“I have spoken, and I will bring it about. I have purposed it, and I will also carry it out.”—ISA. 46:11.
THE very first words of the Bible make this simple but profound statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) It is true that we have only a little understanding of the many things God created, such as space, light, and gravity, and we have seen only a small fraction of the universe. (Eccl. 3:11) Yet, Jehovah has revealed to us his purpose for the earth and for mankind. The earth was to be an ideal home for men and women created in God’s image. (Gen. 1:26) They would be his children, and Jehovah would be their Father.
2 As explained in the third chapter of Genesis, Jehovah’s purpose encountered a challenge. (Gen. 3:1-7) However, that challenge was by no means insurmountable. No one can stand in Jehovah’s way. (Isa. 46:10, 11; 55:11) Therefore, we can be certain that Jehovah’s original purpose will be fulfilled exactly on time!
3. (a) What truths are fundamental to our understanding of the Bible’s message? (b) Why do we review such teachings now? (c) What questions will we consider?
3 No doubt, we are familiar with Bible truths about God’s purpose for the earth and mankind and about the central role of Jesus Christ in the outworking of God’s purpose. They are of fundamental importance and are likely among the first truths we learned when we began to study God’s Word. We, in turn, want to help sincere people to become familiar with these vital teachings. Currently, as we are considering this article as a congregation, we are striving to invite as many people as possible to the Memorial of Christ’s death. (Luke 22:19, 20) Those who attend will learn much regarding God’s purpose. So in these last few days before the Memorial, it is timely that we think about specific questions that we can use to stimulate the interest of our Bible students and other sincere individuals in this important event. We will consider three questions: What was God’s original purpose for the earth and mankind? What went wrong? And why is Jesus’ ransom sacrifice the key that unlocks the door for God’s purpose to be accomplished?
WHAT WAS THE CREATOR’S ORIGINAL PURPOSE?
4. How does creation declare Jehovah’s glory?
4 Jehovah is an awe-inspiring Creator. Everything he creates meets the highest standards. (Gen. 1:31; Jer. 10:12) What can we learn from the beauty and order that are evident in creation? When observing creation, we are impressed with the way all of Jehovah’s creative works, small and large, serve a beneficial purpose. Who does not marvel at the intricacies of the human cell, the delicateness of a newborn baby, or the splendor of a gorgeous sunset? We admire these creations because we have a built-in sense of what is truly beautiful.—Read Psalm 19:1; 104:24.
5. How does Jehovah ensure that all creation functions harmoniously?
5 As is evident in creation, Jehovah lovingly set boundaries. He made both natural laws and moral laws to ensure that everything functions harmoniously. (Ps. 19:7-9) Hence, all things in the universe have an assigned place and function according to their role in God’s purpose. Jehovah sets the standard for how his creation should work together. Thus, the law of gravity holds the atmosphere close to the earth, regulates tides and oceans, and contributes to the physical order essential to life on earth. All creation, including humans, moves and functions within these boundaries. Clearly, the order in creation testifies that God has a purpose for earth and mankind. In our ministry, can we draw attention to the Cause of this impressive order?—Rev. 4:11.
6, 7. What are some gifts that Jehovah gave Adam and Eve?
6 Jehovah’s original purpose was for mankind to live forever here on earth. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 37:29) He generously gave Adam and Eve a variety of precious gifts that enabled them to enjoy life. (Read James 1:17.) Jehovah gave them free will, the ability to reason, and the capacity to love and to enjoy friendship. The Creator spoke to Adam and instructed him on how to show his obedience. Adam also learned how to take care of his needs and how to care for the animals and the land. (Gen. 2:15-17, 19, 20) Jehovah also created Adam and Eve with the senses of taste, touch, sight, sound, and smell. Thus they could enjoy to the full the beauty and bounty of their Paradise home. For the first human pair, the possibilities for satisfying work, accomplishment, and discovery were endless.
7 What else was part of God’s purpose? Jehovah created Adam and Eve with the ability to have perfect children. God had in mind for their children to have children, until the human family filled the whole earth. He wanted Adam and Eve and all parents after them to love their children as Jehovah loved his first perfect human children. Earth, with all its resources, was to become their permanent home.—Ps. 115:16.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
8. What purpose was served by the law found at Genesis 2:16, 17?
8 Things did not immediately work out as God had purposed. Why not? Jehovah gave Adam and Eve a simple law that served to test whether they recognized the limits of their freedom. He said: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:16, 17) It was not hard for Adam and Eve to understand this law; nor was it a hardship for them to obey it. After all, they had more food available than they could eat.
9, 10. (a) What accusation did Satan hurl against Jehovah? (b) What did Adam and Eve decide? (See opening image.)
9 Satan the Devil, using a serpent, fooled Eve into disobeying her Father, Jehovah. (Read Genesis 3:1-5; Rev. 12:9) Satan made an issue of the fact that God’s human children were not allowed to eat “from every tree of the garden.” It was as if he were saying: ‘You mean you cannot do what you want?’ Next, he told a blatant lie: “You certainly will not die.” Then he tried to convince Eve that she need not listen to God, saying: “God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened.” Satan implied that Jehovah did not want them to eat the fruit because doing so would enlighten them. Further, Satan made this false promise: “You will be like God, knowing good and bad.”
10 Now Adam and Eve had to decide what to do. Would they obey Jehovah, or would they listen to the serpent? They decided to disobey God. By doing so, they joined Satan’s rebellion. They rejected Jehovah as their Father and estranged themselves from the security of his protective rule.—Gen. 3:6-13.
