Why So Long to Settle the Issue?
SOME 6,000 years ago, God’s sovereignty was not at issue. On completion of his wonderful works of creation, “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) He then entered a long period of “rest”; not, of course, that he was physically tired. Rather, he rested in that he ceased his creative works on earth, confident that his good purpose respecting these would be a complete success.—Genesis 2:1-3; Isaiah 55:11.
What was that purpose? Jehovah placed the first human couple in a place called the garden of Eden. Their initial responsibility was to care for their paradisaic home, including its great variety of animal life. Also, they were to bring forth and raise children. In time, as their family grew, they were to extend Paradise to the ends of the earth in obedience to God’s command to ‘subdue the earth.’ Thus, the earth would eventually be a magnificent home, filled with a happy, united family serving their heavenly Father. That was God’s original purpose.—Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:8, 15, 20-22.
Would Adam and Eve share in fulfilling this grand purpose to its end? That depended on their continuing to cooperate with it by obeying their Creator. Their obedience was not to be blind, unthinking. They were granted free will, for God wanted them to serve him out of an appreciative heart. As a visible reminder of his rightful sovereignty, he provided a simple test. They could partake of any provision in the garden except one. There was a fruit tree concerning which God said: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Genesis 2:16, 17.
These words tell us that Adam and Eve were not created to grow old and die. Death would come only if they disobeyed this simple command. If Adam and Eve had remained obedient to God, they would still be alive on earth today as parents of a worldwide family of perfect offspring.—See the principle stated at Psalm 37:29.
However, one of God’s angelic creatures, now called Satan, became critical of God’s way of ruling. He urged Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, deceptively suggesting that by being independent of God’s sovereignty, she would be better off. Satan’s real motive, though, was a desire to be the god of the prospective family of mankind.—Genesis 3:1-5; Matthew 4:8, 9; John 8:44.
Since Jehovah had given the first human couple everything they needed, Eve should have upheld his sovereignty and rejected Satan’s lying suggestion. Tragically, though, she went ahead and broke God’s law. Afterward, Adam chose to join his wife in her unwise course. Thus the self-willed couple, as well as Satan, rebelled against God, and the issue of divine sovereignty was raised.—Genesis 3:6.
Time Needed to Settle Vital Issues
Jehovah could have destroyed the three rebels then and there. But that would not have conclusively settled the questions raised by their rebellion. Could man rule himself successfully apart from God? Was it justice on God’s part to demand submission to his sovereignty? Moreover, in view of the conduct of the first couple, would any humans unselfishly choose to serve God of their own free will—even when tested by Satan? (Job 1:7-11; 2:4) It would take time to answer these questions. It would take time, also, to overcome the effects of that original rebellion and fulfill God’s purpose to make the earth a paradise populated by a sinless human race. We are still awaiting the final resolution of these issues.
In harmony with his law, God withdrew from Adam and Eve the privilege of living forever. They were no longer worthy to share in the fulfillment of his great purpose. However, before they died, they were allowed to produce and raise offspring. True, Adam and Eve could no longer pass on to their offspring vibrant, sinless life. (Romans 5:12) But even though the generations that followed were born imperfect and doomed to die, many individuals had the opportunity to show where they stood with regard to the great issue of sovereignty.
Resolving the Issue
How will God resolve these matters relating to his sovereignty? In one sense the questions raised back in Eden have now been answered. Thousands of years of human history have made it painfully evident that Satan’s allegation that Eve would be better off independent of God was a lie. Human rule that ignores God has been a continuing failure. As the Bible says: “Man has dominated man to his injury.”—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
On the other hand, many good things have been documented during the long years since Adam and Eve sinned. Many of humankind have demonstrated an unbreakable attachment to Jehovah’s sovereignty, the most outstanding example being “the Son of man,” Jesus Christ himself. (Matthew 20:18; Hebrews 11:1–12:3) Those who have followed God’s laws and acknowledged his sovereignty have found that this really is the best way. They have experienced the truth of the proverb: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) Moreover, thanks to the resurrection provision, they will eventually get to share in the fulfillment of God’s grand purpose.—John 5:28, 29.
Jehovah has not forgotten his original purpose. Those who reject his sovereignty will not be allowed to dominate on earth for all time, and the Bible warns that soon God will act against them. We read: “God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness.” (Romans 1:18) This coming expression of God’s anger, which the Bible calls Armageddon, will unquestionably demonstrate that he does indeed exist. Only those who accept his sovereignty will survive that event. “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth.”—Proverbs 2:21, 22.
The Great Issue and You
In view of these facts, each of us—like Adam and Eve—must make a choice. Will we try to live independently of God? Or will we submit to his sovereignty? Remember, this is the most vital issue facing you today. Other issues, important as they may seem, have to do with your present life. This one has to do with everlasting life. The decision you make will affect your eternal future.
How can you show that you accept God’s sovereignty? By diligently studying his Word, the Bible, and seeking to obey his will in association with other true Christians. (Zephaniah 2:2, 3) If you do so, you will have the happy hope of seeing the fulfillment of God’s grand purpose. You will get to see the realization of this marvelous promise: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:10, 11) What a wonderful outcome for all who submit to God’s sovereignty! What a powerful reason for deciding wisely in this most important matter!