An Administration for Fulfilling God’s Purpose
“[God] operates all things according to the way his will counsels.”—EPHESIANS 1:11.
1. Why will all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses meet on April 12, 2006?
ON Wednesday evening, April 12, 2006, some 16 million people will gather to observe the Lord’s Evening Meal. In each meeting place, there will be a table on which unleavened bread, representing Christ’s body, and red wine, symbolizing his shed blood, will have been set. Toward the end of a discourse explaining the meaning of the Memorial of Jesus’ death, these emblems—first the bread, then the wine—will be passed among all present. In relatively few congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, one or more in attendance will partake of the emblems. In many cases, however, no one present will partake. Why is it that only a few Christians, those who hope to live in heaven, partake, whereas the majority, those who hope to live forever on earth, do not partake?
2, 3. (a) How did Jehovah proceed to create according to his purpose? (b) For what purpose did Jehovah create the earth and mankind?
2 Jehovah is a God of purpose. In fulfilling his purpose, he “operates all things according to the way his will counsels.” (Ephesians 1:11) He first created his only-begotten Son. (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 3:14) Then, through this Son, Jehovah created a family of spirit sons and eventually the physical universe, including the earth and man upon it.—Job 38:4, 7; Psalm 103:19-21; John 1:2, 3; Colossians 1:15, 16.
3 Jehovah did not create the earth as a testing ground to enlarge his family of spirit sons in heaven, as taught by many churches of Christendom. He created it with a definite purpose in mind, for it “to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) God created the earth for man and man for the earth. (Psalm 115:16) The entire globe was to become a paradise, filled with righteous humans, who would cultivate it and take care of it. Never was the prospect of eventually going to heaven held out to the first human couple.—Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7, 8, 15.
Jehovah’s Purpose Challenged
4. How was Jehovah’s way of exercising sovereignty challenged at the dawn of human history?
4 A spirit son of God rebelled and set out to thwart Jehovah’s purpose, abusing the divine gift of free will. He disturbed the peace that comes to all who manifest loving submission to Jehovah’s sovereignty. Satan led the first human couple to embark on a course of independence from God. (Genesis 3:1-6) He did not deny Jehovah’s power, but he challenged His way of exercising sovereignty and therefore His right to rule. Thus, the fundamental issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty came into focus here on earth, at the very dawn of mankind’s history.
5. What secondary issue was raised, implicating whom?
5 Bound up with that primary issue of universal sovereignty is a secondary issue raised by Satan in the days of Job. Satan cast doubt on the motive of Jehovah’s creatures in submitting to Him and serving Him. Satan implied that they were doing so for selfish reasons and that put to the test they would turn against God. (Job 1:7-11; 2:4, 5) While raised in connection with a human servant of Jehovah, this challenge also involved the spirit sons of God, even Jehovah’s only-begotten Son.
6. How did Jehovah prove to be faithful to his purpose and to his name?
6 Faithful to his purpose and to the meaning of his name, Jehovah caused himself to become a Prophet and a Savior.a He told Satan: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) By means of the Seed of his “woman,” or the heavenly part of his organization, Jehovah would answer Satan’s challenge and provide Adam’s descendants with hope of deliverance and life.—Romans 5:21; Galatians 4:26, 31.
“The Sacred Secret of His Will”
7. What purpose did Jehovah reveal by means of the apostle Paul?
7 In his letter to Christians in Ephesus, the apostle Paul beautifully explains how Jehovah administers things to fulfill his purpose. Paul wrote: “He made known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” (Ephesians 1:9, 10) Jehovah’s glorious purpose is to bring about a united universe occupied by creatures who lovingly submit to his sovereignty. (Revelation 4:11) His name would thus be sanctified, Satan proved a liar, and the divine will accomplished “as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:10.
8. What is the meaning of the word translated “administration”?
8 Jehovah’s “good pleasure,” or purpose, would be fulfilled by means of “an administration.” Paul used a word that literally means “household management.” It refers, not to a government, such as the Messianic Kingdom, but to a way of managing things.b The wonderful way in which Jehovah would administer things to accomplish his purpose involved a “sacred secret” that would progressively be made known over the centuries.—Ephesians 1:10; 3:9, footnotes.
9. How did Jehovah progressively reveal the sacred secret of his will?
9 By means of a series of covenants, Jehovah gradually revealed how his purpose concerning the Seed promised in Eden would be fulfilled. His covenant promise to Abraham revealed that the promised Seed would come to earth in Abraham’s lineage and would be the means whereby “all nations of the earth” would bless themselves. That covenant also intimated that others would be associated with the primary part of the seed. (Genesis 22:17, 18) The Law covenant made with fleshly Israel disclosed Jehovah’s purpose to have “a kingdom of priests.” (Exodus 19:5, 6) The covenant with David showed that the Seed would be the Head of a Kingdom to time indefinite. (2 Samuel 7:12, 13; Psalm 89:3, 4) Once the Law covenant led the Jews to the Messiah, Jehovah revealed further aspects of the fulfillment of his purpose. (Galatians 3:19, 24) Those humans who were to be associated with the primary part of the seed would form the foretold “kingdom of priests” and would be brought into “a new covenant” as the new “Israel,” a spiritual one.—Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-9.c
10, 11. (a) How did Jehovah reveal the foretold Seed? (b) Why did God’s only-begotten Son come to earth?
