Proving Ourselves Worthy to Enter God’s New Order
“Since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 Pet. 3:14.
1. What can discontents with the old order not do about it, but what can God do?
DISCONTENT with the existing old order of things is widespread throughout the earth. Many radically minded persons call it “the establishment” and protest against it. Many of such want to destroy it. However, they find themselves having nothing suitable with which to replace it. They can contrive nothing new and better as a substitute. If they destroyed the established old order, it would leave only ruin. Happily, there is someone higher than man who also is not satisfied with the old order on earth. He is able, not only to destroy the old order completely, but also to replace it with an order brilliantly new for mankind. He is the Almighty God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
2. What has this Almighty God promised to do about it, and where do we find his promise written down?
2 This same God has promised both the removal of the oppressive, death-dealing old order from this earth and the setting up of a righteous, life-giving new order that will satisfy the needs and rightful desires of all mankind. The divine promise of this marvelous change in human affairs we find written down in the Book of which God is the Author, the Holy Bible. One first-century Bible writer referred to that precious promise when he wrote the words: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
3, 4. (a) What question arises about us as regards that divine promise? (b) What kind of experience will it be for mankind when Revelation 21:3-5 is fulfilled toward them?
3 The first-century readers of those confident words of the Christian apostle Peter were indeed eagerly waiting for the promised “new heavens and a new earth” from a God who does not lie. His promise still stands true today! Hence, the question is, Do we also believe it? If we claim to do so, are we likewise awaiting such righteous “new” things? With credit to the God whose promise never fails, we ought to be doing so. (Josh. 21:45; 23:14; Titus 1:2) Really, we should be delighted, because the “new heavens and a new earth” are almost upon us! Certainly we need them as never before! Those new things symbolize God’s righteous new order. It will truly be something “new.” Thus far men have never seen anything like it. It will undeniably be a new experience for mankind when the words near the close of the Bible are fulfilled:
4 “‘And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’ And the One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’”—Rev. 21:3-5.
5. How do promises of politicians prove to be in contrast with God’s promises?
5 Sadly mankind have found the ambitious promises of their vote-seeking politicians to be hollow, empty, exaggerated, unrealizable and not deserving of trust and confidence. In sharp contrast to that, the promises of the Creator of the “new heavens and a new earth” will prove to be “faithful and true.” We can await what He has promised with no possibility of our being disappointed.
THE OLD MUST GIVE WAY TO THE NEW
6, 7. What do many people religiously believe about the old order, and of what Book and its Authorship are they ignorant?
6 For thousands of years now the old order of things has prevailed over the earth. That has been long enough for the people to get sick and tired of it. Countless millions of mankind religiously believe that the old order is man’s fate, his unchangeable destiny. They resign themselves to it in hopeless despair. Such religious persons do not know the Holy Bible. They do not know the divine Author of the Bible. Surprisingly many do not even know his name. They know the personal names of the non-Biblical gods whom they have been taught to worship, but not the personal name of the Bible’s God. Still, His name is there in the Book. To find it, they merely have to take the most popular English translation of the Holy Bible, the Authorized Version, as authorized by King James I of Great Britain to be read in all the churches of the land, and turn to Exodus (the second book of the Bible), Ex chapter six, verses two and three. There they will read:
7 “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”
8, 9. What is the name of “the most high over all the earth,” and how and why may we use his personal name?
8 If this one case of the divine name in their own copy of the Bible is not enough for them, they can turn to Psalm 83 Eighty-three, verse eighteen, and there they will read: “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” They can also look up Isaiah 12:2 and Isa 26:4, AV.
9 So the personal name of the One who is God and “the most high over all the earth” is Jehovah. In the original Hebrew Scriptures, generally called the Old Testament, that divine personal name occurs around seven thousand times and is spelled with four Hebrew consonants. Since God’s own personal name is used so frequently in the Bible writings, we today are authorized to use that name, only in a reverential way, not taking it in vain. Thus we can designate the God whom we mean, the Bible God. His personal name is different from that of his beloved Son, Jesus, which name means “Jehovah Is Salvation.”
10. (a) God’s promise of new heavens and a new earth mean what for the old order of things? (b) Though not permitted to live till the entry of the promised “new” things, what did Peter encourage his readers to do?
