All of this provided foregleams of Jehovah’s future administration of matters for uniting all things under the Messiah. As this millennium drew to its end, God made a covenant with faithful King David, which gave promise that Messiah, as the ‘seed of David,’ would sit upon the throne of God’s kingdom forever. As this millennium closed, David’s son Solomon completed the building of Jehovah’s grand temple in Jerusalem. Indeed, the outworking of God’s purpose was moving grandly forward!—Ex. 19:5, 6; Eph. 1:9, 10; 1 Chron. 17:11-14; 2 Chron. 5:1.
FROM 1026 TO 26 B.C.E.
The dedication of the glorious temple of Jehovah built by Solomon was held in the opening year of the fourth millennium. This was at the halfway point between Adam’s creation and our present day. Fittingly, Solomon prayed that the temple at Jerusalem would become a house of prayer for all nations. But Jehovah had specially chosen Israel to be the instrument by means of which He would reveal His divine purpose in restoring mankind, and through them He continued to make prophetic patterns of future events.—1 Ki. 8:1-66; Mark 11:17.
However, Israel fell into apostasy. In 740 B.C.E., Jehovah used Assyria as ‘the rod of his anger’ in punishing and sending the northern kingdom of Israel into exile. In 607 B.C.E., he likewise used Babylon in desolating Judah and Jerusalem. After seventy years a faithful remnant of Jews returned from exile in Babylon to rebuild the temple and restore true worship in Jerusalem.—Isa. 10:5-11; Jer. 25:8-14.
God used the prophet Daniel to prophesy that “Messiah the Leader” would appear sixty-nine weeks of years after the going forth of the command to rebuild Jerusalem itself, which command was issued in 455 B.C.E. Therefore Messiah, God’s Anointed One, would be due to appear in 29 C.E. God also indicated that the Gentile domination of earth, as permitted by God, commencing in 607 B.C.E., would last for 2,520 years, ending therefore in 1914 C.E.—Dan. 9:24-27; 4:16, 23, 25, 32.
The written canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was completed in this millennium, by the end of the fifth century B.C.E. But language barriers were not to hinder the spread of the vital information contained in those sacred scrolls. During the third century B.C.E., the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures began to be made in Egypt; this was prepared for the benefit of Greek-speaking Jews scattered in other lands.—Rom. 3:1, 2; 15:4.
FROM 26 B.C.E. TO 975 C.E.
Events of the first century C.E. are of tremendous significance for mankind. From the spring of 29 C.E. John the Baptist was used to “prepare the way” before the Messiah. In the fall of this year, John baptized Jesus, at which time Jehovah anointed Jesus “with holy spirit and power.” Jesus thus became the Messiah, Jehovah’s King-designate and High Priest, for bringing everlasting salvation to mankind. By preaching and performing miracles during a special three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus demonstrated how he would carry out Jehovah’s purpose when he gained the promised Kingdom rule. This would include raising the dead, and healing and restoring mankind to perfection in an earthly paradise. Jesus was impaled on a torture stake, condemned by the Jewish priests and Roman authorities. After his death and burial, Jehovah declared him to be altogether righteous by resurrecting him from the dead to heavenly life. Then the value of that perfect human sacrifice was presented to God in heaven by Jesus as High Priest, that its benefits might be applied on behalf of humankind.—Matt. 3:3, 13-17; Acts 10:37-43; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 9:24-28.
On the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E., Jehovah poured out his spirit on Jesus’ assembled disciples, bringing them as a spiritual Israel into the new covenant, mediated by Christ. Starting with the conversion of Cornelius and his household in 36 C.E., Christianized Gentiles were also brought into this “Israel of God.” Before this “little flock” of anointed Christians lay the grand prospect of sharing with Christ in his heavenly kingdom!—Acts 2:1-4; 10:24, 44-48; Heb. 9:15; Gal. 6:15, 16.
