“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
—Lamentations 3:22,23, New American Standard Bible
THE POET HAS WELL SAID that “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Many noble people have long attempted to rise above the chaos and distress of the present, hoping for better times to come. The sages of the past looked forward to and wrote about a “golden age” which they projected would ultimately become a reality through the good will and cooperative efforts of those who believed that human destiny promised something better than continually being in a condition of turmoil, distress and trouble. Even today, some still entertain this hope and do all they can to translate their hope into reality.
A number of years ago this was emphasized for us by a letter The Dawn received from a gentleman who subscribed to what is known as the World Federalist Movement. World or global federalism is not a new political ideology, although perhaps little known to many. It advocates a democratic, federal world government with authority on global issues and general sovereignty over the world population. In the letter, our presentation of the prophecies and promises of God recorded in the Bible was criticized, and an appeal was made by the writer to join hands in helping to establish a federal government of the world.
The letter stated, in part: “It is difficult for me to believe that anyone in this country would believe in the kind of God that you appear to worship. The idea that it is the divine purpose that we should destroy ourselves and look forward to living happily in heaven forever after is beyond my ability to comprehend. If I thought that this was a sound interpretation of the prophecies, I think I would prefer to be an atheist. I very much regret that an enlightened country should produce people with such conceptions of the Creator—a cruel and sadistic sort of God.”
This part of the letter reveals that the writer failed to grasp the meaning of the Bible prophecies which The Dawn has endeavored to explain, for certainly it is not the teaching of the Scriptures that it is God’s will for the human race to destroy itself and then to live happily in heaven forever after. If this were the thrust of biblical prophecy, we would be inclined to agree that it might be better to be an atheist. Rather, we are glad that some among mankind have spoken against interpretations of the Bible which, in effect, represent the Creator as a cruel, vengeful sort of God.
However, much of the traditional misunderstanding of the Bible does just this. Take the unscriptural doctrine, for example, of the eternal torment of the wicked. Could there be a viewpoint more pitiless and sadistic than that? Properly, enlightened people of the world are repulsed at the many cruelties inflicted against political, religious and ethnic groups by dictators and leaders of rogue nations of both the past and the present. Should not we all also cry out against the claims that the Creator of the universe, the God of the Bible and of Christianity, is far crueler in dealing with his enemies than totalitarian dictators have ever been?
Then there is that unscriptural tradition of the Dark Ages pertaining to the “end of the world”—that one day Christ will return to earth and precipitate a literal world conflagration which will destroy the entire planet Earth. This is truly a heartless viewpoint.
The question of moral decency and human rights has been raised for decades in connection with the potential use of nuclear weapons. The chances are, however, that many who raise this question, themselves claim to believe that their God will, when the “end of the world” comes, destroy all the cities of every nation, every countryside, mountain, and valley, slaughtering all the billions of the human race except the few who will at that time be deemed worthy to be taken away to heaven. What a tragic ending to a domain which, when created, was designed to be filled with the glory of God!
As you read the foregoing, you are perhaps alarmed that we should present such a cruel perception of God, one which is so horrible to contemplate. Indeed, we likewise feel the same way! The reason for sharing these thoughts is that there are still many who conscientiously claim to hold such malicious and unscriptural beliefs concerning the purposes of God. However, upon seeing these things in their true light and by re-examining the Bible, we learn that the God of true Christianity is not a vindictive being, but one whose purpose is the blessing of all the families of the earth; that the second coming of Christ is not to destroy the earth, but to make it perfect for the everlasting home of the human race, rescued from sin and restored to life.—Gen. 1:26-30; Eccles. 1:4; Isa. 45:18; Acts 3:20,21
Going back to the letter received, from which we partially quoted earlier, after telling us that he did not care to worship a sadistic God—to which we say, Amen—the writer then spoke about the aims of the movement to which he subscribes. We again quote in part: “I hope you will see your way clear to realize that we are all individually responsible for affairs in this life and that it behooves all of us to work for such things as world peace and world brotherhood. I have supported every sincere peace movement and now I am supporting the [establishment of] a law-making body with jurisdiction to outlaw war and prevent aggression. In a world of natural law on every hand, it would seem to be in harmony with the divine purpose for man to finally establish law and order on an international basis—a world basis. I sincerely hope that you will reflect on these ideas.”