10 In line with the administration of the divine purpose, the time came for the foretold Seed to appear on earth. Jehovah sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she would give birth to a son who was to be called Jesus. The angel said to her: “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) The identity of the promised Seed thus became clear.—Galatians 3:16; 4:4.
11 Jehovah’s only-begotten Son was to come to earth and be tested to the limit. The perfect answer to Satan’s challenge would be in Jesus’ hands. Would he remain faithful to his Father? This involved a sacred secret. The apostle Paul later explained Jesus’ role: “The sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in the world, was received up in glory.’” (1 Timothy 3:16) Yes, by his unflinching integrity until his death, Jesus provided the definitive answer to Satan’s challenge. But other details of the sacred secret remained to be uncovered.
“The Sacred Secret of the Kingdom of God”
12, 13. (a) What is one aspect of “the sacred secret of the kingdom of God”? (b) What was involved in Jehovah’s selecting a limited number of humans to go to heaven?
12 During one of his preaching tours of Galilee, Jesus indicated that the sacred secret was closely related to his Messianic Kingdom government. He told his disciples: “To you it is granted to understand the sacred secrets of the kingdom of the heavens [“kingdom of God,” Mark 4:11].” (Matthew 13:11) One aspect of that secret involved Jehovah’s selecting a “little flock” of 144,000 humans to be associated with his Son as part of the seed, to reign with him in heaven.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 14:1, 4.
13 Since humans were created to live on earth, “a new creation” by Jehovah was required in order for some humans to go to heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Speaking as one of those chosen to share this exceptional heavenly hope, the apostle Peter wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance. It is reserved in the heavens for you.”—1 Peter 1:3, 4.
14. (a) How were non-Jews involved in “the sacred secret of the kingdom of God”? (b) Why are we able to understand these “deep things of God”?
14 Another part of the sacred secret with regard to the future Kingdom government was God’s will to include non-Jews among the small number of humans who would be called to reign with Christ in heaven. Paul explained this facet of Jehovah’s “administration,” or way of managing the fulfillment of his purpose: “In other generations this secret was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by spirit, namely, that people of the nations should be joint heirs and fellow members of the body and partakers with us of the promise in union with Christ Jesus through the good news.” (Ephesians 3:5, 6) The comprehension of this part of the sacred secret was revealed to the “holy apostles.” Similarly today, if it were not for the help of the holy spirit, we would not understand these “deep things of God.”—1 Corinthians 2:10; 4:1; Colossians 1:26, 27.
15, 16. Why did Jehovah select Christ’s associate rulers from among mankind?
15 “The hundred and forty-four thousand” seen standing with “the Lamb” on heavenly Mount Zion are said to have been “bought from the earth,” “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,” Christ Jesus. (Revelation 14:1-4) Jehovah chose the first of his heavenly sons to become the primary part of the seed promised in Eden, but why did he select Christ’s associates from among mankind? The apostle Paul explains that this limited number was “called according to his [Jehovah’s] purpose,” “according to the good pleasure of his will.”—Romans 8:17, 28-30; Ephesians 1:5, 11; 2 Timothy 1:9.
16 Jehovah’s purpose is to sanctify his great and holy name and vindicate his universal sovereignty. By his incomparably wise “administration,” or way of managing things, Jehovah sent his firstborn Son to earth, where he was tested to the limit. Furthermore, Jehovah determined that the Messianic Kingdom government of his Son would include humans who had also upheld His sovereignty until death.—Ephesians 1:8-12; Revelation 2:10, 11.
17. Why can we be glad that Christ and his associate rulers once lived as humans?
17 Jehovah showed his great love for Adam’s descendants by having his Son come to the earth and by selecting from among mankind those who would be the Son’s joint heirs in the Kingdom government. How could that benefit others who have proved faithful to Jehovah, from Abel onward? Born slaves to sin and death, imperfect humans would need to be spiritually and physically healed and brought to perfection, in line with Jehovah’s original purpose for mankind. (Romans 5:12) How comforting it is for all of those who look forward to everlasting life on earth to know that their King will show them love and kind understanding just as he did to his disciples during his earthly ministry! (Matthew 11:28, 29; Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:15; 7:25, 26) And how reassuring it is for them to realize that Christ’s associate king-priests in heaven were once men and women of faith who themselves contended with personal weaknesses and experienced life’s challenges as we do!—Romans 7:21-25.
Jehovah’s Unfailing Purpose
18, 19. Why are Paul’s words at Ephesians 1:8-11 clearer to us, and what will be considered in the following article?
18 We are now better able to understand the import of Paul’s words to anointed Christians, as found at Ephesians 1:8-11. He said that Jehovah had made known to them “the sacred secret of his will,” that they were “assigned as heirs” with Christ, and that they were “foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.” We perceive that this fits into Jehovah’s marvelous “administration” of things for the fulfilling of his purpose. This also helps us to understand why only a few Christians attending the Lord’s Evening Meal partake of the emblems.
19 In the following article, we will see what the Memorial of Christ’s death means to those Christians whose hope is heavenly. We will also learn why millions whose hope is to live forever on earth should be intensely interested in what the Memorial symbolizes.
b Paul’s words show that the “administration” was functioning in his day, whereas the Scriptures indicate that the Messianic Kingdom was not established until 1914.
By Way of Review
• Why did Jehovah create the earth and put man upon it?
• Why was it necessary for Jehovah’s only-begotten Son to be tested on earth?
• Why did Jehovah select Christ’s associate rulers from among mankind?