You Can Have a Happy Future
AN OUTSTANDING event during the first century of our Common Era showed how something more than conventional wisdom is needed if we are to plan a successful future. In those days much of the world was under the imperial rule of Rome. Jesus Christ’s homeland, Palestine, was just a small part of the huge Roman Empire. But the Jews there had big ideas. They were restive under Roman rule and frequently rebelled. Among them, conventional wisdom had it that God was on their side.
In the seventh decade of the first century, the Jews made a serious effort to throw off the Roman yoke. A Roman army came against them and almost took the city of Jerusalem but then marched away. The rebels thought they had won with God’s help. However, Jesus had already prophesied that the city was to be destroyed. So, faithful Christians used the retreat of the Romans as an opportunity to flee from the city. (Matthew 23:33-39; Luke 21:20-24) Not long after they left, the Romans came back. In 70 C.E. the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and its inhabitants were slaughtered or sold into slavery. Only those who had wisely heeded Jesus’ warning escaped that horrible experience.
That was a dramatic demonstration of the truthfulness of this Bible saying: “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection; but the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom itself preserves alive its owners.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12) Through Christ, God had given Jesus’ followers knowledge of what was going to happen. They had wisely acted according to that knowledge, and that “wisdom of God” had saved them in a situation where money, secular education and the like would have had no value at all.—1 Corinthians 1:21.
In today’s uncertain world, many fear that they could end up like those Jews in Jerusalem. All their plans for the future could be frustrated by a cataclysm beyond their personal control. So, what we need is the same kind of knowledge that first-century Christians had—an understanding of what the future really holds and what the wisest course of action is.
Where Can We Find Such Knowledge?
Each year thousands of books are published, covering every subject imaginable. Despite all this information, however, the future looks threatening. Today, though, we do have a book that is different from all other publications. The writing of it had already started before Solomon’s day, and in it are recorded many “words of the wise” that are like “oxgoads”—prodding a receptive person into acting wisely. (Ecclesiastes 12:11) By the time Jesus came to earth, the greater part of this book had been written, and he used its counsel freely in helping his followers to act wisely. Jesus referred to these wise sayings when he said: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’”—Matthew 4:4.
That book is, of course, the Bible. But how is the Bible different from the endless procession of books being published today? For one thing, it offers a different kind of knowledge. Where else can you learn the truth about how man was created and why he dies? What other book answers questions such as these: Why does God permit wickedness? What is this world coming to? Is there a purpose in life? The Bible provides truthful answers to these and many other such questions.
The Bible also gives us wise and practical counsel on everyday living. It warns against the bad results of drunkenness, sexual immorality and physical uncleanness. It stresses the beneficial effects of love, self-control and unselfishness. It lays down a standard for marriage that really works and gives valuable help toward achieving a happy family life. Following the Bible’s counsel will enable us to plan a rewarding future.—1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 13:4-8; Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 5:21–6:4.
The Bible, however, is especially of great value in that it tells us about Jehovah God, the Creator. Knowing about Jehovah is vital because he is the Source of all knowledge. Why, even the things that humans learn about creation and the universe can teach them something about God! The Bible says: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” Indeed, God’s ‘invisible qualities are perceived by the things made.’ (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20) Researchers and scientists who leave God out of their reckoning very likely will draw wrong or incomplete conclusions.
Learning about Jehovah is also vital because it shows us that God has his own purposes for the earth and mankind. “Many are the plans in the heart of a man, but the counsel of Jehovah is what will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21) Regardless of what men try to accomplish, if their plans are not in harmony with God’s purposes, they will eventually come to nothing.—Psalm 127:1.
“The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge,” said King Solomon. (Proverbs 1:7) Wisdom based on such knowledge has real value in man’s planning for the future. But the Bible also identifies Jesus Christ as the “Wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6) So how can we successfully plan for the future if we ignore him? We must heed his “sayings of everlasting life” that are preserved in the Bible. (John 6:68) Moreover, we must recognize him as God’s great appointed King, the One who will judge all mankind. (John 5:22) And we should respond to the great love he showed in giving his life as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.—John 3:16; 1 John 2:1, 2.
Yes, Jesus is a pivotal figure in human history, and any plans that do not take him into consideration are bound to be shaky. This is especially true when we consider what the prophet Daniel said about him. Speaking of God’s Kingdom under Jesus Christ, he said: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44; Psalm 2:1, 9) Soon, therefore, God’s Kingdom under the King Jesus Christ is going to replace all the kingdoms of this earth. Because of this, matters that now trouble mankind—the pollution problem, the threat of nuclear war, the economic and political instability—will soon be things of the past. (Revelation 11:18) Yes, your future can be a happy one indeed in the coming earthly Paradise under Kingdom rule.—Luke 23:43.
This knowledge gives us a sense of balance when we consider the inability of world rulers to solve crises. But there is a problem to overcome.
Do Not Be Afraid of Wisdom
In the first century, Jesus taught as no one else had ever taught. His authority was demonstrated when he healed the sick, the blind and the lame, and even raised the dead. (Matthew 11:5, 6) These astounding miracles were accompanied by Jesus’ own unblemished life-style. (Hebrews 7:26) Surely, such things proved that Jesus was the long-promised Messiah. Yet he was not preaching according to conventional wisdom, and most Jews rejected him.
Some years later the Christian apostle Paul preached to King Agrippa. Responding to Paul’s earnest words, Agrippa remarked: “In a short time you would persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:28) Clearly, he could feel the force of the message. But it seemed unconventional and would have necessitated great changes in his life-style. So Agrippa never did become a Christian.
Like King Agrippa or the Jews who failed to respond to Jesus’ sayings, many today find it far easier to follow conventional wisdom than to accept God’s wisdom. But remember that only those Jews who did respond to Jesus’ message survived Jerusalem’s destruction.
Similarly today, only by responding to God’s wisdom will we humans be able to act wisely in planning our future. True, as long as this system lasts we will also have to use common sense as we plan our lives. But if all our plans for the future are anchored in this system of things, they eventually will come to nothing, for its end is near. It is the course of true wisdom to read the Bible carefully so as to learn about God’s purposes. We should prayerfully study it to find out what his will is for us now. And we will be acting wisely if we conscientiously carry out that will.
“The wisdom of God” produces good fruits. Jesus’ half brother James said: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom. . . . The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.” (James 3:13-17) Such wisdom will indeed ‘preserve alive its owners’! (Ecclesiastes 7:12) It will enable you to be successful in planning a happy future.
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“Wisdom of God” saved the early Christians in a situation where money became valueless
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Wisdom based on knowledge from God has real value in man’s planning for the future
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Careful Bible study reveals that the King Jesus Christ ‘will break the nations with an iron scepter’