11. Why does Jehovah not tolerate rebellion?
11 By rebelling against Jehovah, Adam and Eve lost their perfection. Moreover, their rebellion resulted in alienation from Jehovah because his “eyes are too pure to look on what is evil.” Therefore, he “cannot tolerate wickedness.” (Hab. 1:13) If he had tolerated it, the well-being of all living creatures—in heaven and on earth—would be threatened. Above all, had God done nothing about the sin committed in Eden, his own trustworthiness would have been called into question. But Jehovah is faithful to his own standards; he never violates them. (Ps. 119:142) Thus, having free will did not entitle Adam and Eve to disregard God’s law. As a consequence of rebelling against Jehovah, they died and returned to the dust from which they had been created.—Gen. 3:19.
12. What happened to Adam’s children?
12 When Adam and Eve ate of that fruit, they put themselves in a position where they could no longer be accepted as members of God’s universal family. God expelled them from Eden, and they had no hope of ever returning. (Gen. 3:23, 24) In doing so, Jehovah justly made them face the consequences of their own decision. (Read Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.) No longer perfect, man could not reflect God’s qualities perfectly. Adam not only lost a marvelous future for himself but also handed down to his children imperfection, sin, and death. (Rom. 5:12) He deprived his offspring of the prospect of life without end. Furthermore, Adam and Eve could no longer have a perfect child; neither could any of their children have a perfect child. After turning Adam and Eve away from God, Satan the Devil has continued to mislead mankind until today.—John 8:44.
THE RANSOM HEALS A RIFT
13. What does Jehovah want for mankind?
13 God’s love for humans, however, endures. Despite Adam and Eve’s rebellion, Jehovah wants mankind to enjoy a good relationship with him. He does not desire any to die. (2 Pet. 3:9) So right after the rebellion, God made arrangements to enable humans to restore their friendship with him while he at the same time maintained his own righteous standards. How did Jehovah accomplish this?
14. (a) According to John 3:16, what provision did God make to restore mankind? (b) What question might we consider with interested ones?
14 Read John 3:16. Many whom we invite to the Memorial will know this verse by heart. But the question is, How does Jesus’ sacrifice make everlasting life possible? The Memorial campaign, the Memorial itself, and the calls we later make on those who attended may provide us with the opportunity to help sincere truth-seekers to understand the answer to that important question. Such ones may be impressed when they begin to understand to a fuller degree how Jehovah’s love and wisdom are expressed by the ransom provision. What points about the ransom could we highlight?
15. How did the man Jesus differ from the man Adam?
15 Jehovah provided a perfect man who could become the ransomer. That perfect man would need to be loyal to Jehovah and be willing to give his life in exchange for doomed humanity. (Rom. 5:17-19) Jehovah transferred the life of his very first creation from heaven to earth. (John 1:14) Jesus thus became a perfect human, just as Adam had been. But unlike Adam, Jesus lived up to the standard Jehovah expected from a perfect man. Even under the most extreme tests, Jesus never sinned nor broke any of God’s laws.
16. Why is the ransom such a precious gift?
16 As a perfect man, Jesus could save humankind from sin and death by dying in their behalf. He corresponded exactly to all that Adam should have been—a perfect man, absolutely loyal and obedient to God. (1 Tim. 2:6) Jesus became the ransom sacrifice that opened the way to endless life “for many”—men, women, and children. (Matt. 20:28) Indeed, the ransom is the key that unlocks the door to the fulfillment of God’s original purpose. (2 Cor. 1:19, 20) The ransom gives all faithful humans the prospect of everlasting life.
JEHOVAH OPENED THE DOOR FOR US TO RETURN
17. What does the ransom make possible?
17 Jehovah provided the ransom at great cost to himself. (1 Pet. 1:19) He values humanity so highly that he was willing to let his only-begotten Son die in our behalf. (1 John 4:9, 10) In a sense, Jesus takes the place of our original human father, Adam. (1 Cor. 15:45) By doing so, Jesus restores more than life; he gives us the opportunity to return eventually to God’s family. Yes, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, Jehovah can accept humans back into his family without compromising his righteousness. Is it not heartwarming to think of a time when all faithful humans will be brought to perfection? There will be complete unity between the heavenly and earthly parts of his family. In the fullest sense, we will all be children of God.—Rom. 8:21.
18. When will Jehovah become “all things to everyone”?
18 Satan’s rebellion did not stop Jehovah from extending his love to mankind, nor can it prevent even imperfect humans from being loyal to Jehovah. Through his provision of the ransom, Jehovah will help all of his children to become completely righteous. Imagine what life will be like when everyone “who recognizes the Son and exercises faith” will have everlasting life. (John 6:40) With great love and wisdom, Jehovah will bring the human family to perfection, according to his original purpose. Jehovah, our Father, will then become “all things to everyone.”—1 Cor. 15:28.
19. (a) Gratitude for the ransom should move us to do what? (See the box “Let Us Keep Searching Out Deserving Ones.”) (b) What aspect of the ransom will we consider next?
19 Gratitude for the ransom should motivate us to do all we can to make others aware that they can benefit from that priceless gift. People need to know that the ransom is the means by which Jehovah lovingly offers all mankind the prospect of everlasting life. Still, the ransom accomplished even more than that. The next article will consider how Jesus’ sacrifice also addresses the moral issues that were raised by Satan back in the garden of Eden.