10 The Heavenly Father, Jehovah, is the One who has promised the New Order, composed of “new heavens and a new earth.” As soon as He mentioned the new heavens and new earth, it meant that the old order of things, which never came from Jehovah God, was doomed to pass away. Is that not good news? (Compare Hebrews 8:13.) Ever since the giving of the divine promise, persons of true faith in the Giver of the promise have eagerly looked forward to his bringing in such a righteous new order. The apostle Peter and the congregations of Christians to whom he wrote his letter were among those who looked beyond the present and confidently waited for the setting up of the righteous new governmental “heavens” and the righteous new social “earth.” Because of what Peter’s Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, had told him, Peter himself did not expect to live to see that blessed day on earth. (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:13-15) But he encouraged his readers to await the entry of the righteous new order. Peter’s inspired encouragement applies to us now, nineteen centuries later.
THE END OF THE OLD ORDER EXPECTED FIRST
11. What must be removed from the earth first, and how was it demonstrated this this is not too big a job for the Creator?
11 First, though, we must expect the end of the ungodly old order. From shortly after the worldwide deluge that engulfed the earth in the days of the prophet Noah, more than 4,300 years ago, a wicked old order has entrenched itself in the earth. So it does not propose to give up easily, without a fight. A fight against whom? Why, of course, against the Author of the New Order, the Creator of “new heavens and a new earth.” But the uprooting of the old order is not too big a job for the Almighty God to undertake. In the days of Noah this God showed his ability to destroy a whole world of mankind with one stroke, one “act of God” that was not an accident. Long previous, on the second day of His creative week, he caused a division of the waters so that great masses of water were suspended in space all around the globe, with an atmospheric expanse, or “firmament,” in between. (Gen. 1:6-8, AV) At his appointed time He caused those suspended waters to drop earthward. This produced a global cataclysm that drowned all earth’s human population except the eight human souls in Noah’s ark.—1 Pet. 3:20.
12. For how long at least did God show self-restraint in bringing the deluge, and what did the deluge destroy?
12 That global deluge was a punishment from Jehovah God. He had patiently held back from inflicting that punishment for at least 120 years. (Gen. 6:1-3) The apostle Peter especially pointed up this self-restraint on God’s part, when he wrote: “He did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” That this meant a world destruction, the apostle Peter emphasizes again when he adds: “And by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”—2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6.
13. How do the “ancient world” and the present “world,” or human society, compare when God’s long-suffering is taken into account?
13 Thus the “ancient world,” the first society of mankind, lasted for about 1,656 years after man’s creation. As for this present “world,” or human society, God’s patience with it has lasted much longer, for about forty-two centuries or since the “act of God” in confusing the language of the builders of the tower of Babel. (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-9) The “ancient world” of Noah’s day was buried in a watery grave because it was “ungodly.” It had filled the earth with violence. It was ruining the earth and not subduing it to a paradisaic beauty. “The badness of man was abundant in the earth.” (Gen. 6:5-9, 12, 13) It deserved to be destroyed.
14. Why were Noah and his family counted worthy to survive the deluge?
14 Why, then, were Noah and his family counted worthy to be spared through the deluge and to enter the post-deluge period? It was because Noah led his family in ‘walking with the true God,’ not with the ungodly world. God found Noah to be righteous, “faultless among his contemporaries.” He was a “preacher of righteousness.” He had exemplary faith in God. That was why he obediently built the ark for the preserving of his household alive.—Gen. 6:9 through 7:1; Heb. 11:7.
15, 16. (a) What is the lesson here to be learned, with application to the present? (b) How did Jesus foretell the end of a world on a global scale?
15 Let us not miss the lesson here set forth: It is possible for Jehovah God to bring to an end a whole world of bad human society and, more than that, to preserve approved human individuals through such an end of a world. (2 Pet. 2:9, 10) The end of a world that will likewise be global in extent is ahead of us today. God’s own Son, Jesus Christ himself, foretold it, saying:
16 “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived and destroyed them all. . . . The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.”—Luke 17:26-30; Matt. 24:37-39.
17, 18. Why did the “ancient world” not take heed to God’s warning by means of Noah, and when was divine judgment revealed?
17 Back there in the year 2370 B.C.E., the ungodly people did not believe the evidence that was before their eyes that the end of their “ancient world” was at hand. To them it seemed improbable, most unlikely, impossible! That man Noah was warning them of a natural phenomenon that was too colossal for them to believe. So why worry?