One cannot help but recognize and appreciate the sincerity and earnestness with which these statements were written. This gentleman, like millions of others, wants peace. We, too, want peace. Better than this, the Bible assures us that the world will have peace. However, history tells us that ever since “The Prince of Peace” was born, noble-minded men and women have been working for peace. (Isa. 9:6) Yet, after more than twenty centuries of such sincere efforts, the world has nothing better to show for these labors than increased trouble, turmoil, and the threat of complete destruction.
We should not discourage those who are working for peace. It is a great deal more honorable to be working for peace than to be promoting conflict and war. At heart, the vast majority of people probably want peace. Even the prospect of war is often with the hope that thereby lasting peace will somehow be established. However, the great handicap to attaining true peace is the selfishness of fallen human nature, and unfortunately, this element of human character is found throughout the world. It is not a characteristic merely of governments and leaders, but of society in general.
It is this element, for example, which causes sellers to raise prices seemingly the moment a threat of trouble comes, even though there may be no need to do so. It is human selfishness that induces people to hoard food and other supplies when certain dangers loom, even though by so doing it might deprive others from obtaining what they actually need. Fallen human beings are unable to solve the problem of human selfishness. This is a fundamental reason that little progress has been made throughout the centuries toward actually establishing lasting peace in the world. From the human standpoint, there is certainly little prospect that mankind in his current sinful condition will suddenly discard selfishness and deal with one another on a basis of genuine mutual interests—that is, the basis of love.
How thankful we are, however, that the problem of human selfishness is not beyond God’s ability to solve! That is the reason we can have confidence in his promises to establish peace, and why we can believe his assurance that under the administration of his kingdom “the desire of all nations shall come.” (Hag. 2:7) It is true that God knew about the terrible calamity into which sin and its resulting human selfishness would plunge the world. God permitted this, but he did not design it, nor does it represent his eternal purpose for man. In addition to foreknowing the present crisis of the human race, God also foretold it in the Bible. It did not come as a surprise to him.—Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21
One reason God has allowed man to go to the extreme limit of his fallen propensities is in order that he might be convinced of his own inability to establish lasting peace and good will among men. Most of those even today who are so zealously working for peace have not yet learned this lesson. They still want to establish peace by their own wisdom and power. If they believe in God, they evidently seem to think that while he may be looking on as they struggle against such desperate odds, he does not intend, or is unable, to do anything about it.
It is precisely at this point that the teachings of the Bible part company with all human philosophies pertaining to the ultimate destiny of man. While man tries to lift himself by his own bootstraps, the Bible assures us that in his own due time God will intervene in human affairs. He will rescue man from the results of the “wisdom of this world,” which is “foolishness with God,” and establish peace and good will on a worldwide scale. (I Cor. 3:19-21; Isa. 9:7; Luke 2:14) Not only will he give the nations peace, but life also to the people, for the same agencies of his kingdom, which will bring peace to the nations, will also exercise divine power to give the people health and the prospect of everlasting life upon the earth.—Rev. 21:1-5; Isa. 25:8,9; Hos. 13:14
The promises of God assuring us of the establishment of Christ’s kingdom have often been misconstrued to mean that mankind must set up his kingdom themselves. This has resulted in humanly devised church systems and organizations being established throughout the Christian age, as well as various efforts by church denominations, both in the past and still today, to influence lawmakers to enact better laws. These efforts of the churches find expression in many ways and may even be properly motivated. However, they are contrary to the teachings of the Bible, for they are attempts to accomplish the divine purpose by human wisdom rather than in ways designed by God.
As we said in the beginning, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” However, apart from God it is a hope that is ever failing to mature into reality. We can have a genuine hope, however, by placing our confidence in the promises of God, by which he assures us that even now his hand is overruling in the affairs of men in preparation for the complete fulfillment of the angelic proclamation at the time of Jesus’ birth—that glorious assurance of peace on earth and good will toward men.—Isa. 57:14-19; Luke 2:10-14
Nations have not yet learned that, no matter how they yearn for it, they cannot establish lasting peace, nor solve the problem of human selfishness. Ultimately, however, they will learn peace when they will say, as the prophet foretold, “Let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, … and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” Then “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation” anymore. Then also, as God promises, every man shall dwell “under his vine and under his fig tree,” and none will molest nor make afraid, not because man has finally succeeded, but because “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” God’s plan will not fail!—Micah 4:1-4; Isa. 9:6,7