During the first century C.E., the Christian congregation became firmly established. Several apostles and other disciples of Jesus wrote down the Christian Greek Scriptures. By the end of that century the Bible canon was complete. The grand purpose of Jehovah God had now been written down in its entirety. The inspired Scriptures showed how many prophecies of God had been fulfilled or were in course of fulfillment. They held forth the certain hope of fulfillment of all of Jehovah’s promises through the kingdom of his Son.—Acts 9:31; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21.
The good news in its purity was preached by anointed Christians in ‘all creation under heaven.’ But after the death of the apostles the foretold great apostasy set in, and the Christian congregation was contaminated through the infiltration of “wolves”—“ungodly men”—who spurned the undeserved kindness of God. In 325 C.E. apostates established hypocritical Christendom under the patronage of pagan Rome, and this brought a deep spiritual darkness. The fifth millennium drew to its close with understanding and appreciation of Jehovah’s glorious Kingdom purposes at a very low ebb. But God’s promises stood sure! He does not lie.—Col. 1:13, 23; Acts 20:29, 30; Jude 4; Titus 1:2.
FROM 975 C.E. TO 1975 C.E.
During the sixth millennium Jehovah continued to test his true anointed ones as they endured persecutions. At last, curtains of darkness began to lift as the Bible was translated into the common languages of the people and began, especially from the sixteenth century, to circulate throughout Christendom. In the 1870’s there started a thrilling restoration of appreciation of basic Bible truths. Jehovah began to gather his anointed ones. These, as a “faithful and discreet slave” class, again became prominent in carrying out a great spiritual feeding program. Devout Christians began to look forward with keen anticipation to the year 1914 C.E., for this would mark the end of the Gentile Times. Indeed, it was in 1914 that Jehovah enthroned Christ Jesus in the heavenly kingdom, on heavenly Mount Zion, with possession of “the kingdom of the world.” All the features of Jesus’ prophesied “sign” indicating his presence in heavenly glory and the “conclusion of the system of things” became clearly evident as these features started to be, and continue to be, fulfilled. This has given true Christians great cause for rejoicing and has led to their vigorously proclaiming God’s established kingdom.—Rev. 20:4; Matt. 24:3-14, 32-34, 45-47; 25:31-33.
From 1919 on, a spiritual paradise under Christ’s headship was restored for God’s anointed remnant on earth. And beginning with 1935 a “great crowd” of other humble worshipers came into evidence, joining with the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Kingdom class in singing Jehovah’s praises throughout the earth. For forty years the ingathering of this “great crowd” has proceeded. Now more than two million of these servants of God look forward to passing through the fast-approaching “great tribulation” into a cleansed earth, where a literal paradise will be restored throughout this globe, and for all eternity! In some 35,000 Christian congregations, in 207 lands of the earth, God’s zealous people are being prepared for survival—prepared also for the united work that lies ahead of them in connection with the literal paradise on earth.—John 10:16; Rev. 7:9, 10, 14, 15; compare Isaiah 35:1-10; 65:17-23.
JEHOVAH ACTS PROGRESSIVELY ON BEHALF OF MANKIND
Truly, Jehovah is a progressive God. He is not slow in carrying out his majestic purpose in all its aspects for the blessing and good of his creatures. Ungodly men may ridicule the good news that the promised “presence” of the Messiah as reigning King has taken place in our day. But their words of ridicule will be turned right back on them at the “day and hour” that Jehovah has chosen to reveal “the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels.” That will mean fiery destruction and “vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” Of this we can be sure—“Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise.” While patiently awaiting “Jehovah’s day” for action, we can be happy that the “great crowd” that is to survive the “great tribulation” continues to increase rapidly. Surely we can exert ourselves vigorously on their behalf.—2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Pet. 3:3, 4, 9; 1 Tim. 4:10.
The parade of divine acts that has just been recounted, and that leads to man’s restoration, stirs our hearts. With full confidence that all of Jehovah’s grand purpose will be fulfilled toward those who love him, we will follow his leadings and those of his King, Jesus Christ, clear through the “great tribulation” into the yet future millennial Kingdom rule. Yes, Jehovah God has done and continues to do “surpassingly” for mankind.—Isa. 12:2-5.