18 Life till then had continued on just normally for them, with eating, drinking, and marrying so as to produce the next generation. They did not take into account any day of reckoning at God’s hand for all their badness, the violence with which they were filling the earth, the manner in which they were ruining the earth, and their selfish way upon the earth. Noah’s completing of the ark and his bringing of the basic bird and animal kinds into the ark lent no weight to Noah’s warning for them. They showed a complete lack of faith. So they stood out condemned in God’s sight, in contrast with Noah’s course of faith backed up by works. Finally, the seventeenth day of the second lunar month (likely Bul, which means “Rain”) of the year 2370 B.C.E. arrived. Then the destructive judgment of Noah’s God was revealed to that “world of ungodly people.”—Gen. 7:11-17; 2 Pet. 2:5.
19. If we desire to be like Noah in surviving the end of a world, what more is required than merely wishing to escape destruction with this system of things?
19 Do we today desire to be like Noah and his family in surviving an end of a world and to enter into God’s righteous new order, to enjoy the “new heavens and a new earth”? For us to be counted worthy of such a privilege, there is more to the matter than merely wishing to escape destruction with the “present wicked system of things.” (Gal. 1:4) We have to resemble the family of Noah, the “preacher of righteousness,” in their days before the global deluge. Noah had to do works of faith besides preaching righteousness and sounding the warning of world destruction. Should less be expected of us, who now find ourselves in the “conclusion of the system of things,” according to Jesus’ prophetic description of the eventful period of time through which we have passed since 1914 C.E.? No! Not if the modern-day antitype is to match the ancient type of Noah’s day.—Matt. 24:3-39.
20. In reminding us of what to do, what argument does Peter use with regard to God’s ability to deal with righteous and unrighteous people?
20 What we need to do is the very thing of which the apostle Peter reminds the readers of his second letter to Christian believers. Building up an argument upon God’s execution of judgment upon wicked angels and men, Peter writes: “If he did not spare the ancient world but kept Noah, the herald of righteousness, safe with seven others, when he let loose the deluge on the world of impious men: . . .—then be sure the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and how to keep the unrighteous under punishment till the day of doom, particularly those who fall in with the polluting appetite of the flesh and despise the Powers celestial.”—2 Pet. 2:5-10, Moffatt.
DIVINE PROGRESS TOWARD JUDGMENT DAY NOT SLOW
21. Why does this generation think that destruction for them is slumbering and that God is slow about executing judgment?
21 Toward the end of two hundred years after the Noachian deluge, Noah’s descendants in general began to forget God’s worldwide execution of judgment upon impious, ungodly people. They then built up a human society in rebellion against Jehovah God as the Universal Sovereign. The notorious city named Babel (or, Babylon) became a symbol of such God-defying human society. (Gen. 10:8-10) That was thousands of years ago. So this world of mankind that ignores the Supreme Judge, who let loose the deluge upon the “ancient world,” has been permitted to live for a long time by now. It is a long time even when measured from the founding of Christendom in the days of Emperor Constantine the Great, in the fourth century of our Common Era. Furthermore, in our own generation, it has already been sixty-one years since the start of the “time of the end” in the year 1914 C.E. (Dan. 12:1-4) Consequently, the hypocritical religionists of Christendom may incline to think that God’s judgment is slow in moving toward execution and that their destruction is slumbering. They think that, despite their religious hypocrisy with regard to the God of the Bible, he will not repeat his performance of the destruction of a whole world of rebellious humans.
22. According to what patterns of dealing with peoples in the past will God not spare the present-day world of mankind?
22 Today, the wise thing for us to do is to take to heart the inspired words of the apostle Peter, when he wrote: “But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.” (2 Pet. 2:3) According to all the evidence viewed in the light of the inspired Scriptures, the hour is very late. God’s tolerant long-suffering is about to reach its limit. Just so certainly as He did not spare angels who became disobedient during the years before the deluge, and just so surely as he did not spare the materialistic world of ungodly people in the days of Noah, and just so certainly as he did not spare the immoral cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham and his nephew Lot, just so surely this God of unchanging standards of righteousness will not spare the present-day world of faithless, self-centered people.
