The Bible Answers Vital Questions of Our Day
IS THE Bible relevant today? For the answer to be yes, surely this age-old book would have to offer its readers guidance on topics of current interest and relevance. Does the Bible provide beneficial counsel on subjects that are of real importance in today’s world?
Let us take a look at two current issues. In doing so, we will examine what the Bible says about these matters.
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
In view of the conditions in the world today, one of the most commonly asked questions is: Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? This question is justified, since more and more people are being affected by violent crime, corruption, genocide, personal tragedy, and so forth.
For example, in June 1998 an express train crashed into a bridge in northern Germany, killing more than a hundred passengers. Even experienced medics and firemen who attended to the injured and the dead were upset by the carnage. A bishop of the Evangelical Church asked: “Dear God, Why did this have to happen?” The bishop himself gave no answer.
Experience shows that when innocent people suffer evil without getting an explanation about the cause, they sometimes become embittered. Here is where the Bible can help, for it explains why innocent people are subjected to wickedness and suffering.
When Jehovah God created the earth and everything on it, he did not intend that humankind be troubled by wickedness and suffering. How can we be sure? Because upon completing his creation, “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Ask yourself, ‘If I were to observe something wicked, would I pronounce it “very good”?’ Of course not! In the same way, when God pronounced everything “very good,” there was no trace of wickedness on earth. So when and how did wickedness start?
Shortly after the creation of our first parents, Adam and Eve, a powerful spirit creature approached the woman and challenged Jehovah’s truthfulness and the rightfulness of his sovereignty. (Genesis 3:1-5) This creature, Satan the Devil, later alleged that humans would not stay loyal to God under adversity. (Job 2:1-5) How did Jehovah react to this situation? He allowed for the passing of time so that it would become evident that humans cannot successfully direct their steps independent of him. (Jeremiah 10:23) When creatures act contrary to God’s laws and principles, the result is sin, which produces injurious conditions. (Ecclesiastes 8:9; 1 John 3:4) Despite these adverse circumstances, however, Jehovah knew that some humans would maintain integrity to him.
Since that woeful rebellion in Eden, some 6,000 years have elapsed. Is that too long? Jehovah could have destroyed Satan and his supporters centuries ago. But has it not been better to wait until every conceivable doubt about the rightness of Jehovah’s sovereignty and the integrity of humans to him is dispelled? Is it not true of present judicial systems that a court case to prove who is right and who is wrong may take years?
In view of the importance of the issues facing Jehovah and mankind—universal sovereignty and the integrity of humans—how wise it was of God to allow for time to pass! Now we see clearly what happens when humans ignore God’s laws and take charge of their own affairs. The result is widespread evil. And that is why so many innocent people suffer today.
Happily, though, God’s Word indicates that wickedness will not last forever. In fact, Jehovah will soon put an end to evil and to those who cause it. “As regards the wicked,” says Proverbs 2:22, “they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.” On the other hand, those faithful to God can look forward to a time, now near at hand, when “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:4.
So, then, the Bible clearly explains why the innocent suffer. It also assures us that evil and suffering will soon end. As we experience life’s present hardships, however, we need the answer to another vital question.
What Is the Purpose of Life?
Perhaps now more than at any other time in mankind’s history, people are trying to find out what life is all about. Many ask themselves, ‘Why am I living? How can I find meaning in my life?’ Various circumstances prompt them to raise these questions.
An individual’s life may be shattered by a personal tragedy. For instance, early in 1998 a 12-year-old girl living in Bavaria, Germany, was kidnapped and murdered. One year later, her mother admitted that she spends each day searching for a purpose in life—to no avail. Some young people are moved to wonder about the meaning of life. They search for security, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging, only to despair at the widespread hypocrisy and corruption. Other individuals build their lives around a career, but they discover that power, prestige, and possessions fail to satisfy the inner yearning to find a reason for their existence.
Whatever moves a person to inquire about the purpose of life, this question warrants a serious and satisfying answer. Once again, the Bible can be of great benefit. It identifies Jehovah as a God of purpose, one who has sound reasons for everything he does. We ask, Would you construct a house without having a reason? Likely not, since building a house requires a huge investment of money and can take months or years. You build a house so that you or someone else can live in it. The same logic can be applied to Jehovah. He did not go to all the trouble of creating the earth and the living things upon it without having a reason, a purpose. (Compare Hebrews 3:4.) What is his purpose for the earth?
The prophecy of Isaiah identifies Jehovah as “the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it.” Indeed, he is “the One who firmly established [the earth], who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) Yes, ever since the earth was created, it has been Jehovah’s purpose to have it inhabited. Says Psalm 115:16: “As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” Thus the Bible shows that Jehovah created the earth to be inhabited by obedient humans, who would take care of it.—Genesis 1:27, 28.
Did the rebellion of Adam and Eve cause Jehovah to change his purpose? No. How can we be so sure? Well, consider this point: The Bible was written thousands of years after the rebellion in Eden. If God had abandoned his original purpose, why is that not mentioned in the Bible? The obvious conclusion is that his purpose for the earth and mankind remains unchanged.
Moreover, Jehovah’s purpose never fails. Through Isaiah, God provides this assurance: “Just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater, so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isaiah 55:10, 11.
What God Expects of Us
Clearly, then, we can have confidence in the fulfillment of God’s purpose to have the earth inhabited forever by obedient humans. If we are to be among those privileged to live permanently on earth, we must do what wise King Solomon said: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13; John 17:3.
Living in harmony with Jehovah’s purpose for mankind means getting to know the true God and conforming to his requirements as set out in the Holy Scriptures. If we do this now, we can entertain the hope of everlasting life on a paradise earth, in which we will never cease to learn new things about God and his wonderful creation. (Luke 23:43) What a thrilling prospect!
Many who search for a purpose in life turn to the Bible and find great happiness right now. For instance, a young man named Alfred could find no meaning in life. The involvement of religion in war disgusted him, and he was upset at the hypocrisy and corruption in politics. Alfred visited Indians of North America in the hope of gaining enlightenment about life’s purpose, only to return to Europe disappointed. In despair, he turned to drugs and wild music. However, a regular and careful examination of the Bible later helped Alfred to recognize the true purpose of life and to find contentment.
A Dependable Light to Our Roadway
What, then, can we conclude about the Bible? Is it relevant today? It is, indeed, because it offers guidance on current issues. The Bible explains that wickedness is not of God’s making and helps us to find a satisfying purpose in life. Furthermore, the Bible has much to say on other matters that are of great interest today. Such topics as marriage, child rearing, human relations, and hope for the dead are dealt with in God’s Word.
If you have not done so already, please take a close look at the contents of the Bible. Once you discover the true value of its guidelines for life, you may well feel as did the psalmist who looked to Jehovah God for guidance and sang: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Psalm 119:105.
[Picture on page 6]
Do you know why God allows the innocent to suffer?
[Picture on page 7]
You can enjoy a purposeful life