in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.”—Job 2:4, 5.
Time was required to settle the issues that had been raised. Hence, Jehovah God, by permitting wicked persons to continue living, made it possible for others to share in proving Satan’s claim to be false by serving God faithfully under unfavorable and trialsome circumstances. God’s permission of wickedness has also provided an opportunity for individuals to abandon a wrong course and to subject themselves willingly to God’s righteous laws. (Isa. 55:7; Ezek. 33:11) So God’s holding back for a time from destroying the wicked serves to spare the righteously disposed ones by allowing time for them to prove their love and devotion to Jehovah.—Rom. 9:17-26.
Additionally, Jehovah God makes use of circumstances in such a way that the wicked themselves unwittingly serve his purpose. Though they oppose God, he is able to restrain them to the extent necessary to preserve his servants in their integrity, and to cause their actions to bring his righteousness to the fore. (Rom. 3:3-5, 23-26; 8:35-39; Ps. 76:10) This thought is expressed at Proverbs 16:4: “Everything Jehovah has made for his purpose, yes, even the wicked one for the evil day.”
A case in point is the Pharaoh on whom Jehovah, through Moses and Aaron, served notice for the release of the enslaved Israelites. God did not make this Egyptian ruler wicked, but he did allow him to continue living and also brought about circumstances that caused Pharaoh to manifest himself as being wicked and deserving of death. Jehovah’s purpose in doing this is revealed at Exodus 9:16: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.”
The ten plagues visited upon Egypt, climaxed by the destruction of Pharaoh and his military forces in the Red Sea, were an impressive demonstration of Jehovah’s power. (Ex. 7:14–12:30; Ps. 78:43-51; 136:15) For years afterward the nations round about were still talking about it, and God’s name was thus being declared throughout the earth. (Josh. 2:10, 11; 1 Sam. 4:8) Had Jehovah killed Pharaoh immediately, this grand display of God’s power to His glory and for the deliverance of his people would not have been possible.
The Scriptures give assurance that the time will come when wickedness will no longer exist, as all who stand in opposition to the Creator will be destroyed when His permission of wickedness will have served its purpose.—2 Pet. 3:9-13; Rev. 18:20-24; 19:11–20:3, 7-10.
[Heb.,ʼal·ma·nahʹ, widow; Gr., kheʹra, widow (also, metaphorically, one bereaved)].
A woman who has lost her husband in death and has not remarried. Death of the husband severed the marriage bond, leaving the widow free to remarry if she chose to do so. (Ruth 1:8-13; Rom. 7:2, 3; 1 Cor. 7:8, 9) Under the patriarchal arrangement, and later under the Mosaic law, the brother of a man who had died childless was to take his brother’s widow as his wife and have a child by her, to carry on the line of her deceased husband.—Gen. 38:8; Deut. 25:5-10; Ruth 4:3-10; see BROTHER-IN-LAW MARRIAGE.
Upon the death of their mate, widows could return to the house of their father. (Gen. 38:11) In the Law, specific provision to this effect was made for the daughter of a priest who became widowed or was divorced. Since the priest received tithes for his household’s sustenance, the daughter could share in this provision. This assured that she would not face poverty, and thus avoided any reproach upon the priesthood. (Lev. 22:13) For those widows who had no such support or protection, provisions were made in God’s law for them to enjoy gleaner’s rights in the fields, olive groves and vineyards (Deut. 24:19-21), to participate in the bounteous celebration each year at festivals (Deut. 16:10-14) and, every third year, to share in the tithes that were contributed by the nation.—Deut. 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13.
CONCERN OF JEHOVAH AND JESUS CHRIST FOR WIDOWS
Jehovah spoke of himself as the One “executing judgment for the fatherless boy and the widow.” (Deut. 10:18) Strong injunctions are given in the Law as to the administration of full and equal justice to widows. (Ex. 22:22-24; Deut. 24:17) A curse was pronounced upon those perverting the judgment of widows (Deut. 27:19), and proper treatment of widows was urged in the writings of the prophets.—Isa. 1:17, 23; 10:1, 2; Jer. 22:3; Ezek. 22:7; Zech. 7:9, 10; Mal. 3:5.
CHRISTIAN ASSISTANCE TO WIDOWS
During the emergency that arose in the Christian congregation shortly after the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E., the Greek-speaking widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. When this was brought to the attention of the apostles they considered the matter so important that they appointed “seven certified men . . . full of spirit and wisdom” to supervise the distribution of food with equity.—Acts 6:1-6.
The apostle Paul, at 1 Timothy 5:3-16, gave complete instructions for the loving care of widows in the Christian congregation. The congregation was to care for destitute widows. But if the widow had children or grandchildren, they should assume the responsibility of providing for her needs, or, as Paul instructed, “if any believing woman has widows [that is, widows related to her], let her relieve them, and let the congregation not be under the burden. Then it can relieve those who are actually widows [that is, actually bereaved, without help].” A widow put on the list for material help by the congregation was one “who has become not less than sixty years old,” having a good record of morality, of faithful, loving devotion to Jehovah and of hospitality and love toward others. On the other hand, the apostle recommends that young widows remarry, bear children and manage a household, thereby avoiding the snare of sexual impulses and the danger of being “unoccupied, . . . gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs.”
Jesus’ half-brother James highlighted the importance of looking after orphans and widows in their tribulation when he set it parallel with keeping oneself without spot from the world, as a requisite for worship that is clean and undefiled from God’s stand-point.—Jas. 1:27.
Among the widows of notable faith are Tamar (Gen. 38:6, 7), Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 1:3-5), Abigail (1 Sam. 25:37, 38, 42), the widow of Zarephath (1 Ki. 17:8-24) and Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:36, 37; compare Luke’s description of Anna with the qualifications of a worthy widow as outlined by Paul at 1 Timothy 5:3-16 discussed in a foregoing paragraph). Also, an unnamed widow was highly commended by Jesus because she contributed all of what she had to the temple.—Mark 12:41-44.
Cities, when cast off and desolated, are symbolically likened to widows. (Lam. 1:1; compare Jeremiah 51:5.) Babylon the Great, “the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth,” boasts, like her type, ancient Babylon, that she will never become