23, 24. (a) Why should we not conclude that God has no fixed time schedule in this regard? (b) For what did God’s exercise of long-suffering in the days of Noah allow?
23 Just because this world has not been told in the Bible the exact day and hour for the “Judge of all the earth” to execute his sentence of destruction upon this system of things, it is not a case of His having no fixed time schedule.—Gen. 18:25.
24 This is not a case of legal matters moving very slowly for the carrying out of justice, as in modern-day lawcourts. It is not a case of God’s slumbering upon the judicial bench or of his being fast asleep, with regard to bringing destruction on the “present wicked system of things.” (Gal. 1:4) His appointed time for this has not been set at a date before now because He has been long-suffering, “slow to anger.” (Ex. 34:6) Happy can all of us today be because of God’s timing of events that way! Why so? For the good reason that it has allowed for our getting saved. It is as in the days of Noah, when God’s allowing of 120 years until the deluge afforded the opportunity for Noah and his wife to have three sons and for these to grow up and marry three girls and then for all eight of them to join in building the ark and to bring creature life into it for salvation.—Gen. 6:3 through 7:10; Ps. 103:8.
25. How do people belonging to the old order and those desiring God’s new order take advantage of his long-suffering?
25 The ungodly world of today takes advantage of God’s long-suffering to enjoy that much longer their selfish pleasures in the corrupt old order. Those who long for God’s righteous new order take advantage of His ‘slowness to anger’ to repent of their death-dealing works and to prove worthy of salvation into His new order. They take the viewpoint that the apostle Peter sets out in these words: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Pet. 3:9.
26, 27. (a) The repentance here referred to has relationship to what? (b) How did Jesus show that this was the kind of repentance he had in mind?
26 Have we attained to repentance? When asking this, we do not mean ordinary repentance as over some wrong done, as when Jesus referred to a repeated offender, saying: “Even if he sins seven times a day against you and he comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4) Rather, the repentance spoken of in 2 Peter 3:9 has to do with one’s course of action regarding the kingdom of God, the government in which Jesus Christ is assigned to be King over all mankind.
27 Such repentance in connection with the heavenly Messianic kingdom of God, Jesus had in mind, according to the record of Matthew 4:17, where we read: “From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (See also Mark 1:14, 15; Matthew 3:1, 2.) In harmony with such a record regarding repentance, we are told that Jesus Christ sent out his twelve apostles by twos to preach as he himself did, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” Accordingly, “they set out and preached in order that people might repent.”—Matt. 10:1-15; Mark 6:7-12.
28. How did Peter and Paul point to the urgency of the repentance in connection with God’s Messianic kingdom?
28 Back there it was urgent that the Jewish people should repent in connection with the Messianic kingdom. Hence, Jesus said to them: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise be destroyed.” (Luke 13:1-4) On the day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., the apostle Peter said to thousands of inquiring Jews: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:1-38) Later, Peter gave similar counsel to the Jews at Jerusalem’s temple, according to Acts 3:19-23. Repentance in the face of God’s Messianic kingdom was also stressed by the apostle Paul. For example, in Athens, Greece, after “declaring the good news of Jesus and the resurrection,” Paul said to the Court of the Areopagus on Mars Hill: “God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. [Why?] Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.”—Acts 17:16-31. See also Acts 26:20; Romans 2:4.
29. (a) So, what is our first step toward proving ourselves worthy to enter God’s new order? (b) According to Peter, is attaining to repentance the end of the matter?
29 So, the matter is not open to question: Our first step towards proving ourselves worthy to enter God’s righteous new order is that of repentance, and this with regard to God’s Messianic kingdom. Only through God’s appointed king for that government, Jesus Christ, can persons who repent gain God’s forgiveness of their sins. (Acts 2:38) By means of that Messianic kingdom God will vindicate his universal sovereignty, and men must repent of having been under the sovereignty of God’s great Adversary, Satan the Devil. Have all of us, in harmony with God’s desire for us, attained to such repentance? If we can answer Yes, then, according to the apostle Peter, we are on the way to do what more remains to be done if we want to get God’s final approval. We can take advantage of his tolerant long-suffering that he is exercising toward this wicked old order of things. Thus we can make sure of His final approval. This will mean salvation for us.
[Pictures on page 748]
Noah led his family in worship
He was a ‘preacher of righteousness’
He obediently built the ark