QUESTION: What is the reason Jehovah has waited this long to bring about his purpose? Its obvious man cannot rule himself. Have all these years really been necessary, if so for what?
The Bible acknowledges that God has subjected mankind to futility. Paul explained: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the one who subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself will also be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
In saying that God has subjected his creation to futility, we know that God is not cruel or uncaring. It was never his intention that his creation to suffer and die. And besides, God has made provision for bringing back the dead. So, God must have a very good reason why he has allowed wickedness and injustice to prevail for so long. Jehovah’s Witnesses appreciate that there are some very important issues that God is determined to settle with finality. That is why God has allowed for a certain interval of time for these issues to be settled.
First, a comment on time.
As humans —imperfect ones at that —we tend to be shortsighted —myopic. Our lifespan is pitifully short. Some giant tortoises and tropical birds live longer than we do. How embarrassing! So, we naturally relate to time in terms of our brief lifespan.
God, on the other hand, exists outside the bounds of time. An apostle once explained it, saying: “One day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”
A casual reading of that verse might seem like Peter was simply saying the same thing in reverse. That is not the case. Think of it this way: One of our 24-hour days is like a thousand years to God. And a millennium to us, which seems like a really, really long time, is like one of our 24 hour days to God. That is what is meant by timelessness.
Think about it.
In the time it takes you to read this article, maybe 5-10 minutes, God has done a million and one things. On average about 100 people die every minute. Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls to the earth without God knowing it. So, in the 10-minutes it may take you to read this article 1,000 people around the world have died and God knows each and every one of them. Over the same period of time, God has listened to thousands of prayers directed to him. He is aware of everything and everyone. He is not even overwhelmed.
On the other hand, what we think to be ancient history is like our yesterday to God. He still remembers everyone who has ever lived and died in every detail.
Although Jehovah is timeless he relates to us with time. In the very beginning, God spoke of his creative acts as taking place on successive “days,” which were evidently equal epochs, each several thousand years. After six days God’s work was done. On the seventh day God rested. He is still in his rest period.
It is not that God is tired. Not at all. Jesus said his Father has kept working. His resting merely means he desisted from directly creating anything else on earth. During his sabbath God expected humans to finish the work he started so that at the end of the 7th day, which we expect to coincide with the end of the 1,000-year reign of Christ, the earth would be as God intended —a global paradise full of beautiful humans. All of that over the course of one “week.” So, God is primarily concerned with the way things will be at the end of the week.
WHAT HAS GOD BEEN DOING?
The Bible reveals that an angel inserted himself into the lives of the first humans and lied about God. Humans have been under the influence of wicked angels ever since.
It has been about 6,000 years (6 of our days to God) since that original devil slandered Jehovah. Over this period God has intervened in human affairs many times —sometimes in big ways and other times more subtle or even unnoticed. Obviously, the Flood was a major event. It destroyed an entire world and forced hordes of materialized rebel angels to vacate the earth. After the Deluge, God intervened again to confuse mankind’s language. He did this to impede the Devil’s scheme to subjugate mankind under a tyrannical despot. Then about 4,000 years ago (4 of our days to God) Jehovah contacted Abraham and afterward began to use his offspring to lay the groundwork for the introduction of the promised Messiah. After about 2,000 years, (2 of our days to God) Jesus came on the scene.
Over the course of the past 2 millennia since Jesus, God has allowed Satan to corrupt Christianity, but not completely. God has seen fit to preserve the Bible for us so that we might embrace the hope it holds out.
Now, regarding God’s purpose, it is noteworthy that in the passage where Peter stated one day with God is as a thousand years the point the apostle was making is that “God is not slow concerning his promise as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”
Since God has allowed generations to come and go over the 2,000 years since Christ was on earth obviously God’s patience is exercised especially toward those who are living immediately prior to the day of Jehovah —when all of the faithless and wicked will be destroyed. That is where we are at the present moment. How to we know?
The apostle Peter compared our predicament with what happened 4,000 years ago with the Flood and those who would ridicule the Bible and the second coming of Christ. Peter wrote concerning the mentality of the ridiculers: “For they deliberately ignore this fact, that long ago there were heavens and an earth standing firmly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and that by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was flooded with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.”
People in our modern world consider the story of Noah’s Flood to be a myth —a fairy tale. But according to the Bible, the flood came about due to the fact that during the creation God suspended a heavenly ocean above the earth. In that way, the earth stood firmly out of water —being above the terrestrial seas —and in the midst of water —the heavenly ocean above.
In the same way the present world is reserved for fire. How? God has allowed humans to develop the means of their own destruction. Sadly, beginning with the first two humans born, all down through the ages men have been killing each other. It used to be that men clobbered each other with clubs and stones. That was hard work. Then they developed swords, spears and arrows. That still involved a lot of muscle power and the slaughter was limited. Then gun powder introduced fire. All sorts of bombs and bullets have come from that resulting in millions upon millions being slaughtered over the recent centuries.
But about 75 years ago the first atomic bomb was detonated. Since then the fires of destruction have been stockpiled to the heavens. Thousands –actually, tens of thousands of thermonuclear bombs have been developed, most of them many times more powerful than the ones that incinerated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And not only that, but supersonic and intercontinental missiles can deliver multiple warheads with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on earth in a matter of minutes. Literally every living soul on this planet can now be exterminated with push-button ease.
Why just this week the president of Russia announced that scientists are developing an “invincible weapon” –a hypersonic, nuclear-powered missile equipped with thermonuclear warheads that can stay in the heavens indefinitely and rain down fire at a moments notice. This wicked world really is stored up for fire.
While it may be evident to Jehovah’s Witnesses that humans cannot govern themselves, that is not generally acknowledged. On the contrary, in spite of the general dissatisfaction with human governments, people keep trying to fix them.
But when the fire that is stored up is unleashed then mankind’s foolishness will be on full display. Then, matters will be out of human hands. When it becomes undeniable that vicious, maddened demons have lured mankind to their doom, only God will be able to save us. That is what Jesus was alluding to when he said concerning the great tribulation: “Unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
Never before in all human history has mankind had the power to destroy themselves and the entire planet —until now, that is. In recognition of that fact, atomic scientists have set their symbolic doomsday clock to a couple of minutes before midnight.
So, over the course of the 6,000 years, God has worked to accomplish his will. In the past century and a half it is apparent that the calling and choosing have resumed. The Watchtower just passed a remarkable milestone in publishing the hope in 1,000 languages. Surely, the good news has been preached in all the earth as Jesus foretold it would be.
Now that the nations are in high-gear making preparations for all-out global war it ought to be evident that we have reached the end phase —what Peter referred to as “the day of judgment.”
Hopefully, we have availed ourselves of Jehovah’s patience and used the time to build up our faith and become fireproof, “as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens will be destroyed in flames and the elements will melt in the intense heat!”